I got a call about a party in Stockton but thought it was too far to drive. I was tempted, however, when I heard the warehouse was going to be decorated as a brothel.
Ken explained to me that Stockton was an area near South Park. So, I threw on my cowboy boots and a western shirt and headed downtown.
There was a BBQ and car show in National City that afternoon, and I hit that first. The flyer advertised “pre-1968 vehicles.” I wondered if I drove my ‘69 Jaguar down if they’d tell me to get lost.
They were collecting $10 donations for the bands. I like it when I see money going to the groups, since they often play such events for free. Sometimes setting up the equipment takes as long as the sets.
The groups included Pachuco Jose, Con Los, Boogie Boys, Omar and the String Poppers, the Bop-Tones, and the Del-Fi’s. A few of the bands were from L.A. It was a mix of rockabilly and rock tunes that seemed to fit the theme of the car show.
There were several lowriders. I heard one guy in his 60s ask, “Why do people take a great old Thunderbird or Impala and chop it up, lower it, and do all this?” I said, “Sometimes I agree that they make it look horrible, especially when they go crazy with all the stencil designs on the hood. But if you look at some of the Mercury’s here...they look so much better the way they’re tricked out.”
There was an old Ford truck, and my date and I couldn’t figure out what the big cylinder was over the window. We asked the Latina standing near it. “I don’t know. It’s my dad’s truck.” She pointed him out. He explained that it was an old-fashioned air conditioner. A woman standing nearby said, “I thought air conditioning back then...was just rolling down the windows.”
There were car clubs at the event. One group, the Conquistadors, threw a party that I attended a year ago.
There were a few cars that were rusty and needed a lot of work.
When some of the nicer cars were pulling out to leave, they didn’t have much space to get out. I wondered if they ever get into scrapes trying to fit these cars into their spaces, so I asked one of the car owners. He said something about spending over $50,000, but I couldn’t hear the rest of what he said because four motorcycles pulled up. I just nodded as if I agreed.
We decided to take off and head to the brothel party. The Ricky Nelson song “Garden Party” came on the car radio, and I inserted “brothel party” as I sang along.
I always hope a place is going to be easy to find. Well, for this party, there were two giant legs with garter belts outside the warehouse.
As we walked up, we saw some smokers outside. And there were a lot of fake handlebar mustaches and some authentic old suits. One person was in a bathrobe. He said, “Hey, my wife put me in this thing, so I’m a victim of her.”
A few of the smokers had their cigarettes in holders. One woman reminded me of Bette Davis — the way she was smoking and talking, not the eyes.
There were women wearing colored boas.
There were people at this party who were filmmakers and some movie-themed decor on the walls. I saw a sign that read “Quiet on the set.” The James Bond movie poster with Halle Berry was pleasant to look at, though it didn’t really fit in with the 1800’s-brothel theme.
As the music played and people got loud, I started to feel that this was the perfect venue for this party. The upholstery business next door was closed, so there was nobody to complain about the noise.
When I walked over to check out the food, a guy said to me, “Aren’t you glad the sandwiches are covered? I get grossed out when flies are all over them.”
I met a guy named Lance, a filmmaker from L.A. He told me about an indie movie he made and how he just bought a full-length feature. We ranted about how many movies come out that suck. He’s the only one I talked to who agreed with me about The Departed being overrated.
The art on the walls was by Sheree Neff, Bridget Coulter, and Jamie Roxx. I had met Roxx at a few different parties. His style of pop art gets compared to Andy Warhol’s. I overheard someone nearby say, “Did you hear Jamie went to Vegas and got married and then it was annulled shortly after?” The response was, “Hey, he’s just like all those famous people, then.”
I said to Roxx, “Last time I saw you, it was when Stan Ridgway was playing at the Belly Up. You had a painting for him.” Roxx was allowed backstage, and Ridgway loved his work. Roxx said, “We were working on a short film, and we wanted to use his song “Mexican Radio” in it. I think it’s gonna happen.”
I met an actress named Bridget Coulter, who did an interesting painting of a topless woman. The painting had real feathers on it and sequins glued around the chest.
I met artist Sheree Neff, and we talked about digital photography. She showed me some shots she took in Virginia. She had her business cards designed a unique way — they were attached to Hershey bars. The Hershey logo had been changed to her name. I said, “I may be biased because of my love of chocolate, but this is the best business card ever.”
I told her this story about my visit to a friend in Utah: A limo driver had gone into a diner there and asked if he could buy 50 packets of Grey Poupon. The owner of the diner asked why, and he said, “Every time I’m at a stoplight, someone pulls up, honks, and when I roll down my window, they ask if I have any Grey Poupon. I figured I’d tape my business cards to the packets and hand them out when they ask.”