The Old Miami Bar is a musty horror-nest, where jungle leeches and parrots and mosquitoes float belly-up in the whiskey; where the ghosts of the dead swoop from the rafters to flutter like bats above the heads of the near-dead.
It’s a house of memories dedicated to Vietnam vets that lends itself to raw rock ’n’ roll. The green guitar mimis are welcome, as long as they provide a sonic force field to push death back against the wall and underneath the military decorations.
Ferretti and I aren’t war vets. We’re artist and writer and 20-megaton duds. The great creative charge that never exploded has dropped into the buckets of our middle-aged asses.
"You seem out of stride," Ferretti says. "Maybe you’re scared of interviewing female wrasslers who could beat your sagging chauvinist butt."
"And you’d like to get spanked by these women?" I ask.
"Yeah," Ferretti answers. "If they did it nude."
Fascism vs. anarchy
Tonight the New Girl Order dominates the totem of local acts. They’ll put their gender’s face atop a stake that’s been driven through the floor and into Detroit soil by battle-proven grunts.
There’s love and subversion in the smoky air of the Old Miami. A conspiracy between crusty old brother and lithe young sister that will rejuvenate a historic venue in the Cass Corridor.
I don’t know where the jealousy is, if not in my lower intestine. Ferretti offers to buy me a shot of Maalox with a prune juice chaser so I can dump the white-male-dominated past.
"There are two ways of life," Ferretti says. "The first is to assert right angles and purity and stasis. That’s your fascist mission. The second way is to surrender to orgy. That’s my anarchist muse."
"My nightmare is your wet dream?"
Ferretti nods while staring at the stage. A garage band punishes three chords without mercy. Before them are the bohemian clones of the Corridor. Undernourished. Dressed in black. Forehead heavy. It’s like being in a den of tarantulas carrying the poison of art in their gonads and ovaries.
They’re here to mate in one decadent way or another. Today’s aphrodisiac: Female wrestlers. The New Girl Order.
The scene stimulates me in an embarrassing way. Where are Pat Buchanan and Rudy Giuliani and Jesse Helms when I need them? I wish to heaven that the Old Miami had an art grant to revoke.
The NGO troupe members are relaxed and tantalizing and unaffected. They slice through the fetid bohemian audience in shimmering satins and go-go boots and zesty neon stripes.
I hail two titanettes. Blood sisters. One calls herself White Trash, and is dressed in army dungarees and a white, sleeveless pit-shirt that reveals hard muscle and soft flesh. The other is Killer Bee, whose eyes have a nerdish drive and wonder. Their mother is a religion teacher. Both are sexy as hell — that oppresses me.
I say, "I want to see you back in the kitchen covered from neck to ankles and wrasslin’ with a casserole under a crucifix."
"I want to see you fight naked," Ferretti says.
Suddenly there’s red-roaring feedback from the stage. I’m in a headlock deep in an armpit that smells like lilies. I wiggle my head to see Ferretti locked in a similar embrace.
With the flex of a bicep my jaw almost dislocates. We get noogies. We take it like men. But when the sisters threaten to give us snuggies with our skivvies pulled up over our gray and balding heads, we scream uncle.
We’re freed after Mean Jean the Lunchroom Queen paddles us with a spatula.
My head hurts. I think White Trash may have squeezed the heavily larded misogyny out of my brain. But running down my nose is just pure male snot.
Ferretti is in a misty reverie. Pain has brought tears to his eyes, which magnify his view. He hails Dotty the Dyke and her two fawning femme trophies. She’s followed by Womanhood, who’s as plush and juicy and exploded as a pumpkin. Then there’s Black Metal Gabby, and Ace, and Bang The 007 Vixen.
Ferretti sees them in their entirety as fully developed human beings who just happen to be female. That gives them breasts. He asks about the flaming tit show.
I approach Disco Debbie. It’s not the polyester bell-bottoms and the purple velour shirt with the butterfly collar that put me through changes. It’s something else. I see her chewing bubble gum and smoking Marlboros on our honeymoon, wearing Kmart lingerie while looking through the curtains toward the pool next to the truck stop chapel. There’s something beautifully unfinished about her.
