Social Adventures – Karaoke style

I’ve continued on my “just saying yes” to social adventures.  Many of them have been great, but I’m choosing not to bore you with “I saw a reading, it was amazing,” or “I’ve seen a bunch of people I know perform music – they were great and inspiring,” as that is obviously not entertaining – so you’re welcome that I didn’t turn those lovely but uninteresting events into full episodes, but just so you know – I’m sticking with it!

Last night, Justin Martindale, a regular cast member of my social adventures, invited me along to a karaoke birthday party.  And what’s not to love about that?  We’d accomplished exactly nothing all day – coffee and a stroll through West Hollywood and then pool time for the first day of summer here in LA, the beginning of March.  Yes, for those of you who have several more weeks of winter, my apologies, but the trade off is we have to be swimsuit ready in February.

We rolled out, styling in my 2001 tan Altima.  It’s tan because it means I can go entirely too long without washing it and you can’t really tell until you try to park it at a brightly lit valet, but as we’ve discussed I free park and walk, so it’s not an issue.

We arrived in Koreatown, I would have been worried if it were karaoke anywhere else because (stereotype alert) obviously Asian karaoke parlors are more likely to be seriously awesome.  And it was.  We were met in the lobby by a young Asian male host who directed us to the correct room.  Oh yes, this is hardcore karaoke, a room with just you and your party where you control all of the song choices and in theory you don’t have to listen to anyone or anything you don’t want to.  All the fun of karaoke without the random dude who clearly sings the same songs every time and is there by himself, or the annoying American Idol wannabes who are good, but not good enough to be taking it quite that seriously.  They ruin karaoke all over Los Angeles; you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who “made it to Vegas.”

As we approached our room, the picture window gave us a view into the room, where two girls were singing in skintight pants and their bras.  Shirts nowhere to be found.  We opened the door, and in addition to the onslaught of a slightly tangy scent that I can only describe as reminiscent of what I think a middle school girl’s locker room would smell like (obviously I don’t actually know that smell, or care to), the rousing chorus of the song that caused these two ladies to take off their tops became clear.  It was, “Ass ass ass ass ass ass ass ass ass ass ass ass.”  We had come to the right place.

Justin introduced me to the birthday girl, one of the two partially clothed singers. She was sweet, and the night kicked off.  It was mere moments before Justin had signed up, taken control of the mic and proceeded to perform the obvious choice for him, “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child, complete with half-naked backup dancers.  They must have known we were coming.  It was perfection – everything great karaoke should be.

My thing about karaoke is that there are two ways to be truly successful.  1) The easiest, be a truly amazing singer who doesn’t take it seriously at all and has a great time, so the audience has a great time watching them sing their face off.  2) Be truly terrible, and have a fantastic time.  This is either accomplished by singing a song everyone knows and loves so they enjoy it even though you can’t sing, or giving an unabashedly ridiculous performance of any song.  Win/win.  It’s the “I was a good singer in high school” who sings a kind of boring song because they can kind of sing it well who needs compliments when they finish who ruins the flow for everyone.  That, and the timid singer.  If you don’t want to do it, that’s fine, don’t do it.  If you end up there because your friends “forced” you, and without crowbar or blackmail pictures, they did not “force” you, have fun with it, so we can have fun with you!

For the most part, the karaoke was great.  It was a stream of rather great songs with pretty awesome commitment and a fairly uninhibited group.  I only knew one other person there, so I did the whole chatting-up-strangers thing.  I ended up next to a girl, Justin took care of the obligatory introduction, who turned and asked, “So, what do you do?”

This is a standard I-don’t-know-you question anywhere and everywhere, but here in Los Angeles it comes fraught with a series of subtexts that you have to determine as the question is asked.  Usually one of three choices is on display.  1) The sincerely asked question as a form of uninspired icebreaker by someone who is willing to make conversation.  2) The “are you important, how can I use you, should I bother with talking to you at all?” question.  3)  The “I don’t know, you’re right here, and it will be awkward if I don’t say something, so I’ll ask this” question.  This particular inquiry was somewhere between two and three, mostly three.

In LA there is a collective eyeroll when you say “actor” in response because if they don’t recognize you, the quippy comeback is “waiter or bartender?”  Seeing the lack of sincerity in the question, I went with a simple but truthful explanation for my current situation and said, “independent film producer,” figuring she would assume me and a few of my friends shot a movie in our backyard and that would be it.

Oh no, her follow up definitely brought me around.  “So you work in gay porn?” she asked.  Wow, I thought, I totally misjudged her.  She seemed likely to be boring being already a little drunk, but no, she’s witty and entertaining.  This could be fun.  “Of course,” I answered with a nonchalant nod.  “That’s great,” she gushed with an amused grin, “so you know Laura and Tommy and Jeremy.”  Sidebar for a moment, as a comedian about town, Justin has hosted multiple porn awards (he’s proud of it, I can say this) so I have actually met a few porn stars he knows.  “Obviously I do,” I confirmed for the not-as-boring-as-I-thought girl.

We chatted a bit further, sang along to a few songs; she admitted she was getting drunker.  A better conversation than I expected.  Until she ruined it all.

“So,” she turned her full attention to me again, “are you with, like, a specific studio or production company?”  I stared at her, and the realization struck me.  This was not a question about my independent film producing.  “I don’t actually work in gay porn,” I offered, truly hoping that she knew that and we had been having a delightfully witty conversation 20 minutes before, instead of what I was beginning to realize had happened.  “Oh,” she laughed, “well I do.”  Ah, and there it is.  So she wasn’t just stupid, it made sense to her that I would work in gay porn because she works in porn.  “I totally believed you!” she said, laughing.  “It seems you did,” I responded.

We’ll skip the part where she told me about how she asked her boyfriend if he loved her yet after five months, and how she really wants to get married and saying “I love you” is easy because she does both at work all the time.  See, she does wedding scenes, and scenes where she says “I love you” so it’s easy to imagine that in her real life too.  Naturally.  “I play a housewife every third day so I’m ready,” was the cherry on the top of her surreal explanation about how her work in porn makes her really ready to settle down and be in love and be married.

Karaoke wrapped up.  The only real bomb was the straight guy who tentatively sang Natasha Beddingfield’s “Unwritten” – which I still don’t comprehend how that singer/song choice happened.  Though I sang along in full voice of course.

It seems unlikely that me and drunk porn star girl (she really is, I looked her up – though the photo I found had an awful lot of airbrush and weave helping out) will be lifelong friends, you know, since I don’t work in porn.  But it made karaoke a successful social adventure!

Disclaimer: I’m not judging her for working in porn.  I’m judging her for being just a little bit dumb and delusional.

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