Local Wire

French Kiss

As my girlfriend CooKie and I approach the entrance of the new Mondrian (pronounced mon-dree-on, best with a pretentious French accent) on a recent Tuesday night, I get an urge to run away.

This is so not my scene. I usually hang out in rock clubs, dive bars, strip clubs, and grimy arena green rooms. I own one coat, and it's an old leather motorcycle jacket. This is the jacket I am wearing with checkered dress pants, a Donna Karan dress shirt (secondhand), and polished black shoes. CooKie's wearing all black, with a big silver belt buckle that reads, "It Ain't Gonna Lick Itself."

And here we are in Old Town Scottsdale, at a very swanky VIP cocktail reception for the opening of this superstylish, multimillion-dollar upscale hotel, where the valet-parking queue includes a black limousine, a silver Bentley, and a yellow Lamborghini with California plates. Everybody's wearing something designer, looking immaculate as they walk up the red carpet.

We get a few sideways glances as CooKie grabs my hand and we traipse into the Mondrian looking like we might fuck some shit up.

I feel like I'm entering some huge palace. There are flowing, floor-to-ceiling sheer white curtains everywhere, a fountain filled with rose petals, several nude angel sculptures, and couches with big, plush pillows. This was just the entrance patio.

Inside the main hall, there's a "heaven" theme going on. The walls, floors, and ceilings are all white, and some parts of the south wall have artsy little 3-D white orbs running down them. There are some "clouds" hovering above our heads — big, fluffy, white-cotton suspensions, wrinkled enough to resemble giant pasty brains, after a couple of drinks.

Servers drift by with food and drink, and music drifts out of the sound system. What are they playing in heaven? A Bee Gees remix, of course.

Since I'm already out of my comfort zone, CooKie decides to push me even further by insisting I try every hors d'oeuvre (best pronounced or-derv, with a pretentious French accent) that comes my way. I make it a point to say whores-devour all night. The problem with the hors d'oeuvres is that they're coming at me every 30 seconds, and I can barely finish eating one before CooKie shoves another in my mouth. And most of the hors d'oeuvres contain some kind of seafood, which I hate.

"This is tuna tartare."

"These are crab cakes."

"Coconut shrimp?"

I actually eat one of everything, even the nasty sea spawn. The only thing that I absolutely cannot swallow is the roasted duck, which is revolting. I'm sure it's delicious for people who love duck, but I can't stand the aftertaste. I stop chewing the duck and hold it in my mouth, desperately looking for a server with a napkin so I can spit it out. The main hall is packed with people (there are hundreds here), and suddenly the servers have disappeared.

We finally make it to somebody with some napkins, and I do what I have to do, but there don't seem to be any trash cans in heaven, so we head for one of the bar areas.

This room is "hell," with red walls, red ceilings, red leather and satin couches and beds, red tables with big glass-cherry centerpieces, and a red bar. I order a Corona (because they don't have Pabst), and we decide to move on because there's no music playing in hell — just a cacophonous clusterfuck of conversations.

We wander to the opulent outside patio, which winds around the back of the building and includes a "sky bar" where the DJ's bumpin' Moby's "South Side." Out here, everything is black and white — zebra-striped couches, black-and-white-polka-dot beds, shiny black metal chairs, two roaring white fireplaces. Each couch has a set of thick white curtains around it for potential privacy, which we take advantage of for a few minutes.

When we pull back the curtain, a server's standing there with a tray. "What is it?" I ask.

"It's . . . the rooaasted duck!" he proclaims, shoving the tray toward me with scary enthusiasm. He might as well have been saying, "It's . . . the buuubonic plague!"

Fuck the duck. CooKie and I continue exploring the patio, and stumble upon a 15-foot-tall sculpture of an egg. She snaps some pictures of me humping the egg, squealing with delight at the shots. "Oh, yes, gross!"

People stare as we make our way from the patio into the restaurant, where there's a huge image of a rooster covering the south wall. Like the rest of the amazing maze that is the Mondrian, this room's design just screams, "High-society sex!"

"You've got to get your picture taken with the giant cock," I tell CooKie, who strikes several coy, "oh-my-God-it's-so-naughty" poses under the rooster.

In addition to the recurring rooster motif on the walls, there are many large sculptures depicting bowls of bulging fruits, which are piled all over each other in contorted positions — a banana penetrating a peach, grapes clustered around pears, everything seeming to writhe and moan in stone. They look like something out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

As we're leaving the restaurant, I notice the lovely white-lily centerpieces on all of the tables. The soft flower petals are open to reveal the purple-spotted nectar core. It's very vaginal; Georgia O'Keeffe was not stretching her imagination. CooKie's several feet away when I scream, "Vagina!" and point at the lilies. A handful of people glance over and look embarrassed.

We're having loads of fun, and although this isn't the type of place I could afford to frequent, the extravagant atmosphere is the bomb. The concierge area is all fluffy and feminine, with pink curtains and fur everywhere, as well as a designer fragrance shop. There's a modeling agency downstairs, surrounded by wavy, white-leather deco couches that snake across the plush burgundy carpet to cover half the length of the room. There are even artsy gray designs painted on the friggin' sidewalks. It's "Venus in Furs" for the new millennium. I've personally never seen anyplace so extravagant in Phoenix, and that includes Scottsdale (there's also a Mondrian in Los Angeles — I haven't been there, either).

After some more swilling, swearing, and revisits to the numerous themed rooms, CooKie and I head back to our own 'hood to catch the Chico Chism memorial show at the Rhythm Room on Indian School. We're already talking about going back to the Mondrian sometime. That place just has a certain je ne sais quoi. Best pronounced zhen-uh-say-kwa. With a pretentious French accent.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea