Night Life

Romper Room

So the Mercury Room has been getting a lotta love from the Moët of men's magazines, Playboy. In its May issue (the one with Hef's twin girlfriends on the cover), the skin mag named the Mercury one of "the best bars in America," and has allowed the club, the only one in Houston, to carry the Playboy seal of approval, a bunny head. The monthly's oh-so-tender mercies have helped the year-old club establish its name, even if they haven't helped it establish an identity. If only other NoDo hangouts could get such assistance.

The most recent gathering of bombshells over Bud Lights took place last month, in the wake of the club's first event in May that brought to town actual models from the world-renowned whack journal dressed in uniform: high heels, fishnets, one-piece satin bathing suits with cotton tails, bow ties and bunny ears. Believe it or not, the Mercury Room was packed, with tongue-wagging, perpetually saluting men and a fair number of women. (Some were there, by all appearances, to see if they could make the magazine themselves.)

Nothing but good old-fashioned serendipity brought the club and the iconoclastic nudie mag together. In compiling its list of hip hangouts, the magazine polled a "blue-ribbon panel" of critics, editors and all-around lushes, including a couple of cats right here in Houston. And the Mercury Room was, in their minds, tops. The folks at the Mercury Room heard that their club was nominated but didn't get the good news until the issue came out. The Mercury Room immediately began boasting of its accomplishment with print ads in publications all over town, including the one in your hands.

If the Mercury Room and Playboy are an item, then Mikki Chernoff is their matchmaker. Chernoff has often taken it off for the periodical's special issues (Book of Lingerie and Wet and Wild, among others). Though better known as "Mikki the Intern" on the Buzz's "Drivetime Domination," Chernoff has proved to be one helluva "girl" scout. For both shows, the luscious lass had supplied all of the women, who aside from providing the "talent" also made themselves available for autograph signings and brief, brief, brief chitchat.

Yet even with all this goin' on, the Mercury Room is still perceived as the Tony Award-winning Copenhagen of NoDo nightclubs: critically acclaimed and highly recommended yet considered out of reach for some people. The cover charge is $10. For another ten-spot, you can get a cocktail with barely enough change left over to tip the valet. And the dress code is the same as at those clubs with which the Mercury Room competes: That is, don't dress like you're going to the Richmond Strip. For every success, like the Playboy parties, there have been a handful of misguided flops. Last month's "Purgatory" party, a fashion and live music showcase, had a not-so-good turnout. "We're not afraid to try anything," says general manager Mark Sansoucy. "We don't wanna get stagnant, because you'll die."

It makes perfect sense, then: If a club's going to align itself with a porno mag, it might as well get in cahoots with the cleanest of them all. But, like Darva Conger's marriage, the relationship won't last forever. David Edwards, owner of the Mercury Room, has confirmed there will be another Playboy get-together at the end of the month, specifically August 31, featuring models from the upcoming October college issue (including ladies from the University of Houston). After that, Edwards says, he wants to concentrate on attracting bar hoppers with vibe, not vixens.

The Mercury Room, 1008 Prairie, is open Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Saturday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Attire is casual yet fashionable. For more information, call (713)225-MERC.

Last Call

Sometimes it's better to keep your big mouth shut. Last week the Nightfly reported on the "creative differences" that caused Spy [112 Travis, (713)225-2229] and the promoters of its Thursday-night "Delicious" event to part ways. Head honchos at Spy were planning to give away complimentary CDs, arranged by the night's resident DJs, but the promoters shut down the evening -- two days before the club got ahold of the discs. The co-creator of "Delicious" accused Spy of acting in bad faith, saying the club never intended to produce those digitized house mixes. Well, Spy personnel dropped off each and every one of those CDs at the Houston Press. Obviously they made their point.

So starting this week, we're going to give away these CDs. Featuring songs from the likes of Deee-Lite, Simon, Static Brothers, Giorgio Moroder, BT and William Orbit, among others, the CD is a good, long mix of house. Go to our giveaway for a chance to take home a copy.

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Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey