The Leon Touch

How to go from 10 sushi aficionados to 300 Felines in less than two hours

Photo by Tenaya HillsThere are three grains of sticky rice floating in a small puddle of soy sauce on my barstool and a pair of women singing karaoke—"I Will Survive"? "Ladies' Night"? Something like that—when I arrive at Quan's Rockin' Sushi for the launch of Feline Club, a weekly Monday-night bash for lesbians and the gay men who love them. I'm early—it's a little after 10, and everyone (except me, evidently) knows 10:30 is the new 10—but that's quite all right: witnessing the confusion of the few remaining late-night sushi diners as the karaoke mics cut out and are replaced by go-go boxes and hip-hop proves amusing, growing more so by the minute as 18-year-old girls and not-so-18-year-old women begin to trickle in hand-in-hand.

Obviously, the sushi fiends had missed the fliers outside—fliers that feature two razor-cut and flatironed hipster girls sporting only white tees passionately kissing each other on a bed. They're unspeakably hot, not to mention the nightly fantasy of just about every Costa Mesa boy who regularly frequents Memphis and Avalon. Yet Feline Club, it turns out, isn't a deli of Shannyn Sossamon sandwiches, and good thing: it'd be a shame if waves of straight boys began to infiltrate a haven for girls and women of any size, color or hairstyle who just want to have fun and hook up.

By midnight, the club is filled, and the dance floor—including a pack of go-go dancers onstage who, either out of desire or pure exhibitionism, occasionally make out with one another—is throbbing to Lil' Kim's "How Many Licks?" Outside, on Quan's newly remodeled smoking patio—one of a number of improvements Quan's has made to its décor over the years and now something of a tropical smoking paradise with a fountain and fire pit, easily the county's best smoking patio—a pair of straight-seeming Heineken girls are passing out promotional Mardi Gras bead necklaces and trying to disguise their deer-in-headlights awkwardness while two gay men engage in cat spat, resulting in the best line I hear all night: "I don't tell you how to suck dick, so don't you tell me how to grow facial hair!"

That the club goes from 10 sushi folks to around 300 partiers in less than two hours comes as no surprise, however. Feline Club promoter Dave Leon, it seems, has the Midas touch when it comes to Quan's, routinely nailing similar turnouts for his two other clubs there: Thrust, a Tuesday-night boy's club, and the still-going-strong Thriller, his unbeatable Wednesday-night '80s club. He's also got another club coming up at Quan's on Fridays, all this in addition to Material World, an absolutely killer Thursday-night indie/electroclash club (DJ Jav spins LCD Soundsystem and the Rapture and people don't flee the dance floor? More important, there are actually people dancing at an indie club?) at Bravo in Anaheim.

Still, the key to Leon's successes with these clubs hinges on his ability to court—and retain—a regular crowd of 18-and-overs—and the 21-plusses who like to look at them—so it should be interesting to keep an eye on his next, quite possibly most ambitious project: Suicide Bar, a 21-plus topless rock & roll night powered by tattooed, pierced, "Suicide Girl"-looking dancers that opens May 6 at Club Tempted in Anaheim and continues every Friday after that.

"It's not that bad," Leon tells me when I ask if he ever gets sick of going out every night. "So long as I'm making money." At this rate, Leon doesn't look to sleep any time soon—perhaps not even till well past 2008, when his current crop of 18-year-olds will graduate to drinking at Suicide Bar and whatever else he's come up with by then. Though if all goes well, no one else in the county will either.

FELINE CLUB AT QUAN'S ROCKIN' SUSHI, 1107 N. TUSTIN AVE., ORANGE, (714) 532-6311. EVERY MON., 10 P.M. $8. 18+; SUICIDE BAR AT CLUB TEMPTED, 815 N. BROOKHURST, ANAHEIM, (714) 635-8040. OPENS MAY 6. CALL FOR TIME AND COVER.

 
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