Arts & Entertainment

Price of Flesh

From the edges of El Cajon and Chula Vista, a black Honda Accord is speeding down Interstate 8. Its dropped-down body and 17-inch rims have traveled far tonight, starting with an early 10 p.m. call in North Park, then to another date in Escondido by midnight. A call from home makes sure that the two girls inside are safe and that they have their money. A crying baby can be heard over the receiver. By 4 a.m., the girls have already visited four johns, or clients. There are two more waiting in Oceanside and Normal Heights. Brian Moghadam Guardian Their night will end around 7 the next morning with a last stop at their escort agency. They have grossed over $1,000 tonight, but more than half will go to the agency. A receptionist at the office informs one of the girls that a party has been scheduled for the next night at 9 p.m., and that most of the people there will be officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. After nine hours of sleep, one hour for breakfast, one hour with the baby, 30 minutes to get dressed, 10 minutes to smoke a joint and five minutes to mix the Tanqueray and OJ, the girls are ready to start their business day. Sasha and Nalia are escorts, also called “”adult entertainers”” or “”in-call masseuses.”” Living by their stage names, only a handful know them by their actual given names. They dance. They mingle. They massage. And with the right face and a gracious tip, they will loan their bodies for one or two hours, sometimes the whole night, to a client. At the ages of 21 and 19, respectively, they have spent most, if not all, of their adult lives as escorts. Pride and shame are relative factors; survival becomes their mantra for life. Yet neither girl ever exhibits any need for sympathy or compassion, especially from each other. Both hope to retire in three to four years, but an uneasiness rests inside them, wondering if they’ll ever get to exhale. Consequently, it becomes easy to victimize the two girls, and to view them as products of a broken home or society. In reality, their lives are a cocktail of glamour and isolation. They live and cry like rock stars, locked behind their seductive masks. As a result, they can only find solace with those in the same industry, those who see the world in the same black-and-white, pimp-and-ho light. The following is an excerpt from a series of interviews with Sasha and Nalia that began at a Denny’s on Miramar Road and ended at a photo shoot in Del Mar. Both women have lived in San Diego their whole lives; in fact, they grew up in the same neighborhood. Aware of each other, but never close friends, their paths did not truly cross until each inadvertently became involved with the same man. It was this same man that would impregnate both women. Sasha had the baby, Nalia aborted hers. And it would be the same man who would convince them to start escorting. In the end, his persuasion was more practical than romantic. Sasha had just completed adult school, while Nalia was supporting a family of 10 by working at Subway. He wanted both of them; he offered money, security and independence. But this article is not about him, nor about their neo-urban love triangle. It is about two girls who made a choice and the price they have paid. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR “”EMPLOYMENT?”” Sasha: “”Adult entertainer,”” because I love to come over to people’s houses and give them some company. And it’s cool that I get paid [laughs]. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? Nalia: I knew someone that worked and she used to tell me stories about it and everything, but it wasn’t until I met [her] that I got into it. HOW OLD WERE YOU? Nalia: When she was working, I was 15. Yeah, and she was 19. But I knew her through somebody else. Like, it was my friend’s boyfriend’s girlfriend. She lived in the same house as my neighbor. She use to tell me stories — like some guy wanted to lick shit and stuff off her shoes [giggles]. It was really gross. She would tell me some freaky stories, and at first I was a little discouraged, but then I realized it was safe enough. WHY DO YOU DO IT? Sasha: At first I started for the money, but now, well, it’s still for the money, but it’s exciting, actually. You get to meet all kinds of people. And you get to meet the side they don’t share with people — their secret side. Like somebody might be cool up front, but you get them in a room alone and they like to get freaky. I like that. HOW DO YOU MAKE TIME FOR LOVE? Sasha: I can make time for it, but nobody would understand. And ever since I had my child, I really can’t have other relationships with other people. LET’S TALK ABOUT THE FATHER OF YOUR CHILD. Sasha: Let’s not. WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM? Sasha: Well, he’s the father of my child. We’re not like boyfriend and girlfriend in the typical way, you know. On another level, we are … he understands and respects, I understand and respect. I get out of line sometimes, but with what I do — I turn into a bitch [laughs]! Well, a female needs attention, you know, so when you don’t get that attention and you don’t get that attention for a minute, it’s kinda like, “”Either you love me or I’m gonna go somewhere else.”” DEFINE THE SYSTEM. Nalia: The particular agency I’m at, they’re actually pimpin’ me instead of me trying to pimp other people. I mean, they’re making it really hard for me to make my money, because they charge a good $225 right off the bat. And out of that $225, I’ll get maybe 40 percent. It wasn’t always like that, the reason being because I was at this other agency that I was doing real good at, but I got into trouble with my IDs and all kinds of other stuff. It’s just a real long story and I couldn’t work there a little bit. When I got back and had everything situated, the lady who was giving me work before decided she didn’t want to give me work anymore, and then, on top of that, she’s going to tell people from other agencies that I steal calls, that I’m not a good worker, and then she’s gonna tell family members that I’m the reason that they don’t get calls [laughs]. Yes, and I never spoke to this lady that way. I don’t like her at all. She killed me real bad. ARE THESE AGENCIES PRIVATELY OWNED? Sasha: They’re usually privately owned, a lot of the times by women. HOW MANY GIRLS USUALLY WORK AT AN AGENCY? Nalia: It varies, really. You can get anywhere from 20 girls or more. But then you can get some with 15 or less. But they really don’t let the girls know about each other, because if there’s only 10 girls working at the agency and you’re never getting calls, then the girl will wonder why she’s not getting enough work. Actually the people who run these businesses kind of get a little more personal than just having it just business. Like the people they hire, they don’t tell them to just keep it business and not let their personal feelings get in the way with what you’re doing. A lot of receptionists won’t give you calls if you don’t tip them. And hey, I understand you’re making your money — whatever, whatever — but that’s your job. I don’t always get tips when I go out. Sometimes I have to deal with the nastiest people, and I get nothing out of it. Sure, I get my $60 for showing up, but $60 doesn’t even pay my phone bill [laughs]. I got bills to pay for every day and a lifestyle to keep up. HOW DOES A JOHN SOLICIT YOU FOR SEX, SASHA? Sasha: I actually don’t do that ever unless I get personal enjoyment out of it, like if the guy is cute or if he has a big, nice dick [laughs]. So they’ll ask and I’ll say either yes or no. They usually ask if you’re “”full service.”” WHAT DO YOU USUALLY SAY? Sasha: “”No.”” I can help, though [laughs]. I help everybody. I’m more into touching. I’m a flesh person. HOW DOES A JOHN SOLICIT YOU FOR SEX, NALIA? Nalia: A lot of johns think they’re going to have sex just