17 July 2014

Whale Fat Follies, in the Heart of Spenard

We saw the Whale Fat Follies last night, and all I can say is Mr. Whitekeys hasn't lost his touch.

For those who haven't seen the Follies, or never heard of Mr. Whitekeys, I offer this description from his old website:
Proudly Serving
"Spam®, Booze, Rhythm and Blues"

since 1980!!

Mr. Whitekeys' Fly By Night Club is World Famous---we are known as well in Cairo as we are in Havana!! The club is the home of The Whale Fat Follies --"The Alaskan Show that the Department Of Tourism Does NOT want you to see."

Mr. Whitekeys
The club was founded in 1980 because there was no place else where you could order some of the world's finest champagnes and a damn fine plate of Spam®.

The Whale Fat Follies has now been seen by over 500,000 misguided Alaskans and visitors, which just goes to show how little there is to do in our pathetic little town!

2014 cast of the Whale Fat Follies

And what, you may ask, is Spenard? It's a section of Anchorage which was, until fairly recent times, widely known for its sleaze factor.

From his old website, again:
Spenard is the sleaziest part of Anchorage. It's filled with bars, strip joints, liquor stores, and massage parlors. A 1957 ad heralded the appearance of La-Wanda The Flame Goddess at the Club Mambo. Nothing has changed.

There's the office of a dentist named Dr. Paine! There's PJ's--"A strip joint, but it's a CLASS strip joint."* There's a pawn shop with a portable sign that once advertised a Mother's Day special on Ammo. There's a massage parlor with a portable sign that announced "Playmates," until someone removed the "L." It's now been nearly a year and the sign still reads "PAYMATES."

Spenard is more than a town--it's a state of mind. It's hilarious, it's always entertaining, it's not particularly dangerous, and it's ALL ALASKAN. You gotta love this place!

The Fly By Night Club closed a few years ago; he now does limited showings in the Taproot Club (which is the same building: a a little bar-and-grill with delusions of grandeur) only for a month or so, every other year.

The political satire is hilarious, as he and his cast are experts at puncturing stuffed shirts. The jokes are occasionally a bit raunchy, but on the whole it's a great show. As with any topical review, the more you know about Alaska's history and modern politics, the funnier you'll find it.

The show was delicious. The evening was marred by the food and service. The food was so-so; if they existed solely for their food, they wouldn't ... for long.

I'd say the table service was abysmal, but that would imply there was any. Our server first denied she was our server, but then returned 15 minutes later to explain that she'd read the seating chart sideways (her word).

That was nearly the last time she stopped at our table for the rest of the night. It took 25 minutes to get a refill on diet soda, although she frequently visited every table around us. I guess we should have ordered booze; that seemed to get her attention.

We enjoyed the show immensely, but the rest of the experience was highly forgettable.

UPDATE: I'm now told by locals that what we experienced is the norm for the Taproot. We won't make that mistake again.

But the poor service & so-so food can't ruin a good show.

* PJ's was closed down several years ago. As I said, it's an old website. :)


On a Wing and a Whim said...

Yeah, I got suckered by nice hippie friends into helping with the remodel of the fly by night into the taproot.

Back when the taproot was a wish-we-were-pretentious hole in the wall in a strip mall, they were a fun little hippie place with good fries & burger and good service, a stage crowded at two people standing on it and some good bluegrass.

When they moved to the new place, they sadly didn't seem to get the concept of expanding scale of operations. They also got pretentious, and went from hippies of the good-food and lets-get-along variety to hipsters of the pretentious progressive variety. Last time I went there for food, they decided to have a "singer" doing a rant about how Bush kills people for fun and oil up on stage. My friend and I left, and haven't been back.

Rev. Paul said...

Understood, Wing. Our daughters used to go to the smaller place, and raved about the food. I haven't heard anyone say anything good about it since they moved.

Live and learn.

Murphy's Law said...

First time I traveled to Alaska, I was with a rather naive young lady who was also responsible for finding us lodgings. She found us a great place (and by "great", she meant "cheap") at a HOSTEL in SPENARD. Oh, that was a night, let me tell you. The desk clerk was emphatic that we not go out alone and that we be back in before dark.

Rev. Paul said...

I hear you; you should know that those neighborhoods are rapidly disappearing. But you can still find one or two, if you try.