Playas on Parade
All the playas came from far and wide / Wearin' afros and braids, kickin' them gangsta rides. -- OutKast, "Player's Ball"
People who spend most of their days buttoned-down and power-suited had the opportunity to go to two events over Halloween weekend where they could dress up like the ghettodelic icons they've always secretly longed to be. They could take their pick between the "Pimps, Hos, Vamps and Vixens Ball," held on Friday, October 26, at Prague (402 Main Street), or the "Pimp-n-Prostitute Ball" the following night at the R&R Lounge (3512 Main Street). Although both get-togethers had their fair share of smutty pimping action, VinylPimp.com Webmaster Joe Applewhite's "Pimps, Hos " party was the more freaky-sneaky of the two. Guys and gals dressed as pimps and hoes were more in character than Al Pacino doing Richard III. Pimps were decked out in colorful detail, wrapping themselves in kitschy polyester suits and topping it all off with fur-brimmed hats that featured the occasional feather. Twelve women came to the party as thong-wearing Britney Spears-style Catholic schoolgirls. (They claimed to be from the School of St. Mattress.) Topless painted ladies served as go-go dancers. One dude showed up as a giant, shall we say, female body part. The whole evening was a smash, just as Applewhite predicted. "Pimp-and-ho balls are always gonna be successful," declares Applewhite. People's "true colors are always gonna shine through."
"It seems like everyone is having one this year," says "Pimp-n-Prostitute" organizer Andrew Wegmann, of the many pimp-themed fiestas going down in Houston. Wegmann, along with his traveling-party crew Clubmonkey, has hosted the "no-hos-barred" event for years. He believes his success has spurred others to follow his lead. "I think they're just imitators, really," says Wegmann. "We're the ones that had it for the last five years. So we're the real deal." Wegmann's party had its own hordes of costumed pimps, hoes, witches and cops -- plus one dude with his head covered in window blinds. Not bad, considering that the event was once slated not for the R&R Lounge but for the roomier interconnected venues of Bayou Place: BAR Houston (534 Texas Avenue), Harlon's (530 Texas Avenue) and Have a Nice Day Cafe (544 Texas Avenue). "TABC wouldn't let them have the [liquor] permits to hold the party," says Wegmann of the switch.
But Adrian Ramirez, also known as DJ/party promoter Simple, is pushing the pimpin' party the farthest, holding his "Baller's Night Out" not on Halloween but on plain old November 24. While those extravagant Halloween bashes played host to ephemeral pimps and hoes, "Baller's Night Out," scheduled to go down at Club Upscale (5851 Southwest Freeway), is an event for those who live the pimp/playa philosophy. Ramirez wants people to take the event seriously. He's hoping they don't see it as just another chance to dress up like Fred "The Hammer" Williamson or Pam Grier. "It's definitely not gonna be a masquerade," says Ramirez. Instead, patrons should "dress to impress." According to Ramirez, the ideal partygoer would be "someone that isn't cheap in having fun and mature enough to have a good time." But he doesn't mind if people do wanna indulge in their gaudy pimp fantasy. "Even if that is the way it goes," allows Ramirez, "for one night, they can be the pimp they wanna be."
With all these parties going on, it makes you wonder if any of these promoters has gotten any flak for glamorizing the whole pimp fantasy. Once, Wegmann was accused of racism. He received an irate e-mail from a Fort Bend County guy who believed his pimp gatherings degraded black people. "No way we are saying pimps and prostitutes are black," says Wegmann. "I thought that was a stupid opinion."
For his part, Ramirez, the host of the upcoming "Baller's Night Out," is unconcerned about a backlash to his pimp-friendly soiree. After all, he isn't promoting the same old tacky, '70s-style, blaxploitation-type pimp aesthetic. His idea of a pimp is a more contemporary, positive, hell, even empowering, one. "When people today think of being a pimp, they think of all the things they aspire to have," says Ramirez. "That's what most of the rap songs are about today -- living a better life."
For fans of the nutty and naughty Wednesday-night excursion "Trippin' the Love," there is some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: After about three years of randy, raucous activity, the Orbit Room (2524 McKinney) has shut down. Reportedly the spot will be renovated into a theater. Now, here's the good news: The party recently moved over to the equally outrageous Rich's (2401 San Jacinto), where it hasn't missed a beat. Just this Halloween, former Houstonian DJ Bizz came back to town as a special guest DJ. (He will return full time in January.) DJ Irene will provide the savory sounds for an upcoming Thanksgiving show. Of course the Orbit Room will be missed, but promoter Dan Cusma prefers to look on the bright side. "Sure, I have a lot of memories," says Cusma. "But this new home enables me to take it to another level." But the real question is, will we ever get another one of those rowdy wet T-shirt contests? "Sure, yeah," laughs Cusma. "I plan on bringing the fun back in spring break." That's all we needed to know, guy.
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