Todd Sellers had a bachelor party a few months back. I don’t know why. He isn’t getting married as far as I know.
He just thought why not have one when there’s no fiancée to hurt. Like if he decides he should fuck a stripper/hooker then no one gets wronged. It’s actually a strange sort of forward thinking thoughtfulness. He asked me, months ago, whether I’d come, and I said yes never thinking it would amount to anything. Todd always has some kind of bizarre scheme that never goes further than an inebriated planning stage, like the time he wanted to traffic Russian hooker-wives in a pimped out submarine. However, on this occasion, Todd somehow holds focus long enough to put together a party. Since Todd completing a plan is a miracle in and of itself, I decided why not, at the very least, stop by. What harm could there be glancing in on this ersatz bachelor party?
And like most rhetorical questions the answer is not pleasant.
Todd rented out some dive bar. To get there you had to find this sliver of an alley that led below the Chicago River. It was called Cutter’s Lounge, and I expected to find a room full of goths slicing themselves up as industrial music blared. Oddly enough, even with water dripping from the ceiling, it seemed like my grandparent’s basement: wood paneling every which way, musty old furniture, stools held together with duct tape, and a galaxy of low cost alcohol.
At the point of my arrival Todd wasn’t drunk, just a bit stoned. I bought him a shot and asked when everyone else was coming.
“Soon,” he said slapping me on the back.
Soon. No word implies no one is comingmore. However, after being just the two of us for close to a half hour, a pair of guys in skinny jeans arrived. Todd introduced them as Salve and Mitch, two actors experimenting with a new form of acting they called reality stage. Instead of following scripts the two performed lifestyles. They knew a theater on Beckwith that occasionally rented them a night or two. So far they’d done three plays with implicit titles such as Homosexual, Heroin, and Arsonist. They were looking for a fourth concept but didn’t seem too receptive to my idea for Audience.
Now, the next arrival turned out to be the first performer as well. He came running into the place, charging all around the bar screaming louder than an ambulance siren, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!”
-- coming to a dead stop in front us saying flatly -- “I hate kids.”
He launched right into a routine that mostly involved producing sex toys from thin air and telling dirty jokes. He performed some balloon sculpting which I have to admit was fabulous. You haven’t really seen female genitals until they’re composed of intertwining latex. The sad thing is it took about fifteen minutes before anyone other than Todd knew Blerk the Clown was supposed to be here doing all this instead of being your everyday random sex themed party clown storming a bar. I believe the Tribune did an article about them, wandering around the city desperate for work.
The grand finale of Blerk’s -- excuse me, he insisted on us calling him by his full title, sometimes getting rather threatening about it -- the grand finale of Blerk the Clown’s act was to assemble a modular coffin from several beer boxes duct taped together. He used the coffin to prestidigitate a stripper named Cherry Naturally. She looked like Angelina Jolie with a heart surgery scare and a fresh knife wound in her thigh. Two bullet hole scars pocked her stomach, and a tattoo covered her left arm depicting an orgy straight out of Hellraiser. I know nothing of martial arts. But when she said, “Who wants to feel sexed?”and Todd pointed right at me hollering like a carnival barker, “This guy!” I could have punched straight through his chest, ripping his heart out in one deft motion.
Salve and Mitch threw down a trail of dollar bills which she shimmied along. I’m certain some of those bills came from a Monopoly set, though Cherry didn’t seem to notice. Or if she did, she didn’t mind. She performed… bending and twisting as if unsure how to lower herself to the ground then deciding to stand up straight, lifting herself up by the breasts in order to do so, and eventually grinding on me, her pelvic bone knifing into my thigh.
All the while the other guys cheered and threw handfuls of money at her. At one point Todd became jealous as she wagged her ass in my face. He shoved me out of the chair and took my place, never knowing how grateful I was.
What struck me the most about the evening was the nonchalance with which the bartender took everything. It’s made me more determined to return to Cutter’s Lounge as I assume something similar to this must happen with some frequency. At the least, I have to get to know the bartender to learn how he became so inured to such bizarre things, though I’m afraid my discomfort might be more a sign of how sheltered my life really is more than anything else. People throw around the phrase, “Now I’ve seen it all,” without ever realizing first how little they’ve actually seen. This also disturbs me because it suggests I should be grateful to Todd for exposing me to something I probably never would have experienced on my own -- this is how people grow. But all through the night the bartender barely batted an eye as Cherry Naturally stripped down to her naked vagina and proceeded to batter it with power tools. A dildo headed Sawsall. Now I’ve seen it all. The bartender? He observed it like the act was old hat: too familiar to be impressive.
As the night wore on the other guys got wilder. They must have thrown down close to five thousand dollars enticing Cherry to ever greater and more graphic acts of sexual performance. I won’t say that after sufficient amounts of booze I didn’t get more into the spirit of things. What I won’t say is how much into the spirit. Why not? Because it has nothing to do -- I worked her with the Sawsall till she sprayed like a geyser. I was not anticipating the geyser. And I did laugh when it became clear neither was she. No lies, Cherry smiled and said, “That only happens when I’m happy.” We shared an awkward stare after that declaration.
Blerk the Clown came in to check on Cherry every now and again, but for the most part he vanished into the shadows like Lamont Cranston. One moment he was nowhere to be found. Then turn around and poof! Blerk the Clown standing right behind you. He drank, shared in a few shot rounds, but mainly kept to himself. No one minded. Little details creep out of the blackout haze suggesting we should have been more attentive. Like how his face paint kept changing as if he went to bathroom and put on a fresh face every half hour, each new look creepier than the last. Or when he walked out of the bathroom with a syringe hanging out of one arm. Things get obvious in hindsight.
When we finally stopped lobbing wads of green at Cherry’s sticking vadge, she started to pack up shop. In the midst of finding her wisps of lingerie and crating up her hybrid sex toy powertools, she called out, “Hey Blerk! Got any meth left?”
“Blerk the Clown. THE CLOWN! How many times do I have to tell you? It’s Blerk the Clown.”
I won’t regale you with a full recitation of the ensuing argument. Suffice it to say a dispute began which culminated in Cherry breaking a bottle across Blerk the Clown’s face. Fortunately for him the meth coursing through his veins prevented him from succumbing to the blow, and Blerk the Clown proceeded to magically produce a knife with which he chased Cherry Naturally around the room. We -- Todd, Salve, Mitch, and I -- did nothing based on the hope this might all be part of some grand finale. The bartender at last, rolling his eyes, came from around the bar to herd the two out with a shotgun.
Things quieted down until we noticed Cherry Naturally had left behind the bag containing all of her cash. The bartender noticed it first and said, “You wanna take it, just let me have a handful.” So we did. We let him stick his hand in, and he kept however much he pulled out. Looked like a sweet fistful to me.
Now, we didn’t expect anything more than the cash we’d spent on Cherry and Blerk the Clown. There was close to fifty thousand in that sack. Upon realizing this the bartender, shotgun on the bar, insisted on being allowed another three handfuls. We let him have four. And a tip. I’ll always wonder why he didn’t rob us blind. I feel the secret to contentment lies behind his lack of greed, yet another reason to go back to Cutter‘s Lounge.
We split the rest three ways. And then things got weird.