because they paid their agency fees. Then they get pissed when you tell them you’re going to leave. Then they’ll usually offer you another 100 bucks. But shit, I might consider touching you for 100 bucks, but sex? No. The young ones think like that especially. They think I’m young and cute, and they think it’s just going to happen like a fucking movie. I’ve had a lot them. They know that’s not what they’re paying for, and they actually think you’re going to sleep with them just because they’re cute and young. They say shit like, “”Don’t you think I’m cute?”” or “”Did we not connect? Did we just not share something special there?”” I actually laughed in that guy’s face. He really thought there was something between us, like he wanted to save me. ANY BAD EXPERIENCES? Sasha: Not real bad, but uncomfortable. One time I was at this guy’s house, and he thought he was going to get more than a massage. But I told him when I showed up that for the price he was paying he was only getting a massage. And he said, “”Fine.”” Well, I was almost done, and he said, “”So we’re not going to have sex.”” And I said no. And he said, “”Well I’m not going to pay for the whole hour,”” and he just flipped. I mean he was a cool guy at first, but his whole attitude just flipped and he turned crazy. And I’m like, “”Well, that’s not what’s going to happen. We’re not going to have sex. If you want a little bit more, then I can help you with that. But if you’re not willing to give me what I’m asking, I’m not going to take your money, because I feel I’m worth a certain amount because I have been doing this for a while, and I am very good at what I do, and I’m not going to take any chump change.”” I charge $150, and that’s just for touch. But I do it well because I do the whole body, and I make it a relaxing situation. And I try to get it all together at first so I can do my thing, but he just got crazy, and I called the cops because my boss told me to call the cops and tell them that a guy solicited me for sex. So I called, and I really didn’t want them to come over. I just wanted someone to talk to this guy so I could get out of there, but he wouldn’t let me leave. So I was talking on the phone with the lady, and I explained the situation, and she told me that I could leave. But I told her he wouldn’t let me. He was just standing by the door and kept pushing me while I tried to walk out. But he wouldn’t push me with his hands, just with his body. He made sure not to touch me with his hands. So I said, “”Dude, you paid, I’m done with my service. I’ve been here for an hour. I’m out of here.”” And he got all mad, yelling, “”No, no, no.”” And he hung up my phone. I gave the lady my address, and he pushed my phone, and I hung it up, and then he dug his hands in his pockets for his money while I was screaming “”Hey, I need that money,”” and pushed me out the door and slammed the door in my face, and all I could really say was “”alrighty”” at the door. But that’s about it with confrontations. I’ve had jerks, though. Oh my God. There’s all kinds of jerks. I had this guy call me an asshole because I wouldn’t have sex with him. He said, “”No, ‘escort’ means ‘prostitute.’ That means you’re coming over to fuck me, so you’re an asshole.”” What did he say? False advertisement? The guy was this 6-foot-5, big-ass old man and getting pissed. And I just wanted him to leave me alone. I told him to take it up with the agency and I just walked out. There’s a lot of guys like that. Because that’s what they expect: sex. It’s because a lot of them are businessmen coming in from out of town. So they just want a quick little [snaps fingers] whatever. Ties mean nothing, I guess. So I offer something a little more intimate. ANY BAD EXPERIENCES? Nalia: There were once these big-ass Italian guys … I really don’t know what they were, just fucking big European guys. They ran after me and this girl I had a call with and began chasing us in their underwear to our car. They wanted to get into our car and get their money back. They had paid the agency fees and thought they were going to get sex. Me and the girl were fairly new and thought the men knew the fees were only for dancing and massaging. We thought they knew what they were getting. But when they asked for sex, and we told them that for the money they paid, we only danced, they demanded their money back, saying strange-ass shit to each other, while me and the other girl were looking for the right moment to run. So they chased us, these four or five hairy-ass European fuckers in their tighty-whities, banging on our car door and screaming for their money back. I kept on screaming that we were going to call the cops while the other girl was fidgeting with the keys. I remember saying, “”Do not drop the keys,”” while she was panicking with tears in her eyes. I wasn’t crying myself, but I was definitely shaking. HOW LONG DO YOU WANT TO KEEP DOING THIS? Sasha: I don’t want to work here anymore [laughs]. I’ve been working here too long. This is not a career. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING THIS? Sasha: Two years. Nalia: Nine months. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “”IT’S NOT A CAREER?”” Sasha: It could be, but it’s not a lifelong career unless you take it to the next level. SO WHEN DO YOU WANT IT TO END? Sasha: I give another three years to be on top and stable so I don’t have to work anymore. And I can just take off and go to school and do what I want to do. WILDEST EXPERIENCE? Sasha: Threesome! Oh my lord, it gives me chills just thinking about it. I got paid $1,500. Two guys, three hours of pure pleasure for me. Oh my god, these guys pampered me like I was the only queen there. I was the only one. It was beautiful. They were both nice and stacked, and they both knew what to do with their stuff [laughs]. Well, one of the guys got into a car accident and he got a settlement of $7,000. It was so funny how it happened. I was giving him a massage, and I was sitting next to him and curled up next to him, and he was lying on his stomach, and he tried to feel for me and he finally felt my leg and he said, “”Wow, you’re really small.”” And I said, “”Yeah, well, isn’t that a good thing?”” And he just laid back down, and he finally turned around and said, “”You know what, I know I’m a white boy and everything, but I can break you.”” And I said, “”Huh? Whatever, guy.”” And there was two other guys there, and I knew one of them. And he said, “”Yeah, me and Billy too.”” And I first said no. And he asked me how much it was going to cost. And I asked him how long he wanted me to stay, and he told me, “”The rest of the night,”” so I said, “”Well, it’s going to be a good $1,000.”” And he was like, “”Well, for us to really have fun, we’ll give you 15. Is that all right?”” And that’s when I agreed [laughs]. But he kept saying, “”Me and Billy too.”” And they had painkillers. Lots of painkillers. Vicodin. Seminoles. Those kept them going, though. He kept telling me that his girlfriend was out of town and that he was really horny, but shit, three hours. And the whole time I did this, I didn’t open my eyes once. I was lost. But it was strange. I didn’t really come. But I think the whole time I was — I don’t know, it was too much. I guess there was a point I was yelling and they stopped to ask me if I was OK. And I told them I was OK. Then they just started taking turns while the other would just stroke or kiss my face. It was cool. WILDEST EXPERIENCE? Nalia: I got attacked by some girl once [laughs]. She threw me on the bed at a hotel party I was working at and just attacked me. I guess the wildest thing was that I didn’t stop her. There are a lot of parties like that. Ten people, maybe two or three dancers at a hotel room. Once, there was this college basketball team of 30 or 40 people, and the coach was the one that was paying for it. I got picked up and thrown over. But