BS West
Benjamin Leatherman
BS West is absolutely one of the friendliest clubs you'll ever party at, whether you're bi, gay, straight, or none of the above. Hidden in Scottsdale's back streets (despite its Fifth Avenue address), the party's always pumpin', with enough stud muffins in attendance to make a het fella rethink his sexuality. It's got the feel of a two-story gay frat house in the midst of Scottsdale's party scene, with a 2-4-1 hump day special that makes BS the place to hit on Wednesday nights. But as wild as it can get, BS still retains a neighborly feel, where people aren't afraid to converse with one another, or at least flirt shamelessly. And the bartenders actually seem happy to have your business, unlike at some other places where they make you feel like they're doing you a favor by serving you. BS has been going strong since 1988, and if it stays the way it is, it'll probably be alive and kickin' in 2088.
There was a time when people were afraid that "The Biz" would be a victim of its own success. The Valley's oldest lesbian bar is also its best-known, and if straight people know about only one gay bar in the city, it's The Biz. But what makes this bar so popular for people of any sexual orientation is not just the promise of hordes of hot women writhing together on the dance floor. The DJs, Tsunami and Suzy, spin the hottest mixes of hip-hop, house, Top 40 and retro, and the bartenders serve up drinks faster than you can say the L-word, not to mention the slew of sexy shows (the band Betty, musician Jennifer Spector, and drag kings) and erotic events (wet tee-shirt contests and "Stripper Night"). But don't take our word for it. Show up on a Thursday or Sunday night and see for yourself. Just be prepared to stand in line if you show up after 10 p.m.

BEST POSTHUMOUS MEMORY OF HUNTER S. THOMPSON

Way back in 1986, the late Mr. Thompson showed up at our fine offices on East Jefferson Street with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other. He had this comment: "I want to find out who killed Don Bolles, and I want to start at the dog track." (Or words to that effect; memory does fade.) Bolles was a reporter who got murdered by some local thugs in 1976. Thompson's momentary obsession with all things Bolles had been fueled by Thompson's girlfriend, a young west Phoenix woman who had run off with him a year or so earlier. Off we went to the track, down on 38th Street and Washington. Wouldn't ya know it, the pickled scribe picked the longest shot to win the first race, betting $100 and collecting about $1,000. Suffice it to say, that money was dumped on liquor, food and much more betting within the hour. "No big deal," he announced to everyone within shouting distance. "I was gonna expense all this anyway."
These two court watchers from Tempe never meant to insert themselves into the middle of the Scott Peterson trial. Really. They were just in Redwood City, California, trying to get a coveted seat in the courtroom -- the next logical step for two Court TV obsessors, who'd made names for themselves as frequent posters on the Court TV Web site -- and figured that while they were in town they'd cruise around in their rental car, take a self-guided tour of the scenes of the crime. When McCallie took a photo of a bag of cement in Scott Peterson's driveway, then posted it on the Web, suddenly both "Jordie" and "Katie" (their screen names) were in the middle of the story they loved to chat about. McCallie was under a gag order for weeks, and while ultimately she was not called on to testify (the jury issued its "guilty" verdict before that), prosecutors say the photo was key evidence, useful in their courtroom strategy.

McCallie and Monkman are still avid court watchers, and New Times' story about their antics has drawn attention from screenwriters and television producers. We'll say we knew them when.

BEST PLACE FOR GUYS TO WATCH GIRLS GRIND ON EACH OTHER

Axis/Radius

Axis/Radius
We swear, if we took our mom to Ain't Nobody's Bizness, then drove her across town to Axis/Radius, she'd think the Scottsdale club was the lesbian bar. Everybody knows that the gals in the stylish Scottsdale clubs are stone-cold hotties, with their low-cut shirts and skirts so tight they could have been painted on. But at Axis/Radius, they let it all hang out, with full-on, girl-on-girl grinding. The guys love to gather 'round and watch the ladies go at it, even if the femmes fatales are "just friends" off the dance floor. And judging by the lack of same-sex ass-shaking and smacking when the guys aren't looking, the show is for the blokes, anyway. That's a nuance we figure would be lost on Mom.
So there we were, holed up in the dentist's office on a hot afternoon in June, having waited for hours and having read the last six issues of The Atlantic cover to cover, when, out of desperation, clean out of anything smart to read, we picked up a copy of People.

