My bar “Voodoo Mic’s” was like its own microcosm of crazy bullshit. Though that time would end up being one of the darker chapters of my existence, there was some really great memories that still bring bits of good cheer even all these years after the doors closed.
A great deal of these memories come from the antics of Austin.
The boy was a trooper back then. He would spend many a night up in the DJ booth trying to please a crowd that was never made up of “our kind of folk” and medicating this reality by chugging down anything I brought him to drink.
These drinks, unbeknownst to Austin, were really science experiments designed, by me, to test the boundaries that one can push a human stomach. If I had a question about a concoction, such as “Hmmm, can someone drink gin and milk and live?” I could just field test it with Austin and make note of the results. He drank shots out of the ashtrays and did not give a solitary fuck. We drained the contents of the bartender’s spill mats into a rock glass over ice and he chugged it. He even was able to hold down a full serving of “Ass In a Glass” which was a mixture of Rumplemintz, Wild Turkey, Hot Damn 100, and 151. On Ice. He did not even barf which was amazing. I suspect that his stomach was not a normal human organ but some sort of prototype for future use in cyborgs. Of course, now days he suffers from stomach problems, and I hope that this is not indicative of some sort of permanent scarring from Voodoo Mic’s.
When he was not busy pumping out the jams from the sound booth, he could be found entertaining himself in other ways. I recall an interesting bet he made at the pool tables one night.
Austin: (looking at the table where he has no chance, other than intervention by Baby Jesus, of making a shot) “I bet you twenty bucks you don’t make another shot this entire game.”
Random Customer: “Hahaha…you got a bet. Might as well pay me now.”
Austin: “Nahhh, I got this under control.” (Austin shoots the eight ball four inches over into the corner pocket). “Hmmm, look at that. I lost, but it looks like you owe me twenty bucks.”
Random Customer: (Fill in this area with your choice of angry curses)
The bar was full of memorable characters. Many of these guys would show up shortly after the doors opened and would stay until their wives came to drag them home or the sun went down. Sometimes it felt like I was peddling self-destruction to people who had yet to fully comprehend the dangerous path they were careening down at top speed. Even more amazing, as I look back on it now, was that I failed to comprehend that on the super highway of “Fucking Up Your Life” I had left all of these assholes in the dust a few miles back.
Thankfully, we had a rather amusing staff to help us through the murky weirdness of those days.
One of them in fact, would live on much longer than her short term of employment with us. Her tale inspired us to rename one of our drinks in her “dishonor” for the remaining time that Voodoo Mics was open.
Her name was Valarie. She was not a bad looking woman, but it did not take much to see that her cup overflowed with the remnants of consequence and a bitter aftertaste of innumerable layers of poor decisions.
The first time I met her was at a TABC class that I had to take so that I could, in addition to owning the bar, serve drinks. Patrick, my ex-brother-in-law, had hired her. Valerie did not realize at the time that I was going to be her boss and she came off to me dismissively, with a hint of snobby bitch. I thought she would make a spectacular waitress.
When she came into my office the next week, she was singing a different tune and was much nicer to me than at the TABC class. This did not matter to me though because I was still completely out of “give-a-fuck” on what anybody thought of me and had no plans to restock anytime soon. I told her she could start the coming weekend.
Patrick was right. She did make a good waitress and knew her booze. I think she was a little out of her element though because she had this problem of showing the customers her tits. I’m sure her nips got her much bigger tips, but that was the kind of shit that was going to cause problems.
If you have never owned a business than you probably do not know about zoning ordinances. The location that we had the bar was zoned by the city for alcohol and dance, but not skin. I could not have made my bar “Moisty’s: Boobies & Beer” because the city would not allow me have girls running around topless at this location. Believe me, at that time in my life if I could have had a business staffed by half-naked women I would have totally done so. I looked into it before we opened the bar, it was going to be too difficult to implement. That sucks too because I even had the tag line for Moisty’s figured out. “Moisty’s. Where there is a thin line between moist and wet.” Freaking awesome.
It was not to be. And so we had Voodoo Mics, the neighborhood Karaoke bar instead.
Having a staff member repeatedly flashing customers was an invitation to have the city investigate us in an attempt to shut us down. This would have been bad with the amount of drugs pouring through that place and the illegal gambling operation that had somehow been started in the back room. I had to pull her into the office and ask her to keep her shirt pulled down. I could not believe that those words were even coming out of my mouth. It just seemed to violate all my principles. Business, however, is business.
She did not completely stop busting out her breasts, but she toned it down enough we were able to look the other way (figuratively of course).
Over the next few weeks we discovered a little bit more about Valarie. We were all very shocked to learn that she had gotten pregnant at age fifteen and had a baby girl. Even more interesting was that Valarie’s daughter had gotten pregnant at age fifteen herself and recently given birth to a baby. This made Valarie a grandmother at age thirty.
At some point in her twenties she had been involved in a motorcycle accident and had managed to knock all of her teeth out. She of course had dentures now. There were many a crazy story that she could spout out if given opportunity to do so.
She had taken a liking to Austin at some point along the way.
Austin did not actually live in the city at that point in time, he would just come visit quite often. One night he informed me of his and Valarie’s intentions on hooking up after work. He was looking forward to this because, from what she had told him already, she was a freak in the sheets and had some specific things in mind that she wanted him to do to her. I let him know that the apartment was his for a while and I would make sure I was somewhere else. I let them both leave early; it was slow that night anyway.
I did find other things to do, but I needed to get something from the apartment. I don’t even remember what it was now. But as I opened the door I heard the most horrid, bloodcurdling female scream from upstairs. I decided to just get the hell out of there, which I did.
A few hours later I got a call from Austin.
ME: “Hey bro, how did it go? Did you have a good time?”
AUSTIN: “It was pretty wild man. She wanted it doggystyle. I have never done that, but I gave it a shot. Anyway, that is not why I called. I’m calling because I have taken your truck.”
ME: “What? I mean, sure it is not a problem. Why do you have the truck?”
AUSTIN: “She got embarrassed and started walking home. I did not want her to walk so I got in the truck and finally convinced her to get in and let me take her home.”
ME: (confused as fuck) Embarrassed? What the fuck happened?
AUSTIN: “Dude. I fucked a toothless grandma in the ass and made her bleed.”
That was one of the most epic sentences I had ever heard. It seemed impossible, even more implausible. And yet, in my heart of hearts, I knew it was true.
Over the next few days the whole story came out. Nobody had meant to hurt anybody it just worked out that way. She had wanted something and he was not sure exactly how it was done and just decided to wing it. A learning experience for everybody.
She came back to work, but we could tell she was embarrassed. Nobody said anything and the workplace tried to get back to normal. A couple weeks later on Christmas Day I got a complaint of her flashing people again and had to let her go. It was probably for the best, things could never go back to how they were before…the incident.
We never heard from her again.
For the rest of the time that Voodoo Mics was open we honored the tale and renamed our Bloody Mary drink “Bloody Valarie.” We, of course, did not reveal to people why.