The air is spiked with a fruity, aerosol stickiness. A dozen or so club chicks are camped in front of mirrors, a midriff-baring, cleavage-boosting throng of highlights and hooker heels. A shelf littered with mouthwash, perfume, Q-tips and hair products sits along the sinks. The latter are a saving grace; flat irons and curlers were clearly the pre-party instruments of choice tonight. "Wash your hands here, then move on," calls a sultry, tank-topped brunette as she puts down her drink to direct the bathroom traffic from her post on a tall stool.
Tonight, Playboy magazine and Absolut Vodka are pimping their products by co-hosting a soiree at Novi's spacious Tequila Rain. The event is VIP, invite only, and the place is teeming. Four Playboy playmates, a percussionist, and a pom squad of miniskirted waitresses are in the mix, as well an Iroquois dressed in full-fringed leather garb.
Suddenly a pair of attractive wide-eyed club patrons stagger out from a bathroom stall. "Take our picture!" slurs the more vocal of the two, Rain Damaschi, as she grabs her friend. "Her name is Ashley, but we call her Smashley," Damaschi chirps, "'Cause she's always smashed!" Damaschi shows us some thigh, Smashley steadies herself against the wall, and they demand that several photos be taken. Wow. Who needs Playboy playmates when these girls put on such a pleasant show?
Behind them, an alluring, twiglike creature named Debbie Schemansky is 10 minutes into her primping routine. Perched on strappy silver rhinestoned heels, Schemansky is wearing a sky-high hairdo, a shrink-wrapped yellow shirt that barely covers her ass, and no pants. Schemansky suddenly cocks her head, grabs her purse, and tears out the door as Madonna's "Spanish Lullaby" comes on.
"Where she going?" asks sassy African-American beaut Candise Gross, as we follow her out. "I know it ain't for the men. Tonight is little-dick night."
"Little? Dick night?" I repeat.
"Yeah girl, I feel baby balls on my back tonight!" Gross insists in a husky voice. "All those itchy scrotums with boys grinding and shit, don't you feel them infant dicks on your lower back?"
Gross is convinced that when men thrust against her on the dance floor, she can discern the dimensions of their penises, or in this case, lack thereof. Her curiously unrefined diatribe is met with whoops of laughter, with the exception of someone who comes to the male defense by reminding us that men don't choose their size. Gross ignores her and continues, "Aw baby, it's like they've never seen breasts before. Guurrrl, titties are really a new thing tonight!"
Gross proceeds to divulge uproarious tales from her vault of Tequila Rain experiences. I soon leave in search of a drink.
Testosterone reigns at my end of the bar, which might as well be a stage. Bartenders swivel bottles and juggle shots with seasoned ease while simultaneously dancing and flirting with their drinkers. Wearing matching taut black tank tops, they are a Herculean spectacle of glowsticks, studded armbands, piercings and tattoos. They each sport Mardi Gras beads with a whistle, which they blow while pouring and taking drink orders, all to the rhythm of 50 Cent rapping from the speakers.
Bartender Scott Tarach says the whistles represent a rite of passage at Tequila Rain. "To get our whistle," he explains, "we must engage in 'physical action' with another employee."
Dressed as a cowboy, Tarach looks to be in his 20s, but tells me he's been bartending for 19 years. "Our motto at Tequila Rain is "spring break 52 weeks a year." We put on a show here, and customers love it ... I got $230 for a $70 dollar tab once," Tarach explains in a deep, sexy drawl. He emphasizes the staff's uninhibited customer interaction, whether it's encouraging drinkers to dance on the bar, giving break-dancing demos, or the "playboy bartender" who makes out with his female clientele. The addition of air horns and water-fight artillery is not uncommon behind the bar. (As you can imagine with the latter, a wet T-shirt contest ensues).
"Do you know how many party stores I own?" I hear a male voice gloating behind me. I turn to find an overweight, inebriated thirtysomething embarking on a horrific attempt to impress two knockout blondes. Beads of sweat have formed on his stubbly stash, and his hot breath reeks of whiskey. The women exchange a polite glance. Fortunately, his efforts are immediately diverted when Natalie Brede, a nymph-like go-go dancer with raven tresses, mounts the bar.
I turn to meet the blond duet, Christina Skye and Mary Mac. Both wearing short black dresses, they are tall and busty, with golden complexions, long lashes and manes of silk.
The women are models. Skye previously posed for Hustler; she now jets all over the country to act in "adult videos." Mac models for Jagermeister and promotes for Playboy, while working as a makeup artist and studying nursing.
"Are you always fending off guys like that?" I ask Mac in reference to the whiskey-breathing dragon. She replies graciously, "When a guy approaches me at the bar, he'll usually make a comment about my chest size, which is not a turn-on. I laugh and say, 'Wow, great, have a good night!' I play dumb and leave ... It's a lot better than saying 'F-you!' It leaves the guy baffled."
As for her experiences with the Playboy playmates, Mac tells me they are "sweet, down to earth and never catty." Meanwhile at her promo parties, dudes often approach Mac with camera photos of their topless girlfriends, and plead for a Playboy hookup.
Her comely counterpart talks openly about her more memorable "adult videos," from a naughty wife scene with a foreign guy who talked like Arnold Schwarzenegger, to female threesomes. Interestingly, Skye never uses the word "porn" in describing her profession.
She talks money and I do the math; she easily racks in 200 bucks an hour, yet the girl's humility is evident. "I do what I most enjoy. I'm not hurting anyone, and it doesn't change who I am. If you know who you are, that's what counts," Skye asserts.
In a separate conversation, Mac echoes this modesty: "I'm just a normal girl doing fun work on the weekends!"
I find it delightfully ironic that two of the sweetest and most well-spoken ladies at the Playboy party turn out to be a model and a porn star. Am I surprised? Stereotypes are odious.
I look over at the party store owner, who might be salivating. The presence of the pale and petite Natalie saucily caressing her washboard stomach has inspired him to position himself directly in front of her, armed with his digital cam. He snaps pictures endlessly.Night Tripper appears regularly in Metro Times. Send tips, quips, whispers and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org