parties are just about dancing. Anything more is always one-on-one. MISCONCEPTIONS? Sasha: People think you’re stupid. They come at you thinking you’re doing what you’re doing because you don’t have brains to do anything else. I have brains. But I’m also a lazy person [laughs]. What I do is comfortable. And you can’t be stupid doing this. You have to know how to read people. You’ve got to be quick on your toes. You can’t be a dummy, or you’ll be run over and ran through. But that’s what people think of me: dumb. Nalia: How they think we need all this help. Like we need to be saved, saying things like, “”You’re too good for this.”” They’re usually clients, and if I’m too good for “”this,”” then I must be too good for them, since they are what I do. And women. Men might be stupid to us, but women are cruel. DESCRIBE THE COMMUNITY. Sasha: I know some of the girls, but you usually just see the receptionist. So if it’s cash, you’re supposed to take your cut out and you give them their piece. The particular agency I’m at, they get 60-40. That’s what a lot of the agencies are doing now. They’re not doing half and half anymore. And the ones that are doing half and half is the place that lady burned me at. And I’m barely starting to get back into it. I’ve been doing this for two years, but I stopped for a good four months. I took some vacation off because I did real good. We got out of our house. I was living at a three-bedroom house, paying a good $1,200 a month alone with one, two, three, four other people living with me — well, five, but that extra five is bringing in money as well. But I got this chick, her man, her pregnant ass, her kid, plus my kid with me. Homeboy helps too, but that girl was just lazy. HOW MUCH DO YOU MAKE? Nalia: On a good day, $1,000. And it varies. It could be two calls or seven calls, if I get good calls, men who appreciate that I’m there for the company. They appreciate that I come over with a smile and am not a bitch about the money. I come to have fun. I’m not going to have sex with you, but I’m here to have fun. Because I always make that clear, I hate getting myself into situations I can’t get out of. So in a good week I can make a good $3,000 or $5,000. I once made a grand each night for two consecutive nights with one client. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SEASONS? Nalia: Income tax season isn’t great for the expected reasons. Holidays like Thanksgiving are slow because they’re with their families. But Christmas picks up just a little bit, because of all the lonely guys out here with nobody to call. Last Christmas I got five calls Christmas day. All of them wanted sex but weren’t willing to pay what I wanted. So I just helped them and they were cool with that. They just wanted someone to hang out with on Christmas. I guess it does make you feel special, feel loved [laughs]. OTHER INTERESTS? Sasha: Parties. I have an addiction. I’m 21 and I still call up party lines. I love it. It’s cool, the connection you can make over the phone. WHAT HAVE CLIENTS OFFERED YOU? Sasha: I had one client offer to take me around the world because he was a treasure hunter. The guy who played the guitar. He was older. Tall. Hippie. Balding. He wore boots, cowboy boots. Typical older man. He wanted me to be his girl, and in return, show me around the world. But I declined. HAVE YOU EVER FALLEN FOR A JOHN? Sasha: Actually, yes. He’s not even a client any more, he’s more of a friend. I’m not falling for him, but I’m developing feelings for him I shouldn’t be feeling. He never paid for sex. But he’s got a girl now. I once asked him if he wanted to be my boyfriend. [laughs]. But I’m not asking for a monogamous relationship because of the situation. And he asked me if I wanted to move in, but I had package — well, not package, he’s my pride and joy. That’s OK, I don’t want people to think I’m looking for a daddy. He already has one. WHAT ARE CLIENTS LOOKING FOR? Nalia: Sex [laughs]. It’s actually half and half. Half of them are just looking for a quick little come. But the other half is looking for someone to chill with, get to know: a girlfriend for the night. IS IT HARD FOR YOU TO RELATE TO PEOPLE? Sasha: Very. Actually, no. It’s not hard for me to relate to other people because I’m not as judgmental since I started doing this. How can you be? It’s hard for them to relate to me. And I meet crazy people. I meet colonels in the Army and Navy that wanted to get banged in the butt with fucking triangle dildos and stuff. And half of the time, these men carry the toys themselves. I don’t carry any toys. I had one guy that wanted me to tie him up, and I wanted to leave. He was being nasty and I couldn’t take it anymore. He was holding his feet like he was pregnant, screaming “”Yeah, fuck me in the ass.”” And he had this lace ribbon stuff, and I said, “”I’m not going to tie you up,”” and I was really getting mad at this guy. And he kept saying, “”Oh yeah, tie me up.”” So I tied him up at the bed real tight, and he kept putting up his legs. And I said, “”If you keep pulling up your legs I’m going to leave you here for the security guard to find you.”” And he said, “”Oh you know, my girlfriend did that to me once.”” And he kept on getting off! You meet some freaks. I also had this guy that wanted me to call him a “”skank.”” He had this fishnet one-piece that was crotchless. It was brand new. He gave it to me, and he wanted me to wear it and walk around. He said, “”I want you to walk around, and I’m going to play with myself. And while I’m playing with myself, I want you to call me ‘skank’ and ‘bitch.'”” And he didn’t want me to touch him, and he gave me a good amount of money. WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL LIFE? Sasha: I don’t know. I think sooner or later I would have ended up doing this. Well, I do want to open up a club. Go back to school and get my business license. Three years is how much longer I want to do it. Oh, plus I want to learn how to DJ for the people [laughs]. Drum and bass. I want to do something different. WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL LIFE? Nalia: My own fashion line. I sketch out outfits almost every night. And hey, with what I do, fashion is a must. I know what men like and what women want. And computers [laughs]. It’s funny, but I’m a computer nerd. LIVE ANYWHERE? Sasha: Netherlands. Amsterdam. Everything’s more open. Plus, I love my Mary Jane, you know — pot smoker. Nalia: Probably still here in San Diego. I love looking at the downtown skyline at 6 in the morning. The way the beach looks, so still and calm, like you’re in a picture. I guess I’m just into nature and scenery. The pattern of the sky, purple and pink, driving through the trees on the 163 and seeing the light come off them. I’m not talking about life on the streets, just the earth and what it is. No one’s trying to take anything from you, it’s just giving beauty. You understand? DO PEOPLE EVER CALL YOU BY YOUR REAL NAME? Sasha: I do have people that call me by my real name. Actually, this lifestyle killed her. She was a sweet quiet little thing in the corner. Sometimes, she still peeks out. But it’s a lifestyle. I feel mature, and my body feels old. I think I’m getting carpal tunnel in my hands from jerking so many guys off. ANYTHING YOU WON’T DO FOR MONEY? Sasha: Blow jobs. Because I have to do them without rubbers. I like the taste of skin. And I can’t do it to everybody, because they have to first meet a certain size criteria. Second, they have to be rock hard — otherwise it feels like a big pile of flesh in your mouth. Bleh. HOW DO YOU BALANCE EVERYTHING? Nalia: I’m not doing anything I’m being forced to do. I do what I want to do. But, I don’t know. It’s really weird on the mind. It can either kill you or make you stronger. I take it day by day. I see one client tonight and forget about it tomorrow. Doesn’t everyone? ...

