BLISTER 


;I thought all Fridays were ;good.

;;"Wait a minute!" I slam my head against my steering wheel. "Isn't Good Friday the day that scraggle-hunk Willem Dafoe was nine-inch-nailed to the cross? Is the Lord Jesus Christ — my personal savior in disturbing, morning-after toilet endeavors — dead?"

;;"I don't know," Eddie smears cocoa butter on his elbows. "Isn't that Ash Wednesday?"

;;While neither of us may be very good at comparing catechisms with rosaries, or crosses with pentagrams for that matter, our aims tonight — on the very holy Good Friday — are hedging on the divine. A little more than a week after the untimely closure of the antique district's queer take on the Regal Beagle, Lava Lounge (pink gossip chatter has blamed the affair on escalating rent symptomatic of — insert eye-roll here — downtown development), it's already resurrection time. Well, sort of.

;;We Lava Long Time is something of an "underground movement," I've been told, spearheaded by a few of the bar's faithful as some sort of spontaneous continuation of the molten martini spirit. So it's kind of like Michael Alig's insta-parties (taking over diners and subway cars) in early-'90s New York, only without the angel wings, the box cutter and the limbs housed in cardboard. Brilliant!

;

;If only we could find it.

;

;"Excuse me," I approach a lady-in-shorts-with-dog. "Do you know where the Echelon is?"

;

;She pauses for a moment, as if I might be speaking in prophecy, or at least a distant sociological language of cucumber sandwiches and social placement.

;

;"No, actually," her dog wisely yanks her away. "I don't."

;

;Eventually, we do find the Echelon, albeit at the bottom of an Orange Avenue condo structure (shouldn't an echelon be at the top?). A couple of valets are the clue (genius!) and they direct us down a lengthy corridor to a table with a cashbox. This is all very sneaky.

;;"Thirty dollars a person," door gal and party planner Linda holds out one loving hand. "All you can drink."

;

;In a minute, maybe.

;

;Anyway, finances exchanged, we're each handed a bar of Lava soap and directed through a magic door that isn't really magic but should be for $30.

;

;"Is this marketing or do we stink?" I pheromone.

;

;"They should probably know that this is not enough to get our hands clean," Eddie suds. "It must be marketing."

;

;Inside, it's like Lava never died, just grew up a little bit, got some tasteful couches, a bigger flat-screen and an extra bump or two of square footage. There's a small bar in the corner staffed by Lava favorites Amy and Bobby, and patches of minglepusses waiting for something to happen. It isn't yet (we are a bit early), so Eddie and I grab a drink and head outside to a middle-of-condo courtyard.

;;"This is a little Melrose Place," Eddie glares around, eventually zooming in on one Virginia Slim cigarette pressed into the sand of an ashtray or the sands of time.

;;"Well, Amanda would never smoke a Virginia Slim!" I protest, before dulling into epiphany. "But I guess Sydney might."

;;Nicotine cravings sated, we head back in to survey just what it is we're up against … or up inside. For me, Lava was always the place where I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with people whom I didn't think liked me — mostly lesbians — and stared into the eyes of Tadpole, my favorite bartender and super-duper, pinup-ready crush, and those of Deborah Cox forever blaring on the multiple flat-screens behind him. But tonight there is to be no Tadpole (something about surgery has been mentioned … what?!) and I'm sad. The real feeling I'm getting from staring at people on a plush sectional couch wrapping around the main room is akin to the international chill-out vibe I got in the mid-to-late-'90s at a New York nightclub: people sitting, staring, sometimes talking, but rarely connecting due probably to the amount of chemicals they had already consumed prior to sweating on a dance floor. It's a little too chilly.

;

;"Oh my God, those 40-year-old Abercrombies are totally staring at us and hating us," Eddie and I pong back and forth, knowing that their hate is only a response to ours. So, it's like any gay bar, then. Well, sort of.

;

;"We have the perfect marriage," a pretty girl with short hair and her husband with pretty teeth swing in our general direction. "My boyfriend's at home watching our kid!" the he-half adds.

;;Immaculate conception? No, immaculate perception, as neither want to go on record with actual names. Still, I can feel the grace of Jesus Christ, my personal savior, right here. Heal me!

;;"How did you get here! Nobody's supposed to be here!" Deborah Cox starts booming from DJ Sketchy's (really) turntable, and things are finally starting to, how do you say, blow up. Former Lava owner Alan is bouncing on the dance floor, with Eddie soon in tow. Soon after, some other sorta-hot tall guy will slip Eddie his business card and sadly not his tongue, while I will start not having to force smiles on the couch.

;;Eventually, more than 100 people are (supposed to be) here. And then Tadpole arrives. (How did he get here?) At this point, I'm too drunk to really speak, but I do know that I'm having a very good time indeed. By midnight, the cops seem to be aware of a good time being had by anyone in the vicinity of downtown, and have arrived to make sure that things shut down before anything turns into a magic pumpkin.

;;"We should go," I burp, practically crucified on the couch and staring at my nails. Somebody's going to have to roll away the crack rock and rise again by Sunday, and that somebody's going to have to be me.

;;Amen.

; bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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