MercBar
MercBar
If you want to find a well-heeled date for the future, or even a Rolly-wearin' husband-to-be, you don't have to confine your search to Scottsdale. All you need do is head over to Phoenix's ultra-cool Merc Bar, preferably on a Friday or Saturday night. You won't find a hipper watering hole in New York or L.A., and the place is always hoppin' with beautiful people. Who're not all under 25. Because, if you're looking for a sugar daddy, you generally want somebody who's old enough to actually be somebody's father. That way, he's probably been around long enough -- that is, made dolo enough -- to keep you in the style to which you'd like to become accustomed. We mean, if he's at the Merc Bar, he's obviously able to afford those frou-frou cosmos (which ain't cheap!) that any babe worth her knockoff Pradas expects her future daddy to be able to buy for her. In large quantities! What it may take to seal the deal, though, is a little somethin'-somethin' extra to show how much you appreciate your tycoon with style. We know a girl or two who's nailed her future significant other with a little trip to the Merc's restroom for a lip-smackin' good time. Now, take it from us, if you invite your soon-to-be lover-man to one of the bar's loos, make sure the two of you don't duck into the ladies' lavatory; it's been our experience that most women who ain't gettin' any get all schoolmarmish when a couple's doing it in the powder room. Guys, well, they just like to experience whatever sexual pleasure they can -- even if it's only vicariously through the door of a bathroom stall.
Whether playing a pompous, pomaded pirate or a foppish French schemer, actor Joseph Kremer was nearly perfect in numerous stage roles this past season. Whence this talented newcomer sprang is anyone's guess; his playbill bios don't mention acting academies or years spent in summer stock. But Kremer's talent spoke for itself, as he assayed a puffy baron in a sniffy French drawing-room comedy (Les Liaisons Dangereuses); a blustery buccaneer in a Gilbert and Sullivan musical (Pirates of Penzance); and the lead in a bizarre two-act that he all but stole from his castmates ([sic]). Perhaps Kremer is animatronic, in which case his builders should be commended for sending their newest model here to enhance our humble stages.
Although normally it may seem unwise to traipse around the seedier sections of downtown Phoenix after 2 a.m., that's usually when the after-hours parties at Scot McKenzie and Justin McBee's establishment -- located on the crack-laced fringes of the downtown warehouse district -- get going. You don't have to worry about either your car or your life, as there's always someone at the door scoping out any potential thuggery. Safely inside the venue, you can kick back and relax with the crowd that's come for one of the late-night fetes Scot and Justin throw during First Fridays or a few select dates each month. Make your way to the back where a garagelike soundscape/stage will probably be hosting a DJ, noise artist, the MadCaPs, or even McKenzie's own group Waveformanalogueresearch. Just make sure you bring some Mace for the trip back to your car.
Being the only saving grace in the horror that was last summer's Menopause: The Musical would have been enough to win her our deep gratitude and affection, but then Cathy Dresbach appeared in the lead in Actors Theatre's Nickel and Dimed, playwright Joan Holden's comic adaptation of Barbara Ehrenreich's nonfiction best seller, and we were reminded what a local treasure she really is. As Ehrenreich, Dresbach was utterly convincing as a confident journalist and a deeply humbled activist, and director Kirk Jackson wisely let her show off her ample clowning skills, as when she pitched a comic fit in a Wal-Mart clothing department -- a bit so funny it received an ovation on opening night. We look forward to many more such moments from Dresbach, Phoenix's very own first lady of theater.
Okay, so last year at this time, we thought we'd pat the bad boys at the all-night party scene called the Black and Tan on the shoulders by writing them up as the "Best Worst-Kept Secret." Hey, we were just trying to tell you guys that you rock! But what followed were more denunciations and finger-pointing than at a Stalinist show-trial. Though we only used the well-known initials "B & T," and never disclosed the address of the not-so-secret locale, we were accused, loudly and dramatically, of betraying the underground. (Gasp!) The Black and Tan would now have to cease and desist, we were told, and tickets were printed up advertising the B & T's last show because of the treachery of Phoenix New Times. A string of letters calling us out were received, as were some not-so-veiled threats. But a year later, the Black and Tan is still around, and hardly seems to be much of a secret. Why, they're even listed now! Well, bully for them. Could this be a stab at respectability? Hey, it's all good, bros. Why, we'll even buy an official Black and Tan tee shirt whenever you've got 'em ready. Think we could get a media discount?
This past season, someone named Teresa Ybarra walked off with an entire play, and then -- as far as we can tell -- vanished into thin air. Despite her rather limited acting experience, Miss Ybarra saved the sinking ship that was Alternative Theatre's A Night in Vegas, an otherwise untidy muddle of playlets by local playwright Joe Marshall, with her appearance in a single scene. In a skit titled "Helen and Jack," Ybarra delighted audiences as the anxious mother of a man who's about to wed a fellow nearly twice his age. Her hilarious monologue, spoken mostly into a telephone receiver, accelerated into an aria of nervous laughter and warm twitterings, then recoiled into a tearful fit of anger and fear. It was a performance as moving as it was hilarious, and one worth the price of admission to this otherwise also-ran production. Come back, Teresa Ybarra. We want more.
We're counting our blessings that Sarah Wolter wound up impersonating '70s-era Cocaine-and-Leotards Liza Minnelli, rather than, say, '80s Post-Rehab Pet Shop Boys Liza, or New Millennium Married To A Scary-Looking Homosexual Liza. But still, the truth is that Wolter didn't so much play Sally Bowles in Phoenix Theatre's messy and ultimately dull Kander and Ebb rerun as she did impersonate Minnelli's performance in the film version of Cabaret. Okay, so Wolter nailed every one of Minnelli's odd facial twitches and limp-wristed stances from the movie, but if we wanted female impersonation, we'd head over to Pookie's. Wolter's Liza impersonation didn't make us want to put down the knitting, the book and the broom so much as it made us want to go home and play our Liza With a Z! album.
Once upon a time, a guy named Steve Almond (really, that's his name) wrote a book about chocolate. He traveled to candy factories all over the country, cataloguing his funny experiences and funnier insights in Candy Freak, an odd but compelling memoir that became a smash hit.