Ben Harper Lights Up RIMAC Field

San Diego showed its pretty side Monday as gray clouds gave way to blue skies for Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Jurassic 5 and Jack Johnson at RIMAC Field. David Pilz Guardian A laid-back crowd accompanied the pleasant weather. I might be pushing it, but there was a 1960s Woodstock vibe to the entire concert. People were relaxing on blankets and enjoying the company of the thousands who showed up for the concert. As some concertgoers put it, there was a “”communal”” feeling surrounding everyone. The golden sun of Memorial Day cast the perfect lighting for the acoustic groove of Jack Johnson. Smooth bass riffs and acoustic guitar rounded out a sound that was reminiscent of headliner Ben Harper. As dusk settled, Jurassic 5 took the stage and played an incredible set. For those in the audience unfamiliar with Jurassic 5, this set was the perfect crash course to their eclectic sound. Jurassic 5’s improvised rhymes and clean harmonies were fabulous, and their beats kept everyone on their feet with their hands up in the air. J-5 effectively charged the audience for the triumphant appearance of Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. Night fell and the bright lights on the stage glowed like jewels. Harper and the rest of the band took the stage to a crowd that simply went mad for them. Harper and the rest, who have performed at UCSD twice before, did not waste any time going through a set that ranged from lighter acoustic material to hard-edged jams with Harper’s solo work paying tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Harper’s wide range of musical styles match the wide range of guitars that he brought onstage. Slide guitar is his signature instrument, but the way he handled his acoustic guitar and the rest of his electric guitars made many a jaw drop with amazement. He played a passable cover of Stevie Wonder’s “”Superstition,”” but the highlight of the show came when he played “”Burn One Down.”” With the first few chords of the song, a curious plume of thick, fragrant smoke drifted over the crowd. What else could you expect? Harper finished his set with a rousing rendition of his recent hit, “”Steal My Kisses,”” but he later reappeared for the encore. He started with a couple of intimate acoustic songs by himself and was later joined by the vocal group Blind Boys of Alabama, who added a soulful gospel sound to the last songs of Harper’s encore. This mellow part of the evening kept much of the audience quiet as they listened in awe. This was by far one of the best concerts that UCSD has hosted recently. Jack Johnson and Jurassic 5 were both incredible, but if Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals played any better, they would be guilty as charged. I know you saw that line coming. ...

