BOOK 1: Rebels & Saints; a Weekend in October. CH 3.
Jerry (last name withheld to protect the guilty) is an entire R-rated story unto himself and his apartment was as unique as him; a gaudy collection of pseudo porn pictures and busts that doubled as ‘art’; dark tapestries, tacky animal rugs (a stuffed tiger was most prominent; it’s full head staring up at us), a red couch that would make Liberace proud. This must be where good taste goes to die, I thought.
The bedroom has a canopy bed in the center and a hot tub in the next room. I could practically hear the 70’s porn music in the background. I want to take a picture to
prove this place exists, but fear for my life if I do. It wouldn’t so much be a picture as it would probably be evidence of some kind. Something about this place makes me think I may need a strong lawyer and an even stronger alibi eventually.
As soon as we meet him we know he’s like no other; a larger-than-life, barrel-chested, good-time guy who is always at the ready with a cocktail, a story and a hint of danger lurking under the surface. We all like him immediately.
Next up is Garrett, Jerry’s pistol-packing sidekick. Garrett’s function is vague, but in his own words “I never leave Jerry’s side” which we found interesting. Based on the tasks we witness, we conclude Garrett is Jerry’s glorified ssistant/sidekick. He laughs at all of Jerry’s jokes and Jerry trusts him. You probably can’t be in his type of business without people like Garrett covering your back. Garrett also functions to perpetuate Jerry’s quasi-gangster image…and it works; none of us want to piss off the Tony Soprano of Memphis.
Jerry wants to be a TV star and John is trying to package a TV show around him and his lifestyle. Jerry is a connoisseur of low-grade strip clubs, owning nearly twenty in the Deep South. The show would be a fascinating look at the seedy underbelly of the strip club business and lifestyle. It's more than tits and ass; it’s litigation, shake downs, crooked cops, fines, threats from the City Council, employee turnover, liquor license issues and that’s all before lunch. Then there’s the tits and ass.
His dancers’ attractiveness was...variable. We are warned in advance not
to look at any teeth. It was sage advice. Employment at Jerry’s clubs obviously did not include a strong dental plan. I take that back; dim lighting in the club was the dental plan.
Knowing we’d be in the South for our football trip, Jerry invited us to Memphis for a night on the town, perhaps his way of auditioning for us. He arranged for our Memphis hotel, limo and the tour bus that would haul us from Memphis to New Orleans. Jerry uses the bus to tour his clubs, keeping things in order and living large in the process. It was actually a practical method of travel; he can work and rest while commuting in style. Jerry’s businesses were spread throughout a 300 mile radius in the South and that’s a lot of driving when you have to visit all of
them in a short time. He lives in Southern California most of the time, so his Memphis trips pack a lot into them.
Ever the good host, Jerry asks us what we all drank. I said 'beer and wine' and
immediately regret it. If his floors weren’t covered in tacky rugs, you could have heard a pin drop. Jack Daniels, vodka Red Bulls and Jagermeister were the only acceptable choices as I quickly learned. Thus, Jerry dubbed me 'chardonnay' which was hilarious and ironic considering I have never even had a chardonnay. Nevertheless, I get to own that pansy nickname the rest of the weekend.
The hard nasty stuff is what they drink, so I force-feed myself vodka and Jaeger
shots and in between I try to understand the appeal of cough-medicine flavored liquor. I drank up the booze and Southern hospitality and enjoy the hell out of both. Knowing this was leading up to a night at Jerry’s Strip Club, this seemed appropriate preparation.