By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
But just outside the club, it’s clear that atmosphere factor number one for an ’80s rock & roll reunion, the vibe of a smoke-filled pit filled with writhing bodies, just ain’t gonna be. The new attendees of this spike-heeled stroll down metal memory lane are all puffing away outside; those nasty mid-’90s smoking laws helped sanitize the whole scene. But they are ä hardly to blame for the whole mess.
Consider Stevie, a black-clad Ronnie Dio look-alike from Nashville, who paces back and forth in front of the club and hardly waxes ecstatic about the current scene. “I got here in ’90, and yeah, even by then it was winding down,” he says, eyes darting back and forth, checking out the bevy of females sashaying toward us. “But it was so sleazy then. I liked that — the Cathouse and all of the sleaze. There’s no sleaze now.”
Sleaze — a mantra for a simpler time.
It’s true that the almost noirish image of eager rock boys doing hopeful showcases as their long-suffering stripper girlfriends hung out between Clark and Doheny, all togged out and “flyering” each other for Roxy/Whisky/Troub/Gazzarri’s gigs like an army of mimeograph freaks, is a distant memory. But Stevie is here to support his pals Revlon Red and to get a little Faster Pussycat nostalgia — even if he suspects that this really isn’t the same band for real.
“I hear it’s just Taime [the singer] and Brent [lead guitar] and all these dudes from the Newlydeads [Taime Downe’s current Goth-based band], but I don’t care. I want to see some of those amazing chicks again, man!”
The amazing chicks are here, but my preconceived notion that the room would be top to bottom with balding heshers and aging groupies is way off the mark. The average Gazzarri’s Night attendee is under 30, and lots of them are front and center. Rida, a 25-year-old Brazilian, never went to the original Gazzarri’s and doesn’t care that this is a retrofest.
“I love this music, and I’ve been coming to these nights for two years,” she says, and then adds flatly, “I don’t do ‘raves.’”
Still, there is a level of taste and discrimination evident. When Revlon Red takes the stage with a faux New York Dolls logo and a look so backward as to be comical (aside from its Gothed-on bassist), the audience is not impressed — especially when the band is unable to stay in tune and the lead singer is forced to make patter-chatter with the crowd. At one point he says he’s going to buy the room a drink, and a young lady with braces on her teeth hisses loudly, “Bullshit, you don’t even have a fucking job.” That brings down the house.
You can really feel the love.
Faster Pussycat gets a better reception, and, since it’s a Gazzarri’s Night, the evening’s climax is the legendary Bikini Contest, which was once judged by local metal heavyweights and was a Sunday-night ritual on a par with an Aztec sacrifice back when Bush the First was boss. This one is marred by a dying PA. But luckily the lights still work, and the assembled contestants mug and grin in their thongs and stringy things. One contestant, however, takes the entire shebang one step into the beyond by revealing a crotchless set of panties beneath a leather G-string, which, remarkably, draws hisses and boos from the hooting crowd. Needless to say, she doesn’t win the $1,000 purse and totters off the stage.
Afterward, the 30-year-old escort and Seattle émigré discusses her unsuccessful game plan as we sit in front of the club. “I am so shocked that they booed me for flashing my pussy,” she says. “I mean, isn’t that what they really want?” Then she opens her purse to reveal what was to be the pièce de résistance of her short turn, a red-jelly dildo, which looks to be the size of a forearm. “I never got to use it,” she says sadly. “Those other girls up there were looking at me and saying, ‘You’re bizarre.’ I am not bizarre, I’m just doing my natural thing.”
Given the venue, sure, why not? Sleaze, you know!