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We headed a few blocks south of the bowling alley to a Korean soup joint named Tofu 88. A middle-aged woman played hostess, waitress and bus girl. She hurriedly showed us to our table and tossed a pile of menus in front of us. She returned a few minutes later. When the first person hesitated to place his order, she impatiently told us she would come back when we had made up our minds.
The soup arrived boiling hot, each bowl accompanied by two eggs, still in their shells. The idea is that you crack the eggs into the boiling broth, which cooks them. But by the time I figured that out, my soup had cooled; adding the eggs would've put me at risk of salmonella. My friend Joe showed up later and successfully added the eggs to his soup, resulting in a slightly thicker broth.
My eyes wandered from the steaming broth in front of me. A young, mostly Southeast Asian crowd sat around drowsily slurping soup and picking at bean sprouts with chopsticks, concentrating on their food. I yawned.
4 a.m., Sat., Sept. 17
I've heard from friends and co-workers that speakeasies aren't that hard to find in Atlanta. Though some are more formal than others, they are commonly described as after-hours parties where drink sales (sorry, "donations") take a back seat to drug use -- mostly cocaine, meth and Ecstasy.
I figured finding a speakeasy was going to be easier said than done. Most people who run them keep a pretty low profile, for the practical reason that what they're doing usually is illegal.
A colleague suggested I investigate a spot on Northside Drive. I took a couple of friends over to check it out, but after driving around the block several times and seeing no evidence of a party, we bailed.
4:45 a.m., Sat., Sept. 17
Since we already were on Northside Drive, we stopped by a lingerie shop recommended by a co-worker called Girls R Fun. Those in the know more commonly refer to these kinds of shops as "jack shacks."
I was more than a little anxious about venturing in. The exterior of the building -- all flickering neon and cracked glass -- promised a thoroughly seedy experience. The inside didn't disappoint.
Here's how things work at Girls R Fun: You walk in and find three girls standing around in their underwear. They explain the pricing and tell you to choose one of them. I paid $25 for 10 minutes with a young, mocha-skinned woman in a navy blue bra and panties. My adventurous and loyal friend Jenny tagged along.
We were escorted into a private room and told to hang tight. Jenny and I sat on a black pleather couch with a tear in the cushion. Black and red-checkered linoleum covered the floor, and metallic Venetian blinds shielded the room's large window. A small TV-VCR combo was mounted in the room's upper right-hand corner, and two cracked paintings of Japanese geishas hung on the far wall.
- JIM STAWNIAK
- 3 A.M. MUNCHIES: Late-night is a great time to go grocery shopping.
A piece of brown cardboard taped to the door offered a pricing guide. For an additional $25, we were entitled to "whipped cream," "wet and wild," "warm air breeze" or "sofa stirrups." Something called the "Devil's Delight" cost $50. When our girl returned, she was carrying a basket with various creams and oils. She introduced herself, placed a white towel on a neighboring couch and told us to sit on the towel. As we sat, a long bug with lots of tiny legs -- the kind that often crawls out of your shower drain -- appeared from behind the sofa and scurried up the wall.
Our girl explained that she was going to be dancing for us. For $10, she would take off her bra; for $10 more, she would take off her panties. "Once you get me naked, then we can discuss what else we can do," she said. We decided not to get her naked, settling for 10 minutes of her dancing in her underwear while we made awkward conversation about where she was from (Virginia) and her career plans (computer animation).
5:30 a.m., Sat., Sept. 17
The next stop was a slightly more upscale lingerie shop called Fantasy Fare. Again, I picked a girl from three choices. Then we asked for a tour of Fantasy Fare's four different rooms. There is a dominatrix room, a doctor's office, a classroom, and a VIP room, which, unfortunately, was occupied.
My favorite was the classroom, which included a small, portable blackboard with equations scribbled in colorful chalk, like "cock + pussy = wild monkey sex," "tits = noun" and "fuck = verb."
3 a.m., Fri., Sept. 23
The great thing about the Kroger on Ponce is that they have a 24-hour beer and wine license. That is especially helpful for people who are leaving nearby bars, namely the Local, Dugan's, MJQ and the Clermont Lounge. If you're looking to take the party home, a quick stop at Kroger is all it takes.