The Dudes Abide

Photo by James BunoanJust four days before launching his latest club, Scandalous Sundays, at Tapas in Newport Beach, Level 1 Promotion's Dave Leon received word from the restaurant/nightclub's owner that the deal was off. The reason? Pressure from Newport Beach police officials—pressure that Leon claims Tapas had never encountered in its previous five years of operation and speculates has to do with only one thing: Scandalous was to be a "boys club" geared toward gay men aged 18 and over.

Despite Leon's success with other gay (and straight) clubs—Level 1 is also responsible for Thrust Tuesdays and Club Thriller at Quan's in Orange as well as Material World, a Thursday-night electroclash/indie club at Bravo in Anaheim—Newport Beach police, it seems, weren't exactly open to the idea of 300 men turning up in Newport to see go-go boys and drag queens.

"I called [the police department] myself," says Leon, "and they were asking about things like orgies and naked men running around."

Then they informed him he'd need an adult-entertainment license for his go-go dancers—hard-bodied dancers who, like the Rubber dolls or waitresses at many area nightclubs, wear little more than their skivvies, but who also happen to be men. As a result, Leon lost his contract with Tapas, scrambling in the days afterward to find another venue to host his club's opening night. But his options were slim, and when Scandalous opened for one night only at Detroit Bar on Sunday, the bar's 21-and-over carding policy cut the turnout to half what it would have been at Tapas. Although he at first considered fighting Newport Beach P.D., Leon now says he will most likely just take the financial hit, scrap his plans for Scandalous, and concentrate on his next club, Feline, a "girls club" for gay women slated to open at Quan's on Monday, April 11.

Of course, Leon probably won't be hearing from anyone about that club—all-female orgies are hot, right?

* * *

Stick a dozen dweebies in a garage on a rainy afternoon, and you could have a Star Trek convention—or at least a bitchen game of D&D. Round up 350 of them, rent out a bowling alley and negotiate a drink special on white Russians, and you pretty much have the scene at Lebowski Fest West, held at Lakewood's Cal Bowl on Saturday.

It's like Ren Faire, but for nerds, I scribbled, struggling to justly describe the fervor of those who had shown up in costume for the Left Coast installment of Louisville, Kentucky's annual weekend-long soiree in honor of The Big Lebowski—white Russians, bathroom robes, dancing bowling pins and all. Strugglingbecause I've never been to Ren Faire, a Star Trek convention or even GenCon—because, frankly, I've just never cared about something that much.

But I'd imagine such shindigs aren't too different from Lebowski Fest—their fans share a similar left-brained obsession with small details, the kind of obsession that can only result from an absolute lack of social life (like too many nights spent chugging beers and watching Lebowskiinside dingy dorm rooms).

Small details like: the four guys from Minnesota dressed in white LAPD Crime Lab coats who drunkenly slurred their way through Journey songs in the karaoke lounge; the man dressed as a carton of Ralphs-brand milk—missing-person picture included, of course; another man sporting his homemade fabric costume of a bottle of Sioux City Sarsaparilla; and lastly, the Wall of Achievement—five guys in suits with various plaques and pictures hung around their necks.

Costumes based on the film's obscure references and props far outnumbered the scruffy Dudes, flat-topped Walters and red-wigged Maudes. "I was Jesus last year," said one man—referring to John Turturro's character, not the Almighty—"but this year . . ." He didn't have to finish. Having covered his torso in dirty socks and underwear and secured a bottomless black luggage bag around his waist, it was obvious to those around him: he was the ringer.

Still, if anyone present observed the inherent irony of the Lebowski Fest—all that time, thought and energy spent emulating a movie based on a lazy, laid-back dude with a penchant for pot, classic rock and bowling—no one said anything. And to anyone who did, the answer was undoubtedly the same: the Dude abides.



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