As you know the bulk of my journal has to do with my adopted homeland, Japan. The entries you have been reading were composed during my first 3 years in country. Up until very recently, Ive actually been back in my native Oregon, working as a high school Spanish Teacher.
Now, in 2003, I find myself en route back to the land of the Rising Sun and newly wed. So the Naked Man is back although to most of you he probably never left. My plan from here on out is to bring you a new journal entry as often as possible, exposing the adventures that await me at the private and very conservative Japanese high school, where Ill be working.
But before that, I must tip my pen back to Oregon. Many were the times that I found myself in Naked Man worthy situations, even in a place as familiar as my home state. Below is one such account. Read on and enjoy this episode of the Naked Man Journal:
Close Encounters with Klingon Karaoke
It was to be my last night in Oregon before jettisoning into deep space. Soon I would be returning to Planet Japan. But first, I had one final homeland mission: To attend my own Sayonara party in Portland. Karaoke was the order of the evening. My friends figured it only appropriate, as it was invented in Japan after all. But this wasnt going to be just any karaoke night. Tonights entertainment was going to be quite alien to anything Id experienced either at home or abroad.
Bob, Jon and I drove up to a dark windowless bar on the dark side of town. The neon light on the side of the building read: Bodacious Classics. I know what youre thinking -- we were thinking the same thing: Strip club. All right, perhaps that wasnt what you were thinking, but I had always assumed by the name and look of the place that thats what it was. Upon entry, we discovered that it was more of a late night Star Trek convention than a house of ill repute.
Signed photographs of Leonard Nemoy and Patrick Stewart as well as lesser-known stars of Star Trek graced the walls. Just outside the Mens room was a framed pencil drawing of Spock and Captain Kirk, staring proudly into space, where no man has gone before
We were just in time for Bodacious Classics Klingon Karaoke Night. The owner stood in the DJ booth wearing a gray and black baseball jersey that had Klingons written in cursive baseball font on the back. A couple waitresses walked between tables wearing Uhura-style one-piece mini-skirts standard issue for all women on the Enterprise.
Glancing around the room, I saw a host of alien rejects from both Star Trek and Star Wars, mixing freely with local humans. There was even a guy dressed like Wolverine from his classic days with the Uncanny X-Men. For those of you who were never nerdly enough to read comics, let me paint you a picture, not of the ultra-cool, leather clad, Hugh Jackman Wolverine of X-Men movie fame. Rather, imagine a flabby, 30-something geek with glasses, wearing banana yellow tights with black stripes and a blue speedo.
As for the featured aliens of the evening, there were only two Klingons in the house. One named Qaolin, looked like the real deal. He would turn out to be the star of the evening. The other was a tall, thin truck in a bad Halloween Costume. His mustache, tight Wranglers and red/black checkered shirt showed plainly under his costume. He wore a wig and some very unconvincing headgear with pointed ears. We dubbed him the Junior Officer. He carried what looked like a cardboard copy of a Sword of Kahless the preferred close quarters weapon of the Klingon Warrior (and if you dont believe me, check http://www.klingonimperialweaponsguild.org). But this Klingon only used his as an air guitar.
Also conspicuously present were two Storm Troopers, straight from the Death Star. Unlike the afformentioned Junior Officer, these guys pulled all the stops on their outfits, right down to the mini-microphones in their helmets that gave their voices that authentic walkie-talkie quality. One was tall and sort of stooped over a bit. The other whose orange shoulder flap denoted formal dress -- took off his helmet. He appeared to be an accountant in his early 40s in snuggly fitting fiberglass. His suit was both concealing and sort of revealing at the same time especially in the crotch area. It was almost like watching a grown man swagger around the room in leotards. His name was Jerry.
My other friends and coworkers had already arrived and stood out in the crowd simply because they looked so normal. They were eager for an explanation and I had no idea what to tell them. About that time, Jerry began to sing. I think it was a tune by White Snake. I must say he wasnt bad and he cut a fine figure in his white body armor as he closed his eyes and screamed into the microphone.
Jerry proved to be the quintessential karaoke singer: He had practiced enough to almost perfectly mimic the voices of his favorite artists. His genre of choice was butt rock. Billy Idol, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, etc. (and the occasional Christian Rock group) This was the music that really spoke to him. When he sang, he too was transformed into the ultimate angry white male. His impersonation of AC/DC was so impressive, it sounded as if hed actually removed his testicles especially for the song. It was painful to watch as he winced and shrieked, You got me ringin Hells Bells! Amazingly enough he does his Singin Storm Trooper act 2 nights a week! Unfortunately for all his vocal prowess, Jerry has the stage presence of a giant white PVC pipe.