Hiatus Weekly Calendar

All tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster by calling (619) 220-8497 or by going to http://www.ticketmaster.com, unless otherwise noted. 24 Thursday Get a frosty umbrella drink in your hand and take in the tropical sounds of Jimmy Buffet at Coors Amphitheatre. Buffet is sure to play all the favorites such as “”Margaritaville”” and “”Cheeseburger in Paradise.”” Tickets start at $28.50 and the show starts at 8 p.m. Celebrate Bob Dylan’s 60th birthday at Dizzy’s with a night of Dylan music by Steve White, Chuck Perrin, Berkley Hart, Joel Rafael and Steve Maris. Cover is $10 and the show starts at 8 p.m. For more information call (858) 270-7467. 25 Friday California pop-punk group The Dragons will be at The Casbah, along with Furious IV and THE Malakas. The Dragons will be promoting their most recent release, “”Live at the Casbah.”” Call (619) 232-4355 for more information. Celebrate the birthday of jazz great Miles Davis with an evening of his music at Dizzy’s by the tribute group ESP. The sets start at 8:45 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The cover is $8. Call Dizzy’s at (858) 270-7467 for more information. 26 Saturday Check out Reggae At The Bay with headliners Eek-A-Mouse. Reggae At The Bay will be at the Navy Pier, which is on Harbor Drive just south of Broadway. Tickets start at $30 and the event starts at 5 p.m. Barrington Levy, Don Carlos, Morgan Heritage and Sanchez will also perform. Indie rockers No Knife will perform at The Casbah. This San Diego group has built a large and devoted following since getting together in 1993. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Call (619) 220-8497 for ticket prices. The Goldfish have been known to add their own twist to ’70s funk and dance songs. You can catch their wild stage antics at the Belly Up Tavern. Show starts at 9:15 p.m. and tickets are $7. Another music festival with big-name DJs comes to the San Diego Sports Arena. The Love Festival features Armand Van Helden, DJ Dan, Christopher Lawrence and Kimball Collins on the main stage. Scott Hardkiss and Thomas Michael are on Main Stage 2. Tickets start at $25, and the event starts at 9 p.m. 27 Sunday Juan Gabriel has been in the Latin music business for over 25 years, and is known for his incredible three-hour sets. Gabriel will perform at Coors Amphitheatre and play the songs that made him a legend in Mexico. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets start at $24.50. Slightly Stoopid sing songs about surfing and drinking. What more do you need? Their blend of hip-hop and reggae is sure to please the crowds. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are $10. Enjoy poetry and jazz with Tomas Gayton, Joey Carano, Tim Maglione and Paul Hormick. The event takes place at Dizzy’s and runs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Cover is $5. For more information call (858) 270-7467. 28 Monday Burn one down with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. Harper and company will be at RIMAC field with their eclectic sound, which ranges from hard-bluesy pieces to tender acoustic folk songs. Jurassic 5 will open for Harper. The show starts at 4 p.m. Tickets start at $29.50 and can be purchased through the UCSD Box Office at (858) 534-4559. 30 Wednesday The hard-hitting punk sound of The Locust will be showcased at the Che Cafe. Black Dice and Teacher’s Pet will also perform. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $5. Call (858) 534-2311 for more information. ...

Album Review

Weezer “”Weezer”” Geffen A Though the album appears plain, decked in green and simply titled “”The Green Album,”” Weezer’s new and long-overdue record is anything but ordinary. Rising out of bed from an extensive hiatus, frontman Rivers Cuomo drives the reins of his geeky-metal band with a heavy snap. About five years have passed since Weezer’s last outing, the commercial flop but critically acclaimed “”Pinkerton.”” Its sporadic sound and haunting lyrics were a far cry from their original, platinum debut aptly titled “”The Blue Album,”” which spawned such hits as “”Buddy Holly”” and “”Undone (The Sweater Song).”” “”The Green Album”” effectively melds both records together, creating melodies appropriate enough for commercial pop and with words to please analytical critics. Cuomo continues to croon over girl troubles in “”O Girlfriend,”” as open chords serve only as backup to his weeping voice. Lyrically simplistic and slightly cliched, songs like “”O Girlfriend”” and “”Smile”” show that “”The Green Album”” lacks the emotional punch of “”Pinkerton.”” But still, the album is adorned with catchy power chords and easily digestible riffs that hook you onto a slew of dorky punk tunes. The songs are more complex than your average brand of punk, sliding between hammering notes and gentle rhythms. Tracks such as “”Crab”” lie in the gray area between simplicity and psychedelia with wah-distorted guitar nuggets and repeated vocals. Cuomo’s compatriots, guitarist Brian Bell, bassist Mikey Welsh and drummer Patrick Wilson, complete the barbershop quartet, singing background vocals. The four belt out the “”whoaaa-woooas”” and “”hey heys.”” The songs wouldn’t be the same without their choral roles, which are reminiscent of early Beach Boys songs. Reminiscent, yes, but still original and true, Weezer continue to rock in an alternative era most critics deem dead and most companies claim unmarketable to the new century’s audience. Weezer is a breath of fresh musical air to everything else around and should be welcomed back with open arms and ears. — Randy Lie ...

