Just the 'Fax, man

Thirty miles of developments, drunks and dreams -- the ultimate road trip.

The Love Machine looks like a hybrid between a weightlifting bench and a torture device envisioned by H.R. Geiger. It's all metal stirrups and leather pads and bars and handles contorted into a surrealistic and slightly menacing, floor-mounted miniature jungle gym, disconcertingly oily to the touch.

"I thought it would have more moving parts," says Room 11's female occupant. "This thing looks more like I'm supposed to be the moving part all over it." She tentatively positions herself on the Love Machine. With the addition of a human form, the design's many ergonomic features begin to reveal themselves. "Oh," she says, laughing, adjusting positions. "I see now." She looks around the Love Machine chamber, which is roughly eight feet square, with wall-to-wall red shag and mirrors on all four walls and the ceiling, so that occupants may view themselves from a seemingly infinite array of angles.

"I feel like I'm in the back of some sleazy 1970s makeout van. And I don't even want to think about what's on this carpet. Gross. Eewww."

Anthony Camera
Spare time: Debbie and Robbie Moss are bowling for 
dollars at Lakewood Lanes.
Anthony Camera
Spare time: Debbie and Robbie Moss are bowling for dollars at Lakewood Lanes.

Mon Chalet is about half full tonight. There are ten cars in the parking lot, secured behind a metal gate separating the motel grounds from late-night Colfax foot traffic. Mon Chalet has 22 rooms, plus the nudist pool and Jacuzzi area, which is Mon Chalet's swinging centerpiece. Lit primarily with black lights, it holds a large heated swimming pool, a whirlpool in a mirrored alcove large enough for four adults ("six if they're being intimate"), and a dozen or so white plastic tables with matching chairs. One wall is decorated with a massive black-light painted mural of tropical birds. Water-column lights containing plastic fish line the walls. Classic rock blasts: Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Ozzy, Creedence Clearwater Revival.

"You know," says the young woman from Room 11, now disrobed and soaking in the Jacuzzi. "This whole place reminds of Ouday Hussein's vision of Western sexuality. Very cheesy and very twisted. I just don't see what about any of this is supposed to turn people on."

A hand-lettered sign in the pool area's entrance reads: "Do not wander around the parking lot in your towels. No walking around peeking in windows. If you're invited to a room that's fine."

There are three young, relatively attractive couples in the pool area, but none are flirting with the others, let alone inviting them back to their rooms. Instead, they all keep to themselves in the Jacuzzi or far corners of the pool, naked, alternately making out and conversing in conspiratorial whispers. In one dark corner, a lone older woman, seated in a plastic chair, watches the action from the deepest shadows, working on herself with one hand beneath her towel, smoking a cigarette with the other. -- David Holthouse

12:15 a.m.: Whiskey Bill's,
7290 West Colfax

"It's always raining in my head/Forget all the things I should have said." As the final strains of Staind's "Epiphany" fade, the buzz of several indistinct conversations take over.

"That's the prettiest song I've ever heard," declares Christina, a robust 33-year-old blonde, between pulls on a borrowed cigarette and sips of what must be her fifth or sixth vodka tonic. "It fucking explains everything." Even though she's smiling, loneliness oozes from her pores. It's obvious that she's trying to drink something away. Or maybe she's just bored.

Other than Christina, the only customers are five men spread out along the almost-empty bar. The TV sets, all tuned to the same station, compete with the neon signs to provide the joint's low-light ambience.

At the other end of the elbow-worn bar, Mike, the barkeep, slides the twenty-something in a black hoodie another round of his chosen poison for the evening: Jäger and Red Bull. And as the distinct riffs from AC/DC's "Back in Black" kick in, Hoodie whips out his air guitar and throws down, completely oblivious to everything and everyone around him.

"Can I bum another cigarette?" asks Christina, ignoring the two barely burned butts in the ashtray in front of her. "I quit everything about a month ago -- including drinking. But tonight I'm breaking all the rules. Shhhh, don't tell anyone," she adds, pressing a freshly manicured nail against her lips. "Normally, I wouldn't be here on a Tuesday night -- this is Tuesday, right? But I just came from the airport, and I really needed a drink."

Christina and Hoodie have monopolized the jukebox. Both are staggeringly drunk. And as the two of them lean against each other in front of the juke, deciding what to play next, a bar-stool philosopher who looks like a cross between Jesus and Sam Elliot and has been jabbering for the better part of the last forty minutes finally becomes intelligible in the lull. Apparently, he's been trading yarns with anyone who'll listen about love, lust and just plain getting it on. Never mind the fact that he's presently womanless and falling-down Otis drunk. Right now, he's Doctor Love.

"I wouldn't rub up against anything that Laura rubbed up against," declares the good doctor, his hand on the shoulder of a well-groomed forty-something who appears to be not only surprisingly sober, but enthralled. "Well, at least your wanker hasn't fallen off in the last two years -- but we're getting way off base here."

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