Bat 'Em if You Got 'Em | Chicago Antisocial | Chicago Reader

Bat 'Em if You Got 'Em 

Where better to test out your newly permed eyelashes than at a lesbian lit party?

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I'm waiting for the day I can surgically rig my armpits to produce BO that smells like flowers. Since it's now possible to get my asshole bleached and my vagina tightened, that day will surely come soon--the sky seems to be the limit on remedies for the perceived misfortunes of the privileged.

Another case in point: the Lashe Spot, a brand-new Gold Coast salon devoted solely to beautifying hair in the ocular region. I rolled up to the grand opening last Thursday and was surprised by what I saw--or, rather, by how much I could see from the outside. The blinds on the windows of the tiny Delaware Street storefront were at half mast, allowing passersby to peek in and watch as well-heeled women lay on duvet-covered beds, enjoying complimentary brow shaping (the spa usually charges $30), eyelash tinting (usually $25), and the application of semipermanent lash extensions ($75), which owner Melinda Rodriguez refers to as "flirty eyes."

I'm used to spa services, especially ones designed to mask inadequacies, being performed in discreet, clinical, does-she-or-doesn't-she settings, but once I stepped into the small, white, one-room outfit, I caught the fever. The idea of ditching the clunky medieval torture device that I use daily to pitch my lashes dramatically upward, making me look more awake and Bambi-like, made it seem almost sensible to indulge in an eyelash perm. So I did.

Ignacia Garcia, my aesthetician, applied pads treated with antiwrinkle cream under my eyes, holding down the lower lashes. She then affixed a tiny rod that felt like it was made of flypaper to each upper lid and pressed my lashes against it, sticking them in place. Dipping a little paintbrush into tiny vials, she gingerly dabbed skunk juice onto my lashes and told me to relax for ten minutes. The sensation danced between burn and itch, which I found not unpleasant--but I'm one of those sickos who actually enjoy a hearty bikini wax after months of rocking it animal-style. (Tip: Haleh at Rocco and Rocco in Downers Grove does an immaculate Brazilian for cheaper than you'll find at any reputable place within city limits, and it stays rash free.) Then came neutralizing solution and an eyelash conditioner. Yes, I said eyelash conditioner.

The effect turned out to be pretty subtle, nothing like the overalert doll eyes I strive for. That may have been partly my fault--I kept laughing at the absurdity of it all, possibly jarring my lashes off the perm rod. I asked freelance makeup artist Kristen Terese Repta, hired by the Lashe Spot for the night, to do up my eyes to compensate for the lack of drama, and I ended up looking like a hooker. Now that was more like it.

Later that night I tried out my new look at Betty's Blue Star Lounge, where the online lesbian magazine Chill was throwing a party. I hadn't been to that place in about five years, since I used it for secret meet-ups with dates I found on the Internet--the place was usually so full of meatheads I could be sure I wouldn't run into anyone I knew. But Chill is one of the city's more stylish literary projects and a decent read even for someone who isn't a full-blown dyke, so I went back.

"Lesbian magazines are so lame it's ridiculous," copublisher and managing editor Trish Bendix told me. "They're all Melissa Etheridge and Rosie O'Donnell, stuff no one cares about." The current issue of Chill, which is the second, features actual hot chicks, such as America's Next Top Model would-be Kim Stolz and vaudevillian music duo the Ditty Bops, handy how-tos on hairstyling to avoid the crunchy-dyke vibe ("You can pull off that super-short fuzzy-peach thing as long as you don't run around topless with a lot of hemp jewelry like an escaped member of a womyn's festival drum circle"), and an amusing story by senior editor Kelly McClure on "crazy ass skanks" in the local girlie gay scene.

The theme of the night was "Chill out, make out, be out," but the chill-out to make-out ratio was disappointingly skewed in favor of the former. Style editor Emily Hartl was wearing a badge advertising her services as a roving kissing booth, and paying a dollar to smooch that hot little number seemed like a steal. Totally nervous, I approached her at the bar just as she was about to light a cigarette. I handed her a dollar bill and asked her for some gum, in preparation. She seemed a little annoyed as she plucked a piece from a pack and dropped it into my sweaty palm. I popped half of it in my mouth, leaned forward, and aimed for her lips. She turned her head and kissed me on the cheek. "I don't want to get mono," she said. It took me straight back to the kissing catastrophes of junior high--making out with someone who had done it on a dare, getting my lip caught in my braces, accidentally making a loud sucking noise, and the old aiming-for-the-mouth-and-getting-a-cheek humiliation. Well, whatever. She was the one with the nasty cigarette in her hand.

The other roving service was way more fun. For the same price as a dry kiss on the cheek McClure would write down a customized compliment on a piece of paper that you could stick in your pocket and pull out whenever you were feeling blue. "You have very pretty eyes," she wrote for my dollar. At least someone noticed.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Andrea Bauer.

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