Film Reviews

Although this movie may seem like a pathetic attempt to employ an attractive Australian hunk as a knight in shining armor, “”A Knight’s Tale”” is a surprisingly good film about courage and social rebellion in the Middle Ages. Heath Ledger plays the lead character, William Thatcher, an English squire determined to become a knight who does so by fooling the French nobility. The movie revolves around tournaments and jousting, the sport in which two men on horseback run at each other with huge wooden sticks and try to knock each other down, in case you didn’t know. It is through these tournaments that Thatcher gains popularity and comes into contact with his enemy Count Adhemar, played by Rufus Sewell. Both actors are exemplary as they play two men motivated by their competitive spirit. Newcomer Shannyn Sossamon plays Jocelyn, the object of both men’s affection. Although completely unheard of before this film, Sossamon plays her role with realism. The noteworthy supporting cast also adds humor and vitality to a surprisingly humorous and modern take on medieval times. Although the story is a bit contrived, it is a great combination of modern pop music with everlasting themes of courage, love and honor. The impressive horsemanship and sportsmanship in this movie make it appealing to males as well as females, for obvious reasons. Ledger, unlike many other Hollywood hunks, can actually act, and his skill makes this film realistic and human. This movie is great if you want to see an entertaining film with a respectable degree of depth. It will keep you entertained and thoroughly satisfied. — Anne Cong-Huyen ...

Brotherly Love: The Black Crowes and Oasis

Newlywed Chris Robinson and The Black Crowes performed May 14 at the Greek Theatre as part of the Brotherly Love Tour that also featured dueling brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher, of Oasis. Though Oasis struggled to gain the acceptance of the crowd, the Robinson brothers stole the night, which ended with a cover of “”To Love Somebody”” with Noel and Joan Osborne. The Black Crowes performed new songs like “”Midnight From the Inside Out,”” “”Greasy Grass River”” and “”Cosmic Friend,”” as well as hits like “”Twice as Hard”” and “”Sting Me.”” Oasis opened with “”Go Let it Out”” and closed with a cover of The Beatles’ “”I am the Walrus”” and included hits like “”Don’t Look Back in Anger,”” “”Morning Glory”” and “”Champagne Supernova.”” Oasis is working on a follow-up to “”Standing on the Shoulder of Giants”” and The Black Crowes have a new album in stores titled “”Lions.”” — Story and photos by Brian Moghadam ...

Lindy Hop with San Diego's Best Swingers

As any avid lindy hopper can tell you, learning how to swing dance in a class is only scratching the surface. In order to practice your moves and get a real feel for the scene, every dancer must go out to a swing club. There are no excuses. Lindy hop is a social dance. Luckily, San Diego is home to some of the best and most innovative clubs this side of the Pacific. With a venue open almost every day of the week, beginner and advanced dancers alike have all the more reason to venture out and get their groove on. The following are some of the best swing clubs in San Diego: Tuesday Nights The Rocket Portuguese Hall 2818 Avenida de Portugal, near Shelter Island in Point Loma (619) 291-3775 or http://www.2toGroove.com One of San Diego’s premiere swing venues, this club also boasts one of the city’s biggest dance halls. At over 3,000 square feet, its wooden dance floor is nicely complemented by a high ceiling, crystal chandeliers and other beautiful ornamentation. Upon arrival, don’t forget to ask about dance lessons from the club’s friendly managers. Jim Cruzen and Margie Adams. The large stage in the foreground makes this one of the few swing venues in the area to consistently feature live bands. Conveniently located nearby are plenty of restaurants and cafes to provide good eats after a long night of dancing. 9 p.m. – Midnight $6 cover ($5 for students with ID) Thursday Nights The Firehouse San Diego Center for the Moving Arts 3255 5th Ave., between Spruce and Thorn in Hillcrest (858) 603-3784 Call Meeshi for more information A favorite among the San Diego lindy crowd, this all-ages swing club is known for its intimacy and underground feel. Just as the name suggests, the venue is actually an old firehouse converted into a dance hall. It features over 2,400 square feet of wooden floor space and a fantastic sound system. Regular DJs such as Meeshi Sumayao like to play music at groovy, moderate tempos, making the Firehouse an ideal place for beginner/intermediate lindy hoppers to get their first taste of social dancing. 9:30 p.m. – Midnight. $5 ($3 students with ID). Friday Nights Cafe Savoy Clayton’s Cafe Corner of 7th and F, in the Gaslamp (next to the Maryland Hotel) (858) 603-3784 Call Meeshi for more information San Diego’s newest swing club is also its smallest and only coffeehouse-turned-swing venue. The relaxed cafe atmosphere allows dancers to chat and socialize more than they would be able to do in a louder, bigger club. In addition, food and drinks are served into the late hours, allowing patrons to enjoy a night of dancing as well as delicious desserts. Unique to this club are its huge windows, giving outsiders the rare opportunity to stop and watch one of San Diego’s most exciting dances. 8:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. $5 (swing lesson included) Saturday Afternoons Lindy by the Bay The Hilton San Diego Resort 1775 East Mission Bay Drive, off Interstate 5 in Mission Bay Taking its cue from other big cities that like to host swing dancing next to bodies of water, most notably San Francisco’s “”Lindy in the Park,”” this is San Diego’s own version of outdoor lindy. The venue offers swing dancers a rare chance to dance outside the confines of a club. Similar to Cafe Savoy, Lindy by the Bay is equally friendly to the nonswing dancer. Anyone who wants to see some free entertainment on a weekend afternoon can come out and mingle with the friendliest people in town. 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. Free! ...

