Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dangerously Imbalanced: A Horoscope for Everyone

So it's that time of the month again, and it's flowing like a bitch.

I'm talking about karmic energy, you knucklehead. Gee, get your mind out of your crotch. Y'all just have one thing on your minds, damn.

Libra Sun is now shining high, bringing with it a sense of balance. And that's what everything is all about right now. For every action there is a reaction. You have to take the bitter with the sweet. Tit for tat. A rolling stone gathers no glass houses. All that shit.

And yes, with the shining, life-giving Sun in Libra, you need to start seeking a little balance in your life. You have certainly been prone to overindulging all summer long, and it's time for you to realize the error of your ways and come down off the high. There is, after all, a reason this season is called "fall."

So if you've been spending way too much time working, play a little. If you've been drinking too much, cut back a bit. If you've been having far too much sex with random strangers and letting them dress you in baby gowns and spanking your ass, you're a kinky, dirty whore.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Libra is known for its irritating tendency to spread indecision and uncertainty, so don't expect to jump ass-off into any new business ventures, relationships or buy any Justin Timberlake albums without a lot of hand-wringing. Everything is negotiation. Every choice deserves a lot of consideration. Or you could just procrastinate and let the inaction of your situation make you catatonic.

The sky is super-boring this month. Venus follows the Sun into Libra on the 30th, which means you will either find the person you really want to marry this month, or the Christian Right will be telling you that you don't deserve to be married because you're a dirty fag. Just in case either is true, take a post-it right now and remind yourself to Vote No on Proposition 1 come November.

Mercury plunges into Scorpio on October 2nd. The planet of talk and communication going into mysterious Scorpio means that this would be a really good day to buy new porn, or have phone sex.

Lucky number: Seven, duh.
Best shot at romance: Standing in line to buy tickets at the Hollywood 27, the 9:40 show of Jackass Number Two on September 30th. Look at the person in front of you... they will have the nicest ass ever.
Best article of sexy clothing for the month: A Nehru jacket.

Oh yeah. And the rumors are true. Don't worry. It will all be all right.

See you at the Lip, babies! Peace!


Monday, September 11, 2006

Defending Freedom

On this fifth anniversary of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks, I am given pause to think about how different our world has become since that tragic day.

Americans have become so much less tolerant. Perhaps this is because of their shock, outrage and fear over the attacks. We are seeing, in record numbers, "average Americans" rising up vocally with strong opinions against minority groups. Many want to blame our national insecurity on the Muslims. A large number blame the economy on the Hispanics. And of course, the current moral tenor of the country can be squarely blamed on the gays.

The right wing political machinery of this country has actively driven a wedge in American society. Once a country that claimed strength in diversity, we are now seeing difference as something to shun again. In a great step backward, our national political leadership has chosen to use platitudes and scare tactics to convince a largely ignorant and uncaring populace that "different" is "wrong."

The Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have defined marriage nationwide as strictly one male married to one female, has been defeated in both houses of Congress. And although a section of the Tennessee Code Annotated specifically says that marriage is so defined in this state, that isn't enough for the conservative political leadership of our own state. Our General Assembly has seen fit to send to voters this fall a constitutional amendment that would forever write this definition into the most sacred and binding of our state's governmental documents.

"So what?" asks a largely disinterested populace. It doesn't change anything. Oh, but yes it does.

Here is the text of the Amendment that voters will decide on November 7th:

The historical institution and legal contract solemnizing the relationship of one man and one woman shall be the only legally recognized marital contract in this state. Any policy or law or judicial interpretation, purporting to define marriage as anything other than the historical institution and legal contract between one man and one woman, is contrary to the public policy of this state and shall be void and unenforceable in Tennessee. If another state or foreign jurisdiction issues a license for persons to marry and if such marriage is prohibited in this state by the provisions of this section, then the marriage shall be void and unenforceable in this state.

The language of the Amendment makes me shudder. Words like "historical" and "solemnizing" were used to uphold practices in the past such as slavery and refusing women the right to vote. Times change. And our laws must be allowed to change with them. A law in the Tennessee Code can be reversed relatively easily. The Constitution is much more permanent and harder to overturn. And that is precisely the idea behind this hateful amendment.