This is a man who has spent a great deal of time lamenting the existence of the white chocolate Kit Kat. Almond came to town to promote his new collection of short stories (his true passion, next to chocolate -- although, sadly, short stories apparently don't sell as well as chocolate stories, even if the former includes many mentions of oral sex) and an idea was hatched: What if someone designed a piece of chocolate to Steve Almond's very picky specs? Almond was game (who wouldn't be?) and offered his blueprint for the dream piece of chocolate: caramel infused with dark chocolate and cinnamon with Rice Krispies and a dark chocolate shell.

That was no problem for Colin Redding, who works for his family's business, Granny's Chocolate Creations, a real chocolate factory in Gilbert. Almond came to town and read both his oral-sex-laden stories and some bits from Candy Freak, then everyone tried the Steve Almond, which you can try at Granny's or in a "book of chocolates" for sale at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. Here's what Almond himself had to say about the candy, later:

"It's a TONGUEGASM. I LOVE how the cinnamon infusion blooms on the tongue, the soft, buttery texture of the caramel as it plays against the dark chocolate. . . . It's unstoppable. Like licking the brownie bowl and having tantric sex, all at once."

Guess he liked it.

Holgas Gallery
If nothing else, Angela Pulliam and lesbian burlesque troupe Lezbos-A-Gogo prove that even girls who just love girls can appreciate a good wiener from time to time -- as evidenced by the hot dog stand the lusty ladies run every First Friday from 7 to 11:30 p.m. outside Holga's, a popular art house/apartment complex just off Roosevelt Row. As if hot girls who dig hot girls serving up all-beef plumpers weren't enough, Pulliam offers patrons the "Horny Dog" combo -- a voluptuous hot dog with all the fixin's, chips and a drink for just five bucks. But, as Pulliam says, "It ain't our hot dogs! It's our buns!"
Mucho Gusto Taqueria & Mexican Bistro
Feeling guilty because you downed that Colorado pork stew with a little too mucho gusto? Head for the ladies' room. No, not to stick your finger down your throat. Look around, girlfriend. You're in good company. The stout figures adorning the walls are repros of the work of Fernando Botero, the Colombian artist who made his name painting chubbies. Even the mirror is pointed upward, so you can get a good glimpse of your face but skip your thighs. See, you look great! Go have dessert.

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