Oakenfold Rocks EMF

San Diego is not known as the bastion of so-called “”rave”” culture. There aren’t very many clubs that cater to big-name DJs, and finding a massive — a party on a gargantuan scale — out in the middle of the San Diego countryside is a bit of a hassle. UCSD prevents the DJs and Vinylphiles Club from organizing an event such as last year’s “”Movement,”” which flooded the Price Center with wonderful music and colorful people. So it was nice, for once, to head down to the San Diego Sports Arena for the Electronica Music Festival, rather than to make my way to, say, Indio to find a comparable line-up. Settled in the concourse of the Sports Arena were two areas of kickin’ breaks and deep house. In the Main Concourse area, Barry Weaver, Nigel Richards and local DJ Jon Bishop entertained a small crowd of people sweating and grooving to the music. Downstairs in the House Arena, Angel Alanis and Jon Williams kept the dancers alive with hard-hitting house and techno. But the two main stages were where all the people were. On the floor of the Sports Arena, thousands of revelers were waving their glow sticks and struggling for room to dance. Main Stage 2 catered to those who know and love Moonshine Records. Veteran DJ Donald Gluade and labelmates John Kelley and Dave Aude played to a packed crowd that was jumping and shouting at every break and every snyth line. Main Stage 1 had the names that most casual fans of electronica would know. VonShock, Taylor and Mark Lewis pumped up the crowd with their eclectic sounds of progressive house and trance. But as 1 a.m. approached, the dance floor became more difficult to navigate; it came time for the world-famous Paul Oakenfold to take his place behind the decks. Appearing in a polka-dot shirt, Oakenfold made his way onto the elevated stage and extended his arms out to the crowd before clutching his heart in appreciation as candy ravers and casual ravers alike erupted into cheers. Oakenfold’s resume is impressive: He has performed in places such as Liverpool, England’s superclub Cream, dropped mind-expanding tracks in Ibiza and even opened for U2. Oakenfold is no stranger to the West Coast, either. By playing massives last summer in Southern California and more recently at Coachella and San Diego’s Club Montage, Oakenfold is definitely trying to stake his claim here in the West Coast music scene. While the first hour of his two-hour set wasn’t very impressive, Oakenfold picked things up in his second hour on stage. The god-like influence of Oakenfold became apparent as he pulled the crowd in closer with each bass line and drum beat. Then, in classic Oakenfold fashion, he dropped in a couple of vocal tracks and closed his set with thick layers of trance-synths that directed dancers into a frenzy. Before the audience realized what had hit, Oakenfold was done, but Dave Ralph picked up the pace and energy of Oakenfold and rocked the crowd until the very end, at 4 a.m. Watching the throngs of people actually dancing until the end was magical. And as you stumbled out of the Sports Arena and waded through the flyers for the next party, your only regret was that Oakenfold didn’t play longer, and your only hope was that San Diego will host more events like the Electronica Music Festival. ...

Swing Kids!

There was a time not too long ago — about five years ago, in fact — when you could hardly walk down the street without seeing something about swing, the newest dance craze to sweep pop culture. The neo-swing fad of the late ’90s quickly made household names of such swing things as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Brian Setzer and even the Gap, with its omnipresent “”jump and jivin'”” commercial. But times have changed and I am sure most of us are left to wonder, “”What the hell happened to swing?”” Well, for anybody out of the groove, rest assured that swing is alive and kicking, albeit in the underground. One of the most vibrant forms of swing just happens to have the strongest presence right here in San Diego. What could I be talking about, other than that unabashedly joyful dance with its constant eight-count rhythmic pulse flowing to the music of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s? Lindy hop. This original swing dance of the ’20s began at the famed Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, N.Y. Although lindy hop existed before the opening of the club, it was not until dancers such as “”Shorty George”” Snowden, Leroy “”Stretch”” Jones and the legendary Frankie Manning revolutionized the scene that the dance really began to soar. Snowden is often credited for naming lindy hop after Charles Lindbergh’s triumphant 1927 “”hop”” across the Atlantic. According to myth, shortly after Lindbergh’s famous transatlantic flight, New York City hosted a charity dance marathon. Among the many people in attendance that day was Snowden. After seeing Snowden performing an eye-popping maneuver, a reporter covering the event asked him, “”What was that?”” to which the dancer replied, “”The lindy hop.”” The rest is history. One fundamental thing to remember about swing is that there are distinctions between the different dances. By now, most people are probably familiar with the terms West Coast and East Coast swing. A myriad of other styles exists — far too many to list. At the risk of making too gross a generalization, all other forms of swing dancing are simply variations on lindy hop, since it was the original swing dance. San Diego’s current lindy scene traces its origins directly from the neo-swing fad of the mid ’90s. Swing had always been around, but you would be more likely to find your grandfather carrying on the tradition instead of your dormmate. The dramatic resurgence of youth in the culture did not occur until after the media embraced swing. Before you knew it, swing was everywhere — on television, in the movies, even in clothing. Clubs existed in San Diego, most notably the rockabilly club Tio Leo’s, but ones that were lindy-friendly were either rare or nonexistent. Not until the efforts of two pioneer dancers — Johnny Lloyd and Lisa Conway — did the lindy scene in San Diego take flight in the late ’90s. Following their lead were other prominent instructors who cranked out even more dancers. Among these teachers were the self-proclaimed “”swing jack of all trades”” Meeshi Sumayao; instructors and current managers of the Rocket swing club Jim Cruzen and Margie Adams; and UCSD’s very own distinguished recreation class instructors, Tan Huynh and Valerie Yau. In many ways, UCSD has played a large part since the beginning in contributing to San Diego’s lindy community. The rec. classes constantly feed dancers into the scene. Indeed, on any given night, the majority of people in one of San Diego’s many swing clubs is often made up of UCSD students. Presently, the swing scene in San Diego remains small but loyal. So loyal, in fact, that the dedicated ones would never let swing die. Most local lindy hoppers are in their late 20s to mid-30s. Unlike other cities that serve alcohol at swing clubs, San Diego typically does not. The reason is not hard to figure out. Dancing while drunk, especially to something as challenging as lindy, is dangerous. Practically every dancer knows this and prefers to remain sober on the dance floor. The vast majority of the city’s venues are sponsored by dancers instead of bars, making big-time marketing an impossibility. This may explain why swing has become such an underground culture. Unlike San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Diego has a more diverse mix of music and style. The City by the Bay is known traditionally for its slower tempos. Los Angeles, by contrast, is famous for its fast and frenetic rhythms. San Diego’s music varies greatly from fast to slow, allowing dancers of all levels of expertise to enjoy the experience. This is unique to our city. Not surprisingly, out-of-town dancers appreciate the mix, regularly commenting on how much variety San Diego has in terms of its music and dancers. They never fail to remark on the genuine friendliness of our small yet dedicated swing scene. With the neo-swing fad came a record number of new dancers, particularly when the craze was at its height. However, today’s swing regulars would attest that most newbies left the scene rather quickly. A lot of them found the dance too difficult and intimidating, while others were more interested in the superficial “”Swingers”” style, which did not embrace dancing at all — its participants chose instead simply to dress up and go out, martini in hand, mingling old ’40s style. Nowadays, while some dancers still get dressed up and play on all of swing’s nostalgia, the opposite is usually more common. The current scene in San Diego is far more laid back. Over the years, the swing scene has made a progression from bars, where people dressed up in vintage outfits, to today’s underground clubs, where comfortable attire is preferred. Without all the frills, dancers today choose to focus more on the dance alone. The emphasis is on feeling the music and connecting with one’s partner. Everything else is just details. Only a few dancers ever get beyond the beginner’s hump, but those who do master the basic steps eventually stick with it. Dancers often remark on how they like the dance for its complexity and athleticism. Of course, there’s also the social aspect. Few dances are as playful but at the same time as complicated as lindy hop. Some liken it to playing chess with a partner. Another interesting feature of modern lindy is its many influences. Lindy hoppers like to spice things up by incorporating other dances, including Latin, tap, jazz and hip-hop. Although not as visible as it once was, the swing scene in San Diego continues to resonate. Most lindy hoppers are certain of one thing — while it is true that fads come and go, swing will continue to live and evolve. ...

