The best gay nightclubs are the ones that welcome all shades of the rainbow, from post-op trannies to Latin lovers to straight women just looking for a place to party without having to fight off a dozen touchy-feely slimeballs. No matter what your preference, you can find it here. Karamba is friendly, inviting and pretty clean for a place that's packed on weekends. There are three large rooms inside, each with its own bar, and an outdoor patio for smokers or hombres wanting a private chat. Most nights, DJs spin cumbia, norteo and other Spanish styles. The sexy Susana, in her cowboy hat and tight jeans, hosts Vaquero Thursdays for all those cowpokes who'd rather saddle up with a partner than spend the night alone. While we'll miss "Hot Pink!" Fridays, we certainly aren't complaining about the replacement hunky go-go dancers with rippling pecs and rock-hard, er, abs. Ay, Karamba!
Angela is an "interdisciplinary artist" represented by one of the most prestigious venues in town, Bentley Gallery in Scottsdale. Tania is a writer and playwright with an acclaimed memoir, My One Night Stand With Cancer. You might have seen her at a local 10K running topless, fighting breast cancer. Sadly, the couple left town for L.A. several years ago, but lucky for us, they're back, making art, writing and teaching, spreading the wealth of their knowledge and spirit Angela as an assistant professor at Arizona State, and Tania through the Virginia G. Piper Center. One of their close friends put it best: "Angela is Tania's best reader and cheerleader; she's not afraid to say she doesn't like something Tania wrote if she doesn't think it's Tania's best work, and she's also at every performance and 10K/marathon Tania does." And Tania reminds Angela not to settle for less in her life: 'Honey, if you only look for a house in the ghetto, we'll only get a house in the ghetto.'"
Thank God they ditched the pool table to make room for more people. This hot homo hub serves up some of the best eye candy in Phoenix, from big-busted women in wife-beaters to femmes in frilly skirts. There are more good-looking women here than at any other lesbian bar in town. To put it bluntly, "the e" is a meat market. But we're not saying that like it's a bad thing. The place has a spacious sunken dance floor; cheap, strong drinks; hot wax spun by DJs Adrian and Domenica; performances by gay icons like Le Tigre's JD Samson, the Albuquerque Kings Club drag king troupe, and Lila Sherman; and fun parties with themes like pajamas, the military, and the '80s. Who wouldn't want to hook up with a hottie here?
How a retired woman made her fortune by recommending that one bathe the dog in Massengil, we'll never know. But we've gotta give Linda Cobb props. Not only can you see the self-named (and trademarked) Queen of Clean regularly on Good Morning Arizona (KTVK-TV, Channel 3), she appears on HGTV, the D.I.Y. Network there's no stopping her! Once a staple in your local Walgreens, her collection of books is now published by Simon & Schuster. She does make the rounds on the speaking circuit, dispensing advice, but we're quite certain that, no, she won't come over to your house with her mop, even if you pay her big bucks.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So he was born in Minnesota and grew up in Chicago. Big freakin' deal. Since his dad lives in the Valley, and he has come for repeated visits in the past year or two, the big funny guy counts as one of ours. Getting pulled over in Scottsdale last December on a suspicion of driving drunk, Jennifer Aniston in tow, only seals the deal. What could be more Arizona than narrowly avoiding a DUI? Best part of all: Vaughn got busted by the Scottsdale PD, not Sheriff Joe, thereby sparing us the horror of having to listen to Old Joe's senile rantings on Entertainment Tonight for days on end. We knew we liked this guy!
The ongoing redevelopment of downtown Phoenix has been something of a love-hate thing for us. We're down with revitalizing our city's urban core, but for every new posh loft and upscale eatery that debuts in and around Copper Square, cool places like Emerald Lounge and Newman's get shuttered. Which is why we're holding onto The News Room for dear life. It's a dope dive that's a little rough around the edges, because of its shabby decor and working-class regulars, but it's also one of the few downtown drinkeries that values character over kitsch. There ain't no highfalutin mixed drinks or overpriced bar food here, just plenty of cheap beer and booze, a jukebox, a pool table, and old-school bowling games. As the ultimate sign of hipster acceptance, punky and funky scenesters from the nearby arts district have started stopping by the joint, rubbing elbows with grizzled retirees and construction workers. You'd better get down there soon before Mayor Phil Gordon and company decide to raze it in favor of some ugly urban renewal project.
Hilary Griffith is not your typical beauty queen. Yes, she's a broadcast journalism major and she twirls a baton. But she also spins an amazing tale all true of what happened to her one night in November 2004, her sophomore year at Arizona State. A man broke into her Tempe apartment and raped her at knifepoint. Hilary has made it her cause to educate others; she's even taken part in a program sponsored by the Arizona Department of Corrections, in which victims visit prisons to share their stories with inmates. We can't imagine how hard that must be, and for that we applaud Hilary. She's definitely royalty in our book.
Carly's Bistro
If there was ever an excuse to mosey on down to Roosevelt for something other than the gallery scene, Carla Wade and John Logan's funky bistro is the reason. The arty couple opened the cozy eatery and wine bar to satisfy a need to feed hungry lunch folks and the libation-seeking arts crowd. A four-by-six-foot customized Steven Yazzie painting overlooks the bar, and rotating First Friday exhibits hang next to the funky sky-blue-and-tangerine-painted walls. Enjoy a wide selection of cheap domestic beer, affordable wine, and an assortment of luxurious imported beers, including three variations of Chimay, and the full-bodied Trappistes Rochefort, a Belgian creation brewed by Trappist monks. The bistro serves up southern European and Mediterranean fare ranging from healthful salads and soups to yummy appetizers (the Trio with three types of hummus) and grilled panini sandwiches on ciabatta we suggest the Ex-Patriot (turkey, Brie, tomato, and onion relish) and the Tuscan (sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, spinach and provolone with pesto). A full week of entertainment includes local bands Colorstore and Fatigo gigging on Tuesdays, a $3 wine special and live jazz by Alan Jones on Thursdays, and DJs spinning beats on Fridays and Saturdays.
Until this, the closest we'd come to knowing anyone whose work had appeared in The New Yorker was the time our friend Doug was a finalist in the caption-writing contest on the magazine's last page. That was cool, but this was cooler: Picking up the January 16 edition of the magazine and seeing a full-page drawing by Tempe artist Jon Haddock, illustrating a short story by Samantha Hunt (and she's from Arizona State University, another local connection!). Even now that he's been in The New Yorker, our favorite comic son remains humble and sweet and so talented.
The Dubliner Irish Pub & Restaurant
Lauren Cusimano
Here's an Irish-themed pub that's got everything non-leprechauns need to unwind after a long day at the office (or to get fugged up with friends on the weekends). There's a bar, of course, stocked with all sorts of brews and beers, usually served by the pint. There's a jukebox, stocked with country, pop, hip-hop, and rock. There are a couple of pool tables, and a couple of dartboards. The bar hosts karaoke and live music, and one of the most packed St. Patrick's Day parties in the Valley. But best of all, the walls are decorated with neon beer signs; the green felt on the pool table is faded and worn; the floor is almost always sticky; and the booths and tables are often full. The whole place gives off the vibe of a well-loved, über-used drinkin' hole.

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