Oh, who are we fooling? We bought People in the grocery store and rushed home to read it.

Okay, where were we? We flipped through the pages, past Britney and Tom and Katie, to the good stuff: Mary Kay Letourneau's wedding to Vili Fualaau. You remember those two. She was his teacher, they slept together when he was (gasp!) 12. They had two children together and she served several years for child rape. A romantic tale.

As it turned out, Letourneau and Fualaau are living happily ever after -- at least, they were upon the occasion of their wedding, at a winery in Washington state. (He's 21, finally old enough to drink.) And one of Letourneau's friends, quoted right there in People magazine, a witness to the happy couple's nuptials, was Wendy Cracchiolo, Mary Kay's college roommate at the University of Arizona.

We almost dropped the magazine. We actually know Wendy Cracchiolo. She's the daughter of a well-known Phoenix attorney, Dan. She regularly makes the society pages here. She was Mary Kay Letourneau's roommate? Who knew?

Alas, we scanned the article for sordid details, but there were none. Cracchiolo only reported that there wasn't a dry eye in the house. No word on whether Cracchiolo, a Phoenix florist, had anything to do with the wedding flowers.

Cruisin' 7th
Lauren Cusimano
Our desert metropolis has everything, including a place where one can pick up a lady with a little something extra, if you know what we mean. These unique gals congregate for libations and laughter at Cruisin' Seventh, a queer neighborhood dive that's become popular with transgender and transsexual types. Entertainment by such drag performers as Ineda Buffet, Devina, and Evelyn Edwards has made this nightspot a weekend favorite. Both fake females and soon-to-be-females flock here to relax with a cocktail, play pool next to a wall canvassed in colorful murals, or chat it up with a handsome suitor who may or may not be worthy of such a woman. Don't take our word for it; cruise on in yourself.
Laurie, we hardly knew ya. That's so totally a lie. After countless years as a columnist at every rag in town (but this one) from Planet to the Arizona Republic, and -- count 'em -- four books of essays, we know everything about Laurie Notaro. Everything, from the time she tried out to be a Playboy bunny to the time her mother got a cockroach stuck in her ear. We've never laughed as hard as the night Laurie read the essay about the time her brown corduroy pants split, then offered them up as Exhibit A. When her first book, The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club, hit the New York Times best-seller list, we figured Laurie wasn't long for Phoenix, and we were right -- last year she moved to Eugene, Oregon. We miss Laurie, but we can't wait to read her tales of life in greener pastures. We won't have to wait that long for our next Laurie fix; An Idiot Girl's Christmas: True Tales From the Top of the Naughty List will be released in November. Laurie promises she'll come home to do a reading.
Locating this nightspot can be difficult if you're not a leather queen or at least a fan of same, since the Padlock has no flashy sign, just a giant black and blue flag (which means "Trusses and biker caps in here, lads!") painted on the front wall. Inside, dungeon decor and dartboards are the play stations of bare-chested, buff and burly studs who pack the place every weekend for special events like "Uniform Night" and the "Best Asset Contest" designed to make even the toughest leather daddy blush. "Drop'm and drink" Tuesdays get bottoms and tops alike to party in nothing but underwear for half-price drinks. Looking for an excuse to dust off those leather chaps and riding crop? Now's your chance to spank your weekend for being bad and embark on a night of naughty fun.

BEST AUTHOR WHO LEFT TOWN AND CAME BACK

Tania Katan

What's a nice Jewish girl like Tania Katan doing in a place like Phoenix? Very well, thank you. Katan was raised (at least partially) in the Valley, a proud graduate of McClintock High in Tempe, and she escaped to assorted environs including San Francisco and Long Beach, according to her book, My One-Night Stand With Cancer, which you really should read. Now she's back, and we're glad to have her. Katan is a fantastic writer; reading her book is like sitting down for a glass of wine with her -- although you'll be giddy enough from the literary ride she takes you on (even considering the subject, which you've guessed from the title). She's also a playwright and performer, and we hope to see her on a stage near us soon. For now, you can catch a glimpse of her when she runs in several races this October. We won't tell you why, but you won't be able to miss her.

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