“Oh. My. Heck.” I stuttered in amazement. “Where is John Waters when you need him?” I wondered out loud, for the woman seemed to have crawled right out of the notorious film director’s cult classic “Desperate Living.”
I’d noticed the mysterious, hunched-over figure descending into Mik-n-Mac’s a while earlier hidden under a drab green blanket and looking like the old crone in Sleeping Beauty, the one who morphed into the evil witch. It was Karaoke night, and oddball things always seem to occur on Karaoke Night, but that night there was an especially peculiar vibe in the air.
The crowd was vivacious as Billy and Sue sang the final hoots and hollers of another rousing rendition of their trademark tune “Dixieland Delight.” The hunched figure shuffled out to the middle of the dance floor and blurted out to anyone listening something along the lines of “Hey! I’m not gonna be disrespected anymore!” followed by a string of curse words shocking even in the context of the bar.
Suddenly, the ugly blanket was tossed away, revealing a polyester jacket and skirt, which also came flying off, revealing a Britney-style schoolgirl outfit, which took quite a bit of effort to remove actually, revealing a rather large and angry looking woman in her early forties, standing there in nothing but black skivvies, her various body parts unraveling themselves in every direction. It was a kamikaze karaoke striptease.
Hesitantly, I looked closer and realized that her arms, chest, and face were covered in handwritten rants and obscenities, self-graffiti done in multicolored permanent markers. Her head was shaved arbitrarily in the style of a slightly diseased Pekingese. Her undergarments gasped for life against the strain of her jelly dance, the disco pulse of a Donna Summer karaoke track causing her to twist her ample body into a frenzied flesh tornado. First, the jaws around the room started dropping in shock as half the crowd struggled to avert their gaze and the other half began cheering wildly, including me.
Outrageous! The bartender flew out from behind me, pointing and snapping her fingers, “Sweetie, you need to put your clothes back on and cool it, right now.” I had to know exactly what on Earth this toothless tyrant’s depraved fit of performance art was all about. Just what made her tick? I’ve always been a loony magnet anyway, so it didn’t surprise me when she emerged from the restroom dressed again in the schoolgirl garb and cornered me directly.
“What planet are you from?” I asked and she proceeded to rattle off a very loosely coherent story which involved getting permanently kicked off the City Link bus system and how since the Sherriff’s Department ignored her cries of injustice she decided to go from bar to bar as a one-woman act of civil disobedience, a lunatic stripper gyrating wildly in the hope of salvation for all those who’ve been banished from buses.
“Interesting,” I replied.”You’re kind of a cross between Courtney Love and Rosa Parks.” She stared at me blankly for a moment then carried on ranting. I do seem to have endless patience for those with funky mind chemistry, those who’s thought patterns run entertainingly out of the norm, those perhaps touched a bit by the freak stick. However, even I was having a hard time pinning this madwoman down as she prattled on conspiratorially, dousing me with saliva droplets and hot vodka breath.
Mercifully, the KJ called my name, and by the time I’d finished singing “Take Me to the River,” the bartender had booted her out the door for going from table to table and soliciting beer money. That’s a tragedy because surely she deserved a tall frosty one for her efforts. I doubt anyone had been so entertained or frightened in ages.
Karaoke Night is never very dull, especially not at Mik-n-Mac’s where longtime host Jerry is the tie-dyed ringmaster for all the regulars that frequent that particular circus. In addition to having one of the largest song selections I’ve ever seen, Jerry’s also been known to act like Tom Cruise in “Risky Business” and perform “Old Time Rock and Roll” wearing nothing but Ray-Bans, a dress shirt and underwear. In addition to Karaoke, Tuesdays is for cups of bottomless domestic beer for $5.
The combo of endless Pabst Blue Ribbon and wireless microphones has been known to result in some very unusual performances. Certain regulars are truly fantastic, with most singers at least ranging from not terrible to mostly tolerable.
Some of the performances will make you glad the beer is bottomless. I really root for anyone who chooses to turn in a slip and sing, who’s not afraid to get up there and at least give it a try. No one’s paying attention anyway.
This fact I learned the hard way after delivering show-stopping versions of “Copacabana” or “Fernando,” only to land one or two lonely handclaps amid the crowd’s conversational din. To make myself feel better, I invented the convoluted theory that I must be such a good singer that people get busy talking and forget they’re not listening to the radio.
In addition to traditional karaoke each Tuesday, which runs from 8 to midnight, Mik-n-Mac’s has plans to take the idea to the next level on Wednesdays when they’ll be having Rock Band contests. Teams will compete and be eliminated during a series of weekly battles, with the winning band taking home some kind of dazzling prize.
I finally got a chance to play this mega-popular interactive video game with some friends recently and I had a complete blast. The drums were pretty rough for me, but I sang a 96 percent on “I Wanna Be Sedated” and managed to work the guitar without causing the music to crash and fail. It’s a perfectly logical step up from karaoke and will be a terrific challenge, especially for those who enjoy frequent nips of gin with their juice.