Sunday, March 02, 2008

Tales from the Double Down, Part One

The view from the bar, courtesy of beatnikside

Our first night in Vegas did not begin auspiciously. Dearest T started off the evening with some unimpressive martinis at one of he countless bars in the vast, glitzy bowels of Caesar's Palace. The barman, a smarmy cornfed boy with a monosyllabic name like Chip or Brett, had served them up with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink request to let him know if there was anything --ANYTHING-- else at all he could get for us. We didn't take him up on his offer, and instead migrated to Venice's St Mark's Square (or a fanciful facsimile thereof) for dinner. A post-prandial perambulation took us to some other bar in some other hotel, where we had more dreadful martinis.

By this stage we were cranky drunk, and sometime around 10PM Dearest T mooted the idea of retiring for the night. But damned if I was going to go out like that. For you see, I had a plan:

I wanted to go to the Double Down Saloon.

Dearest T took some convincing, but I cajoled, wheedled, and assured him that it was just a short walk off The Strip. He relented, then assented, and we set out.

A ninety-minute walk through Vegas's ripped backside and several blisters later (I had slightly miscalculated distance, direction, and location), we arrived. The Double Down is an unpreposessing one-story, white box of a building tacked onto a small, low-end strip mall. A shingled awning above the sngle-door entrance proclaims it "The Happiest Place on Earth." The grizzled bear of a bouncer (think Hulk Hogan) politely carded us as we entered. Unfortunately Dearest T had forgotten to bring any ID, but he agreed to the doorman's proposition that if the police busted he place, he'd be escorted by them back to the hotel to verify his age. All very pragmatic and amiable. We entered, slid up to the bar, ordered some beers, and looked around.

I liked what I saw, and loved what I heard.

Psychotically psychedelic and primitive murals featuring skeletons and wild women stared for ceiling and walls. A small, rough stage was stuffed into one corner, along with a couple of well-chewed sofas. In another corner some dykes were playing pool on a battered table. A tin plaque advised a capacity of 157. Two TV monitors played loops of vintage sleazoid horror films, seventies music videos, and clips of Japanese porn. A plastic bottle labeled "Hippy Spray" sat on top of a cooler. Hand-lettered signs hung around the bar: "$5 Bacon Martini," "Graveyard Shift Special 4AM-10AM, $4 Schlitz & Ass Juice," "You Puke, You Clean." And the jukebox --oh, the jukebox!-- belted out a divinely righteous stream of garage, proto-punk, hardcore, and, er, Frank Sinatra.

We chatted aimiably with a voluptuous, slightly pixilated sweetie named Fiona, who, having made an understandable yet erroneous assumption, asked Dearest T and I if we'd prefer to go to a gay bar. We declined the kind suggeston. The room was slowly but steadily filling up with a heady mix of tattoed punks, scruffy college kids, latino greasers, and Betty Page lookalikes.

Then it was time for the evening's featured entertainment: Szandora, the Hula Hoop Chick.


Magenta, pixie-cut hair. Curves like the Indianapolis 500. Skin of alabster.


Dearest T's tongue hung out all the way to the floor as she mounted the pool table and gyrated languidly, hoop spinning casually around her hips as the primal thudding of the Slits' "Heard it Through The Grapevine" pounded from the jukebox. "Such control!" he marvelled, as his eyes popped out on stalks. Then off came her bikini top, and T's tongue plus eyes emerged further. I was not immune to Szandora's multiple charms, but it was the soundtrack that blew me away; the Slits had now given way to the Dead Kennedys' "Police Truck." Absofuckingloutely marvellous.

I don't rightly know what time it was that we left, nor do I recall what time it was when we regained our hotel room. All I remember while lying on my spinning bed, listening to Dearest T puking up martini & beer in the bathroom, was thinking that at the Double Down I had found a slice of heaven amidst the hell of Vegas, and that I had almost a full week to get there again...

The Slits - Heard It On The Grapevine (buy here or e-here)
Dead Kennedys - Police Truck (buy here or e-here)