I encourage you not only to Vote No on Proposition 1 this fall, but also to get involved in the movement to defeat it. That means wearing a button, and actively talking about it to your friends. That means sending bulletins on MySpace that point folks to the Vote No On 1 web site. It means making donations, canvassing and talking to all the straight people who don't see this as an issue. Assure them that it is. Tell them why.

It is often bandied about that our brave men and women in the Armed Forces fight to "defend our freedom." If we allow those freedoms to be taken away from us one by one, they have fought and died in vain. That is a much greater tragedy than that of 9/11.

It's your world. Get involved.

Peace. See you all at the Lip.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Music Trivia For Morons

Most everybody knows that I run the Trivia contests at the Lip. Every Thursday, we have Movie Trivia at 7 PM. Last night, it was great, as Cindy, Tim, Lauren, Hank, Nicole, Sky and Brandon-- the team known as Eighth Grade English took the victory in an exciting come-from-behind upset. They were in 5th place out of 6 teams before the bonus question. But James Bond's Goldfinger netted them a $50 Lipstick Lounge gift certificate, and two tickets to see the Indigo Girls at the Ryman on October 3rd. Pretty cool huh?

Trivia is a great way to pass an evening with friends. I really enjoy Music Trivia on Tuesdays. The songs just bring back so many memories. People who were major superstars in 1982 are today a footnote, or a vague recollection. The Music Trivia contest covers any popular music genre-- rock, soul, country, rap, hip-hop, pop-- from 1955 forward. So if you think you know music, it should challenge your brain in really fun way. Come out and play!

Of course, not everybody is a trivia genius. Especially the good folks who swap music illegally on Limewire. I generally buy my music-- really I do-- but I have been known to dabble in piracy. It always frustrates me though, because half the music I get isn't really what I was expecting. I have learned a number of good bits of trivia misinformation among all the incorrectly labeled stuff on that resource. For example:

1. Every rock song recorded by a female in the 1980s was done by Pat Benatar, including "Bette Davis Eyes" (really Kim Carnes), "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (actually Bonnie Tyler), "The Warrior" (in reality Scandal featuring Patty Smyth), "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" (in fact Joan Jett & The Blackhearts), and "Black Velvet" (really sung by Allanah Myles). Interestingly enough, she also recorded (evidently) "Hot Child In The City" back in the late 1970s (actually, it was Nick Guilder).

2. The lead singer gets all the credit for any work done by a group. Sting is totally responsible for "Every Breath You Take." Phil Collins is the only artist on "Invisible Touch." And mostly, "Satisfaction" is the product of one Mick Jagger.

3. Any song done by Cheap Trick, Yes, Kansas, Foreigner or Asia may be credited to Journey.

4. Any easy-listening song ever recorded before 1960 by a single male vocalist was Frank Sinatra. Perry Como, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and Mel Tormé never existed.

5. Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis are, in fact, the same person.

6. If it is a disco song sung by a female, it is Donna Summer. So Gloria Gaynor had nothing to do with "I Will Survive," Amii Stewart never recorded "Knock On Wood," and Anita Ward is clearly falsely claiming credit for "Ring My Bell."

What gets me is, if you're going to take the time to put the info in the file, shouldn't you know it's correct? Why not just list it as "Track 12?" Or put the title with no artist if you don't know (and probably don't care). Save us who do some trouble.

Of course, beggars can't be choosers. And bitching about the music you steal is kinda... well... it's morally reprehensible. So don't steal music! And if you do, don't bitch about it!

A great resource for cheap legal music is GoMusic. It could be run by the Russian mafia, but what do I care? I'd just as soon trust them with my credit card number as anybody, I guess. Vladimir and Boris... ya tibya lyublyu, malchicki! That's Russian sweet talk to keep their goons on my good side so they don't break my legs. 'Coz I really need to download some ABBA.



Friday, September 01, 2006

Talk To Us Like We're Four

The Lipstick Lounge is celebrating its Fourth Anniversary in business tonight.

Officially, we opened on September 6, 2002. But this is close enough. We should still be solvent come Wednesday, so we hope it doesn't seem too premature.

