By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
As the final strains of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" fade, the woman's voice continues to climb. She's muttering something about Bush and playfully antagonizing the older man. Although it's clearly a harmless rant between friends, a guy in a mechanic's jacket and ballcap makes his way to the table, presumably to intervene. A few minutes later, the older man smiles, waves and heads toward the door. Before long, Jacket Man and Scrubs are nose to nose. Soon they lock lips.
Meanwhile, back at Sean's table, the girls are weighing in on everything from the subtle nuances of oral sex to the implications of taking Viagra. The brunette tells of an ex who popped a few pills on New Year's Eve and kept disappearing into the bathroom for twenty minutes at a time. The conversation quickly devolves into vivid descriptions of the ladies' sexual inclinations that would make a Penthouse Forum editor blush."You're so sexually frustrated right now," Sean says, and offers a toast: "Here's to being single, sleeping double and having multiples."
His words collapse under a torrent of giggles. The Patron shots are kicking in. As the three get up from their chairs and make their way to the jukebox, the brunette, clad in jeans and a biker shirt, notes how tipsy she's feeling. "I think I've had too much tequila," she says. "I gotta take a break for a minute. I'm smoking two cigarettes at a time. Why didn't anyone tell me I'm smoking two cigarettes?
"By the way," she adds with a laugh, "if I drop my clothes along the way, somebody pick them up, because these are my good clothes." -- Dave Herrera
10 p.m.: BJ's Carousel, 1380 South Broadway
There's a thick, dark-haired man sitting on the stage at BJ's Carousel, his eyes wide with a combination of delight and embarrassment. Tonight is his birthday, and five well-toned men circle him, caressing his head and thrusting their groins upward with lusty rhythm. It's a tag-team lap dance, the kind of production number saved for special occasions. Strobe lights pulse as the stereo blares: It's raining men. Hallelujah!
Tonight is Male Stripper Night at BJ's, one of the oldest gay clubs in the city. On weekends, BJ's draws a rowdy crowd to its drag shows, extravagant cabaret-style revues where men in wigs entertain in fishnets and false eyelashes. But on Thursdays the performers are all boy -- a point made clear by the itty-bitty briefs that most wind up wearing at the end of their stripteases. These are perfect bodies, Greek-sculpture bodies, hairless and toned and agile.
One by one, they take the stage to gyrate and tease beneath a ceiling webbed with shiny red hearts and Valentine's Day streamers. There's a brunette in a taupe-colored Eagle Scout outfit, a brawny blonde dressed as a doctor. A guy in a top hat twirls a cane to "Puttin' on the Ritz," his chest a gallery of tattoos. When a fat guy from the audience tries to get on stage, the DJ reproaches him gently: This kind of thing is best left to professionals.
In the crowd, strippers mingle languidly, giving extemporaneous shoulder rubs to bearded men sitting around BJ's sunken, crescent-shaped bar. Folded dollar bills stick out from the bands of the strippers' Speedos like Chinese fans. As the volume rises and the empties pile up, they blend into the background. Some of the patrons don't even notice them: A woman at the bar drinking Bud is oblivious to the guy in a Speedo and devil horns who grinds away on her backside.
Around midnight, an older man lays a fiver on the bar and collects his keys. On his way out the door, he stops to tip a skinny blond stripper, slowly placing a dollar between the man's underwear and his skin. "I'll see you next week," he says. -- Laura Bond
11 p.m.: Village Inn, 23 Centennial Boulevard, Highlands Ranch
This is it, pretty much the end of the line. This is where the night shift begins...and ends.
Crossing County Line Road headed south, Broadway begins to curl and writhe like a snake burrowing into the cozy heart of Highlands Ranch. From here on, it's just graded hills, suburban dark and superimposed architecture -- the unmistakable stamp of sprawl's best progress.
In the strip malls to the north, they're booting the rowdies out of Marie Callender's and C.B. & Potts -- late eaters, logy from one too many trips to the salad bar and bent on pie, are being shown the door; three-beer-drunk nuclear breadwinners are aiming their SUVs toward home, the last of Leno and a reasonable bedtime. For insomniacs, there's not much in the way of amusement short of breaking and entering, short of crime. And nightlife? Only of the Bullet Park variety -- the kind of dark fun that goes on behind closed doors, inside locked garages. There's a reason they invented key parties in the suburbs, serial infidelity, light bondage and wife-swapping. There's a reason people have so many kids and buy so many cars and spend themselves blind into triple-mortgage bankruptcy on the Home Shopping Network.