Sun God 2001

The Sun God is disappointed. If this majestic creature could shake its immobile head in frustration, it would. In order to please the Sun God, UCSD students must pull together and make the 2001 Sun God Festival one to measure the success of all other festivals to come. Otherwise, the Sun God will smite the entire campus of UCSD. The Sun God was fairly happy with the turnout at FallFest, especially since the weather forced the concert to move into the Price Center Ballroom. The Long Beach Dub Allstars, Mix Master Mike and Dial-7 put on a high-energy show that impressed the students. The Sun God was pleased for the moment. Then Winterfest fell short of expectations. The concert’s headliner, Juvenile, was stricken with an alleged ear infection. Lucy Pearl’s strong set was hampered by technical difficulties that cut out some of their speakers, F.o.N. stepped in to fill the shoes as the opening act, and Sprung Monkey rounded out the show. The Sun God watched on, disappointed. Now, the Sun God looks ahead to Sun God Festival 2001. It still remembers last year, when F.o.N., Rahzel from The Roots, The Aquabats and Dishwalla came to UCSD to perform. Local favorite F.o.N. came through with a solid set, and those goofy Aquabats were mildly entertaining. Although we only got one Root out of five, Rahzel stepped up quite nicely — but the one-hit wonder Dishwalla failed to carry the festival. And the low turnout showed it. The Sun God also remembers when Los Lobos entertained the masses in 1985. English chart-topper Blur was here in 1992. Although that was long before the “”woooo-hoo!”” era, Blur was on the wave of the Brit-pop invasion and was backed by its classics such as “”She’s So High”” and “”There’s No Other Way.”” No Doubt was at UCSD in 1994 and 311 rocked UCSD in 1995. Rocket From the Crypt performed Sun God 1996. The Sun God hopes these glory days can return. With the 2001 Sun God Festival looming ahead, let’s hope the students and the bands do not disappoint. Local band Ping Pong Mafia hopes to get things warmed up. Naughty by Nature will be down with O.P.P. and just the thought of hearing that song alone should be enough to keep the crowds down for it. So-Cal punk band Face to Face should give us rockin’ covers from their most recent albums, which feature their renditions of “”What Difference Does It Make”” by The Smiths, “”Don’t Change”” by INXS and “”That’s Entertainment”” by The Jam. Old favorites played a new way should set up the show for hip-hop act Xzibit, whose work is respected by underground rappers. Xzibit has gained more popularity through performances on the Up in Smoke Tour and collaborations with Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Eminem. In the tradition of more European-style festivals, a DJ tent will have DVC DJs spinning from 6:30 p.m. through the end of the event. The Sun God wants to get that sour taste out of its mouth. The Sun God wants to erase memories of Dishwalla trying to headline a festival. With a nod to dance music (DJ tent), a familiar name for casual fans (Naughty by Nature), a hard rocking punk group (Face to Face) and a well-respected and talented headliner (Xzibit), the Sun God finally sees some potential for an amazing time. Now it is up to us to sacrifice our livers for the almighty Sun God and all will be good. ...