Drunk of the Week

Nobody likes to admit defeat -- especially not a member of the Institute of Drinking Studies. We pride ourselves on being able to enjoy any bar, no matter if it suffers from watered-down drinks, pea-soup-thick smoke, snobby patrons or slow service. Our antics are usually enough to guarantee our happiness, and often that of any soul unlucky enough to be dragged into the Vortex. Wherever we take our mobile train wreck, we come away with a night we're proud of (perversely, perhaps) and will rehash in riotous fashion for weeks to come.

So I am ashamed and sorry to say that the Institute, for all its ebullience and immaturity, has been humbled by a bar for which we had high hopes. In fact, guys throughout Denver -- and especially in that key demographic of thirteen to fifty -- had been eagerly awaiting the opening of Coyote Ugly Saloon on the third floor of the Denver Pavilions (500 16th Street). The original bar was founded in New York by Liliana Lovell after she got fed up with the corporate world, and later provided the inspiration for a major motion picture starring Tyra Banks and her Oprah-certified natural bosom, a guaranteed guilty-pleasure movie for guys after Showgirls and Striptease, but before Blue Crush.

Anticipating a great night at Coyote Ugly, a half-dozen members of the Institute pre-lubricated for a couple of hours so we could hit the ground running at what we hoped would be the greatest non-strip club in Denver. Then we stepped inside the place and immediately had to adjust our attitude. To start with, our numbers only exacerbated what was one of the bigger sausage fests we'd seen in some time. Our learned consensus was that the vast majority of these guys had never played a down of football due to their busy schedule of Star Trek conventions. They'd all probably kissed a girl, but still debated among themselves exactly what defines second, third and home bases.

And the bouncers didn't look much better. You have to wonder about a bar that built its reputation on beautiful women, then protects those women with bodyguards that you could easily take. Bouncers should engender grudging respect, if not outright fear; the best these bouncers could do was timidly ask us not to think about touching the female bartenders. And while some of the girls were undeniably attractive, the main reason we were at risk of making contact was that we wanted to retrieve the Jewish Representative's tie. Apparently Coyote Ugly not only refuses to serve water at the bar, but it doesn't allow ties on the premises, either. I'm sure the intent was to prohibit stuffed-shirt, Cherry Creek types from becoming regulars, but as a result, the joint is jammed with guys who own nothing but clip-ons.

Coyote Ugly is basically a skin club without the advantages of nudity and lap dances -- at least for guys. The female employees wear belly shirts from which surgical or padded augmentation spills over the top, and low-rise jeans that set off their butt-crack tattoos and the bottle openers nestled between their cheeks. (If sheer disappointment doesn't shut down this place, then an E. coli outbreak among Coors Light drinkers may -- not that those Coors drinkers don't deserve what's coming to them.) When they're not opening beers, the girls spend much of their time clog-dancing suggestively on the bar with co-workers, simulating various sexual positions and offering body shots. Now, body shots rank with the wheel and penicillin on the scale of great human inventions -- but only if you participate. To his chagrin, the Head of Pathologic Drinking learned that twenty bucks only buys you the right to watch two ostensibly bi-curious young ladies lick tequila off each other. In the right bar, twenty bucks will buy you a wonderful lingering scent that will buy you a spot on your couch for the next week, where you can recall lingering images and plan your next session of "personal time." At Coyote Ugly, it won't even buy you the regret of having drunk bad tequila. And speaking of booze, we had to stick with flat rum and Cokes, because Coyote doesn't have any real beer on tap.

We quickly reached the conclusion that a night at our local Knights of Columbus bingo parlor would provide more excitement than a night at Coyote Ugly. The corporate motto for this chain of sad saloons is "Don't just get drunk, get ugly." After a visit to this place, I'm sure you'll agree with the Institute's conclusion: Things are ugly here no matter how drunk you get.

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Patrick Osborn