Gimmicks and gender wars at Coyote Ugly 

An evening in Buckhead is a real gamble, not unlike Las Vegas, thanks to traffic that jams like it's Freaknik '97 and thick crowds of wankstas, aging frat boys and cops who watch you drunkenly stagger back to your vehicle at the night's end. While you can enjoy yourself in Atlanta's landmark party area, it's best to remember the old adage, "the house always wins."

Enter Coyote Ugly. Like the movie that started the franchise, Coyote Ugly promises hot girl-on-bar action. The female bartending staff, clad in hip-hugging jeans and bras or tight tank-top tees, spends half their night shimmying on the bar to a soundtrack of Jay-Z, Aerosmith and Alan Jackson.

Who's on top?: In theory, Coyote Ugly plays on the liberated post-feminist sexuality of "the woman on top." In practice, this ploy of domineering women serving drinks works too well. The predominantly male clientele of Coyote Ugly acts like downright sissies. Recent visits saw more comb-overs, Tommy Hilfiger shirts, jean shorts and Mardi Gras beads worn long past Mardi Gras than the mind can fathom. Poor fashion shouldn't damn a man, but damn, man, you look even worse when you blush while ordering drinks.

Less is More: The bar's decor could be politely described as minimalist if not for one ubiquitous element -- bras. Dozens of them dangle from water pipes and girders like satiny vampire bats. One would hope someone bought the lingerie purposely to hang as ornaments, but some bras are signed and dated, as if representing a contract fulfilled.

Equally minimal is the drink selection: 10 bottled beers and a full bar. You can, however, order a "Penalty Shot" -- a shot of tequila drizzled into your mouth from the lips of your bartender.

Flashdance, this is not: Ultimately, a gimmick is a gimmick, and the bar-top dancing feels as spontaneous as a Chuck E. Cheese show. Bartenders dance wearing plastic smiles and thousand-yard stares; their indifference could stem from the fact that nobody tips them for dancing. When one of these ladies grinds her hips in your face, rest assured she is looking far away from you. Her eyes are likely affixed to the ventilation shaft running across the ceiling opposite the bar. Maybe a hunky Bruce Willis is crawling through it.

Not that the bartenders don't have fun. One blond drink-slinger reminded her audience that they would remember the next song, Queen's "We Are the Champions," from The Revenge of the Nerds soundtrack.

And should you tire, the bartenders will gladly hose you down with their soda gun. Wag your tongue for extra effect.

Coyote Ugly Saloon. Mon.-Thurs. 8 p.m.-4 a.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5 p.m.-4 a.m. 287 E. Paces Ferry Road. 404-659-UGLY.


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