[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 nightlife column Dive, Dive, My Darling. Read this week as our bold editor-in-chief, Gustavo Arellano stumbles into the dive bar scene to find crazy stories, meet random weirdos and guzzle good booze.] "You know," my best friend Art told me, three gin-and-tonics into our night at Deva's in Tustin, "bikini bars are pervier than strip clubs."
Five Jamesons in, I had to agree. It wasn't just because the bartender for the night, Devin, was a tall blonde with a strip of black sequins barely covering her mons pubis and a length of white T-shirt holding back her fabulous D cups ("They're not triple-Ds," she asserted to a customer). It wasn't because the walls next to the restroom were wood panels out of a Mitchell Brothers porno, or that said paneling had cartoon stickers of women eating each other out. It wasn't even because the men's restroom had a coin-operated "Shocking Erotic Photo" machine (which really was just two topless photos and a flier for Adam and Eve--fuck you, I want my 50 cents back!).
"You know what it is?" I slurred. "The whole point of bikini bars is to keep looking at the bartender and hope for a nip slip."
It's true. Throughout that Saturday night, the middle- and bro-aged men at Deva's never averted their gaze from Devin. Oh, conversations were had: about Obamacare, about Devin's ex-husband, about transmissions and other things blue-collar stiffs shoot the shit about. But all eyes were on her: on those short-short shorts that showed just a tad of ass crack. On the cleavage that swung low every time Devin had to reach for beers--at one point, two guys looked down her shirt, then at each other and smiled contentedly. On her perfectly tanned skin. People playing pool in the room on the other side of the bar peeked between their sets. Men came up to her to give birthday cards, offer pizza, look for a connection, if only for a 30-second conversation.
Devin knew; Devin didn't care. When you're dressed in less cloth than the average dish rag, you control everything. She took care of the regulars, paid attention to the guys who ogled, and only barely acknowledged Art and me--because we're not perverts, you know? That's why I can't tell you what her "shirt" said beyond "CAUTION: MAY CAUSE"--because I didn't want to stare at her tatas TOO long. The Kinks, Led Zeppelin and Beach Boys dominated the soundtrack, as it always does here. Deva's is the last working-class white holdout in one of the most multicultural shopping plazas in OC, a place that boasts a Korean karaoke place, Indian grocery store, Vietnamese restaurant, kosher market, Krav Maga gym and Persian cobbler. It's hidden in the corner, with its own parking lot and back-door entrance for those who know. An American flag hangs outside the bar, a beacon for folks who just want a shot of Ameri-can titillation.
Devin only talked to us twice. Shortly after we walked in, she wiped down the bar counter. "It's really sticky," she deadpanned. "Who knows who might've sat here?" We laughed; she stared.
The other time was even more awkward. Whenever Art and I get together, we talk about the same things people who've known each other since seventh grade talk about: everything and nothing. Our conversation about perversion eventually led to Trainspotting, the cult classic that was a formative film in our life (that's where this infernal rag got the term "coffin dodger" from to refer to old people). We were singing the praises of Rents, Begbie and Sick Boy when Devin overheard us.
"What film are you talking about?" she asked.
"Trainspotting," I replied.
"Never heard of it."
"Came out in the mid-'90s? Scottish film? About drug addicts?"
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"Drug addicts?!" she responded with a scowl. Devin went to help other people. So, guys: stare at Deva's bartenders all you want, but don't bring up drugs--good overall life advice, you know?
FAVORITE PIECE OF FLAIR: The "John Campbell for State Senate" campaign sign. That used-car salesman of a congressman would NEVER be at a place like this.
BEST QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: The bumper sticker on the bar that read, "Nice Legs! When Do They Open?" right next to the one that said, "I [Heart] Dick." See also 10 Punk Albums to Listen to Before You Die 10 Goriest Album Covers 10 Most Satanic Metal Bands