"Hey, Cap'n," Chuey calls over to Giligin's proprietor "Cap'n Mike" Field. "Think those Aruban dudes did her like this?"
A chorus of groans and guffaws ensues, then Cap'n Mike announces a "Find Natalee Holloway" contest, with the person who locates a hidden Holloway pic under his or her chair winning "five whole Giligin's dollars" to be spent in-house.
Other secret squares past and present include Terri Schiavo, John Wayne Gacy, Jesus Christ, the recently deceased Don Knotts, and erstwhile Man of Steel Christopher Reeve. Reeve's photo usually draws this joke from Chuey:
"Hey, Cap, know what's the opposite of Christopher Reeve? Christopher Walken."
That's not as bad as some of Chuey's other un-P.C. quips, like when a night starts out slow, and he says, "Jesus, it's like Rosa Parks in here. Dead." When he takes a stab at Field's Jewishness, "Know what made Hitler cry, Cap'n? He finally got the gas bill." Or when he announces to some fellow Latino that, "I love Jesus, I mean Hay-zus. He mows my lawn every Saturday."
No one is spared, no holy heifer goes ungrilled during Giligin's Wheel of Fear Factor Wednesday nights (festivities begin at 10), where a rowdy crowd of knuckle-draggers, college kids and Snottsdale wenches assembles to watch drunks, dillweeds and the occasional dime spin the big wheel and try to solve word puzzles that'd give Pat Sajak a grand mal seizure, like "Finger My Furburger Until I Pee" or "Jizz Up My Smelly Twat U Fuck Bag." This while ingesting everything from whole cans of dog food and bowls of beef bile to plates of giant Thai roaches and mayonnaise cupcakes laced with wig hair. The contestants in this wack-ass Howard Stern Show come to life are vying for the grand prize, a keg of beer. And in the process, Cap'n Mike and Chuey do their demented best to persuade the gals to doff their tops and the dudes to blow chunks into the tall trash can set center stage.
In general, players spin a flat roulette wheel labeled "100 points," "500 points," etc. A few sections are inscribed "Fear Factor," and should you land on one of these, you have the option of noshing something rank for mega-points, or pussying out and losing a turn at picking a consonant or a vowel and possibly figuring out the puzzle after Chuey's finished playing pintsize Vanna White. The Cap'n normally offers squalies the chance to bare their jumblies for up to 10,000 points, unless they're really old, ugly or flat-chested. A point total of 10,000 is enough to net a kegger if you win, and it's a hell of a lot more than the 3,000 points you'll get for sucking back a humongo horseradish milkshake or chowing down on a pile of crickets, all while Cap'n Mike and Chuey make guttural noises that sound like the first stages of the heaves. Sadly for the Jettster and me, no bimbette has ever taken the bait while we've been present, though according to everyone we've talked to, it's been known to happen.
"What's the matter with these dumb bitches?" wonders the Jettster, annoyed as yet another chick refuses to reveal her tits. "Let me play, Kreme. I'll show 'em my funbags!"
"Easy there, kemosabe," I tell the PHX's switch-hittin' Stacy Keibler. "Your job is to snap pics, not unsnap your bra strap. Besides, I'm playing in the next round. That's agreed."
"Whatever," she harrumphs. "As long as I get a chance to check out Chuey's churro. I wanna see if big things come in small packages."
If it ain't exactly Skin Cabaret up in the G-spot here, as we like to call Giligin's, there are plenty of Joe Rogan-esque shenanigans, like the dude who had to drink the juice from a douche fresh out of the package, or the old fart forced to don "sensory deprivation" goggles and attempt the "seven mystery shots," a series that includes crap like Vietnamese fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and melted butter, only to end up with a set of verdant choppers when he knocks back what seems to be the easiest one, a highball of pure green food coloring. Then there was this Mexican cat, dubbed "Guns and Nachos" by Chuey, who braved "the ring of fire" (code for a pint glass of jalapeño juice), and some red food coloring, only to spew it all up after getting halfway through a bowl of crickets. Most folks don't win anything, but every participant at least gets a twisted "Ladmo bag" filled with toys and candy, and labeled things like "Pee in Your Butt Bag" and "Knuckles Deep Bag."
Best of all was this gay guy Eric, who just stumbled in blotto from BS West and ended up a big winner, taking home the keg and a cardboard box filled with bottles of booze after munching out on a plate of steamed duck embryos, several cockroaches, black thousand-year-old eggs from China, and edible beef bile -- reputedly the one thing that always makes a contestant spew a rainbow shower. Eric didn't gag, though, maybe because "he's had worse things in his mouth," the Cap'n proclaimed. The high point came when Eric had to don bunny ears and eat dog food out of a bowl on the floor as Chuey made fart noises into the mic.
"The dog food was absolutely the worst," Eric asserted later, tossing his head and smoking a ciggy with a Truman Capote-esque flair. "The beef bile? That was fine. Tasted like au jus."
After attending several WFF free-for-alls, I'm hooked, and any hump night not spent in Giligin's cantina-like waterin' hole at 4251 North Winfield Scott Plaza in Scottsdale is a hump night wasted. You never know what's gonna happen, and the Field and Chuey team can be a freakin' riot -- like a Ren & Stimpy marathon or a DVD compilation of Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes. That is, as long as you're not some Bible-thumpin' PTA prude with an arm-size stick up your fanny.
"It's a bar, people are drunk, shit happens," states the puffy-faced Field one night, pre-performance. "But people still get pissed off. They write letters, make phone calls, contact every city and state department to complain. They forget, it's midnight on a Wednesday at a bar. We're not a Denny's here."
