There are a few reasons for this: There's too much she said-she said drama in the small scene. The music (mostly Top 40 and hip-hop) isn't my bag. And the women in lesbian clubs tend to not be as hot as the women in straight clubs.
I also don't have a lot of lesbian friends. Most of my female friends are either straight or consider themselves bisexual. So when I go out with them, we usually hit rock clubs, metrosexual dance nights like Tranzylvania at Palazzo and French Kiss at Burn, or fetish events.
I've had some really great nights at places like NYC's Clit Club and London's Candy Bar in Soho. What made those places so much fun were the reputations that preceded them they had distinct identities that drew people in. Clit Club lived up to its rep as the hottest lesbian night with the hottest women and the hottest music in the East Village (until the clubs that hosted it closed). And Candy Bar has the distinction of serving several signature shots you won't find anywhere else and attracting celebs like Martina Navratilova, Naomi Campbell, and Belinda Carlisle.
Most important, both places had hordes of hot women, which let's face it is the one thing you gotta have to bring in the lesbians. Glamour is not just the domain of gay men. It takes more than a pitcher of beer and a pool table to get some of us to stick around.
I can't totally tear down Phoenix's gay and lesbian bar scene. The sheer number of lesbian and gay clubs alone deserves some props (31 at last count). Then again, I'm from Indiana, which has more KKK chapters than it ever will gay clubs. Still, without a constant influx of celebrities or big-city hotties, our Sapphic nightspots here in the Valley suffer from a serious case of sameness. One lesbian bar is as good (or bad) as another. Everything's so subjective when it comes to clubs, anyway. What really makes one bar better than another?
Having a good time is what counts, no matter where you are, and the key to a good time is not necessarily a nightclub. In my opinion, it's about having great friends and making your own fun, whether you're drinking Cosmos and doing the electric slide in the bar bathroom, or acting stupid at the Filiberto's drive-thru speaker at 3 a.m.
In Phoenix, you can't count on the lesbian clubs to have the party you gotta be ready to bring the party.
Since several of our city's lesbian clubs are clustered in central Phoenix, club-hopping is pretty convenient. And on a recent Friday night, that's exactly what my girlfriend CooKie and I decided to do. There's this new weekly at Club Vibe called "Boobie" that we wanted to check out. The flier promised "AZ's finest ladies every Friday night," and a music mix of reggaeton and Spanish pop. We decided to make Boobie our last stop of the night because it looked like it might have the most action. And though things didn't really turn out as planned, I ended up having more fun in Phoenix on a way too hot summer night than I did at Clit Club or Candy Bar.
When I met CooKie at a fetish event in Tucson almost two years ago, I had no idea what was in store. She kept talking about "her girls" (as in the Pussy Posse Girls, the edgy burlesque troupe), and all these crazy things she'd done with them. CooKie is the leader of the Posse and a prominent figure in the Phoenix fetish scene; she's got a reputation for getting wild with several women at once. She quickly showed me that she doesn't have to do anything but send a mass text message to surround herself with sexy ladies.
In the two years I've known CooKie, I've met more hot, horny women than I did during nine years of clubbing. And since CooKie and I are both commitment-phobic, we have an open relationship. Basically, that means we're "together" but we both casually date other people, and picking up chicks is a team effort when we're out.
Tonight, CooKie's agreed to come with me on the condition that she can bring squirt guns. She's looking for trouble.
CooKie will definitely get attention this evening at almost 6 feet in her elevated shoes, with an assortment of tattoos, brandings, and implants (most recently, a set of high-end hooters from a Scottsdale plastic surgeon), she stands out.
After taking in some country music and watching women with mullets line dance at the Cash Inn, we swing by the pitch-black Incognito on Thomas, which (surprise!) isn't open.
CooKie keeps sending text messages to the Posse Girls, trying to get them to meet up with us at some of these places. Nobody seems interested in anything but Boobie, but CooKie and I are saving that for later because we want to get there when everybody's drunk and bumpin'.
Boobie needs more foreplay.
So we head for zGirl Club, where two of the Pussy Posse Girls, Playa and Punk, have agreed to meet us. The club sits on a stretch of 7th Avenue, just north of Indian School Road, that's dominated by gay clubs and businesses. There are several gay-owned vintage shops on the strip and zGirl is a very short walk from another well-known lesbian club, e-Lounge which is where we park for zGirl, as its own minuscule lot is already crammed full of cars.
Playa's waiting at the club when we arrive around 10 p.m., and all three of us are pleased with the scene here. I used to come here every so often for the drag king shows when zGirl Club was called Misty's, but I never came here to hook up because the crowd was mostly composed of mullet-wearin' mamas who danced in Dockers to old Janet Jackson tunes.
