Photo by Jeanne Rice5:17 p.m. Enter the spacious Cowboy, which isn't exactly a club, but rather where all the Newport Beach party peeps can be found every Thursday, slurping their choice of 14 different brands of oysters, per the menu we stole. There's even one variety called "Skookums."

5:19 p.m. The Gipsy Kings emerge from invisible wall speakers—just loud enough to fill in the blank spaces in conversation.

5:20 p.m. The olives in the martinis are held on fat wooden skewers instead of cheap plastic toothpicks. It looks really cool, but it doesn't function that well: to get the olive off the skewer, one must tear at it like a pit bull. It's not at all elegant. Todd, the general manager, mentions there's no longer a cover charge on Thursday nights because they don't want to be known as a club. Oops. He says if we need anything—anything—to let him know. But he doesn't buy our drinks, having apparently missed Bribery 101 in general-manager school. George Fryer from Peace Corp. is here, hanging with photographer Jeanne Rice. He is very funny.

5:31 p.m. Ispy two hot waiters shirking over by the outdoor wine bar. Ivolubly state my intention to stare at them all night. Our waitress volunteers their names, as if pimping the waiters to the customers is the most natural thing in the world. I'd imagine they've done it to her a time or two: "Hey, Rita! [The waitress' name is not actually Rita. Not so far as I know. But she looks like a Rita.] Pad No. 2 [The "pads" are these giant outdoor patio cushions that are about 6 feet by 6 feet. They're pretty cool. Very firm. No problem getting off them after two martinis—or so I hear.] wants to meetcha. Heh, heh, heh [snorts like a pig]."

5:47 p.m. The club is now filled with mostly graying gentlemen smoking cigars and ladies dressed conservatively in work clothes but sporting a lot of makeup. Not quite Jan Crouch, but they're getting there.

6 p.m. Apparently, I am now on martini No. 2. I begin chatting up people mercilessly, just chat, chat, chat, never letting them come up for air till their eyes roll back in their heads and they start growing gills. Fun!

6:01 p.m. DRAMA! Amid the conservative crowd struts a young brunette in a tube top. Shoulders back. Neck tilted to bare her throat enticingly. Gawking ensues. Rampant speculation: Stripper or porn star? My chattees go with "stripper," since in their (meager, they say) porn-viewing experience, they haven't come across her.

6:04 p.m. Icorner the girl and her two handsome male companions and begin chatting at them mercilessly. I ask them their opinion on which health insurance I should buy and all manner of inanities, strategically loosening them up for the assault: innocently asking what they do. She says she is a florist. Tina Turner comes unbidden to my head: "I'm a private florist/A florist for money." And then that little yowl thing she does so well.

6:17 p.m. My favorite heiress, Dana, is here. I don't actually know if she's an heiress (she kind of denies it, not being gauche like me), but Gordy Grundy of Coagula says she is, and she does say she doesn't have a job, though she did once, and she has no idea how she got everything done, having to actually work and all during the day when there's so much else competing for her attention. I like her!

6:32 p.m. They are all still gawking at the florist.

6:48 p.m. Iget roped into a conversation with a couple of young guys, one of whom is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ibegin chatting mercilessly at him about my family in Tulsa. He doesn't know them—or so he claims!

6:57 p.m. Wow! There are a couple of black men here, and they aren't Dennis Rodman (whom everybody's mad at anyway, after the stunt he pulled at that fish place)! One is a cute, nice social worker. He asks where should he take his friends from out-of-town. Do I know of a place with more brothers? I suggest the Shark Club, though, sadly, DJ Daniel is no longer spinning hip-hop there. Allegedly, the mainstream hip-hop and Top 40 music he was playing was too black.

7 p.m. I am now trying to leave, not because I'm not having a gay old time (I am), but because the neighbors are watching my boy and I told them I'd be home at 7:30. Apparently, I lied. Now everyone wants to chat. See? They're nice rich people!

Cowboy, 850 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 718-0187. Every Thurs., 5-11 p.m. Free. 21+.


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