At an AI rip-off, we learn that camel toe makes damn good TV.

Casino Idol 

At an AI rip-off, we learn that camel toe makes damn good TV.

After checking out Harrah's knockoff American Idol competition at the VooDoo Lounge, we're pleased to announce that the phrase camel toe will finally make its debut in this column.

The faux AI contest, called Lucky Break, takes place every Wednesday from 7 to 10 p.m. at the casino bar. From now until April, the weekly winners will get the chance to perform in front of record execs from Nashville. Yee-haw! The contest also airs every Saturday night on KMBC Channel 9, which, according to a few of our co-workers who were inexplicably at home at 11 p.m. on a weekend, made for some entertaining late-night viewing.

We're also happy to report that seeing Lucky Break in person lived up to the hype. We headed over with our trusty sidekick, Research Assistant Cece, and when we walked in at around 8 p.m., the contest was in full swing. Of course, the first thing we did was order drinks, because the hilarity of any karaokesque experience is greatly increased by the level of drunkenness of (a) the spectator, (b) the singer or (c) all of the above.

Sadly, the contestants, who were a little too focused on winning, refrained from making drunken asses of themselves. That onus fell on us, so we flipped through VooDoo's froufrou drink menu and decided to go with the Hurricane and the Witch Doctor. The good Doctor enchanted us with the promise of being served in a souvenir glass. Oh, how it delivered. The oversized fishbowl of a glass holds 22 ounces of fruit juice, assorted liqueurs and four types of rum. It contained enough alcohol to serve a cruise ship for a week. Not a bad deal for $15 (with $10 refills) — Dr. Feelgood, indeed.

Now that we were set for the night drinkwise — and really, for the rest of the week — we turned our attention to the bar, which actually resembled a cruise-ship lounge, thanks to its massive size. On the lower level, tables and plush chairs covered the sunken dance floor. Two side bars served the thirsty, and a back area contained sofas. The upper level was more loungey, with Viagra-shaped blue-velvet seats, peach-colored high-backed chairs, and sleek sofas and coffee tables. On the night of our visit, an older crowd congregated on the bottom floor. Many were there to support the contestants, and a plethora of Western shirts and mullets prevailed. We found a slightly younger, hipper crowd on the top floor. The two areas were united by the collective oglation of the slutted-out waitresses, with their black-leather hot pants, low-cut patterned tank tops and black high-heeled knee boots, which further emphasized the casino-meets-Love Boat leitmotif.

Carting around the Witch Doctor limited our mobility (and all of the tables on the first floor were occupado), so we hung out by one of the side bars and took it all in. Two chickies in loose-fitting pink Q104 shirts flanked the stage. Between the performances, they held up cue cards that instructed the audience to "get excited" and applaud for the benefit of the TV cameras. Onstage, a good-looking black guy with a shaved head started singing "Purple Rain."

"Sing along with me! It gives me confidence!" he entreated the audience. The response was tepid.

"Did he just say that? It's supposed to be a competition!" said an incredulous guy behind the bar. The anti-Prince soon got way off the beat, and thankfully, the music stopped. The cameras panned onto the three judges, but sadly, we missed their comments because we were distracted by a woman who was sitting cross-legged on the floor a few yards in front of us, powdering her face. The back of her thong was totally fishtailing out of her pants. Not long afterward, she got up and strolled to the stage to host the contest. Her tight black pants emphasized every lump and bump, including the one in the crotchal region. We were a little skeezed out.

Not Prince was followed by a Joe Simpson look-alike who sang a Toby Keith song ("In honor of the bar next door," he said). Then our favorite performer to that point — 35-year-old Rick — got up and sang Clint Black's "One More Payment" all twangily. He seemed very cool and personable. At the end of his routine, he shared the factoid that karaoke means empty orchestra in Japanese. Then he grabbed one of his legs and hopped around a bit. "That was sponsored by Miller Lite!" he proclaimed.

Wanting to interview him, we tracked him to the upstairs level, where he proved to be just as charming as he seemed onstage. He owns a DJ business and decided to enter because he never has the chance to sing. "Thought I'd come down and see what John Q. Public thinks of me," he said.

So, what did they think?

"I got a perfect score, even though I messed up the words. Shh! Don't tell anyone," he said.

We asked him to describe the weirdest thing he'd witnessed while DJ-ing. He told us a wedding horror story. The bride's father had rented out the Leawood Community Center, which he assumed included the use of handicapped parking spots. When two female cops gave Dad a $150 ticket, he called them bitches. So they kicked everyone out and told Rick to shut down the music. The dad was the only person left, so he went in to get the gifts, whereupon the cops told him to leave. "Shut the fuck up," he reportedly replied. Not good — the cuffs went on. Just then, the bride came in and cussed out the cops as well. Rick concluded: "Guess what? The big white dress was on the ground."

And that's why you never get married.

After hearing that funny-sad anecdote, we stayed upstairs on the lido deck for a different vantage point of the contest. While we hovered near the stadium-style seats, a woman in a low-cut top and black gaucho pants got onstage and started singing a breathy, sexed-up version of Sheryl Crow's "My Favorite Mistake." Halfway through the performance, she pointed to a friend in the audience and dedicated the song to him, which seemed as weird as the failed luv between Sheryl and Lance.

While that was going on, we noticed that a woman sitting in the stadium seats made a hand symbol to two other women. They peered over the balcony to watch the singer and started cracking up.

"Are you mocking the gaucho pants?" we asked, hoping to join in the hecklefest.

Actually, 22-year-olds Erin and Emily were not. Even from the balcony, they could spot the camel toe through said gaucho pants. How a camel toe could have appeared in such a baggy garment is beyond us. But trust us. It did.

Emily and Erin told us that their group of friends know one another from doing karaoke at the Trouser Mouse in Blue Springs. Collectively, they're known as their karaoke group name, the Ramblers. They were at VooDoo to support one of their members, 27-year-old Dustin, who had sung a Michael Buble song earlier that night.

Their fascination with the camel toe began at the Island Bar, where they regularly partake in karaoke and laugh at the toe-revealing ways of another regular who always wore zebra-striped pants and sunglasses. The Ramblers came up with a hand symbol. (Put your index and middle fingers together.) They also made T-shirts that announced: "Camel Toe: Together We Can."

By this time, the contest was ending. Five people tied, so to break it, the contestants had to sing "Happy Birthday." Long story short, a beautiful woman with an amazing voice won. Afterward, the lights were dimmed, and the stage was opened up for a karaoke free-for-all.

We finished off the Witch Doctor and left before we were subject to the caterwauling ways of John Q. Public. That would have required more alcohol, and we had hit our limit. Together we can, indeed.


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