Charlie Browns Bar & Grill
I'm pretty well sauced on Guinness by the time Sean and I get to Charlie Brown's Bar & Grill (980 Grant Street). The eighty-odd-year-old bar tucked into the Colburn Hotel & Apartments — a famed '40s hangout of Beat hipsters Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg — is packed, but we have no trouble finding a table on the wraparound patio and an attentive waiter to bring us two bottles of MGD. I'm miffed by the lack of draught beer, as I always am when I find myself in a bar that only serves bottles, but I'm drunk already, so any beer will do.
We're here not just to keep our buzzes going on a sweltering summer evening, or because it's within walking distance of Moon Time, the bar that got us drunk, but also to meet Maris the Great, the gay zombie who photographs himself "killing" and ass-raping hardcore bands for his cult-followed website. We scan the bar looking for Denver hardcore's favorite undead homo — we even keep an ear out for screams of pain and agony — but find no signs of him, so we drink half of our beers and then ask the waiter if he's seen a zombie walking around. "You mean the GWAR-looking dude with pink fingernails?" That's him. "I think he just left."
We run from the patio like teenagers on a two-minute Toys 'R Us shopping spree, spreading out to cover the lobby, the parking lot and parts of the bar we might have missed the first time, then finally find him by the signature piano, singing "Joy to the World," by Three Dog Night, and growling at onlookers. It's at this point that I realize I have no idea what I've gotten myself into.
Five minutes later, we're sitting at a new table with a new waiter (who, judging by the way he looks at us as he approaches, isn't sure what we've gotten him into, either). "You will drink Jäger tonight," Maris half-grunts, half-growls from behind creepy green-and-white contacts, black-and-yellow-stained teeth and enough gray-and-black face makeup to accurately re-create all fourteen minutes of "Thriller." "Oh, yeah?" I grunt back, playing along even though I know there's no fucking way I'm drinking any Jäger. "Are you going to drink it with me?" I ask. "Because I'm not about to get hammered off Jäger by myself." "No," he says, sipping from some sort of White Russian-looking cocktail. "Zombies don't get drunk. We get well preserved."
For most of the hour-plus we spend with Maris, he doesn't break character — not even when he has to remove one of his ghoulish gloves to get his credit card from under his black cape, a move I find especially hilarious. He spends most of the time staring at me while licking his teeth, so I avoid eye contact whenever appropriate. At one point, a skinny hardcore-looking girl with pierced lips and a studded belt comes over with her uninterested boyfriend to give Maris props and find out what band he plans to kill next. He won't say and I don't much care, because my beer's been empty for damn near ten minutes and an early-onset hangover is fast approaching. The girl finally leaves, and our server returns almost immediately. He apologizes profusely, then tells us that he avoids that couple ever since he found out the girl is a stripper and outed her to the boyfriend, causing a temporary breakup. "I don't know what he was so pissed about," he says. "I thought he'd want to know so he could make sure she showered before they fucked."
Our meeting with Maris ends shortly after this conversation because, Maris tell us, pussy is his kryptonite, and he's feeling grossed out. As he leaves, he licks both our hands and makes me promise to go out with him some Saturday night to Charlie's Denver for this column. "Yeah, maybe," I say, even though I know there's no fucking way I'm going to Charlie's with a gay zombie.
After he's gone, Sean and I finish our beers, smoke a quick cigarette on the patio and leave. Feeling pretty drunk and plenty preserved.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Denver dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.