Friday was a big day in the city. My excellent friend Tara and her husband Matt brought a healthy baby boy into the world! And as if that weren’t enough, Richard and I had a date. Two places to go in one night, and we didn’t even leave the house until nine o’clock. Unheard of!
Our friend Eli Bonner threw himself a birthday party at Covell’s new private party room and we went there first. Eli did the cool cover art for Richard’s latest record and has an amazing house that we enjoyed at his birthday party last year. After making four semi-legal U-turns in Friday night traffic to secure ourselves a free parking spot on Hollywood Blvd., we finally got to the arty salon style bar with its atmosphere out of the 1920’s – pearly wallpaper and vintage wine bottles adorning wooden shelves. Eli looked swank in a pink silk tie and a great suit. I ordered a glass of Chenin Blanc and a Mexican coke for Richard and we did some mingling with Eli’s friends – interesting well-dressed people who know how to have a conversation. Hooray!
I was about to order a second glass of wine and peruse the snack menu when Richard reminded me that we had another location to visit. Cheetah’s. It’s a burlesque bar where our drummer friend Jamie Douglass was playing with a rock / country band Tripp Rezac. We told Eli we’d be back and walked the ten doors down to Cheetah’s. And oh, what a world of difference ten doors make.
There was pink silk here too, but no neckties. Cheetah’s interior has the sleazy boudoir décor you might see in a low-budget indie horror flick. Fake fur couches with animal prints, red velvet ropes and stanchions cordoning off private areas, a beer soaked floor, and lots and lots of young women walking around in their underwear. Girl after girl got up to the catwalk and shimmied down the pole to various pop songs after a brief introduction from the DJ whom I never actually got a look at. He had that disembodied voice, slightly muffled like the NYC subway p.a. announcer.
The waitress approached us – also wearing very little, but a lot more than the ‘talent’ in a denim micro-mini and ripped sleeveless T-shirt. I asked her if they had any drinkable white wine and she laughed and said there was one kind – Chardonnay. I’m not a Chardonnay fan, but I felt like I had to order something since it didn’t look like our friend was going to hit the stage imminently. The waitress saw my hesitation about the Chardonnay and went in for the big sell.
“I think it must be pretty good. My boss drinks two bottles of it a night.”
Well, that clinches it! Bring on the wine! And of course it arrived in one of those cheap-ass tiny wine glasses that looks like a Christmas tree ornament with a stem.
Richard was getting antsy not having a table to sit at, and I can’t blame him. Exposed out in the open like that, all the girls in their lingerie kept sauntering past him, eyeing him like hungry sharks, especially this one blonde in matching pink bra and panties. Fuck off, girlie.
Anyway, the dancers were starting to make me sad because, well, stripping is sad. But then a gorgeous African-American chick got up there and she could actually dance and suddenly it didn’t seem quite so depressing.
Finally Tripp Rezac got up there with Jamie on the drums and the live music transformed the place momentarily. It became a little less depressing and the girls started dancing for real – with actual spirit behind their moves, and no pole. Two wannabe 70’s porn star dudes at the bar got up and cut a rug with a couple of the girls. The moustaches on these boys were so awful it’s hard to describe, but they seemed very sweet. Like strip club mascots or something.
We watched a few songs and then I went to pee, whereupon I stumbled into a crazy shouting match between four dancers. There was so much skin I didn’t really know where to look so I bee-lined for the stall, locked myself in and listened.
“You can’t fucking do that in here-“
“He did not mean to do that and if he did-“
“You didn’t see what he pulled out of his-“
“If you don’t deal with him, I’m gonna-“
I guess some guy did something untoward. Shocker! I was listening hard, but still I couldn’t glean any actual dramatic details from the conversation. That’s when I realized perhaps these girls are a) stoned and not making sense b) not very bright or c) both. I flushed and went to wash my hands right as the African-American dancer walked into the bathroom.
“Hey you were great up there!” I was genuinely enthusiastic.
“Thank you! I just started,” she said. Here eyeshadow was glittering green and gold and I thought, aw that’s so cute. She just stared. I realized in that moment that I was actually pretty drunk.
Then something changed in her face then. Her innocent look suddenly became predatory. She stuck out her hand and I shook it.
“What’s your name?”
“Hi Paula.” Her voice was suddenly this bizarre sultry fake sound. I swear to you the way she said ‘Hi, Paula’ the next words out of her mouth were going to be “do you want a lap dance?” And with my tendency to say yes to things because I feel guilty, I figured I better get the hell out of there. I exited quickly and ran back to our spot where I found Richard making that subtle gesture he uses when he wants to leave – wrinkling his nose and pointing to the door. It was time to go back through the cultural time warp and revisit the Chenin Blanc!
Safely back to civilization (a choice of wines!) we ordered Croque Monsieur, a delicious potato tart with arugula salad, and joked with Eli about bringing the girls back from Cheetah’s to give him a birthday lap dance.
At least they’d have the pink silk in common.