By Terrence McCoy
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"I almost got into it with him in the dressing room," Garrow recalls. "He broke one of my microphones, he tried to tear down one of the speaker poles, and was acting like a jackass. That was the closest I've ever come to hitting a musician in my club. And it wasn't because of anything he broke. He was being so disrespectful, kicking other bands' stuff it was horrible. And he left half his equipment there. Most club owners wouldn't give it back, but I did. I know how hard he works for that stuff."
That's a pretty forgiving attitude. It's not like Garrow needs to put up with that kind of stuff; live bands haven't exactly been a cash cow for the club. But it's what Garrow wants and it's the reason behind the name change.
"We're really trying to forget about Gumwrappers," he says. "And people have always called it the G, anyway. But this right now, with the name change, this is do or die for us."
Garrow's glad for the switch, but there is one dancer left. She's done shakin' her stuff by 7 p.m. (And she declined to be interviewed for this article.) The rest of the dancers weren't fired. They simply went away, and Garrow gave up trying to find replacements. It wasn't his plan to stop hiring dancers, he says. It just happened that way.
"That wasn't anything we chose they just stopped coming," Garrow says. "They couldn't make money when the bands were playing. Eventually, we stopped hiring new girls."
For more than a year, the bands and bikini babes tried to coexist. The stage in back was for music; the platform in the center and the table behind the bar were for the girls. In theory, they were separate but equal. But the competition heated up, and weekend nights turned into all-out turf wars between bikinis and guitars.
"I remember one time, a girl actually climbed on stage during a band's set," Garrow says. "She was insisting that they let her do a song and caused a bit of a scene. The biggest problem with the girls, though, was what they'd do in the dressing room, touching customers inappropriately, getting nude... stuff that's illegal. But that mostly happened before the bands were around."
"If you touch this you will get a boot up your ass!" warns the sign on a locker in the G's dressing room. A relic from when the club was still a bikini dance club, it reads like graffiti in a school bathroom from a class that's long since graduated. The author is unknown, but one thing's for sure if her moneymaker is making any money these days, it's not here.
Out in the main room, the band Matter is hosting its weekly Wednesday open-mic night, kicking things off with a few cover songs to help loosen up the small crowd, most of whom are signed up to perform. Standing at the back of the audience is Brandon Sullivan, an assistant manager. Not surprisingly, Sullivan is also in a band, the pop-punk quartet A New Start.
"We're all musicians here," Garrow says, noting that he's no stranger to playing for little pay. "I'm sometimes embarrassed when that's all I can pay a band at the end of the night. But I've been the guy who gets paid only 25 bucks after a show and is told, 'Sorry, that's all you made tonight.'"
But since Knickers Down formed (a few months after the G's first show), Garrow hasn't had to deal with bookings. He's left that up to Chrissy Vision, a former bartender who decided she wanted to do more than just serve beer to the bands she wanted to book their shows. But it became a time-consuming venture, so much so that Vision eventually quit bartending to book bands full time, under the name Cherry Sonic Promotions. While some promoters make new bands jump through hoops to get a show, Vision likes hiring bands she's never seen. They may not pack the club, but they've got to start somewhere, you know?
"Many of the bands we've had at the G are playing their first shows," Vision says. "Some of the younger bands like the Coffin Caddies and CRiMiX totally rocked the stage too. I like to encourage young musicians. Though it's bands that play on a regular basis like Friendly Fire, Knickers Down, Mindspin, Horizonfall, Chicken for Chico, THC... They carry the weight."
The question of whether bikini dancers and rock bands could peaceably coexist has been answered. The question now is whether live music at the G can survive at all.
"It's really not faring well," Garrow admits. "We've had some really good weekends, but the rest of it hasn't been bringing much business. Diamond Dolls pretty much pays the rent," he says, referring to owner Gus Carchio's other property, a traditional strip house in Pompano Beach.
"Our biggest struggle has been getting people to come to the shows," says Vision, pointing to the Internet as a possible deterrent. "Too many people around here are more inclined to spend hours on MySpace listening to bands' sound clips and watching videos than actually go out and get the live experience."