I remember the first time I came in to a little money as a teenager and went to buy Christmas gifts for friends and family. I went to the Fashion Valley mall and remember walking by the lingerie store, conscious not to look in the window very long. I didn’t want anyone to think I was some pervy kid. I did look long enough to notice that the store was packed — with 90 percent men. Do they know what her “secret” is? Am I missing something?
I had a girlfriend at the time but wouldn’t have dreamt of buying her lingerie. If I went the clothing route, it would be a dress she could wear out for everyone to admire.
And weren’t those guys really just buying those frilly gifts for themselves?
It would be years before a woman put on lingerie for me. I laughed. That wasn’t the reaction she wanted. My explanations — saying that she looked like a madam from a brothel or a stripper in an old burlesque show — made it even worse. I’m sure most men feel differently; otherwise, these companies couldn’t stay in business.
Just because I’m not a fan of lingerie doesn’t mean I’d pass up the opportunity I got this Halloween — a lingerie party. The best part? I wouldn’t have to wear any to get in.
A woman named Pamela runs a local company called Her Playroom. She started the business a few years ago.
I met her last year at the Beauty Bar when she hosted a fashion show there. My girlfriend at the time was friends with one of the models — one of those rare times you could stare at a date’s attractive friend and not get elbowed in the ribs.
The directions that were emailed to me several months earlier said the party was on Indiana Street, but I lost the printout. My girlfriend said, “I remember when you forwarded me the email. It’s on India Street.” When I called a friend, he said, “You can’t miss the apartments. They’re behind another house.” He also rattled off the street number.
We were walking up India Street past the closed shops when two rottweilers charged us, barking. Luckily, there was a chain-link fence between us, but I was close enough to see the saliva on their snouts, as if they knew my dad was a mailman.
It wasn’t long before we realized there was no party on India Street. When I finally got my friend to answer his cell, we realized our mistake and headed to the North Park area.
Lights on the garage door out front were in the shape of a woman’s silhouette. We could hear the crowd in the back.
A chef named Andrea from Lou and Mickey’s restaurant in the Gaslamp treated guests to a variety of hors d’oeuvres. There was Cajun seared tuna and caprese stacks.
Someone told me there were teriyaki-glazed filet tips but that they were long gone. My girlfriend grabbed us something to drink, and my friend Greg handed me a cigar.
Pamela was running all over the place. I heard someone say that her costume was a female Joker from Batman and suggested that it looked more like one of the characters from A Nightmare Before Christmas.
Half of the crowd wasn’t in costume. And there weren’t any women running around in lingerie. They were in one of the apartments upstairs getting ready. I occasionally saw a door open and caught a glimpse.
I talked with one of the residents of the complex but didn’t realize she lived there until I said, “I bet this is one party the neighbors won’t be complaining about.” She agreed and informed me that they were all at this event.
She was a tall blonde with a strong Swedish accent. When she said she was from New York, I said, “Ah, yes. That explains the accent.” She laughed and told me about moving here recently. I asked about her outfit, which was shiny and silver with shoes she made from aluminum foil. She said, “I’m one of the women from 2001.” I told her I loved her shoes, and she looked down and said, “Oh, no, they’re getting messed up. They looked a lot better earlier in the evening.” When she walked away, I heard the shoes make an interesting squishing sound.
Someone suggested I talk to two guys who knew a few of the models. I heard one of them saying, “Very nice!” in the Borat voice anytime a female walked by. I decided not to talk to them.
I was told that there was a surgeon at the party who lost his hearing from listening to loud music. “The interesting part of the story,” I’m told, “is that it’s classical music the guy listens to. You’d think if someone is going to lose their hearing, it would be from heavy metal. Or the thumping bass in hip-hop.”
Pamela ran by again and I said hi. She stopped to tell me a little about her company, saying that it was a coincidence that this was a Halloween party, since she sort of started out sewing and making Halloween costumes for friends when she was 12 years old.
I started to tell her about my Christmas shopping experience with lingerie, and she interjected, “Yeah, lingerie makes a great gift. People can order my stuff online, too.” Someone nearby heard this and said, “My wife and I ordered the Good Cop, Bad Cop outfit. She liked how the patches on it made it look authentic. I liked the handcuffs and baton parts of it.”
His wife told me that her sister ordered the nurse outfit. “It’s weird because she’s a real nurse. But she said that they just wear ugly greenish scrubs, not those cute white outfits with the matching hat. And besides, it would be gross wearing an outfit that has germs from all those sick patients.”
I turned to ask Pamela if making an outfit of a profession like a police officer has any legal restrictions, but she was already upstairs getting the girls ready for the fashion show.
Someone mentioned the shoes and other “accessories” that you can order with the outfits. I told her that I’m so naïve, I didn’t realize shoes had anything to do with lingerie.
Pamela made an announcement from the balcony, and the show started. I heard the Borat voices starting again...and lots of whistling.
As the models walked across the second-floor balcony of the apartment building, they glanced down seductively at the crowd. After walking back and forth, they then made their way down the stairs, which were lined with candles. I overheard one gay dude standing nearby say, “I don’t even like girl boobs, but this is hot!”
It was drizzling, and the women were wearing heels and walking down the stairs while trying to look sexy — I kept thinking, One of these women is going to trip, but none of them did.
In all the jockeying for good views from the crowd, a guy inadvertently put his jacket over a candle. It caught fire but was quickly stomped out. At the intermission, someone asked whose jacket it was. They looked in the pocket and said, “There are BMW keys,” and suddenly everyone claimed it was theirs.
The conversations among the crowd were getting interesting. One woman asked a guy, “Did you have a favorite lingerie?” He replied, “Yeah. I liked the blonde.” She said, “I didn’t ask what woman you liked,” and he admitted not remembering a thing she wore.
Another guy said to his friend, “Did you see the femur on that one woman? She was sexy.”
Two guys from Ireland talked for 45 minutes — about Guinness.
We left before the second show started.
A few days later, at a concert at House of Blues, we saw one of the models. We remembered her distinct haircut — short on one side, long on the other, with a patch of dyed blonde hair. I told my girlfriend, “She’s either going to laugh or slap me.” As I approached, her boyfriend eyed me warily. I said, “You looked better with less clothes on.”
They both laughed. She put her head in her hands and said, “I was hoping I wouldn’t run into anyone from that party.”