Going Out on a Timb

When local musicians stormed Duck Soup (named for the classic Marx Brothers comedy) to play Hurricane Fest '06 (so named because the tempestuous season had begun), I had to be there. And not because I had the perfect party dress.

My buddy Timb had organized the event to celebrate his 30th birthday — a real landmark not only for the glam rocker but for those of us who look to him as a reminder of the joys of dedicated silliness and perpetual self-expression.

Because he publicly embraces his cross-dressing fetish while performing absurd, satiric songs, Timb's shows always attract lots of zany oddballs. He's sort of South Florida's musical ambassador to the people of Freaktopia.

No way I was gonna miss an opportunity to party with my people! I strapped on my platform Mary Janes, zipped up my little dress with the crinoline skirt, pulled my hair up in plucky pigtails, and zipped over to the Oakland Park bar.

I quickly discovered this was literally gonna be the hottest party of the year even though the birthday boy had dressed down, wearing pants with his T-shirt rather than a skirt. The air-conditioner was broken, and the only circulation came from the cyclone of movement on the dance floor, made more humid as the bodies sweated. Even the heat couldn't keep the festivities at bay.

The no-frills bar — no longer the "shithole" (new co-owner Lauren Jackson's term, not mine) that it used to be — was built for a just-add-booze good time. For one, it has a full liquor bar. More important, nothing says party like a stripper pole unless it's a dance cage, and Duck Soup has both.

The bar was packed with Fetish Factory workers, New Times staff, and local musicians and their fans — most of whom were also friends. In short, the place was full of professional partiers.

Bathed in stage light and sweat, singer/songwriter Katie Foley played to a full house. Only the seats at the bar were still open; the booths were full, and the dance floor was crowded. I snagged a stool and ordered a beer from the flirty blond bartender with the microdreads whose lip rings focused my attention on her mouth. Like most of the people here, she looked like the sorta trouble you wouldn't mind getting into.

I guzzled my first several beers, which seemed to ooze out of my pores as fast as I downed them. Even sitting still, I'd developed a full-body sheen. The frenetic kinesis on the dance floor made the place a virtual sauna. Luckily, I had little fabric on my skin.

Several beers and 30 minutes into my evening, a dude approached wearing an I like my women like I like my coffee T-shirt.

Trying to guess the punch line (hoping it wouldn't include the word hot!), I finally couldn't resist. I grabbed his sleeve and spun him around for the answer: Ground up and in the freezer.

In tonight's swelter, it was almost a pickup line that worked.

I gave a hearty laugh: "Meet a lot of ladies that way?"

"My freezer's full of them!" he retorted.

Leaning against the wall by the stripper pole, a pregnant woman in a tank top looked like she was about to swoon. Katie, now done with her set, was cooling herself by holding her chilled beer mug against her neck and cheeks.

"It's hot as balls!" she complained, which was an odd observation from a woman, particularly from a lesbian.

The evening moved quickly from act to act. Timb played a low-maintenance, solo acoustic set. Then Flint Blade, a dude playing the Chapman stick (which has nothing to do with lip balm) provided a little musical education by introducing many in the audience to his obscure instrument that allows him to play guitar and bass lines at the same time.

The evening also included a literary portion — a reading by Marcus Alexander Hart, a classmate of Timb's from the Ringling School of Art. Though science fiction, his novel The Oblivion Society quickly became a mystery. No one but three fans by the stage bothered to listen, and in the raucous, drunken swelter, even I — a literary enthusiast — wasn't in the mood.

Instead, I turned my attention to the 1950s fetish porn on the Soup's four TVs, observing that the art form had undergone some changes over the years.

"It's all flaccid asses and droopy boobs," I commented to Mr. Freeze.

"Flaccid asses?" he asked. "Well, that's a hard muscle to work. How do you work that muscle?"

I looked at him hard. I couldn't tell if he was joking.

After several technical problems, the band Zombies! Organize!! was prepared to make its debut. You'd think that a place like South Florida would be an unsavory place to mobilize a bunch of brain-eaters (I mean, wouldn't the smarty pants Ivy League states be more appropriate?), but the crowd was more enthusiastic than ever.

Probably because, like me, many had known Bob, Mary, and her sister Laura for years. Tonight, they had a "Garbage Pail Kids go to the hoedown" look that was particularly endearing.

"Thanks for sticking with us," lead singer Mary squeaked in the same juvenile voice I'd heard her use to perform aggressive feminist poetry both locally and at the National Poetry Slam. "Maybe we have too many instruments."

The thing about Mary's squeak — it softens her hardcore politics so that people usually rally behind her. Or, in this case, forgive the band's disorganization. I was sorta enjoying the irony of the band's name.

After the Z!O!! set, I met John, who confessed that his job "selling investments to people with too much money" was boring but that it satisfied his short-term goals.

"Well, I guess, if you have STGs...," I said, rolling my eyes.

That got a laugh.

"Well, it doesn't sound like a good thing when you put it like that!"

Timb and the Band of Erics then shifted the room's focus to rock. Katie began plucking people from their barstools and pulling them onto the dance floor. Inspired, others began to pull bystanders into the drunken fray. In a So You Think You Can Dance-inspired move, Katie lifted me off my feet, and I wrapped my legs around her waist as we all bounced to the music.

In the stew of bobbing weirdos, the working-class regulars — all of them male and, to appearances, all Latino — at the pool table behind us looked on at the bedlam on the dance floor. They'd take their shots, swig their beers, and return to observing the bizarre behavior of los gringos locos. It was a meeting rather than a clash of cultures.

Ending the evening with the band aptly named for the night's feverish activities, the Freakin Hott made sure things ended dirty, despite the sweat bath, as we pogo-ed, slammed, jumped, bumped, and ground on the dance floor. Ending with a cover of Outkast's "Hey Ya!," they incited the crowd to be on their "baddest behavior." Though the people whose dance moves included a simulation of oral sex didn't seem to need the encouragement.

Even though no storm had even begun to brew in the Atlantic, Hurricane Fest '06 was one hell of a birthday blowout.

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Marya Summers