The Truth About The Spotlight
The Spotlight. It sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it. I Googled it. I love Googling. I do. I love their hybrid maps. I spent a good hour on the phone with my dad once showing him how to use the hybrid function to find his childhood apartment located on the wrong side of the tracks in Portland. We found it. It’s still on the wrong side of the tracks.
I found the address for The Spotlight and Google directed me the corner of Selma and Cahuenga. Wait. I think this is the corner in Hollywood that I love and fear at the same time. The corner where no matter what time of day, what kind of extreme weather Los Angeles can dish out, there will always be at least three men in shorts hugging the corner near the bar’s entrance, smokes between the thumb and finger, watching traffic and kibitzing.
Fingers crossed, I jumped in the car and raced to meet Ryan and Jeannette. I was late. Not a rare thing for me but the reason is slightly embarrassing. I was trying to decide on the perfect outfit to wear to a bar like The Spotlight. The bar I’ve been fascinated by for five years. A bar described to me as a dive/gay/sports/pickup/bar. I chose my outfit wisely and went simple.
As I stepped over the threshold of The Spotlight and gently pushed the blue velveteen drape aside, which appeared to be coated with some sort of icky film that no amount of soap could dissolve, I was surprised to see laid before my eyes a dive/gay/sports/pickup bar. Exactly how it was described.
Party America On Vine hit this place so hard, I saw slight swelling and a bit of bruising. Not just soccer and baseball, but God Bless America chochkies hung from the ceiling and adorned the walls shoved neatly between every rainbow pride neon available on the market.
We walked straight, literally (lame joke) to the back and found the only empty table. It had a perfect view of the bar to the front of us, and access to the poolroom and bathrooms behind. Mr. Clean (not his real name) pounced upon us as soon as our fannies hit the cushioned vinyl church function chairs and took our drink orders. Four minutes later, beers in hand, Mr. Clean walked away with our generous tips spilling over the edge of his drink tray. That last part was to make us look like big tippers. Spilling is, admittedly, an exaggeration.
The woman’s bathroom in a gay bar is such a special room. More so if one is the only full functioning female in the bar. I was a VIP here at The Spotlight and it showed as soon as I got up and pointed my full bladder in the direction of the heavy locked door with a plastic silhouette of a woman stuck to the outside. Mr. Clean strutted over immediately and unlocked the door for me with a big smile and a nice frontal view of his tight white shorts. The men’s room, on the other hand, had those unfortunate Old West swinging doors to prevent any sinful goings on to take place within the walls of The Spotlight.
After many trips to the bathroom – I liked the special treatment – I would join Ryan and Jeannette to watch the action. A man donning a yellow polo shirt, who claimed to be government worker on a business trip, interrupted us at one point. He pulled up a chair and informed us that he used to be gay. He’s decided he’s now asexual. He bought us round after round always stating, “I’ll get it. I make really good money.” I’m not going to argue with a man who claims to make a shitload of money working for the government. Bar Keep! Another round!
The floorshow started about 11PM in the form of Michael, The Dance Machine. The Dance Machine had a solid routine and used the carpeted aisle from the front door to the back room as his runway and stage, kicking his white platform Sketchers high in the air and testing the strength of his black Dickie capri pants with every choreographed move. It was a stunning spectacle to watch. Up and down he strutted, moving his arms and legs in precise motions. At the end of his first number, he was covered in a sheet of sweat. I prayed he would sit down, pour water over his molten head and rest. But no. Dolly Parton’s “Mule Skinner Blues” came on the jukebox and Michael The Dance Machine was wound up tight once again. It was breathtaking seeing someone do a dance routine to “Mule Skinner Blues”. Absolutely breathtaking. Caught up in the moment, I may have clapped.
My visit to The Spotlight was turning out to be opposite of what I had imagined. And if you’ve ever been outside The Spotlight at 9AM on a hot summer weekday, you would have an idea of what I imagined.
What I found was such fast service I swear Mr. Clean could read minds, a very friendly staff in very tight shorts, neighborly patrons (some more neighborly than others if you’ve got a couple hundred bucks and a car), eclectic juke box (Dolly Parton & Tupac) and Michael, The Dancing Machine.
All this and yet my proudest moment was walking outside into the warm summer air, leaning against the wall of The Spotlight, lighting up a smoke, and taking a long drag amongst the short wearing regulars.
At which point a scruffy fellow and Spotlight patron with one tooth came up and asked Jeanette if she had a MySpace page. He did. His moniker: Madonna.