Sunday, January 25, 2009
"Hi, um, is this where I get the tickets for the Masquerade?"
The girl across the counter gave me a bored look, raising her eyebrows as she approached. "You mean for the Midsummer Night's Dream," she said by way of correction. "Yep."
For some reason or another, the only place I could purchase tickets for this event was at a sex shop, which made things awkward. It's not like I was in any way a novice at being in porn shops -- and this happened to be an exceptionally upscale sex shop at that. But I wasn't in the custom of making conversation with the people who worked in them, much less asking for their assistance of any kind.
However, she was far more comfortable with the situation than I was, in her cat's eye glasses, retro sailor tats and ill-fitting pistachio-green tee-shirt, all of which screamed, "too cool for you scenester".
"One?" she assumed.
"Yup," I said, feeling smaller by the second.
The printer spat the tickets out, I handed over my $35 (!!!!!), and out the door I went, not even bothering to check out any other merchandise in the store.
(Within maybe 5 minutes, I felt the need to correct this, so I pulled the rental car up to one of Atlanta's never-ending choices of low-brow adult boutiques to check things out. Immediately, some little old creep approached me, and apropos to nothing at all, blurts out, "Fuckin' women. Ole O.J. had the right idea all along."
I turned slightly, looked over him for a split second, and forced an empathetic smirk that made me feel a little queasy. Taking this as an invitation to converse more freely, this little weirdo asks me if I'd ever been to the lingerie shop next door. "They won't let ya touch em, but they sure will get close to ya."
No matter how curious this statement was -- and it's a doozy, for sure -- I declined to inquire. Instead, I put down whatever it was I'd been considering buying and got the hell out of the store, wondering the entire time exactly WHAT IS IT with this weird town.)
The hours passed and I'm sure I wasted each of them in anticipation of my porno star party that night. Eventually, I trucked on down to the neighborhood where the club was at to see if I could maybe find the Varsity for a quick bite, then try and be there when the doors opened. (Such a rookie move).
But when I hit the neighborhood, I freaked. There was a line of maybe 50 men already formed, and the place wasn't scheduled to open for another half hour. This was crazy! In desperate fear of missing something, I threw all common sense to the wind, parked the car in the first paid lot I could find and rushed on over to the gate so I could stand in line in the Atlanta summer heat with a whole bunch of other dudes.
This was utterly nonsensical.
Mind you, this was a few years before the wide availability of Internet porn...a time when the concept of porn was slightly more stigmatizing and sleazier, and when the porn-consuming community truly was a cult collection of misfits, freaks and losers. And here I was, sweating my butt cheeks together with them all.
The absurdity of it all became even more clear when one of the starlets scheduled to appear that evening briefly came out of the club to deliver water to the crowd control employees. A cheer of hoots and whistles arose, immediately followed by the chant of "Ron! Ron! Ron!" - an ultimately futile evocation of the nights emcee, Mr. Ron Jeremy.
(I overheard one particularly self-aware enthusiast asking his friends, "Y'all think its weird that we're 20 feet from Coral Sands, but the only person we're excited about is Ron Jeremy?" I pondered this for the rest of the evening, and even occasionally to this day).
Impressively enough, the doors opened shortly thereafter, and the party got rolling on schedule.
First up on the agenda was a band which was unfortunately hired to warm up the crowd, then to play in between "sets" of Mr. Jeremy's emcee/comedy duties, and the obligatory parading of porn stars onto the stage to tease the crowd.
They were talented for sure, but they played a long-winded set of mathy, vaguely Rush-style rock which only made the crowd surly and impatient. Towards the end of their first set, a young, muscular African American man behind me bellowed out "GET THE FUCK OFF THE STAGE!" He and the people around him grinned mischievously, but they clearly spoke for the crowd, which was growing more hostile by the moment.
Finally, the Hedgehog took the stage to a wild, cheering ovation. I can't remember much of his material, but I do recall being impressed with his jokes, his improv, and his timing. What can you say....the guy's a legend.
He did four or five minutes of material, then brought out a few starlets at a time to get the crowd rowdy. After another five or ten minutes of teasing the boys with half-hearted boob flashes, Jeremy would come back and introduce the band again. After another excruciating set (for the crowd as well as the performers, I surmise), Ron Jeremy would waddle back on stage and repeat the process.
I'm not saying that it wasn't fun or exciting, because it was. But the evening was also a shit show of the highest degree.
Sure I got to see Shane's precious butt crack when she crouched down while dancing on stage. From the back of the club I thought I saw the diminutive Rebecca Lord pull up her skirt for the masses. Later, a bloated and rather unattractive Kaitlyn Ashley stumbled onto the stage and made a whole lot of gestures to the crowd that were, frankly, kind of gross (only men in KISS are supposed to have tongues that freakishly long).
