As the Worm Turns

Josh Slocums by any other name . . .

Photo by Robb RosenfeldThe valet-parking lot outside the rebornRodman's might have been a few Hummers and Escalades shy of a luxury-car show (though there was a polished Bentley and a hot Ferrari), but inside, it was all ritz and glitz, with future trophy wives and future mistresses melting into one throng of drunken, booty-shaking madness—a lot like it used to be back when it was called Josh Slocum's, actually.

"I'll have a blowjob [shot]," called one babe, who we were fairly certain we'd seen in Maxim or Stuff a time or two, all the while raising her hands in the air and waving them like—well, you know the rest: pouty lips; blue eyes; long, honeyed hair; no rhythm whatsoever.

"If you could wait a few minutes," the bartender replied, "we have to run and get some whipped cream."

So Rodman's did, at times, show signs of being slightly unprepared for its "Re-Grand Opening" weekend: the credit-card receipts still had Josh Slocum's printed at the bottom; the bartenders looked panicked behind an unfamiliar bar, where one was overheard asking, "Do we have a towel?"; and Diet Cokes were poured from two-liter bottles.

But these instances were few and forgivable. It's doubtful, even, that anyone else in attendance noticed any change at all in the restaurant/bar: it still looks plush and feels like a cozy living room, roaring fireplace—Rodman kept it even though Slocum's suffered a fire a few years back—and all.

And much like you'd find at a little neighborhood bar (O'Reilly's? O'Connell's? O'Griley's?), the man himself was there, too, sporting a red trucker hat and gray T-shirt. Only it's doubtful other bar owners could look up, as Rodman might very well have, and see their ex-whatever Carmen Electra serenading Kid Rock during his VH1 Christmas special on the bar's flat-screen TVs. Kind of like how it's equally doubtful the O'Reillys of the world would have a constant stream of gawkers and groupies sidling up for a handshake or a hug, as Rodman did—even if he has fallen a bit from the days when, well, Carmen Electra was his wife. Or whatever.

So it must be nice for an out-of-towner like Rodman to have the hometown boys on his side, and that's why the re-christened Slocum's is such a wondrous conflation of bar name and bar owner: Rodman's as a bar was probably already called that by its regulars.

"Are you kidding me?" asked one beefed-up Newporter in response to whether he'd been to Rodman's before the name change.

"[Dennis] Rodman's probably been to my place," he paused, losing his balance and taking a drag from his unfiltered clove cigarette, "more times than I been here."

And yes, it was pretty obvious he'd been to Rodman's—er, Slocum's—quite a lot.

Were it not for the woman behindthe counter asking, "Have you bought your raffle ticket yet?" on Saturday afternoon at Dr. Freecloud's, it could have easily been any other sleepy weekend day at the Electronic Music Boutique. But it wasn't, and Helen ("Don't forget to buy a raffle ticket!") was selling $1 chances at a $500 grab bag of electronic-music goodies, although the daylong celebration of Dr. Freecloud's 10th anniversary offered much more. Storeowner Ron D Core, who runs Dr. Freecloud's with his wife, Helen, was manning the turntables—upstairs, near the refreshments and brownie bites—and delivering a not-so-hardcore set when we dropped by at 1 p.m. At least eight more DJs were due before nightfall.

"It's been a tough 10 years," Helen could be heard saying, "but we're still here." Yet while it may be a difficult time for electronic music—the scene is no longer the rave giant it used to be in the '90s—Helen thinks the tough times have had less to do with declining interest than with the Internet. Online retailers have already closed a great number of specialty music stores, Helen explained—including Frankie Bones' Sonic Groove Records in New York, the godfather of electronic stores—and she and Ron have even considered closing up shop to focus on their already-successful website.

For now, though, there are no immediate plans to leave their location at the Lab, and Saturday's party, if anything, was a celebration of Dr. Freecloud's resiliency and decade-long achievement.

"Now I'm just old and bitter," Helen cracked, laughing, before looking to the next customer. "Care to purchase a raffle ticket?"

Rodman's is located at 2601 W. Pacific Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 642-5935; Dr. Freecloud's is located at 2930 Bristol St., Ste. A111, Costa Mesa, (714) 545-8811.

 
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