Ahhhh, Valentines Day, that saccharine-sweet, Hallmark-quality interlude which appears like a blood-red comet in the cold gray depths of winter. Florists, chocolatiers, restaurateurs and jewelry brokers alike quiver in greedy anticipation of this welcome cash cow in the desolate midwinter months.
What better way to kick off the celebration of all things romantic than by diving headfirst into decadence, degeneracy, depravity and desserts?
First off, Decadence, that venerable February fiesta, sponsored by the Metro Times and WDRQ, kicked off the pre-Valentine festivities last Thursday at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Billed as an alliteration-friendly evening of "Decadence, Debauchery and Dessert," the joint was packed to the gills with sweets, too-sweet drinks, sweet talkin cheeseballs and the sourest gaggle of coat-check workers youll encounter this side of Siberia (where the coat-check workers are positively infamous for their crotchety demeanor).
Perhaps they were angry that nobody brought them a chocolate fortune cookie from Gayles Chocolates, or perhaps they had to wait in the interminable martini queue upstairs, but those coat keepers provided a marked sour contrast to the decadent confections going on inside.
There, folks were getting tattoos and tarot card readings in between their shots of Tuaca and tequila, while the Imperial Swing Orchestra commanded the stage and provided a sonic backdrop for the swing-dance groupies that follow them from party to party.
While attempting to procure a martini in the mass of humanity upstairs, I bumped into some creatively anachronistic types in their full Renaissance Festival garb. Identifying themselves by their non-Elizabethan names were Kimba Morgan, Kevin Collins and Nif Havelka, a bawdy and purportedly lusty trio who proudly declared that "theyre paying us with drinks!"
Heeding such advice, I went in search of my own cup of grog, sans wench, and perhaps an escape from the haze of smoke which permeated the upstairs cigar-and-martini bar.
On the way downstairs, I spied Rick Hurd and Sir Tim DuValier of Humidor One, who were no doubt doing a brisk business, judging by the pungent aroma permeating my suit the next morning.
I also ran into chef Dave Wood, who was modeling a natty little corduroy smoking jacket from Mother Fletchers. Wood informed me that his latest project, the "Venus Cafe," located in the former Dish digs next door to the Town Pump Tavern, will be opening for business this week. The cafe will feature an eclectic menu incorporating diverse culinary elements, as well as the ubiquitous "vegetarian-friendly" fare thrown in for good measure.
In other cafe news, we were grateful to discover that cozy Cafe 317, located on Washington in the old Cassias digs, had brought some non-dessert dishes to the Decadence shindig, specifically some delicious soups, a welcome contrast to the sugar frenzy raging all around us. Owner Gary Brunner and Brandy Severn proudly posed at their table featuring soups with such names as "Orange Carrot Ginger Orgazmo" and "Ooh Baby Tomato Basil," both of which were deemed excellent by our panel of esteemed tasters.
Eventually, though, it was time to leave the theater in search of true dining sustenance. Our egress, however, was impeded by MT promotions and marketing assistant Kim Leitz along with Eddie McCauley of Hemigod, who demanded a photo op in exchange for allowing us to exit the theater. I obliged, and set off into the foreboding streets in search of dinner.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BROAD
Once on the street, we ventured over to Andiamo Osteria, where infamous Frank Sinatra (or was it Frankie Jr.?) impersonator Mark Randisi and his band were holding court in the dining room. Peppering his ad-libs with terms like "broad" and "chick," the Sinatra shtick worked pretty well, but I think he took a few too many liberties when he changed "Girl From Ipanema" to "Girl from Andiamo." Hey, man, thats sacrilege.
WHAT, NO SPECULUM?
Keeping with our depraved and decadent theme, the former Orbit offices in Royal Oak hosted a veritable cornucopia of sleaze last weekend, masquerading under the lofty pseudonym of an "erotic art show."
I caught a sneak peek at a preview on Friday, as various participating artists and the people who love them converged on the show for a pre-opening keg mixer. It was like some bizarre progressive dorm party, or maybe an X-rated version of those "shops at the top" stores in Birmingham.
Rumor was that the big shindig opening on Saturday would feature a "fisting demonstration," as well as a Morganna-endowed woman parading about with guacamole on her breasts and a bowl of chips in her hand. Given the fact that the Royal Oak townsfolk previously pulled out the pitchforks when world-renowned Royal Oak sculptor Marshall Fredericks unveiled his "Star Dream" downtown ("Hey Ethel, hes nekkid!"), one can only anticipate the First Amendment fireworks at town hall. Somebody call Milos Forman.
Finally, dear loyal readers, please be advised that able gossipeuse Amy Probst will cover my next scheduled column on Wednesday, March 1, as I will be heading over to Tuscany for a little family vacation. Ciao!