Quolin on the other hand, knew how to wow the crowd especially when he had the support of his Junior Officer. I instantly recognized the opening guitar riff: It was George Thorogoods Bad to the Bone. The Junior Officer began strumming his Sword of Kahless. Quolin stepped up to the mike and sang:
Datvo' ghompu' ghojmoq.
'ej yay'taHvIS mInDu'
DunwI' Doj lughoq.
pay' jatlh ghojmoqpIn:
«ghuvam vID yIHaj!»
Yep. It was pure Klingon. In case you didnt recognize it, the above are the lyrics to the first verse: On the day I was born, the nurses all gathered round, and they gazed with wild wonder at the joy theyd found, etc. Before the night was out, he would also sing a number of other songs including Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top as well as a heart warming rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow -- all in his native(?) tongue.
Quolin was in his element, as was Jerry. Next up was the Wailin Wookie. A guy standing about 57 wearing red Converse high-tops, wrap around sunglasses and a flea-bitten Chewbaka costume paced around the dance floor doin it Wookie-style. In other words, he howled into the microphone for 5 minutes to the tune of My Way. Surprisingly enough he did manage to stay in the right key most of the evening. And when he would forget where he was in a song hed simply let out a long sustained howl until he remembered where he was supposed to be.
In between sets the Wookie took off his mask and came around to personally thank us for coming on down to Bodacious Classics to show him some love. "Here, I made these myself!" He said, handing us some obviously homemade fliers. They showed pictures of Chewbaka, a recent shot of Michael Jacksons melting face and Portland Mayor, Vera Katz, all praising the Wailin Wookie. When asked about his motivation, he replied, It's all about gettin' fuckin' sweaty and havin a fuckin' good time. Thanks for comin out guys. You guys are fuckin great!
A few of the evenings other attendees deserve mention: A man in his early 40s entered the bar just as Quolin was finishing up Shout at the Devil. Upon witnessing a live Klingon on the dance floor (instead of a stripper?), the man decided to make an immediate tactical retreat to the Mens room. Apparently this was NOT the kind of entertainment hed expected to find at Bodacious Classics. Eventually, he reappeared, and determined not to let shock get the best of him he strode over to the bar. He ordered a beer and pretended he wasnt completely surrounded by wierdos. At the end of one drink, whatever it was that he was expecting still hadnt materialized, so he took one last swig, stood up and left.
Too bad he didnt stay just a little longer. I had all but finished assuring my coworkers, that although the evenings entertainment was a bit scary, it was still quite PG. Then onto the scene walked Princess Leia.
Ladies and gentlemen, from a long time ago and a galaxy far far away
Please welcome Princess Leia, the heroine of Star Wars and the future Miss Nude Oregon! Tonight only, shell give us special sneak preview of her dance routine for the contest!
A disco-fied version of the theme from Star Wars poured out of the speakers, as dry ice began to cover the floors. Darting around the tables and firing her toy laser gun, Princess Leia (or should I say, Lay Ya?) approached. Instead of appearing in her classic, white gown and double bun hairdo, she wore a long, Jedi-style cloak and not much underneath. She struck a pose and lip-synched the words, Help Me Obi-Wan. Youre my only hope. Then she tore off the robe revealing a gold t-back bikini and leather loincloth. This wasnt really how I remembered Princess Leia, but true fans will recall, she did wear a similar ensemble when she was the captive of Jabba the Hut in Empire Strikes Back.
Leia proceeded to strut her royal stuff, whipping her hair around and doing the splits while lying on the ground. What would the Federation think?! What would my coworkers think?!! Oh well, I guess the place was a strip bar after all. Then again, she never took off anymore than her robe, keeping it a tasteful PG-13 performance. A little later in the evening, she performed a duet of sorts with Jerry. She served as his gyrating muse, while he stood there in all his hard, white, erectness screaming, Im a cowboy, On a steeeeel horse I ride, And Im wanted, WANTED, dead or alive!
Thats pretty much the last thing I remember. Shortly after that I heard the voice of Captain Kirk say, Energize. Next thing I knew, I was aboard a United Flight direct to Osaka and on to further adventures as the Naked Man goes where no man has gone before