"You’re different from the rest," I say. "What did Bunny ‘The Money’ Goldstein offer to get you started? How did she get you hooked? Aren’t you afraid to hurt your baby-making organs?"
"What are you talkin’ about?" Disco Debbie asks while twirling.
"I can save you from this anarchy. I can bring God and Clorox and corn starch and Yahtzee to your Saturday nights. I’m the paternal figure you need to govern your life."
"Beat it, creep," she answers.
Chaste makes waste
"I’m Bunny ‘The Money’ Goldstein. The New Girl Order is my brainchild. We can wrestle or talk. Either way I’ll kick your ass."
She’s wearing a leather mini with boots covered in fur. I almost lose bladder control. I suspect that she’s wrapped in the tanned hide of neo-Nazis and that her boots are tufted with their scalps.
All of this adds to her range and ranginess. She’s 6-foot-1. Willowy with a femme bloom. Ferretti and I sit on either side of her. She crosses her long legs.
It’s one thing to have a woman rip a man’s heart out and it’s quite another thing to have her kick a man’s butt. I have to think that a woman wouldn’t do the latter just because she could. Because there are a lot of things a woman doesn’t do to a man just because she can. But I don’t know. I’m as worried as Ferretti is excited.
Ms. Goldstein looks anything but chaste. She’s wearing blood-red lipstick that could be made from some kind of ground-up and sterilized male muscle.
Women have a tradition of restraint in the foreground of motherhood and its field of mercies. But what tradition do men have for conceding physical dominance to a woman? I don’t know. It’s not like we’re sitting next to a dominatrix. Goldstein is as fresh as she is scary. Her business plan could be chiseled into a brick of Ivory Soap.
"Why don’t you wrassle in the nude," Ferretti says.
Goldstein dismisses the suggestion. "My wrestlers push the boundaries of dignity. The frontier of restraint is where they stake their ladyhood. Wrestling nude would mock their self-defining purpose. In that case they’d be wrestling for men and money."
"But trashing all the rules is fun," Ferretti says.
"Anarchy is degrading and so is pornography," Goldstein says to Ferretti.
"Both make a man dumb," I laugh. I feel vindicated as a right-winger who longs to see society return to a diamond-hard Puritanism with white male hegemony shining through the prism.
Goldstein won’t have it. "What makes a man even dumber," she says to me, "is living in the past.
We sit beside Bunny Goldstein no longer feeling like duds. She’s fused us together and she’s fused us separately and that’s what a womanly woman can do. I’m feeling sexually charged. Loyal. Open to new direction.
Bang The 007 Vixen and Womanhood are running the pool table. There’s a dispute. The residual bonehead in me expects them to part ways and begin a campaign of gossip and backstabbing and character assassination. But no. They explode.
The ladies brawl atop the pool table. Ace gets into the action. There are slow growls and clenched teeth and belly buttons twisting on frayed threads where a woman’s guts protect her womb. They roll off the felt and onto the cement floor. They fight their way through the bar and onto the mats in front of the stage.
I climb over tables and chairs to get a view. Guys are standing on their toes to watch the action. We’re all looking into the same bottomless pit of boiling estrogen. There are bubbles of laughter and currents of fear and body parts floating in the broth. Thigh and wing and chicken neck. Breastloaf. Cheese dumpling and sponge cake and pudding on the hip.
For every comic sugar there’s a tragic bile. Canine teeth. Tiger claws. Unschooled choke holds that come as natural as hair pulling. It’s as if NGO has the gears of Madonna and whore and homemaker and homebreaker and giver of life and taker of life meshing into a single creative whole. It’s the mother of nonsense and deep beyond words.
Ferretti and I exit the Old Miami. He admits to not having seen enough female skin. He admits to having seen too much of what’s underneath female skin.
I don’t know what to admit to. Reality? The New Girl Order?