I've become a new kind of whore.
The karaoke kind.
A few months ago some friends and I ended
up at this tiny little dive here in FW with a bunch of friends. Most
of them had been there before. I *never* sing in public and rarely
at all, but here the standards were something along the lines of the awards
for Special Olympics. In other words, if you got up there, you were
There was a introverted guy in the cowboy
hat who sang almost inaudibly, which was probably a blessing. A few
of the (obvious) regulars got up and did their thing as well. It
was like a live taping of the American Idol auditions sometimes.
The most polite description you might offer for many was "unpolished talent."
Right from the mention of karaoke before
we headed over there, the last thing I expected to be doing that night
was any singing, but then I started looking though the Big Book that listed
all the songs. Some interesting choices started presenting themselves.
I ran up and put in a request to the DJ while no one was looking,
When my turn came up, I brought Dani up
with me and sat her down in a chair in front of me.
"This is a love song," I said to the crowd.
"Awwwww..." they cooed.
No one but the DJ knew what was coming
next until the bass line started and I began singing, "I want to violate
you. I want to desecrate you." You know the rest (or can Google
it if that isn't enough of a clue). Good thing Dani was a bit drunk
already or she would have blushed well before the chorus.
I let the crowd return to its regularly
scheduled Top 40 and (believe it or not) country for a while, then I couldn't
resist doing my Tim Curry impression for "Sweet Transvestite," which I
couldn't believe they had a copy of there. That's kind of my dream
song. See, for all the guitar rock I listen to and play along with,
I just don't have the kind a voice to deliver the screaming banshee renditions
of any band fronted by a Sammy Hagar or an Axel Rose. Tim Curry though?
Baritone, dramatic, completely over the top? Yeah, I can do that.
Having an addictive personality the way
I do, I ended up going out with one of the friends who saw me the first
night again the very next night (Saturday) to a different karaoke place
in her neighborhood. I'll admit I enjoyed the talent on display at
this second place, but I wasn't going to get up there and compete.
The audience wasn't terribly judgmental in spite of a few really awful
singers, but the good ones were really good. One guy did a very professional
hard rock vocal for Van Halen's "Panama" and then an AC/DC song later.
Even if that's not your thing, it's still impressive to hear someone pull
off a style that leaves most people (including me) with a dry hacking cough
for twice as long as any attempt to sing like that. And he managed
to jump up on a table in the middle of the latter number without falling
over and looking like an idiot.
Sure, the performers were pretty good there
(well, most of them), but that isn't necessarily a good thing. I
liked the little dive bar we went out to the previous Friday night a lot
better. With fewer people in the place, you end up with very shallow
pool of talent. It's guaranteed to be less intimidating if you want
to get up there and sing something really, really badly. Since that's
what I'm best at, I didn't put in a request there this time. The
music was waaaay too loud for me, so I left by a little after 1am.
For the next couple weekends after that,
I was back at the original, low-pressure place, again doing Tim Curry impressions
(with Prince and Neil Diamond thrown in for fun). We even went to
Rocky Horror one night afterward, so it made for a good first act.
After all, they come from sort of the same place, you know? Audience
participation and all that.
To me, karaoke is like Halloween, and I
love it for similar reasons. Few people are professional costumers,
but they go out and show off their interpretation on a character, often
just for laughs. The few people who are really serious about it are
indeed the ones most worthy of laughing about, in fact. And then
there's also the fun is also in dragging friends up there who swear they
aren't going to sing before we get there. Sorry, but get into life
and stop sitting by the sidelines.
What's next? Like I said elsewhere,
the problem with an addictive personality is that it means escalating things.
It has to be stranger, more intense, something different. Somewhere
on my "to do" list is hit karaoke night at a swingers club. That's
just got to be awesome. I can't imagine anything funnier than drunk
swingers singing. Now say that three times fast. In short,
we're looking for the worst singers on the planet when they're doing the
most to try to get noticed. Here's a second nightlife subculture
I haven't really explored, and it would be killing two birds with one stone
for the amateur anthropologists out there like me. According to the
web, there's actually one in FW that does karaoke on Thursdays, so if anyone's
ready for a visit to what has got to be the equivalent to comedy club for
those (like me) with an over-developed sense of humor, then give me a shout.