No Playa Hater

Playing hoochie mama ain't as carefree as it looks

The steamy, packed dance floor at Capones (300 New River Ct., Fort Lauderdale) is thumping to the 69 Boyz' "Tootsee Roll" at midnight on a Saturday. Sure, the song's almost a decade old -- not exactly a cutting-edge spin -- but still danceable. Belly-baring blonds on the bar top undulate their abdomens in small, controlled movements and flip their hips back and forth unvaryingly for half an hour at a time, then disappear as a white fog descends. Hands on the dance floor start clinging to body parts they hadn't dared to approach in better visibility. When the air clears, I'm towering -- six feet of red-pantsed, high-heeled, heavily painted, transparent-tank-topped hoochie love -- above a three-man sandwich that is trying to make me its meat. In other words, I'm getting a taste of the hoochie mama's daily bread.

The bloom of my persona shift had budded the Wednesday before, when I was sitting at a high-top table outside Capones sucking down free ladies night domestic bottles with a group of girls in beat-up jeans and cardigan sweaters. We were sneering as the mamas passed by swinging their cake asses -- tucked in paper thin, Sawgrass Mills-outlet hip-hugger pants -- with automatonic regularity.

"There go J.Lo clones A, B, and C," one of my friends commented.

Jim Campbell

Several men's eyes wandered past our table as if it were empty and then went pop! as they landed on the exposed flesh of the more feline femmes. The ogling gender was decked out in its untucked, short-sleeved, plaid-buttoned-down worst, and we made faces as one after another passed by.

You could sit at this bar for hours and sneer at the fact that these pop-culture victims seem to have no consciousness of the following: that they are ego gluttons who show little evidence of having cultivated discerning tastes; that they traffic in the banal social vocabulary of overt but uniform promiscuity; and that it is impossible to regard them with any seriousness.

You could sit there and sneer, but then again, you're the grump... and could it be that... Holy shit: Maybe there is something in the lives of these hip-hugged, clod-hooved, hoop-eared hoochie mamas that you envy? Could it be the attention of these slow-steppin', visor-wearin', dance-floor-cruisin', frat-house rejects? In short: could it be possible that I'm just a playa hata? And if that is the case, the ne'er-asked question arises: Am I hatin' the playa or hatin' the game?

This, I felt, warranted some investigation.

And so it came to pass that I went out Saturday to experience a full-blown, loose-hipped, down-to-the-ground night as a hoochie mama. And my friend Lola, who is fast becoming the only party girl who can maintain a nightlife columnist's schedule, was in tow -- though she was a little less hoochified.

After enduring almost an hour of anonymous but unrelenting thrusting hips at Capones, we headed over to E Bar (215 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale). The gray-walled slip of a joint had a bongo drummer playing rhythm with the DJ's spin of "Get Low" by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz. The bar was a bit more sophisticated than Capones, the clientele more stylish -- girls' shirts covered enough to leave something to the imagination, and there were even stylish dudes -- one standout sported a blow-dried Sonic hedgehog hairdo accompanied by smooth yellow shades. The intimate, bar-style setting was good for conversation and occasional bustin' out in the aisle when the tune struck a chord.

Some freestyle began to play, and this really friendly sort of hoochie blond girl started to simulate roller-skating up and down the aisle of the club with us. We were cruising in circles to Stevie B past a few leather-jacketed Brooklyn boys who seemed dazed by the plethora of ladies at sex central. There was this middle-aged, dark-haired dude standing at the bar in a blue button down checking out every girl who started dancing in the aisle. And right on cue, when I stopped moving, he started talking to me.

He said his name was Eric.

"That's a very hard-sounding name," I replied, "like mine, Courtney."

"Yes," he said, "like a Viking."

"Yeah, it's true," I said. "Eric rows the boat, and Courtney is the coxswain. That's not Greenland; that's Iceland." I pointed off in a northeasterly direction.

Trying to correct me, Eric pointed due south and replied, "No, Iceland is that way."

"Actually," I corrected him, "I was right. Iceland is that way."

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"Where are you going?" I replied.

"I'm going where you're going."

It was hard for Eric to be wrong twice in one night.

E Bar, though it was good times, was not quite boot nasty enough for our playa-lovin' ambitions. So we moved on.

Porterhouse Grill (201 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale) was stacked with just the skeezy kind of crowd we were trying to blend into. It was like a hoochie-mama sandwich deli. Some dude had a chick backed up against a pole and was flirting with his whole body. The dance floor was packed so tight, you couldn't squeeze through to the bar without grinding with several people.

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