According to the Cap'n, a tall, thick S.O.B. who resembles actor Randy Quaid, the concept started back in the early '90s when he co-owned a joint called Rowdy's in Tempe, and they had something called Wheel of Misfortune with the same setup, sans leprechaun. When TV's Fear Factor came along, they changed the name of their gig.
Rowdy's is history now. As is the branch of Giligin's the Cap'n once had back in Pattaya Beach, Thailand, though the photos on the door of the Scottsdale locale and in the restroom there tell the tale of some wild-ass times in Siam. Field returns periodically to Thailand, where he keeps a condo, hence his familiarity with all of the bizarre Asian delicacies like sea cucumbers and silkworms that he usually procures from Lee Lee Oriental Market in Chandler.
The Cap'n is a complex fella, usually ribald and eager to entertain, yet frequently morose and suspicious. No matter how many times we told the guy we thought Wheel of Fear Factor was off the chain, he'd end up muttering, "I know I'm gonna get screwed by this story somehow." The dood's the Rodney Dangerfield of club owners.
His affection for his vertically challenged sidekick seems to know no bounds, however. And for good reason. It's the Cap'n's show, but Chuey is most definitely the star, and nothing shines so bright as a dwarf star. Get it?
"The Lord brought Chuey to me," half-kids the Cap'n. "I'd been praying for years and years for a midget. Then one of my waitresses says, 'Hey, I know a midget,' and brought him down. It was love at first sight. I told him it's gonna be a murder-suicide if he ever tries to quit."
Chuey joined the act about three years ago, and has a devoted fan base of people who come in to have their photos taken with him or just shake the wee man's chubby hand. It's not the first gig like this that the tattooed, pierced, Mohawked elf has ever scored. It was "Holmberg's Morning Sickness" on rock station 98 KUPD that christened the now-24-year-old Santiago Jimenez "Chuey the Rock 'n' Roll Midget" and employed him in promotions like one where chick contestants had to make out with him, and be rated on their kissing proficiency, to win a date at Ozzfest with the PHX Oompa Loompa. Aside from also hosting Giligin's Thursday karaoke night, he emcees events around town, and once had a company called Small World Productions, which would hold "midget wrestling" events at local venues, with Chuey rasslin' regular-size broads.
"That idea came from 98 KUPD," says Chuey, who has his own Web site at www.chueysworld.com. "We used to do creamed-corn wrestling to give away tickets. And we did it in Hooters' wing sauce once. The girls got tighty whities to wear and a white shirt, and I'd be in swim shorts and a tee. Whoever pinned me down the fastest would win a bar tab, or whatever."
"Awesome," I intone. "You're my new hero, mon. Why aren't you in Hollywood or New York? You could be the next Billy Barty or Hank the Angry, Drunken Dwarf."
"I've thought about it," says Chuey, who has a degree in computer animation from Collins College in Tempe and works as a computer geek by day. "People tell me that all the time. Ultimately, my dream is to be behind the camera, as a director. But if being in the spotlight led to that, that'd be okay. It's not like I have an agent or anything. I seem to get a lot of one-time gigs. Like when I came in the other day, there was this lady's phone number on my time card. She wants me to appear at her wedding reception and jump out from beneath her wedding dress when her husband lifts it to get her garter."
"What about the whole 'midget' thing?" I ask. "Obviously the word doesn't bother you."
"Technically, I'm a dwarf," he informs us. "Calling someone a midget is supposed to be like calling a Mexican a wetback. But I love the word 'midget.' It's better than 'dwarf.' I get e-mails from other little people sometimes, asking why I use the word 'midget,' why I exploit myself. I tell them, 'Someone gave me this gift, I might as well use it.'"
Chuey comes from the tiny town of Guadalupe, just next to Tempe, where his family runs a Mexican fast-food restaurant called Filito's. One of his three older sisters is Bernadette Jimenez, the current mayor of Guadalupe, who headed a recall election last year against the former mayor and three members of the town council. The baby of the family, Chuey always knew he was different. But it was when he was in high school that he began to use that difference as a path to popularity.
"I emceed my first event when I was 17," he says, laughing. "They had to sneak me into the bar to do it. When I first hooked up with Giligin's, I thought it would be another one-time deal. At first I did it for the money. Now I look forward to it. I wish I could teleport myself immediately after my day job, I'm in such a rush to get here."
When it's finally my turn to head to the stage and try my stomach's luck on the wheel, neither the Cap'n nor Chuey shows my corpulent self any leniency, cracking jokes like, "Look, it's a leftover float from Mardi Gras." On my second turn, I hit three "Fear Factors" in a row, and have to down a bowl of boiled beef blood and a couple of handfuls of silkworms, then suck on a tongue depressor that had been nestled between Chuey's sweaty, unwashed butt cheeks. I want to hurl while downing the beef blood, which has the texture of warm tofu, but persevere, only to lose all my points when the wheel falls on "Bankruptcy."
Afterward, Chuey and Jett disappear somewhere outside, where she's promised to let him do a Jell-O shot off her tuchis in exchange for a glimpse of his midget wang. A few minutes later, Jett bounces up to me and sticks her finger in my mouth.
"What the fuck!?" I holler. "Why'd you stick your digit in my gob, you sicko?"
"I just had that on Chuey's you-know," she giggles.
"Thanks for sharing," I spit. "So how was it? Bigger than a breadbox?"
"Well, all I can tell you is . . . it looks big on him!"