Then, some African American performer with extreme breast implants attempted to perform her soon-to-be-released "hit single" only to have to restart twice when her dance routine forced her to miss her cue. After that, a lanky Christi Lake took the stage to solicit applications for new talent for her upcoming ame-pro video concept.
the night was kind of going nowhere, and maybe an hour into the show the cops showed up and issued a warning about the nudity (...of which there really wasn't much, but the rules are the rules, I guess).
Things were tamer for much of the rest of the night, and the crowd thinned just slightly. In fact, at some point during one of Ron Jeremy's sets, I'd found enough room to get myself up near the front of the stage. Surveying the crowd around me, I noticed that I somehow was standing directly next to 1980's legend P.J. Sparxx...whom I'd been told by no less of an authority than PornMaster-T, had "the greatest ass in the entire adult entertainment industry."
This was an odd twist, as the vast majority of the performers this evening were not really socializing with the crowd. But there she was next to me. She might have smelled like a mixture of perfume and cigarettes, and she might have been sporting a brand new set of fake breasts, and she might have been shorter and more broad-shouldered than I'd expected her to be, but in her conservative green sweater-shirt and floor-length black skirt the women was something of a vision. I believe that she was probably the only woman all night who I would call beautiful.
I smiled to her. To my surprise, she smiled back at me.
This was unexpected.
I asked myself what was happening. Was I connecting with a porn star? Where could this go? Was the impossible about to happen? Would we talk? Would I go home with her? And had I just found the crucial professional connection who could help get me out of the Yellow Pages business and into a career field more suited to what I considered to be my natural talents and God-given gifts?
These thoughts had little time to materialize, as she looked directly past me and flashed a huge Cheshire cat smile. Still grinning, I turned around to follow her gaze, only to notice a split second later that she was posing for a professional photographer who had been covering the event.
There I was, standing close enough to a porn star that I could feel her breath on my shoulder (...ew), grinning like an idiot, and getting my picture taken by "industry media". No doubt, the editors at AVN News couldn't be bothered to crop out my goofy-ass mug, and somewhere in a back issue from 1997 there's a picture of P.J. with my dumb scarecrow face looming above her.
I prefer not to give this much thought.
It really didn't take long for the party to wrap up. Ron Jeremy said good night, the stars waved good night, and the band declined to play a final set. The place was emptying out, and most everyone had lost interest in the novelty of the evening some time ago. Like the rest of the trip, this evening had been a great disappointment.
I spotted the skinny, bespectacled guitar player of the band dragging his amp off the stage and I moved forward to offer a word of encouragement, from one musician to another. I was in a mathy-rock band of my own, called the Queegs, and I thought that perhaps if he ever toured the D.C. area we could work together for a gig.
"Hey man, you sounded good tonight."
"Thanks," he said smiling in a kind of shell shocked way.
"Listen, do you think you'll ever play D.C.? Cuz I'm actually in this band, and...."
"Or L.A.??? Are you gonna play L.A.? You guys need to play L.A.!!!"
I had been interrupted by one of the performers from that evening, an attractive, petite blond who had exposed her bolt-on breasts earlier in the evening (Despite my troubling, nearly encyclopedic knowledge of 90's porn, I have no idea who this young woman was).
"Actually, we are playing L.A. in October," the guitar player said, brightening up but still dazed by the circumstances of the evening.
"Can I help you with your stuff?" she asked him, gesturing to the mountain of equipment that his band was loading out.
"Sure," he said, shrugging at me in a way that dictated that our conversation would have to end now. It seemed like a fitting end to the night, and to the trip.
Defeatedly trudging back to the bar, I settled my tab and headed to the doors.
And that is exactly when I ran into Ron Jeremy, who was headed to the bar I was leaving.
I didn't want the night to be a total bust. I wanted to have a story - any story - about something awesome that had happened in Atlanta. And so I approached him and said the very first thing that popped into my head.
Extending my hand, I smiled and announced, "Sir, I just wanted to say that I love your work."
He stared at me for a very long time, saying nothing. It gave me a chance to really look the guy over. He was impossibly short and overweight. He was unshaven, and his porn-stache needed a trim, as did his hair. He was dressed in brown corduroy pants and a Hawaiian shirt, and he was carrying....of all things....a crocheted hand bag.
He was a legend of adult film, and he looked like nothing quite so much as a wino.
We held our stare for another second and he smiled slightly as he shook my hand. (He has very soft hands.....).
He said nothing, but his weary smile told the story of a tired man who would thank me if he could. But he would prefer if I would get out of his way.
Defeated once more, I found my rental car and headed back to my hotel room, disgusted with how I'd spent my vacation, and wondering if a stop at the Tattle-Tail would make things better, or make them worse.
