Empty Chamber, Brownsville and The Mamms: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Friday, September 30, 2005

There’s a new Here’s the Thing… up, go check it out.

Ashcans. “Hey, check out one-eighth of this graphic novel! The rest is coming out in at most a year!” They have their place, I guess, if used effectively. Early promotions, recouping some losses, having something new at a show, keeping your name out there – graphic novels take a while and cost money.

I picked up two ashcans at SPX and they both look gorgeous. First one was A. David Lewis and Jason Copland’s preview for Empty Chamber which looks to be an action/adventure espionage romp with am ass-kicking sexy chick and a toned down version of Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory. A. David Lewis’ story is well laid out – a nice little mystery presenting itself in the ashcan that makes me hungry for the rest of the story. It seems to really dive right into the action, enough set-up to get to know our main player and then throw him into a world he’s only read about. Copland (who has a story with Stuart Moore in Western Tales of Terror 4) continues to be one of my favorite artists that aren’t ass-famous yet. But ADL and Jason make a good pairing and the story is a perfect fit for Jason’s ultra-clean, somewhat old-school style so I wish nothing but the best for this project – maybe it’ll put both of these guys where they deserve to be.

The second one is Neil Kleid and Jake Allen’s Brownsville. Neil is a weird case – I read his Xeric Award Winning 90 Candles some time back and instantly dumped a lot of faith on him – I’ve been talking him up a bit – realizing that I was staking my reputation of a man with impeccable taste on a dude who released a 90 panel comic book that I liked. Then I started seeing some images for Brownsville (coming out through NBM and drawn by the retardedly talented Jake Allen) and got wind of the pitch (two words – Jewish gangsters) and I started to become a bit more assured that the dude was the real deal.The ashcan really solidified that for me. The pacing is spot on, the characters’ voices instantly jump out at you and the story is intriguing right from the start. I mean, they’re Jewish mobsters! Think of the taglines: “Greed breeds enemies. These guys are fucked.” It’s just too easy! “Luca Brasi sleeps with the gefilte fish.” All kidding aside it looks beautiful and it’s definitely going to be a strong final product.
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Strip Clubs are a double edged sword. If you get wasted, it’s quite possibly the most fun you can have giving women money. However, if you get wasted, you end up giving them a lot more money than you should. Men get jealous over two things, mainly. How much money someone has and how much attention they get from women. In strip clubs, the more you spend the more attention you get (in theory). I firmly believe that’s why there are always so many fights in strip clubs.

The first time I went to a strip club I was a broke college kid with forty bucks to my name. After paying my cover and buying a seven dollar beer, I would have had enough left over to put three singles in between a stripper’s cleavage and two ten dollar lap-dances. Not the most productive strip club trip I’ll ever take but a good introduction at any rate.

We get to the club and I just flip it. I’m talking Titty Town. New York Titty. It was like living my best wet dream except with a bunch of Mexicans and bikers standing around with bottles of Bud Light and dollar bills. My friends and I walk into that place like zombies and reach right for our wallets.

I was immediately attracted to this tall girl with a bar code tattoo on the back of her neck. She was like Amazonian tall but without the Russ Myers, the kind of girl I see in the coffee shop and want to take her out for some gelato. I ask my friend Matt, the strip club veteran who’s been to two before this, what I should do.

“Give her a buck and ask her for a lap dance.”

It was such a weird answer at the time. I understand I’m not going to take her home to meet my mom but I figured I should at least buy her a drink. She’s sweet looking – you just look at her and you know that she really is stripping to pay for nursing school; it’s not just some line. You start playing out these Pretty Woman fantasies, about how you’re going to totally take this girl out dancing and wine her and dine her and make her fall in love with you and get her to quit stripping and become an accountant or some shit.

While I’m working up the nerve to talk to her my buddy Jim hands me a beer and tells me to be a man. Since I didn’t have to buy my first beer, I walk over and hold out a five-dollar bill – not a single – and she comes over, shaking those awesome fucking hips and giving me this seductive look.

And I’m just thinking, “She likes me.”

She does a little dance, bends over and puts her hands on her tits and looks down at them. She stays there for a moment and it’s all awkward. Finally I tell her, “They look great.” She laughs and tells me to put the money in between them. I do that, she clamps on the five, spins around and pulls her mouth right up to my ear.

“If you want a dance, I get off after this song.” She kisses my cheek and pulls back to the stage and I just stood there, in shock, as she smiled at me, waved and turned to the next guy. Here I am thinking I’m going to start a life with this girl, have kids, a fucking house in the hills and every night she’s going to move like that – every night she’s going to smell the way she smelled when she pulled up to me.

Of course, she realizes she found her mark for the night.

I go and tell my friends what just happened. Matt buys me a celebratory drink which I put down instantly, my hands shaking the whole time. I wait for that fucking song to end and it feels like years. At the end of it I practically run over to where she’s getting off the stage and ask her for that dance.

“Give me five minutes, baby.”

She called me baby! This is serious shit right here, right?

I go back to my friends. Someone else buys me a drink, tells me I’m gonna need my money for this chick. No idea what he’s talking about but whatever. I kill that drink to calm the nerves. Five minutes later my girl comes up to me – TO ME – and says she can give that dance now.

I don’t know what the song was – I don’t even think I was listening. I was so focused on her as she swooped in, her smell, how soft her skin was. I didn’t know what to do with my hands and she told me I can touch her – she won’t tell anyone. There’s a sign to my left that says “Do not touch the dancers” and yet she’s giving me permission! This is the start of a beautiful relationship. Maybe not the story we’ll tell our grandkids but either way it’ll be something monumental to us.

So I lay my hands on her back, she brings them around to her tits and gives me this devious smile, this evil smile, this “you’re making me so hot that I’m gonna fuck your brains out smile”. She puts my hands down, leans back over and says, “I don’t want my boss to see that.”

She starts asking me my name. What I do. All the while grinding on my hips and swinging her ass in face and I’m quite possibly the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life, she's interested in me. It's like a small-talk date but she's in a g-string.

The song ends and I give her a twenty instead of ten and she smiles, tucks it away. I offer to buy her a drink and she just laughs and says that she gets free drinks when she works. She invites me to a private room.

A PRIVATE ROOM.

And I say yes, naturally. And she tells me it’s a hundred bucks.

And everything goes away. The buzz, the elated feelings. She doesn’t look like the girl next door anymore. She’s tall because of her stilettos. Her smell is artificial. Maybe she’s not in nursing school. I noticed the bags under her eyes. The “devious smile” ripped right out of porno movies. She was what I wanted her to be for twenty bucks. For twenty bucks she let my imagination go wild and all she had to do was smile.

I told her I don’t have a hundred bucks. She tells me to take some money out. Ask your friends to lend it to you. She’ll make it worth my time. The ATM takes credit cards. It’s just a hundred bucks.

I go back to my friends and Will wants a dance with the stripper next. He walks up and asks for a dance, she leads him to a chair with the same smile she gave me. Five minutes later Will’s asking us if we have some money to lend him, he wants to go into the private room with her.

I tell him to fuck off. Loudly. Jealousy? I don’t know, maybe some of that mixed with a little shame. Ignorance. Either way we decide to leave. The whole way home Will’s bitching that we wouldn’t give him money. I just wanted to fucking punch him.

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I have something fun planned for next week. The theme is “Playing with Balls” but it has nothing to do with sex. It’s some good old Brooklyn stories about the million uses we had for blue balls (and again, no, not the sexual kind).

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