"Too bad you've switched sides yet again, Jett," I needle the PHX's now stud-muffin-exclusive Vanessa Minnillo as we watch a fine, female-filled pair of Apple Bottom jeans sashay past us. "Your home team has the advantage here tonight."
Jett eyeballs the hiney like an alkie at a bottle of Johnny Walker Black, then tosses her head. "Well, it is called Hot Pink!, Einstein," she spits. "Did you think they were referring to the color of Tiffe Fermaint's spring line?"
"Hey, hot dogs are pink, too," I snark. "But I can see you're still fond of tacos, despite protests to the contrary."
"Back in this club's DJ Nimh days, I used to get more culo than a barstool," she sighs. "Oh, well, hold my purse, lard ass, and order me a vodka-tonic. I need to lose some water weight before we get crackin'."
The J-unit heads for the ladies' loo, and I'm left holding her Louis Vuitton knockoff, so I start riflin' through it, searchin' for scrilla. See, a few things have changed at ye ole Hot Pink! since Her Skeeziness and I first covered it two years ago ("Hot Pink Perdition," February 19, 2004). Sure, they still draw a decent crowd on a Friday night, and they still got some hot breezies struttin' about. But the drinks are more expensive, at least a coupla bucks more, and that whole electroclash thing has largely gone the way of the Macarena. The scene's more indie band/dance rock/Britpoppy now, with some '80s flava remaining.
Honestly, the edge has shifted from Hot Pink! to Shake! on Saturdays at The Rogue, with smaller, divier places drawing some of the crowd HP once had: gutter-licious holes such as the Palo Verde, and even Ky's. HP also competes for clubbers with Friday night's Tranzylvania, which manages to reach beyond the borders of its dark trance-gothiness. But Hot Pink!'s harder to kill than Osama bin Laden, even with founder DJ Nimh spinning mostly at the Hot Pink! he's established at this spot Scenic on New York's Lower East Side, and jetting back to the desert version when he can. In addition, P-town's Hot Pink! has survived a change in the venue's ownership and name (what once was Boom now is Karamba), as well as a fresh coat of paint and a slight upgrade to the interior.
The Jettster and I decided to drop by after bumping into HP resident DJ Dirty Dave over at the Palo Verde recently. He invited us out for the DVD release shindig for the Limey band Bloc Party -- which is playing on the TV screens as I rummage through the Jettster's pocketbook -- and because ex-HP resident DJ Sleazy Sean will be hitting the decks tonight. In any case, as I dump everything in Jett's bag onto the bar, this tall tranny in red approaches me from behind.
"Condoms, chewing gum, crack pipe, tampons," I say as I pull each from the J-girl's Black Hole of Calcutta. "Jesus, there's everything in here but money."
"Love your bag, honey," I hear an unnaturally high-pitched voice twitter. "Wherever did you get it?"
"That ho Nicole Richie's last yard sale," I quip, turning around to see what looks like John Leguizamo in drag. "Whoa, Nelly! I mean, uh, hey, how ya doin'? My name's Kreme. And yours?"
"Erica Cocaine Nosejob," she replies. "You could say I'm one of the party favors."
"So, er, Miss Nosejob, what're you doin' here tonight?"
"I just stopped by for a minute," she confesses. "I'm trying to get a job with this gay bar Cruisin' 7th, and I have to go talk to someone there about it. I'll be leaving after I finish my drink and, um, powder my nose a bit."
"What kind of job do you wanna get with them?" I wonder.
"I want to bring some life to the little cabaret that's going on there," she tells me.
"Ah, you're a performer," I observe. "So, do you sing or dance?"
"I do what I do best," she replies with arched eyebrow. "Three guesses what that is. Guys here in Arizona love me. They're just crazy about trannies."
"Nutty, why do you think straight guys go for you?" I query.
"That's the thing with men," she confides. "When they get horny, it's any port in a storm, baby."
Erica's gotta scoot, so I wish her well with air kisses, and soon Jett's back staring at the contents of her purse on the bar.
"What the fu--?" she gripes. "Kreme, where's my drink?"
"On its way, my Queen." I signal to the barkeep for a round as P-town's Eliza Dushku shovels her crap back into her clutch. I pay the man for our drinks, and placate Jett by telling her I'd been hunting for lip balm.