The answer, if you're curious, is not "better."
Monday, January 19, 2009
True, all of my visits have been work-related, and most of those trips have been about as much fun as getting an old school rectal exam from Darryl Dawkins. But the fact is that if I’d ever had the benefit of a proper tour guide, I probably would have had a good time there. Never you mind that legend in my family has borne out that someone our clan may have served in the Fighting 69th (likely a bullshit story), I have no beef with Atlanta.
In fact, what tends to ruin all of my trips to Atlanta is the frigging work…..pacing my hotel room nervous about the following day’s meeting, getting yelled at by my clients, trying to negotiate the awful traffic, crashing in my hotel room because I’m usually just too damned drained at the end of it all to do anything but eat lousy hotel food. (oh, the crap hotel food I've enjoyed in this fine city).
But there was this one time I got some extended time to myself in Atlanta.
I was working for this absolutely ridiculous advertising agency. It was the silliest damned job in the world; my job was to work the phones and travel the country selling yellow pages ads. It was odd and humiliating, and it wasn’t at all what I’d gone to college to do, and I didn’t really make any significant efforts to leave this job, no matter how ill-suited I was for it.
But they did send me traveling...to some of the least inspiring cities on in the United States. Tulsa, San Antonio, Knoxville, Springfield, MO….I’m sure they all have far more to offer than your average, surly, 23 year old yellow pages salesman gets to experience, but the fact was that I had a kind of crappy experience in all of them.
So when I was booked to go a-sellin’ in Atlanta, you’d better believe that I was psyched. After all, this was right after the Olympics, and Atlanta had experienced massive growth: The food was supposedly legendary. The girls were reported to be beautiful, friendly, and fun. The nightlife was supposed to be amazing. And the music……all I heard about was how live music in Atlanta was more or less everywhere, and that unlike my native of D.C., people actually WENT OUT to see live music in Atlanta!
My Southern friends and coworkers would get this wild-eyed look when they discussed Atlanta, as though it were the Paris of the South.
Yes, I was very excited for this trip. So excited, in fact, that I took a few days off and decided to make myself a little mini-vacation while I was down there. I would work on Tuesday and Wednesday, take Thursday and Friday off, stay through the weekend, and come home on Sunday. I would stay in a motel in Buckhead, so I could walk everywhere. I’d probably make a bunch of friends and we’d all party like crazy, and Atlanta would be my spiritual home from that point on.
But that’s not exactly the way it happened.
As I recall, my sales appointments were typically disastrous, and the girl who was covering for me while I was on the road got all pissy about something I'd managed to screw up before I'd left, and called me at my hotel to tell me about it. She also ratted me out to my boss, who was sort of the living embodiment of Michael Scott, who also yelled at me when I got home. For some reason I took this rather personally.
Anyway, I'd ventured out a little on the weeknights, but it was kind of messy because the hotel that work had put me up in was sort of out of the way. I poked around a little and tried to take a mental inventory of things I wanted to check out over the weekend, but for the most part, the work week was a wash. By the time Wednesday afternoon arrived, I was seriously ready to get this party weekend in ATL rolling.
Having checked out of my Econo Lodge and packed my belongings into my rental car earlier that morning, I hit the road for another day of failed meetings. After wrapping the final one up, I went in search of my Buckhead motel to forget about it all.
It won't surprise anyone who knows me that I got lost trying to find the place. I followed all the signs for Buckhead, but for some reason they just didn't sync with the directions I got from the hotel. Something just wasn't right here, and the trifecta of the shitty attitude from my coworker, the shitty hotel in the outskirts of Dunwoodie, the humiliation of being stood up for about half of my sales appointments, and the stark realization that unlike REAL men I have no sense of direction, had me in a full scale Don Vito style conniption fit in my rental car.
After driving in circles for about 40 minutes I finally found my motel. The reason I got lost? It wasn't in Buckhead. The second reason? Because the motel was located off the street, behind an establishment called the Tattle Tail, famed in Motley Crue's 1987 hit, "Girls! Girls! Girls!"
Now, at the age of 23, there were certain fascinations that I had, which I am now old and wise enough to have a very healthy fear of. Such was not the case in 1997. These fascinations included - among other things - Motley Crue, strippers, cocaine, and prime rib, all of which I ventured I might be able to find in the strip joint across the parking lot from me.
(Just kidding. I would never eat in a strip joint).
So, a small chunk of night number one was spent in a really crummy titty joint. It was kind of slummin, so I got out and goofed off somewhere else in town. Eventually, I jumped on the MARTA, caught a baseball game, and returned to my motel, eyeing the Tattle Tail with contempt ("Fuck you ,Tattle Tail!") as I decided to go to bed.
