Name of Bar: Whiskey Richard’s
Address: 435 State Street
Days/Hours: Mon., 4:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.; Tue.–Sun., noon-1:30 a.m.
Known for: Whiskey, pool, smoking patio, karaoke on Saturday nights
Famous patrons: Roller derby teams, people with undercuts
Tattoo sighting: That guy on the Moxie label
Happy Hour: Sun.-Fri., noon to 10 p.m.; Sat., 12:30-10 p.m.
Neighborhood: in the heart of Lower State, conveniently opposite a late-night costume shop
Special draw: Truly exceptional karaoke selection, including “Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Questionable observation: No toilets in the men’s room
My experience: As I entered Whiskey Richard’s with my brother, I thought back to the scene in Oliver Stone’s The Doors, when they’re partying with Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground: “Come on Jim, this isn’t our scene…these people are vampires.”
That’s a bit dramatic, but they felt just as terrifying: Big men covered in tattoos, women in fishnets with undercuts dyed like animal skins. Pierced tongues and muscles on billiards fiends. On stage, a man held a cigarette and leaned into the mic stand as he screeched Nirvana. The Moxie man adorned his right shoulder.
Aaron and I looked at each other and laughed. Siblings separated by years and mothers, we’d never been to a bar together. We guessed this was a good place to start.
The night was a dark jubilation. There was no speaking, no speaking possible. There were cigarettes and tough customers and stiff drinks, and the joyous cacophony of 20-somethings braying songs they all knew. A woman (ironically) wearing a ribbon-ed cardigan belted out “Time Warp” and turned to pinch the nipple of one of her male dancers. The crowd went wild with hoots and cat calls, and everyone embraced her as she descended her thrown.
There was not a quiet moment, not an intimate moment, all night. But there was a sense of oneness in the crowd, some common pulse for this massive throbbing sweating drinking organism. There was no speech, just expression. My ears rang as we stumbled to pay our tab and take one last look at this horror fantasy.