Cocktails in hand, we head to the dance floor, which is not nearly as dark, scummy and loud as I recall from two years ago. However, there are still chicks and shirtless dudes climbing up on the rise to grind on the infamous dance pole, and there are still couples on the fringes -- same sex and otherwise -- swapping saliva. One sad note: The walled-in alcove to the far right of the danceteria has been effectively removed, eliminating the potential for free-form frottage and the occasional sub rosa hand-job.
Sleazy Sean and Dirty Dave are switching off DJ-ing duties, dropping tracks like Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me 'Round," Soft Cell's '80s cover of "Tainted Love," and David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel," as well as newer licks from Franz Ferdinand, The Rakes, Toronto remixers MSTRKRFT, and, of course, Bloc Party. We make our way up to the DJ booth and buttonhole the pair, tearing them away momentarily from the wheels of steel.
"How do you plan to keep Hot Pink! dirty, Dave?" inquires the Jettster.
"We try to stay focused on the good indie rock and disco-punk," explains Double-D, who's been the resident wax selector for the past two or three months. "And stay more alternative than the so-called 'alternative.' We're also doing everything we can to bring fresh DJs to town, and whenever a good band comes through, book one of their members as a guest DJ. We've also got some cool promotions going on."
"We hear you'll soon be having Marky Ramone in house doing a DJ set," I state.
"That'll be on February 3," declares DD. "The theme's 'Rock 'n' Roll High School,' and we're doing a costume contest: $100 cash prize to the best-dressed Rock 'n' Roll High Schooler."
"Sean, does your appearance tonight mean you're back with the Hot Pink! program?" asks the J-unit.
"Actually, tonight's probably going to be my last set ever here," relates the Sleazemeister, who was a resident at HP about three months ago before disagreements with the management caused him to bail. "I'm planning on moving to San Fran soon. This is kind of a special appearance."
"Sorta your last hurrah," I observe. "Do you think Hot Pink! will survive all the changes?"
"Well, we're still talking about Phoenix," responds His Sleazeosity. "There are not a lot of places like this. Even with the competition they've got now, there's a huge dance floor here, a great sound system and great lighting. Sure, you could go to Scottsdale and go to a bigger, prettier club, but what would you be listening to? Not this kind of music."
Dirty and Sleazy -- could be two dwarves from the pay-per-view special Snow White: Uncut. Anyhoo, the Jettster and I leave this unwashed duo to do their dastardly work, and head back to the bar for more bevvy. There we rub shoulders with this gorgeous gal with short black hair and alabaster skin named Tamar. This classy T-bird boasts a neck ringed with pearls and a fleur-de-lis tattoo on her upper arm. Says she's a waitress at McCormick & Schmick's.
"You could totally be one of those classic '50s pinup girls," coos Jett, getting frisky despite swearing off squalies for the año nuevo. "Don't tell me, you've been coming to Hot Pink! since it started."
"Not really, no," she corrects us. "I used to hang out at TT Roadhouse mostly. But I've been coming here because I love the music, and there aren't many places you can go to find a really diverse group of people like this."
Tamar's en route to the dance floor, so we let her go. Jett soon follows, hoping to corral more hotties for our camera. Meanwhile, I kick it at the bar with this fella "Mr. Marcus." He tells me he's a polyamorous pagan who worships Cernunnos, the horned Celtic god of fertility and the underworld. For a living, he creates body jewelry for this biz Kaos Software in Phoenix.
"You'd be surprised how many girls wanna get to know you when they find out you make expensive body jewelry," he confides.
"You ever take advantage of that, playa?"
"No, that would be against my ethics," Marcus states earnestly. "I want people to like me for myself. I mean, would you want someone to sleep with you just because you promised to write about them?"
"Is that a trick question?" I reply. "Unfortunately, bud, it's like waiting for that big MC Hammer-Vanilla Ice comeback tour. Ain't gonna happen."
Rubbing salt into my wounds, Jett reappears, telling me some dude just bought her a drink. "He was trying to get with me," she claims. "Can you imagine?"
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"Strangely, I can," I answer. "So what did you tell him?"
"I told him you were my date, and that you wanted to hit some more bars," she says, grinning mischievously.
"More bars?" I wonder. "It's almost last call."
"Yeah, but in your case we're talking about Snickers, Milky Way, Almond Joy," she cracks. "And your belly's like a Circle K, sport -- open all night!"