Thursday was was wasted bumbling around Buckhead proper, eating really bad pizza, considering more strip joints, and wondering what the big fucking deal with this town was. I think I ended up in little Five Points, where I bought a completely kick ass Samhain shirt (well, *I* liked it), ate some quesadillas at the Vortex, read Creative Loafing, and half-drunkenly intruded on a total stranger's conversation about the merits of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik (I could shoot myself as I write this).
That evening I went to some club in Little Five Points to see some bands. My freinds were right about one thing: people did come out, and the girls were all totally fun and friendly. I caught a ridiculous hair-metal-styled band, which was later featured - no shit - on E!'s "Wild On" series (they were fucking awful).
I also saw that night a rockabilly band featuring what I thought was four black dudes in suits. This seemed rather cool to me, before I realized that these were four white dudes in blackface.
This was not cool, and all the friendly girls and shitty strip joints in the world were not going to make things better.
I was kind of starting to hate Atlanta.
I finished my beer and went back to my hotel, once again considering the Tattle Tail and once again shunning her advances. I have a feeling I stopped on the way home pick up a 6-pack to kill in my hotel room. This was no way to vacation.
God knows what I did the next day. What i do know is this: At some point I was in the car on Saturday morning, and the DJ's on the local rock station were pimping something called the "Mid Summer Night's Dream" party at a club called the Masquerade. This party would feature three bands, a lot of beer, and appearances by 20 or so of the leading adult film acresses of the day, including the likes of Shane, Rebecca Lord, and the legendary Ron Jeremy, who would serve as the master of ceremonies.
(Hey kids, that last link may not be safe for work...or your soul).
This trip had been a bust, start to finish. But goddamn it, I was going to find a way to party with pornstars.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
So, I installed statcounter a few weeks ago, and I have to admit that it’s been a blast to watch the flow of traffic. It’s been particularly gratifying to see that the blog has seen visitors coming from everywhere from Italy to Ireland to Germany and back to Brooklyn (…heh, just like the 19th century).
It’s also been a little frustrating to realize that the vast majority of my traffic seems to have arrived NOT from my totally awesome content and the legions of fans I’ve earned across the Internets, but instead via the goofy-ass images I’ve been linking to.
I don’t exactly understand how this works, but that doesn’t stop it from being a great big kick in the nuts. Especially because the most popular page on this site (by a frustratingly large margin) is all being directed by a particularly ugly photograph of Angela Bowie, which is linked from an unimpressive post about seeing David Bowie perform in Hershey, PA.
Well, kids, that’s all about to change. Because we all know that there’s only one thing that actually drives any real traffic on the Web:
Monday, January 5, 2009
Actually, I take that back. This wasn't my idea; this was my band mates trying way too fucking hard to make me into a hipster (or at least not so much of an embarrassment). I was basically just bowing to the peer pressure they were putting on me.
You see, they'd been patient beyond patient with my crappy fascination with bad metal, and my new love for Type O Negative had become the final straw. Trying to appeal for my love of baritone voices, sludgy tempos and scary music, they'd begun trying to convince me to look into more socially acceptable bands of this ilk, such as the Sisters of Mercy, the Melvins and the Swans.
(By the way, is it "Swans" or "The Swans"? I am going to refer to them as "The Swans" for the time being, and you fancy pants record collectors can go about correcting me as you see fit).
I'd be remiss not to point out that this dragging-me-to-concerts-for-my-own-good thing tended to be a thorough failure of a strategy over the next few years, no matter how many times I capitulated to attending shows by the likes of P.J. Harvey and the Jesus & Mary Chain and (God help me) Nivek Ogre.
Truth be told, I don't remember a hell of a lot about the Swans. This *might* have been my first show at the new 9:30 Club (I just can't figure that out for sure, and it's making me crazy).
We got there early enough that the place was damned near empty.
The opening act did a semi-acoustic thing that bored the crap out of the few of us who were there. We took them in from the balcony bar, and damned if I didn't spot this totally cute hipsterish African-American girl who was sporting these kind of wild quarter-dreds, coupled with a hideous retro-Bill-Cosby sweater. I eyed her once or twice, then kept going back to the show, back to my friends, back to the bar, etc. Then towards the end of this abysmally long opening set, I glanced over at her, and -- no shit -- her head was down on the bar, and she was fast asleep.
She wasn't drunk or anything, she was just bored out of her mind.
As was I.
Now, it's not like the Swans were bad; the club eventually filled up, and their thing was pretty dark and creepy, all right. All things considered, my band mates did well by me. I guess.
But I never bothered to consider buying on of their records at any point in the future. Didn't even think of it once.
Meanwhile, I would continue to give the degenerates in Type O Negative my money for years to come, no matter how bad their albums started getting.