A long, long time ago, Tyrockasaurus and I took a trip through the American South. Those that know us well know that this trip has become the stuff of many myths, one of which is the story of Blondie.
The path that eventually wound us to Blondie started at Little Five Points, the place to go for alternative culture in Atlanta. Home to the Junkman’s Daughter and the Vortex Bar & Grill, as well as many other distinctive shops and restaurants, we were drawn to LFP like moths to a flame.
It was at Vortex that we befriended our server, who invited us out later that night to hang out with his girlfriend and other friends. They took us to MJQ, an underground (no, literally) nightclub accessed via a shack in the middle of a parking lot. Many drinks later, we were told we absolutely had to go to the Clermont Lounge, and our hosts escorted us down the block to “Atlanta’s most popular adult club” for more “reasonably priced drinks”.
Located in the basement of a foreboding hotel, this is a formidable strip club experience. I remember the horseshoe shaped bar and mirrored column like it was yesterday, but the Clermont Lounge is most memorable to me for two things: one, this is the kind of strip club where the stripper puts her own quarters in the jukebox and picks her own song, and two, this is where we met Blondie.
Like in most older strip clubs, the women’s washroom is also the stripper’s backstage area, and this is where we got to have a long conversation with Blondie, part of which happened to be in German. Not young even then, she challenged a lot of our preconceived notions, and was a remarkable and gracious hostess throughout the night.
We share a love for hair metal, and those are the songs she prefers to dance to, and I still remember her accidentally picking a gunshot laden hip hop track, instead of some Motley Crue, and while being displeased, dancing to it anyway.
It was a great night, one I think about fondly to this day, and that’s why when Tyrockasaurus happened across this video quite by accident, and sent me the link, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Years later, there she is. It was an incredulous, happy surprise that brought tears to my eyes. I see now that over the past few years, Blondie has been recognized as the Atlanta institution that she is, and achieved a small measure of fame. She has a Twitter account as well, and movies and books are documenting her and her part in the Clermont Lounge’s history.
The Clermont Lounge makes its appearance in the video above, pulled from an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Layover, starting around the three minute mark, with Blondie’s segment starting around the fourth. He manages to capture the essence of the Clermont Lounge experience perfectly. Yes, it’s just like this, and yes, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
My favourite part of the exchange between Bourdain and Blondie is when he says: “If you come in from out of town, you’re laughing for about 3 minutes and after that you think ‘you know this is a beautiful fucking thing’” That was exactly our experience.