But it seems as if a lot has changed since the Misty's days. Tonight, zGirl Club is full of females of every type. There are still some mullets, but the majority of the women here are fucking hot. There's a young lady dressed in a cop costume that I can't stop staring at; a beautiful Asian woman with a Mohawk whose date is a tall, lanky, bald babe with some beautiful tats; a gorgeous black woman with bone structure to die for (hello, Iman!); and a Latina waitress with long, luxurious locks who keeps dancing around and grinding up on CooKie. The music is much better than it used to be, too, partly thanks to DJ Domenica, a longtime spinner at lesbian clubs, who's bumpin' hot hip-hop hits tonight that actually pack the dance floor.
CooKie gives Playa a squirt gun (she's brought a small arsenal), and they head for the bathroom to load up. I have opted not to participate in any water wars, but Playa, a cute, little punk rock chick from Cali who digs all things Alice in Wonderland and works as a Volkswagen mechanic, is totally down for some shenanigans.
On the dance floor, CooKie celebrates our arrival by pulling out her purple plastic gun and squirting Playa in the face with a stream of sink water.
Playa fires back, and suddenly, it's all-out war, with both of them shooting and running relentlessly. CooKie ducks behind other dames as Playa jockeys for position near the stripper pole. The water in the squirt guns is cold, and other patrons scream and gasp with surprise when some wayward water splashes across their backs. After 30 seconds of chaos, the big bouncer woman walks up to CooKie and politely but sternly says, "Don't do that in here."
So the melee spills into the zGirl parking lot, where CooKie and Playa empty their squirt guns onto each other (and me). They go back inside to refill, and we start walking toward e-Lounge. All three of us are wet now.
While we're meandering down 7th Avenue, I hear someone yelling "Fuck you! Fuck yooou!" at us. I turn around and see the Pussy Posse Punk smiling and flipping us off from the driver's seat of her SUV. CooKie yells for Punk to park at e-Lounge, and she and Playa start walking toward Punk's vehicle.
"Yeah, I'll park at your mom's house!" Punk yells, right before getting a massive blast of water in the face from her friends.
CooKie and Playa run toward the next club, giggling, while Punk screeches off toward the e-Lounge parking lot. She's getting out of her truck when the pair bum rushes her again, dousing her shirt. Punk, who's also the drummer for local band Tremulants, has short, crazy hair that naturally stands up like she's in an electrical storm, and a high-energy personality to match. She's good-natured about the assault, screaming threats through her laughter and helplessly covering her head with her hands.
Inside e-Lounge, the crowd doesn't look very promising. There are several people on the dance floor and a bunch of women by the bar, but none of them passes muster with CooKie, so we go make out by the bathrooms while Playa and Punk make out at the bar.
Suddenly, Cookie seizes my shoulder. "Quick, let's go T.P. Punk's truck while she's distracted!"
Well, we did buy all that red crepe paper and those letter magnets earlier . . .
Outside, CooKie quickly starts draping the red paper all over the SUV while I begin spelling out "YOUR MOM EATS GREAT PUSSY" in big, colorful magnetic letters across the driver's side. A girl with glasses gets out of the car next to us and asks CooKie what she's doing.
"It's okay, we know her," CooKie says. "Help me!"
The girl looks at CooKie, who's bent over the hood with her boobs almost hanging out, and stutters, "Uh, okay. Sure . . ."
The two of them make short work of the ream of crepe paper, and then CooKie hands me her camera and poses proudly next to her work.
We go back in the bar and commence looking for a hot woman. After all four of us come up short, we decide it's time for the main event: Boobie.
But first, Cookie wants to see Punk's reaction to our friendly vandalism. After seeing the message on her truck, Punk screams at CooKie, "My mom eats great pussy, huh? Yeah, well, your mom doesn't, and I KNOW!"
We chuckle all the way to Club Vibe.
Boobie only started on June 8, but I'd been seeing it hyped on MySpace for months. Not only was the name catchy I mean, who doesn't love some Boobie? but the flier advertised a "spectacular sound and light show." Oh, yeah, and hot women.
Club Vibe opened where Phoenix's most celebrated lesbian bar, Ain't Nobody's Bizness, used to be in a strip mall with a bowling alley off Indian School. In its heyday, "The Biz" was the lesbian nightspot, with lines winding down the sidewalk on some nights and hardly any room on the dance floor.
Last year, the space was sold to two gay men, who turned it into Club Vibe. The pair has admittedly been struggling to attract the lesbian crowd. CooKie thinks the owners have been struggling because lesbians are loyal to the lesbian owners of other clubs and won't support something owned by gay men.
