[Editor's Note: We all know local music and dive bars go hand-in-hand. So in the interest of merging the two together on Heard Mentality, we bring you our weekly nightlife column Dive, Dive, My Darling. Read as our bold web editor, Taylor "Hellcat" Hamby, stumbles into the dive bar scene every week to find crazy stories, meet random weirdos and guzzle good booze.]
Those of you who grew up around Stanton, like me, can probably relate to this in ways kids from Aliso Viejo just can't. Remember sitting in the back seat, looking out as your parents drove down Beach Boulevard and its side streets and seeing flashing neon signs screaming, "Girls, Girls, Girls" and, "Fully Nude," which just made you feel uncomfortable? Remember Fuzzy Bear's? Remember that creepy mural on the outside with the bear dancing with barely clad women? Remember when it just became part of the landscape and didn't even phase you anymore?
I hadn't thought about Fuzzy Bear's in about a decade--until the boss man suggested I review the infamous dirty dive. Sadly, it was a couple of months too late--Fuzzy Bear's just changed to a bar called Bottoms Up. I'll never truly know the creepy landmark of my youth.
Now, I normally don't check Yelp reviews of dives before I go because I like to form my own opinion, and I'm kinda sad I did for Fuzzy Bear's. Walking in, I saw a bright, clean bar in a relatively good-sized room, with bikini-clad women behind the bar. This was in stark contrast to the things I had read about the affectionately-named "Scuzzy Bear's" on Yelp, including "This place needs an air freshener." Kelly K. in Anaheim described threadbare pool tables, ripped and repatched seats, a germ-infested Breathalyzer used for competitions and a bartender with meth-mouth who pole-danced despite open genital sores on her thighs--amazing!
Sadly, all these wonderful hallmarks of a dank dive have been replaced with flat-screen TVs, an Internet jukebox, clean lounge chairs and nice wood flooring. Where was the hot mess I was promised? At least the ladies' room still smells like ass.
The three bikini gals working were relatively fit for this establishment on a dark, seedy strip in Stanton--two of them were sixes and there was one seven. No meth-mouths or herpes this night. There's a full bar and about 10 beers on tap. There's one stripper pole behind the bar, surrounded by mirrors. The girls were picking the music, switching between hip-hop and classic rock. The pole went mostly unused all night, and when the bartenders did dance, it was just floorwork, no spins or inverts. Hardly "Bottoms Up."
You can tell someone's put money into making this place nicer with the custom paintings on the wall and aforementioned updates, but there are some things that will forever stay dirty--like two female bartenders' conversations with comfortable customers. The hotter of the three bartenders started her period the night before and let the whole bar know. She was talking to another lady bartender and a male customer, but loudly enough for me to hear halfway across the room.
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Even as a non-squeamish female, I was a bit mortified. I bet she could make a mean Bloody Mary, though. The conversation ended with our Shark Week victim admitting she had crabs once. Scuzzy Bear's hasn't gone too far at all.
BEST QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: Bartender, to me: "You look familiar. Have I seen you at Venus [a topless sports bar] before?" What?!
FAVORITE PIECE OF FLAIR: The custom paintings of ladies in lingerie with Bottoms Up belly tattoos.
Bottoms Up, 8595 Katella Ave., Stanton, (714) 826-8595.