Wow. This is better than a movie. One minute I'm sitting Monday-night solo in the quiet of the Matador, sloshing my grumbles around in a cocktail-cube symphony while overhead the absurdity of A Scanner Darkly spells its grumbles out in closed captions ("I swear to God that a toddler has a better understanding of the intricacies of chew-swallow-digest-don't kill yourself on your TV dinner! And yet you've managed to turn this near-death fuckup of yours into a moral referendum on me!"); the next, the whole saloon set has imploded upon itself and smacked me right down in the middle of Sodom and Gomorrah, or Three Mile Island, or Saved by the Bell. Just wow.
"I wonder what their safe word is," the always-pleasant Jason Ferguson appears out of nowhere and motions through his Fu Manchu to the BDSM team behind us.
"It's ‘big wheel,'" a dominatrix whips back, before feeding a whiskey shot down the metal-mouthed bondage mask of her barely clad boy toy, Jason Lambert.
Then Will Walker ambles over in a hazmat suit, rubbing orange paint all over the gloves on his hands. "This is all for people who have no aspirations to become anything other than what they already are," he intones, wisely.
What this all actually is, beyond the psychological implications of hipster hubris from downtown bar staffers, is the fourth iteration of Matador's elaborate Photo Royale scavenger hunt, a costume party that involves teams of thematically garbed misanthropes roaming the quiet Monday night streets of downtown in search of photographs of, well, things.
What kind of things? Well, that has yet to be revealed, but it will all somehow involve ants — because there are "assistants" dressed as ants, some with Adam Ant inclinations — and probably drunken sexy parlor wordplay, because that's what people like. Also, there is the gay-winking, oiled-up presence of the Chippendales team and they have a boom box and it is playing the Village People and I want to die. So there's that.
Thankfully, the team I'll be following this evening, made up of lazy-poor Weekly ad staffers and those who love them, is neither greased-down nor tarted-up; they're Sims. That's right, Sims. As in The Sims. While the other teams spent weeks of manic toil with needles and burlap and leather, ours stuck construction-paper geometric to headband and called it a costume, completely aware of just how deep their homebound role-playing geek river runs in these tough economic times. No worries, though, as the team includes a lovely sexual cobbler of Lara, Colin, Amanda, J.P. and Mimi all dressed as themselves, all tits and pecs and bedroom eyes aflutter. We don't need your fascist costume thing.
Organizer Andy — dressed as an ant, people — climbs atop the bar to announce everything in its twisted logical order: something about drinking challenges and fluorescent ant farms, text messaging and code, more ants, hunting and PBR. There are giant bags to retain things in, little slivers of insanity, the growing voices of a mad mob and a real sense of urgency to get nowhere fast. So, a cross between Adventures in Babysitting and life itself, then. And we're off!
"We need a picture of all of us with our feet not touching the ground," Lindsay rustles through our inaugural folder. Cut to a group of people hanging from some downtown structure, suggestively.
"OK, we need a picture of all of us crammed into a really tight place!" Cut to everybody trying to fit in the trunk of my Jetta, giving up, and just cramming themselves into the back seat, suggestively.
"What rhymes with vain?"
"What rhymes with iguana?"
"Obama?" Are there no more Obama stickers downtown? Did the birthers steal them all? "OK, Dominicana." To the cigar store and click.
"Hey, look over there! Sluts!" Click.
Along the way there will be me stepping on a hot dog, everybody playing baseball with hot dogs and a paddle in a dark alley, Lara fellating a handful of hotdogs out of a girl's crotch, a body photo of Mimi's belly button smoking a cigarette, Eddie Money's "Baby Hold on to Me" blaring from a pizza shop and the world ending in a giant pool of sex juices. But there will also be Colin (sigh).
Over in front of the history center, poor hot Colin has been talked into being pantsed by an alligator statue for no other reason than the rhyming of "pants" with "ants." It only takes a few seconds until he's there, hunched over on the ground with his shorts around his ankles for God and the homeless to see.
"I could come stand behind him if you'd like," I've turned into the dirty old man I never meant to be. "Oh, let's cut the charade. We'll make a fucking porn and I'll be in it with Colin. 'K?"
At some point, Amanda is faced with the horror challenge of a bloody-knuckled bulimia bout with some giant marshmallows — my idea, natch — and at other points we drink shots and worry about how this Monday night is going to bleed into Tuesday.
Lara, meanwhile, is having a screaming orgasm outside on a bar table in honor of When Harry Met Sally or something. People are watching. People like the homeless Nick Nolte lookalike we took a photo of an hour ago when he was screaming at us or the sky or the government. This night could go on forever … and nearly does.
"Oh, no," Lara holds her camera out wanly, and something happens that isn't the open-shutter sparkler shot (with balloons!) that's next on our agenda. "My battery is dead. We'll have to go back to my car. We'll have to …"
"You guys have fun," I roll up my porn script and tuck into my nearby car. I already know how this movie ends.[email protected]