By Bobby Lee Black
I have encountered, traversed and experienced a vast majority of nightspots across America often wildly inebriated, other times somberly sober or somewhere in the grey limbo in between. I believe I first experienced the Beauty Bar in San Francisco in the mid 2000s. I say “experienced” because it was just that, an experience. It was a very special time and place to be a part of where the beautiful and not so beautiful people met amidst retro beauty shop chrome and wild art. It quickly became a favorite haunt where I could be found nearly nightly drinking world famous martinis (not to be confused with the bourgeoisie candy martini fad) being manicured and coiffed, while surrounded by wildly eclectic entertainment. Somewhere amidst that strange and wonderful time, I found myself with a group of misfits or mimes or maybe they were carnival performers. Nonetheless, we were just outside the Big Apple and I suggested the original Beauty Bar based on my many experiences in San Fran. The New York original was equally as amazing in its own sleepless city way! Martinis flowed like heavenly fountains while we rubbed elbows with socialites and artisans (mostly of the artistic vibe but I may have seen an artesian gnome or two…one can never be sure). It was a genuine, according to Hoyle, happening of an existential variety that lasted at least a few nights. Maybe it all meant something. Maybe not, but no explanation, no mix of words can touch that kind of experience. As a side note I’ve also been told that I have been to the Beauty Bar in Vegas but then again it’s also been rumored that I was married to a stripper named Peaches on same said excursion and as of yet, there is no proof of either. Not to negate the report, just claiming no conscious memory of same.
This brings us to the story at hand…
Upon my recent return to Denver, one of my friends, who I now recall we once referred to as “Bum Wire” (due to his inability to keep his facts straight) told me that the place to be in Denver was a branch of the legendary nightspots I had become so fond of years ago, the Beauty Bar, my Beauty Bar. I had changed a bit since I had left Denver long ago. It was a different town then full of vampires, freaks, and raves. My core memories of that time dangle on one or two or maybe twenty nights—actually wee hour mornings—when I left the warehouse district, or some such place, completely insane. Instead of going home, I would aim the thunder beast toward Broadway or Colfax to find a place where people were just as dark and twisted as I was. But I’m different now…well, somewhat.
I thought to myself; “I can hang with some of the beautiful people tonight, who knows maybe if some bored socialite was in the mood for something, a little less than beautiful?” Oh yes, I could definitely hang! So once again like so long ago, I aimed the thunder beast toward downtown and some unsuspecting socialite was as bored as I was. Leonard Cohen was floating through air as I sailed toward the next chapter in my Beauty Bar experiences; “and now the wheels of heaven stop, you feel the devil’s riding crop, get ready for the future: it is murder”. If I had any idea how prophetic those lyrics were to my looming future, I might have gone in a completely different direction but I was on a mission…so into the night, I flew.
Although I found the place rather easily, I spent nearly half an hour looking for somewhere to dock the land yacht and another ten minutes walking back to the bar. As I wandered through the night imagining the beauty and atmosphere that was my destination, I never thought that anything could go pear shaped on an evening such as this. The one factor in this equation that I hadn’t considered was in retrospect, the only one I should have taken into account. As I have observed on many occasion the simple fact is, that although well meaning, most of my cohorts are so perma-buzzed that their brains actually slosh when they move but I digress. I finally found the place just before I had lost all the feeling in my face, but the cold had focused me a bit which proved helpful in exchanging vain platitudes with the doorman. The door swung open as my head spun with visions of martini glasses clinking, beautiful women laughing with perfect hair and nails, walls lined with retro art and beauty shop chrome.
While lost in imaginary reverie, I must have been standing in the doorway for longer than was appropriate because as the clouds of fantasy cleared from view, I was faced with a much more sullen image. Two young women looked up at me from their uncomfortably small manicure tables with awkward looks of disapproval. It might have been the dull yellowish light that bathed them or my startling snap back to reality but I am certain they looked more like demented characters from a Robert Williams painting than actual people.
I could hear Hunter S. from somewhere deep within; “Keep it together man, in a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught.” I was mumbling something like “I’m okay, I can do this” as I stepped in from the cold into the toxically enticing cloud of fumes wafting up from the manicurists. I remember thinking if chemical fumes and bad ventilation were good enough for Timothy Leary I guess they’re good enough for me.
To read the rest of the story, visit the November 2013 issue of InkSpired Magazine at: www.InkSpiredMagazine.com/magazine.
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