I don't know if that's necessarily true, but I do know that Club Vibe's at least been attempting to find a niche, spinning heavy doses of Latin pop and reggaeton, trying to draw in the lesbian Latina crowd (not a bad idea, as Paco Paco and Karamba pretty much have a monopoly on the gay Latino scene). This Boobie weekly, which is put on by Carnival Latino and AZ Club Lipstick, seems to have the most potential for success, offering live DJ mixes, $2 domestic pitchers, raffles for tickets to Phoenix Mercury basketball games, and no cover before 10:30 p.m. (it costs $5 after that).
We arrive around midnight, which is high-action time at most clubs. But here, the action is moderate. There are only about 40 people (of both genders), and continuous scoping of the bar reveals only one really sexy woman a tiny Latina in a tight, white dress who's jiggling like Jell-O out on the dance floor to Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie." There's a handful of other attractive gals, and at least a dozen people dancing, but the vibe is otherwise low-key.
Playa and Punk dance for a few songs, and CooKie and I go fool around in the bathroom. Then we sit at the bar and she sends text messages to people while I watch the hot Latina. It's not long before my companions complain of boredom. CooKie gives me the breakdown. "Okay, so zGirl Club had the most hot chicks, and there are a handful of hot chicks here. Cash Inn and e-Lounge were eh. But, baby, this Boobie thing is lame."
One of the problems may be the fact that while reggaeton star Daddy Yankee's blaring out of the sound system, the televisions above the bar are showing muted Ozzy Osbourne videos. Some gay bars in town, like Velocity and Plazma, use their television screens to show footage of hot, half-naked men. So if Club Vibe's gonna shoot for the whole "hot Latina" vibe, they oughtta put images of sexy spitfires on their screens instead of a middle-aged British metal singer.
And there's another drawback: The size of the club has been cut almost in half since it ceased being The Biz. Total capacity is now only 200 people probably not enough for the Valley's prominent promoters, and certainly not enough for out-of-town promoters like L.A.'s "GirlBar," which books special events around Phoenix every couple of months. When the building housed The Biz, it had a fenced-off, all-ages section. Many people of drinking age grumbled about the chain-link segregation, but that area was packed almost every night. Now, there's not a single all-ages lesbian bar in town. Maybe opening their doors to the 18-and-over gay crowd that doesn't have anywhere else to go would help business (just not the bar tabs, which unfortunately, are the lifeblood of most clubs).
And because having hot women is the most important part of a good lesbian club night, the guys who own Club Vibe have gotta figure out how to get the girls there. I suggest taking a cue from zGirl Club and hosting amateur pole dancing and wet T-shirt competitions. Women may not like to admit it, but we, too, ogle and drool like dogs when we see something supersexy.
Speaking of sexy, Playa and Punk decide to dance to one more song before we leave. It's some hip-hop mix mashed up with norteño, and Punk's bent over in front of Playa, doing some bizarre butt-shake thing. Playa slyly reaches down and unsnaps Punk's belt without her noticing, and when Punk stands up straight, her shorts drop to her knees. She quickly gathers her britches and we head for the door, laughing.
It's 1 a.m. The bar closes in an hour. If Boobie hasn't picked up by now, it's probably not gonna happen tonight. (We went back the following Friday, after promoters started marketing Boobie as "a night for gays and lesbians," and found that the coed crowd had grown quite a bit.)
I'm not giving up hope yet. To be fair, Boobie is but a teat. And we are but four frisky chicks heading out to have a combined squirt gun battle and wet T-shirt contest in the parking lot.
Our stops this evening:
Cash Inn Country
2120 E. McDowell Road
A hunker-down waterin' hole with wood-paneled walls, beer banners, and Christmas light decor, Cash Inn is the place for cool country spun by DJs Delicious and Rebecca, as well as weekly activities like karaoke, pool, poker, and line dancing.
2424 E. Thomas Road
A lesbian dance club with a strong urban vibe, Incog seems to attract its share of couples and provides a low-profile, laid-back atmosphere for making out in the dark.
4301 N. 7th Avenue
Formerly known as Misty's, zGirl is a busy neighborhood bar that hosts all sorts of action, from amateur pole dancing and "Drag King Idol" competitions to DJs spinning Top 40 and live music from Sapphic songbirds like Arielle Silver and Nels.
4343 N. 7th Avenue
A spacious dance club where DJs Static and Freedom play hip-hop and house music, e-Lounge is prone to throwing themed parties, and has held such soirees as "Ghetto Trash" and "Military Party" alongside the occasional drag king show.
3031 E. Indian School Road
Club Vibe has scaled back since taking over the space that used to house Ain't Nobody's Bizness. but there's still a pool table, darts, and DJs spinning reggaeton, Top 40, Spanish pop, and hip-hop. "Boobie" is the club's newest weekly event.