Bethel Park lounge spices up karaoke night
The poor Japanese guy who invented karaoke is probably spinning in his grave.
That is, of course, assuming that he's dead. Stan doesn't know much about the history of karaoke, but he has seen the future of suburbia's favorite drunken pastime, and that future is Bare-aoke at the Tennyson Lodge in Bethel Park.
Because the only thing better than getting drunk enough to sing in front of a room full of strangers is getting drunk enough to sing in front of a room full of strangers on a stage with a couple of exotic dancers.
"I never thought it would take off, but it worked out great," said Jennie Grosso , 82, the owner of the Tennyson. "We're surprised more people haven't picked up on it. We'll have to copyright it -- it's a real money maker."
So what, exactly, is Bare-oke• (That's "bare" as in "bare bottom," not "Let's try to sing like Barry White"). Janeen Grosso , the owner's daughter and the Tennyson's bartender on most nights, describes the wood-paneled room as "your typical neighborhood bar with a little bit extra."
That "little bit extra" is a team of exotic dancers with names like "Innocence" and "Ms. T." And on Friday nights, dancers and customers -- many of whom declined comment because they had forgotten to invite their significant others to Bare-aoke night -- get a chance to sing.
"We weren't sure at first how it was going to mix on both sides -- the dancers and the customers," Janeen Grosso said. "It's supposed to be something that enhances the dancing more than it takes away from it."
"I had to come in early so I could get a chance to sing. It gets crowded later on," said Mike Martin , moments after finishing a Lynard Skynard song. "What's cool about karaoke night is you get a lot of girls in here too -- it's not just guys."
Indeed, there were more couples at the Tennyson for Bare-aoke night than at your typical strip bar. Foxy Moxy , the Tennyson dancer who also serves as host for Bare-aoke night, said she often goes to "regular" karaoke nights to sing and drum up business for Bare-aoke.
"One time we had a bachelorette party," Foxy Moxy said. "It was a group of girls who were karaoke junkies, and they didn't want to go to a male strip bar. So they figured they could come here, sing, and still say they went to a strip bar."
Jennie Grosso has owned the Tennyson for 35 years and can be seen there most nights talking with regulars or in the parking lot walking the bar's mascot -- a fluffy, white, bichon frise named Scrappy Doo. Her daughter -- who came back several years ago to help her mom run the business -- concedes she never really pictured herself pouring drinks in a strip bar.
"It's really not the kind of business you aspire to get into, but sometimes things work out that way," Janeen Grosso said. "But it is fun, and we get a lot of great people coming in here."