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Hot Pink Perdition

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"This club reminds me of the old Atomic Cafe," offers Jim. "Hasn't been a club around like that since it closed down."

Jett swoons whenever Atomic Cafe's mentioned. A post-goth paradise lost.

"I work at Hot Topic, the one at the PV Mall, but I didn't get my clothes from there," he adds proudly.

"You're 26 and you work at Hot Topic?"

"I'm a musician mostly," he assures. "I sing in a band called Silence of Sound. Used to sing in a band called Victims of Ecstasy. Heavy rock with sequencing. You know, programming, little extra layers of stuff we record in the studio and bring to the live show."

Victims of Ecstasy. Like Michael Jackson's accusers. The love that dare not speak its name in open court.

Heleit Hackett, 21, introduces herself, slurping a vodka-cranberry, slurring her consonants. Tomboyish with short two-toned hair, she explains her name is Israeli and means "halo." She's a fallen angel, natch. Comes to Hot Pink for the music.

"It's just something I can dance to," she replies. "And I don't have to worry about hip-hop guys rubbing up against me. I totally love '80s pop and New Wave. And electroclash stuff like Dirty Sanchez."

Heleit's pre-med at Arizona State University. "I'm the future of America," she tells me. "I'm going to make a lot of money someday."

"Out to save mankind, eh?"

She looks puzzled. "Have another drink, Heleit, the world's your oyster."

As she staggers off, a transvestite the size of a defensive tackle passes us. Now here's someone I want to talk to. Jett and I follow her to the women's room where he disappears inside.

Jett slithers into the jam-packed chicks' baño in hot pursuit. I swallow a mouthful of Absolut, turn around abruptly and almost run over Kristen Wright and her pal Ian Walden, both 23. Kristen is heavily tatted, with Japanese flowers and snakes up one arm and a large heart on her back. Has on a beige tube-top thingy, showing plenty of skin.

After she gets over the shock of almost getting flattened by a fat man the size of a Coke machine, she says, "I made this, actually. It used to be a slip."

Looks like a tablecloth. "This your boyfriend?" I inquire about Ian.

"No, uh, yes."

"Here's an easier question: This is supposed to be an '80s-inspired club. Is that why you come?"

"Well, the '80s were fucking awesome! If I had my way, I'd be a teenager in the '80s. A Madonna clone."

Jesus, I hate Madonna, no matter what the decade. Gap-toothed, talentless bizz-atch. Gets uglier with each passing year. Wouldn't fuck her with Jett's strap-on. "Tell me, if you guys dig the '80s, why aren't you dressed more, well, '80s-style?"

"Whadaya mean?" asks denim-clad Ian, Mr. Pugnacious. "I'm totally '80s. Check out the tee shirt." He opens his jacket to reveal Huey Lewis and the News.

"Huey Lewis, huh?"

"The heart of rock 'n' roll is still beating," he says. "They're my favorite band."

"My heart goes out to you," I say, "it really does."

Jett returns, empty-handed. "I lost her."

"You lost her? She could've passed for Warren Sapp in makeup! How'd you lose that?"

"She got past me, what can I say?"

"Never send a lesbian to do a man's job."

"Or do a man," she cracks. "Hey, look who's here."

"It's the Nordic princess of the pole!" I declare. Earlier, Jett had elbowed me in the ribs so I wouldn't miss this babe in action.

Turns out she's Christine Kastensmith, 24. A Lisa Kudrow look-alike with body art, she's got tats on her chest, up and down one arm, even on her feet.

Christine's a Realtor, and a twin. She and sis Jennifer call themselves The Real Estate Twins. Clever.

The last time I met a beautiful, straight woman in this town, she was a Realtor. Had to promise to let her sell me a house to get her phone number. "You really a twin?" I ask, hoping to avoid a sales pitch.

"Fraternal, but we look enough alike to be identical." At five-eleven and heels, she's hovering over me. I resist the urge to ask if I can go up on her. "I've been here every night since it opened. The crowd is so different. I feel like I can make a total ass out of myself and nobody cares."

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons