I was at Fuci-Finos, chatting with the good-old-boy bartender. It was Wednesday, the night the place does its Scaryoke — hardcore karaoke for goths. It brings out a playful crowd of spiked, tattooed, and pierced vamps, rockers, and punks.
Suddenly the music started and a booze-addled karaoke performer stepped onto the stage, gripping the mic with the air of confidence only a few buckets of beer can bring. He wore an American-flag-patterned bandanna and camouflage pants. He shuffled mechanically to the beat. I was expecting a throaty Marilyn Manson chorus, a Cradle of Filth yowl, or even a high, clear note from something like Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast."
"Like a virgin," the performer grunted, staccato-like, sentences into the mic. "Touched for the very first time..."
It had already taken me too long to figure out how to pronounce Fuci-Fino's name — yes, it is pronounced just like that. Now I have to figure out the crowd? Fuci-Fino.
Ambiance: The place is a low-lit, smoky, quintessential sports dive bar. Basketball flashes on the TVs around the elongated, U-shaped bar. Patrons sit slumped in high wooden chairs drinking buckets of booze. Bras of all colors and sizes dangle from the ceiling like a disembodied Victoria's Secret fashion show. Nearby, a stripper pole guards the entrance to the restrooms, and thongs mounted like sexy hunting trophies dot the adjacent wall. After carefully scanning the room in a quick check for anyone possibly bra- or pantyless, I snatched a spot at the glossy wood bar smack-dab in front of a huge decorative glass of fake, honey-colored beer. Gathered near the karaoke stage was a slight sprinkling of black-clad headbangers with leather jackets on and electric colors in their hair — you know, the types who spent slightly more time in a mosh pit than Bible school.
Bartender: Shawn, the mustached bartender, pushed me a brew and told me he practically lived across the street from the bar.
"I've been coming here since I was 19," he said. "And that was so long ago that, at the time, 19 was still the legal drinking age."
"What's going on tonight?" I asked.
"Scaryoke," Shawn said. "It's usually a younger crowd of people who want to sing harder music. I'd prefer just some Led Zeppelin, from my day, but whatever. You see the really interesting getups in here tonight."
Patrons: Just then, a petite girl named Morgan sidled up beside me and ordered a bucket of beers.
She leaned over and poked the fake froth on the decoration beer in front of me as she was waiting.
"What are you going to sing?" I asked her.
"I wanted to do Metallica's 'Last Caress,' but they didn't have it," Morgan said. Then she barked out a few of the lyrics: "I've got somethin' to say! I killed your baby today!" Metallica and dead babies? That sounds like the stuff a hardcore karaoke night should be made of.
I turned to her blond friend. "What about you?"
"No way," she said.
"What if we liquor you up?" I asked.
"Then I'll be drunk and eventually pass out," she said. "But I won't sing."
Nocturnal beasts: When the camouflaged Madonna warbler had returned to the bar — and ordered another bucket of beer bottles — I walked over to him. His name was Tony, and he was conversing with Thomas, a stoic, blond gentleman. Thomas was more the type to come in Fuci-Fino's to top the high score on the punch-bag arcade game than, say, leap on stage and belt out a Lacuna Coil song.
"Nice job on that Madonna song," I told Tony. "What's going on here tonight?"
"Basically, you get all your trench-coat-mafia types out tonight." He pointed to a man in a very long trench coat. "This is karaoke for the 'nocturnal beasts.' "
"I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate you calling them that," I said, looking out to the crowd. It seemed like, in a matter of minutes, the whole bar was packed with a friendly but aesthetically frightening, black-clad crowd. Sexy goth chicks and long-haired headbanger boys had taken over the place; piercings glinted in the low light; and tattoos peeked out from under midriff-bearing, black lacy corsets.
"They would so," Tony argued. "They'd kiss me for it." Sounded to me like Tony just wants to make out with someone wearing a tongue ring.
"So what's your story?" I asked.
"I was in the Marines for six years," he said. "Also, I'm full of energy."
"And alcohol," I observed. He offered me a bottle from his bucket of beer.
"Well, after you've seen a brother's eyeball get shot onto your leg in combat, you get a different look on life," he said. No shit. If this guy wanted to get drunk and sing Madonna to a bunch of goth kids, well, sounds like he'd earned that right.
A few minutes later, one of the lovely lady bartenders bought me a shot: a delicious redheaded slut — the shot, not the bartender, though she did look delicious too. I swallowed it so fast that it elicited an impressed whoop from my hardened military-man acquaintance.
T&A: Shortly after a conversation with Joseph, the NIN-shirt-wearing Scaryoke visionary who told me that his ultimate hope was to make Wednesday night Scaryoke a universal affair (talk about a far-reaching vision!), I was introduced to Johnny. Johnny was down-to-Earth, with a white beard and sturdy build. He'd been hiding out in the back until now, and while he eyed the crowd with a look of fatherly love, he kept his distance.
"Rednecks, gays, goth kids," Johnny said. "We'll let anyone in here, as long as they don't cause any trouble."
"How do you pronounce the name of this place?" I asked.
Johnny paused. "Fyoosi-feeno's," he said.
"That's not what I've heard," I said.
Sean laughed from the bar. "It's pronounced 'Fuck if I know.' "
"OK, that's the official pronunciation," Johnny said. "But you can't say that to just anyone."
"Yeah, like if you get pulled over and when the cop asks where you've been and you tell him, 'Fuck if I know,' " said Sean.
"So what's with all the dangling bras?" I asked Johnny.
"Oh, that's from a long time ago. A woman didn't want to pay for another drink and asked if she could trade me her bra for a drink," Johnny said. "So I did. And same with the panties on the wall." Now that's bartering.
"In fact," Johnny continued, leading me to the far wall, by the restrooms. He pointed to a large frame full of six-by-nine-inch photos — most of them women with their tits and/or asses hanging out. The women were on the "matriarchs gone wild" side of things but overall made up a fine collection of MILFs, GMILFs, and the kind of bored party girls who will drop a thong at the drop of a hat.
"This whole wall used to be filled with pictures," Johnny said, gesturing to a long, empty wall. "But people kept stealing them." Apparently these were the ones either no one wanted to steal or no one had stolen yet.
On that happy note, I decided it was time to make a graceful stumbling, swaying exit. All in all, a productive evening: I'd had a few drinks, witnessed karaoke at its blackest black, times infinity, and also managed to not make an ass of myself on stage or show my ass to a camera. And to be perfectly frank: After Scaryoke, I was gonna be sure to invest in a few more black shirts.