Bite Me's been encouraged to check out Hamburger Mary's since she pulled into town. The gay joint on North Seventh Street is supposed to have amazing food and the most delicious atmosphere ever. So she decided to see what all the fuss was about and attended Gong Show Karaoke night last week. To prepare herself for the spectacle, she ordered up a Cadillac margarita and a Proud Mary burger before approaching the drag queens who run the show and provide much of the entertainment. And let her tell you, Bite Me's never interviewed a friendlier group of folks in her life.
Of course, your heroine had to stuff napkins in her ears at certain junctures of the evening it was karaoke, after all but that said, she had to admit that many of the singers were pretty damn good. When the crooners sucked, folks paid two bucks a pop to hit a gong and end the misery. Hey, everybody wins the singer has to shut the fuck up and the dough is collected and given to charity.
The service at Mary's was stellar and the cocktails stiff. And the food? Oh, the food. The hamburger is the best in town. (Well, don't take Bite Me's word for it -- she's still so new to town she hasn't done her first load of laundry and she's got at least three more fresh thongs before she hits the bottom of the underwear drawer. But New Times proclaimed this burger the best in town, and who is Bite Me to differ?) And the cottage cheese that came with it? Holy Jesus on the cross! See, Bite Me is something of a cottage cheese junkie, and this stuff is so divine she'd walk a mile to taste it again. This heavenly goo had to have like 5 percent milk fat trust us, it's hard to find cottage cheese with even 4 percent these days but Bite Me's learning that if there's one thing she can count on here, it's that y'all believe in the most fat-saturated, calorie-bulging of foods in heaping amounts. Praise heaven.
5111 North Seventh Street, 602-240-6969. Hours: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 a.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Appetizers: $4.95-$9.95; breakfast: $4.95-$6.95; lunch and dinner: $5.95-$12.95. Major cards.
Also 2017 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480-945-MARY. Breakfast served at Scottsdale location.
Part owner and dancer, Hamburger Mary's
Bite Me: Karaoke is an age-old favorite of mine.
Gary: Yes, but it tends to get a little stale after a while, so we brought in Woody, who's one of our bartenders and servers here. And our other karaoke host is Victoria London, who just won our contest to be Hamburger Mary for a year.
Bite Me: How did she do that?
Gary: We have a show and a contest and people dress up to look as close to what Mary looks like on the menu. Victoria's been around for a long time in this town. She'll be on the float for Gay Pride, April 12.
Bite Me: Wow. (Bite Me can't help recalling the Gay Pride parades at her former home of West Hollywood. All good. Except for the time her friends came down from San Francisco and decided the pool at her apartment complex was the best place for an orgy. When a manager complained, one of her friends claimed to be Bite Me, which explained the knowing glances she endured from other tenants until she finally moved out in shame.) So tell me about this joint.
Gary: Well, we have the best burger in town. We show Queer As Folk on Sunday nights. We're trying to get DJs and stuff on Sunday nights, really get Sunday night going.
Bite Me: So is this karaoke thing a contest?
Gary: I was in Chicago with one of the other owners and we saw gong show karaoke. And we definitely wanted to do a karaoke night here because it's popular, but, like everything we've done here, we've done it with a little twist. So we've got a drag queen host, and to gong somebody, you have to pay two dollars, and if you want to keep singing, you have to pay two dollars to continue.
Bite Me: Hey, where's that money go? (Bite Me wondered if they were making cash off the humiliation of American Idol wanna-bes. Like Simon with a collection plate.)
Gary: All the money goes to charity, 100 percent. The first three months we donated to Arizona Central Pride and, though I'm not sure exactly how much, I know it was over $3,000. And that's just the gong money on a Tuesday night.
Bite Me: I love that.
Bartender and hostess "and anything that doesn't leave a paper trail"
Bite Me: Your last name is Target? (Bite Me is careful to say it the way this drag queen wants it the French way, with the accent on the last syllable.) I like that. Are you a Target shopper? I am.
Suzanne: Oh, I'm very much a Target shopper. And any queen this size is a big target anyway. So it just makes sense.
Bite Me: I'm so excited.
Suzanne: I am the biggest mess in the West.
Bite Me: People are very friendly here. Everyone told me to come. But I love you.
Suzanne: It's always a party here at Hamburger Mary's. (Steps up on booth brandishing the microphone.) New Times is here tonight, so if your mama don't know you're gay, she might find out tonight! (Which reminds Bite Me of the frenzied phone call she got from her mom after she appeared on TV on the back of a lesbian-driven Harley during a gay pride parade in West Hollywood. Bite Me calmly explained that if she were comin' out of the closet, she'd be kind enough to call her mom before tellin' the viewing public.)
