My rock-drummer friend Justin, unhappily on the dating circuit, is heartbroken, and he needs a drink. “I went out with this chick who works at Trader Joe’s, and she brings another chick on our date, and they’re, like, making out, and they’re, like, exclusive about it,” he explains.
We find ourselves at the Study, an inconspicuous hole-in-the-wall just north of Hollywood on Western. Quiet and out of the way, it seems perfect for a heart-to-heart.
The friendly gentleman sitting outside informs us there is a $5 cover charge “for the show.” Show? Fair enough. We step inside, where green and purple disco lights flash while a DJ spins bad R&B. TVs are silently tuned to the Miss Teen USA contest. There are about 12 patrons inside, all of whom look like Mr. T. They eye us with interest.
“What’s the night called?” I yell at the barman over blaring Beyoncé.
“Mandingo,” he yells back, handing us two extraordinarily strong vodka tonics.
“Yeah. It means big black dick.”
Turns out Mandingo is the Study’s popular gay black strip show. Mandingo is also an extremely well-endowed porn star from Mississippi, as well as the name of the West African tribe that inspired Mr. T’s distinctive hairstyle. Figures. Justin wants to leave.
“These brothers are strong-looking,” he says. “They could tear me apart.”
The doorman smiles as we step back out into the parking lot, now filled with shiny BMWs. He invites us back to check out Blatino Night, their black and Latino leather party.
The night is young, so we head west toward the Strip. A G N’ R tribute band called Hollywood and Roses is doing a show. “Where is Axl Rose these days?” I ask Justin.
“He’s living in Malibu now, wearing bad hair extensions and being bitter.”
He’s also at the Key Club tonight, or so it seems, where 300 greasy-haired Axl doppelgangers wearing ripped Motorhead T-shirts are making devil’s horns at Metal Skool, the Strip’s longest-running metal show, headlined by an ’80s parody band of the same name.
“Metal Skool used to be called Metal Shop, which used to be called Danger Kitty, until they appeared in a credit-card commercial, then they couldn’t use that name anymore,” says Justin. “They changed from Metal Shop to Metal Skool once they left the Viper Room and moved to the Roxy.”
Two weeks ago, Metal Skool left the Roxy and moved into bigger digs at the Key Club. Tonight, it’s rammed full.
Standing close to the stage is a photographer called Ken (“as in Barbie”). He has been taking pictures of Metal Skool for around three months.
“Is it the same shit every week?” I ask.
“Well, no . . . and yes,” he says. “They do the ’80s-rock thing, but the comedy changes every week. They spend a lot of time during the week working on it.” He’s buddies with the lead singer, Michael Star, whose real name is Ralph.
I ask Ken what he thinks of the crowd. “Well, there’s a lot of strippers,” he says. “But, hey, that’s exactly what this show is about, rock & roll and trampy women. “No offense to the women here who aren’t trampy,” he adds.
At midnight, Metal Skool host Josh Richman, who played “2nd Heavy Metaller in Parking Lot” in the movie Heathers, takes the stage to introduce the main act. “If you wanna get finger-fucked and eat Taco Bell, you’ve come to the right place! These guys are gonna fuck your girlfriend, TONIGHT!!!”
Enter Metal Skool — Stix Zadinia, Satchel, Michael Star and Lexxi Foxxx — pouting, glittering and bewigged, a mess of zebra-striped spandex, hairy Ugg boots and expertly applied eyeliner. “YOW!!!” squeals Ralph, launching into a perfect rendition of the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane” as his bandmates perform simultaneous scissors kicks. Shortly after, blond girls get invited onstage so they can get topless and make out.
“This is gayer than Mandingo,” yells Justin, watching Satchel the guitarist poke his instrument through Ralph’s legs.
We head back east to the Study — now wall-to-wall with gay black men — just in time for the strip show. The doorman, it seems, was right.