"A source told me that David Bowie's band is playing Mike's Tavern tonight," the Night Ranger explained. "And he said that Bowie might show up. Wanna check it out?"
Ah, what the hell. I knew how the movie would end. Bruce Willis would kill some dudes, blow some shit up, walk barefoot through broken glass, talk dirty to that chubby dude from Family Matters. Then have a cigarette.
Besides, the Night Ranger is the chattering social butterfly to my mumbling pandora moth, so if anybody had insider knowledge, it was she. Bowie was scheduled to play Starlight the next night, and stranger things have happened. Like Prince buying posters of himself at Recycled Sounds.
But this was supposedly an exclusive affair. The kind of party where you have to know A Guy who knows A Guy in order to gain entry. I didn't know A Guy, but I was prepared to give roadies blow jobs until somebody let me in.
Unfortunately, I just walked right in. Hipsters were present and accounted for. But no Bowie. His band mingled inconspicuously with the regulars. The only way to track them was to follow a male groupie in a Tori Amos Strange Little Girls shirt as he posed for a photo with each of them and began his spiel, "Do you remember that show in Manhattan ..."
There was pianist Mike Garson, who looks like Lex Luthor. There was guitarist Gerry Leonard, who looks like a bastard Rod Stewart. There was bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, who looks like Gail Ann Dorsey. And then there was Earl Slick. I knew it was the legendary guitarist almost immediately. Partially because I have ESP, but mostly because the dude has a tattoo on his arm that says "Slick."
Dorsey was the first Bowie knife to cut the anticipation, strumming an acoustic guitar and wailing something about sunbeams and tears that fall like rain while Lex Luthor plunked on the keyboard. I had to wait out the junior varsity if I was going to get to ask the David if he and Freddie Mercury ever did the deed.
I was fascinated by the idea that David Fucking Bowie would grace Mike's Tavern. I wondered what would run through his mind when he stared at the flier for The Sun Mountain Fiddler above the steel piss trough in the bathroom covered with corrugated tin siding. I pondered what Ziggy Stardust would say when he noticed the moose head with the lei around its neck or the sign behind the bar that says "Nobody is ugly after 2 a.m."
"Hah," Bowie would tell himself. "They've never seen Keith Richards on a bender."
But if anybody looked like he had snorted China White off a few dead hookers in his day, it was Slick. Rock stars who look like rock stars are rare nowadays, and Slick had the coke-fiend physique. The wicked tats on the spindly biceps. The spiky, black British mullet. The dark sunglasses. Indoors. At night.
When you're cool, the sun is always shining.
And the rays were bright in the green room, which consisted of a couch wedged between the dartboards and the sound guy. "Band Only" read a scrap of paper taped to a bar stool. But the only thing keeping anybody from lobbing maraschino cherries at Earl Slick was the fact that maraschino cherries taste pretty fucking good.
Leonard took the stage and commented on how good it was to be in Kansas. Then he proceeded to, as Sublime might say, play the guitar like a motherfucking riot. He hinted that a "special guest" would be joining him.
Then it happened. The special guest was unveiled.
Everybody put your hands together for Mr. Earl Slick.
Afterward, Slick stifled a yawn while Slinky Black Dress subtly politicked for entrée into his hotel room and a bald guy gushed, "That was so amazing!" Slick absorbed the adoration nonchalantly and waited for something (or someone) better to do. His back was to me. His skinny ass was right next to my bar stool. I could have goosed Earl Slick. Or at least given him a wedgie, or a wet willy or something. But I let him be. This time.
The lights came on. The bouncers herded people out the door. I lingered, clinging to the hope that the Thin White Duke was hiding in the back playing Golden Tee. Finally, I walked out into early Monday morning empty-handed. But I wasn't disappointed. The anticipation alone was worth the wait.