Bite Me: You're beautiful!
Chanel: Thank you.
Bite Me: I saw you walking around and I've been dying to talk to you. You're a beauty. I'm telling you, I worked at a gay bar and I learned a slew of makeup tips from . . .
Chanel: Drag queens? I'm still a drag baby, actually.
Bite Me: You're new?
Chanel: I'm brand-new. I've been doing drag for maybe two months.
Bite Me: What do you use on your skin? It's gorgeous. What do you wash your face with?
Chanel: I wash my face with Aveda products or Shiseido.
Bite Me: Of course! Don't you wonder about those chicks who model for Cover Girl and Neutrogena? If they really used that shit, they'd be utterly nasty.
Chanel: (Laughs.) No, no, but I used to use Dove soap and it works. You don't have to spend $90.
Bite Me: Where should I shop here?
Chanel: What do you mean? As a girl or a boy?
Bite Me: I fucking love you.
Chanel: Are you into high fashion?
Bite Me: I probably would be if I had a dollar to my name. I'm a writer, honey, we're poor.
Chanel: Just because you're poor doesn't mean you can't get good bargains. I actually go to the Walter Cronkite School of Broadcast Journalism.
Bite Me: Why do you want to be a journalist?
Chanel: I actually want to be a fashions editor for GQ one day, or Vogue or Marie Claire or any of those. I just want to get into fashion. I'm actually getting my master's right now. My undergrad is in musical theater and I can't really do anything with that degree, but I love to sing.
Bite Me: Who's your favorite singer?
Chanel: Mariah Carey.
Bite Me: I love her! My ex-ex-ex-boyfriend wrote "Vision of Love" and "Someday" with her . . . my only brush with a musician. He hasn't worked with her since, but he sho'nuf got wealthy off o' dat.
Chanel: That's so awesome. You rock.
Bite Me: When people talk shit on her, I go insane. (Bite Me must admit that she didn't have much love for Miss Mariah at first. However, when she hung with the aforementioned ex-boyfriend, she grew to respect the pipes on the Butterfly Babe. Also, she credits Mariah with Bite Me's brief exposure to the good life, since it was her voice that funded it. Bite Me dined on caviar at Petrossian in New York, flew first-class to Costa Rica, hung with the Rolling Stones backstage, cruised around in a Porsche, blah, blah, blah. But living large didn't last. She burned rubber leaving that scene with only the clothes on her back.) And Mariah did not get a boob job.
Chanel: She just got fat and they got bigger. You just push them up. I actually met her at Barney's in New York. I was going through cashmere sweaters and I looked over and I thought, "That woman looks like Mariah Carey." And it was her. I freaked out and she said, "It's okay. Calm down." I said, "You're so beautiful. You're my inspiration. You're my favorite." She's so beautiful in real life, a beautiful person. I love her so much.
Bite Me: I get so annoyed when chicks bag on her. Meow. Saucer of milk, table four.
Chanel: I know. I even own Glitter.
Bite Me: I fucking own Glitter.
Chanel: We are one of five people who bought it. Actually, I'm known in drag as "the Mariah girl." I'm the only one who does only her stuff. I wish I was a little lighter so I looked more like her.
Bite Me: You're actually pretty close.
Chanel: Do you like Whitney?
Bite Me: I do.
Chanel: Me too. Even though she smokes crack.
Bite Me: She was led down the wrong road by that man of hers. That's what I think.
Chanel: He's so ghetto. Trashy.
Bite Me: Amen, sister.
Bite Me: Are you going to sing tonight?
Casey: I already did. I sang "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan.
Bite Me: Wow. You're really good. You should go on American Idol.
Casey: I want to. I missed the auditions when they came here.
Bite Me: What do you think of Paula Abdul?
Casey: She's too nice.
Bite Me: She's like the den mother trying to make up for that evil Simon dude. (And speaking of American Idol, is Bite Me the only one around here who doesn't give a rat's ass about whether Becca Bond or any of the other locals crash and burn? Can the local TV idiots give it a rest about Arizona's chances, like Idol was a fucking Olympic event or something?) Have you been singing a long time?
Casey: Since I was a little girl.
Bite Me: Well, don't let the business screw you over.
Casey: My parents are in the business so they take care of me. We've learned our lesson.
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Bite Me: You've got great hair. Too bad Kelly Clarkson had to snake your look. One last question, are you really a girl?
Casey: I'm a girl and I'm straight.
Bite Me: Groovy. Now that I've gotten a random sampling, I can go home.
As parlayed to Marnye Oppenheim