It's Sunday morning, and you've been hangin' hard for two nights now. Gadzooks! No question about it. You need a Bloody Mary. Don't try confusing us with a leafy stalk of celery (which only gets in the way) and a froufrou highball glass. Give us the real deal, like they do at Le Tub. Give us a blend of vitamin C-packed tomato juice, an extra dash of Tabasco (punish us, please), some secret ingredients, and, finally, a dose of vodka straight from the bottle, gurgling out like cool water in the desert. All right, this one comes in a plastic cup. But you can carry it outside to a wooden booth, right next to the Intracoastal (you can almost put your foot in the water), and watch the boats go by. And get your head together.
Androgyny rules at J's Bar, a fun-filled nightspot in an off-the-beaten-path southwest Fort Lauderdale neighborhood. Luscious young chicas clad in baggy, saggy jeans down bottles of Bud with big butch bull-dykes, and the crowd is as genuinely multiculti as any you've ever walked into, even by South Florida standards. And everyone's welcome, even conservative old farts just stopping in to knock a few back after a day of golf. The jukebox mixes current hip-hop hits with plenty of Ani DiFranco, Melissa Etheridge, Sarah McLachlan, and KT Oslin. J's is one-half typical South Florida strip-mall sports bar with black spray-painted dropped-ceiling tiles and a pair of pool tables and one-half gay disco with parquet flooring, twirling mirror ball, and raised stage. The latter comes in handy once a month when it's overrun by the full-contact karaoke crew of drag kings and queens called SisterSpeak. That's when J's (if it were a tea kettle) really gets to whistling. Maybe you'll spy someone wearing a bathrobe lip-synching a Garth Brooks tune while holding a pink double-headed jelly dong like a microphone. And, really, isn't that what fun's all about?
This sprawling complex takes on a quiet tone on weekday nights. Just a few people around the bar, with a whole sea of chairs around them. Outside on the deck, a couple more people may be sitting at tables, enjoying the night air over a rum runner or three -- the whole place has a rather tiki image. But on the weekends, despite the incredible size of the Cove, it can get to standing room only. Shoulder-to-shoulder people push their way to the bar, and one thing that stands out about them is that virtually all are younger than 25. Many are dressed in the fratboy uniform -- college baseball cap with frayed bill, beige pants or shorts, and some sort of plaid or checkered shirt, preferably by Abercrombie and Fitch. Women are similarly attired for the Greek life. And yet, there are no major universities nearby, with the possible exception of Florida Atlantic. What gives?
Yachts glide past on the Intracoastal as you sip a perfect shaken gimlet, marveling at the crust of ice on its surface. You're perched high on a barstool at an exquisitely rustic, granite-topped cocktail table, delighting in the atmosphere and the view and just watching the world sail past. A server in a crisp white shirt appears just before your glass is empty, ready to satisfy you with another libation. It's all so decadent that you forget you're at Houston's, high end for American franchise eateries but a chain restaurant nonetheless. Foodwise, the Pompano Beach Houston's is like any other Houston's, reliably good though somewhat predictable. But the bar at this particular Houston's is worth traveling to, whether you arrive by car or boat. Get there in the early evening and watch the lights come on up and down the Intracoastal and you'll stop being such a snob about chain bars.
With more bar-like seating than dance floor space for the crowds spilling onto the sidewalk, where's a girl to go to get her groove on? The marble bar top, of course! A ripped T-shirt held together in knots bares a chiseled midriff on one of the Gen-Y girls, who showcases her moves with another abs-of-steelster sharing the spotlight. These two are working it almost too good to Nelly's "Hot in Herre" -- maybe they're ringers? Six other women pair up and take to the bar-top spotlight, while the crowd jumps in time with the chorus of House of Pain's "Jump Around." The way these ladies draw glazed-over eyeballs from 20-something beer-toting guys below, you'd think they were doing a screen test for Girls Gone Wild or The Real Cancun. Just another night at Capones.
>If you've been fortunate enough to visit Munich during Oktoberfest, you've seen how brew fanatics take their beer: in one-liter steins that require as much upper-arm strength as they do intestinal fortitude. Of course, Oktoberfest also means impassable crowds and no small number of drunken Australians cursing and puking. Lefty's foregoes the latter and delivers what counts: 32 ounces of beer in frosty mugs. Sure, the 32er is just shy of a liter by 1.81 ounces, but it's still a quart of beer, for gosh sakes. The heft is there. And these tall ones are surprisingly cheap; Bud, Bud Light, and Miller cost $3.75, and Sam Adams and Foster's ring in at $4.50. Figure you save the airfare to Germany and go to Lefty's instead, you could hoist... well, let's just say you'll have some mighty biceps by the time you're done.
Karma Lounge is the glam spot that marks the crossover of Fort Lauderdale's nightlife on the Riverfront from its tween years -- as a place for college coeds to blow off steam with a beer or two -- into a chic young adulthood. Quality progressive house, spun by lounge resident Brit Paul Head, pounds from the speakers. The red-lighted room, with ultramod orange-and-white minimalist décor, offsets the white glow of the underlighted bar. It's just intimate enough for the over-25, chic-and-pretty clientele to engage in a nonstop buzz over the music, without an overwhelming cavernous feel. Drink specials and the lack of an exorbitant cover charge sweeten the deal of hanging out in a scene that rivals an Ibiza club crowd.
The sun's coming up, the birds are chirping, and you've stumbled (or been kicked) out of the last open bar in town. So why go home when you can head over to Banana Joe's for a traditional breakfast and a Bloody Mary. The joint closes at 2 a.m., then reopens at 7 a.m. with a full breakfast menu including flapjacks, eggs, and bacon. (Saturday nights, closing is at 3 a.m., with reopening at noon Sunday.) And don't forget the open bar, serving beer and liquor. On the right morning, there's a good chance you could sit next to an old man and a dog, both drinking a Heineken. Seriously. Eggs Benedict with a shot of Jagermeister, anyone?

Q: Do you watch reality-television shows?

A: I personally don't watch a lot, but I've had some firsthand experience with it.

Q: You were a Survivor contestant?

A: No, VH1 filmed a 14-part series called Band on the Run in 2000, and the finals ended up here [at the Culture Room]. They were in the club for three days, filming virtually everything that happened. They'd just follow you around with cameras. It's a very strange feeling after a while. By the last day, the band members were writing things on napkins and passing them back and forth because they were so tired of being filmed.

Q: Isn't that what they wanted? Media attention?

A: They had virtually no privacy whatever. Imagine the moment that you open your eyes in the morning and there's a camera right there filming you. I was just a part of it for three days, and I got sick and tired of it. The bands had to put up with it for two months.

Q: Was it real?

A: Well, it was their reality for two months.

Q: So what do you think of reality TV?

A: I want no part of it.

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