It has been a very interesting ride. For those of you who don't know, Jonda had this vision of a place she could hang out with her friends. Traci was her cohort in the dream. They did a squeeze play and got Ronda to jump on board, and with another partner, the Lipstick Lounge opened.

It wasn't exactly the same in the beginning. A beautiful bar... very elegant... with a dress code and a velvet rope at the door. Servers in tuxedo shirts. Scary muscle-bound lady bouncers. A torchy jazz singer on Friday nights. Fine Dominican cigars. An extensive wine list. Cheesecake. Nine-dollar martinis. Not a man in sight. It was cool, but it wasn't fun.

And it wasn't making much money. And tensions were high. Problem was, Jonda and company didn't so much know about the rigors of the bar business. They were undercapitalized, having secured no financing except maxing out credit cards. They had an Upper East Side Manhattan bar in gritty East Nashville. They hadn't counted on the incredible toll taxes would take. And then, when the newness wore off, their very good friends stopped coming in every single night. And things got lean.

Thankfully, our best cocktail waitress was this hottie that was hired from Chili's in Cool Springs. She was also a budding real-estate mogul. When the original partnership fell apart, that server, Christa, came to the rescue by buying the building from its previous owner, and buying a stake in the business. In hindsight, that was the real turning point.

Christa streamlined operations, shook up the staff, and put processes into place. Ronda thought: karaoke is hot, let's go find a beautiful, talented hostess and start doing karaoke through the week. And so, Debra Christian joined the Lipstick family. Then, this hot-shot PR/marketing consultant (ahem, I'm for hire) began helping the girls out with ads that were catchy and creating some buzz.

The Lipstick Ladies began a conerted effort to reposition the bar into one that was more neighborhood-friendly, and would attract not only lesbians, but gay men and straight folks as well. We downscaled a little. Revamped the menu from pastas and fancy soups to finger foods, burgers and salads. Jazzmyn, our very talented entertainer, sought greener pastures, and so Ronda and Jonda called their friend Teri Reid from the Ronnie Milsap touring days, and proposed putting the band back together. And our legendary Friday nights were born.

Soon, karaoke was all the rage, and in a town full of singers, we showed ourselves as the place to beat, with a house full of talent nearly every night. And people coming to karaoke just to listen. Our oxygen bar continues to be an asset no one else can claim, and we have picked up a great crowd of regulars who show up every week to our early evening activities like Trivia and Poker.

And we have a really great staff, headed by sweet, lovable Crystal, who is Christa's operational right-hand, and recently promoted to House Manager. The lovely and talented Cathey Stamps put together our Sunday night show, and soon, we were open seven nights a week. We can claim to be the only GLBT-oriented bar in the city with regular live music. Others are now getting into the act, which can only be good for our community-- there's enough love to go around.

Speaking of other bars, they took notice. While Church Street grows more and more vibrant and crowded with interesting hangouts, we've quietly built a home in East Nashville, and their staffs come party with us on their days off. That says something.

And because we are still learning as we go along, there have been failed experiments and errors in judgment too. Like our attempts to build a lunch business with very little passing traffic. Sunday Gospel Brunch with musicians who couldn't play until after church. Naughty Bingo with dirty talk and folks getting us in trouble by taking their clothes off. Announcing an expansion in October 2003 that still hasn't happened yet.

And the changes have not come without criticism. Some of our lesbian sisters have complained there are too many men. When more heterosexual couples started coming in, some of our gay clientele began getting bitchy and territorial. And our answer remained the same: We're only human. That's all we've ever claimed to be, and that's who we've built this bar for: humans. We've made a place where people of every race, gender identity, sexual orientation, social class, educational status, political persuasion, size and nationality can feel not tolerated, or accepted, but welcome. And that, we are very proud of.

The GLBT bar scene is changing rapidly, and now, at four years old, Lipstick is already a legend. We hope to serve you all for many years to come. Know that we love each and every one of you, value you as customers and friends, but moreover as family. It's our patrons we do this for. We love that you all have so many fond memories and great stories to tell about the times you have had here, and we hope you continue making those good times happen within our walls for many, many years to come.

Tonight, it will be slammed, hot, and crowded. Wear deodorant, be patient, and come hang out with us!

Vive le Lip!