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To the untrained eye—or a mom in denial, perhaps—the 18-year-old nymphs scurrying about Quan's Rockin' Sushi, clasping Sharpie-marked hands and exchanging sweaty cheek kisses, might have appeared like any other group of precious, pretty, too-young-to-pass-for-21 things. And for the most part, they were: in one corner stood an angst-ridden Britney babe snarling into her cellie ("I'm, like, so disappointed in you!") before snapping it shut with an emphasis we presumed was more for the spectators than for the disappointment maker. Across the bar danced an average, cut-rate American Eagle paper doll, his prep-boy smirk offset by the "I Do My Own Nude Scenes" written across his chest—as though he were even old enough to contemplate the irony. Oh, but what about that boy he was gawking at? The one in his skivvies, swinging from a towel rack and showing off his mini-abs as he twisted his mini-torso? Who looked not yet a decade past when his tighty-whities still bore superheroes? Oops, yeah, well, he was there, too. So forget what we said about untrained eyes—even ma knows what's up at Club Thrust.
Touted by its promoter, Dave Leon, as Orange County's No. 1 boy bar, Club Thrust joins its sister club, the Wednesday '80s party Club Thriller, as part of Quan's weekly back-to-back celebration of wrinkle-free, sugar-fueled fun. And considering that Leon's the same guy who attempted—almost successfully!—to anchor both a hair metal club and mod/soul night (the now deceased Live Wire and Verve, respectively) at McClure's, a karaoke bar in Tustin, it wasn't too surprising to find Thrust nearly packed when we visited on a recent rainy Tuesday.
Within minutes of arriving, it became obvious that Thrust was the preferred destination for every 18 years-and-two-hours-old-and-stuck-without-a-ride-to-West Hollywood gay boy and his entourage of baby fag hags. It's clear that Leon and his company, Level 1 Promotion, are capitalizing on the county's rather significant lack of after-10 activities for the 18-and-over crowd. Sure, there's the Glass House and Chain Reaction, but what 18-year-old wants to stand outside smoking with 14-year-olds when he can try to bum drinks from cute 21-year-olds? It's the difference between high school and college, and for Leon, this uneasy social transition, coupled with an $8 cover charge (coincidentally about the same cost as one of an 18-year-old's few other privileges: an R-rated movie; or two of another after-hours option: a piping hot nonfat venti caramel machiatto) translates into success, a success Thriller has enjoyed for the past year and which he hopes Thrust will follow.
As for the 21-and-overs, who pay only a $6 cover, there's room at Thrust for them, too, as it features a full bar, cheap drink specials, giveaways, and presumably a familiar name in area favorite DJ Ali. But while they might recognize Ali from Laguna Beach's Boom Boom Room, it's best to leave the comparisons at that, since Thrust's midnight drag show, while amusing for newbies, fell short of the sophistication of Wednesday night's weekly show at the Boom.
But places like the Boom are for an older crowd anyway, a crowd which seems—regardless of orientation—to eventually dilute itself one way or another into endless nights of too many pitchers of beer and too-long karaoke sessions. In the meantime, though—or at least until the kids grow up enough to fake being grown up—there's Thrust, with its passionate glances, cocky stances, and hot boys dancing in their underwear.
Club Thrust at Quan's Rockin' Sushi, 1107 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, (714) 532-6311. Tues., 10 p.m. $6-$8. 18+.
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