Nightlife of Touristville
Touristville is considered one of the many “border” places in Seattle's nightlife – it is cheap enough to allow club owners and party promoters to afford space, while not being so far away from civilization that it becomes unsafe for the average party-goer. In these places, the booming party scene of Seattle grows, serving as a place where the most radical and creative of the scene can converge and trade ideas and fun; inevitably, these places are discovered by the media and celebrities, who wish to add the glamour of such cutting-edge locations to their own fame. And where the celebrities go, those who want to be like the celebrities follow, creating an influx of middle-class and corporate young men and women with money to burn.
Touristville is one of the longest-lasting of these sites, due to its location. Where most such spots eventually end up being pushed upwards in cost, eventually forcing the scene-kids to abandon it for cheaper places, Touristville has a practical cap on how affluent it can actually become. The fact that Lone Star refuses to do more than perform cursory patrols, and utterly refuses to venture outside of the couple-block-radius of Touristville proper makes it too dangerous to allow it to become affluent. Investors have no intention of pouring money into locations that could become the site of gang violence or any of the other madness that goes on in the Barrens.
As a result, the party scene – and the people who live that scene, rather than visit it occasionally – have been around for decades now. Though a few of its members (the international DJ SuperNova, the avant-garde model Sufikka Mayfaire and the body-tronic artist Hara, to name a few) have gone on to become quite famous, it is still what it has been for neary forty years now: a collection of fierce, creative, inventive, beautiful children from the Barrens and surrounding areas, too smart to get involved in gangs, but having grown up in squalor with the burning desire to express themselves.
Touristville is also unique in that the safest time for criminal activity in Touristville is actually during the day. At night, Touristville's population swells with the tourists that give the place its name, and so Lone Star is careful to make sure there's at least one car on patrol in the area and at least two others in quick dispatch distance. During the day, though, Touristville is practically dead, its streets a mess from the previous night's party. Because there are only really locals to be found around its streets during the day, Lone Star doesn't actually bother patrolling. As a result, hits, gang violence, drug deals and other criminal activity tends to take place during the day, leaving its night for partying and scaring the mundanes.
The Touristville Drag Houses
Though the Beautiful Children of Touristville (as the documentary “Single Star in the Dark Sky” called them) do not involve themselves in gangs, they nonetheless do band together, forming urban tribes for themselves. Inspired by the Houses of Harlem in late Twentieth Century New York City, before the Awakening, they organize into groups of up to twenty or so members, all based around a certain theme or concept.
These Houses are not, in fact, gangs. They do not engage in crime as an organization (though there are plenty of its members who are criminals, in general) and tend not to wear defining marks. Frankly, they are careful to avoid giving the real gangs cause for considering them gangs – they're not interested in the violent competition for turf that comes with identification for such. The members of the Touristville Houses simply want to out-do one another on the social scene, defeating their rivals on the run-way, stage and dance-floor. Unlike gangs, the Touristville Houses are not enemies – rather, they are rivals. Though they insult, sneer at and generally make one anothers' lives miserable, the death of any member of the Houses is a cause for grief among them all.
In the forty years Touristville has existed, it has seen the comings and goings of no less than a dozen different, major Houses with memberships of more than twenty or so, and existing for more than three years. Every year sees the attempt to create a couple of Houses – most such efforts are doomed to fail, however.
Each House has a Mother and a Father. These gender titles are based on the individual's preferred party garb – drag queens often serve as Mothers, and drag kings as Fathers. Each House has its Estate, where it is technically based out of, and the members of the Houses take the name of the House as their last name. Houses provide a variety of things to their members – a place to live, help in their creative endeavors, and a variety of contacts, among other things. There are currently only four active Houses in Touristville:
The House of Serenade
The oldest of the Houses, the House of Serenade is also arguably the richest of them. The Mother of the House of Serenade is The Divine Lady-Dame Serenade, an aging drag queen. More than one of the Children of Serenade – known for their stage performances of both singing and lip syncing varieties – has gone on to become quite successful, and a few of them even help out Mother Serenade. The Serenade Estate is an old manor to the west of Touristville proper, and every Halloween the House of Serenade holds a talent competition where young party-kids try and gain the notice of Mother Serenade – it is a well-known fact that the living accommodations at Serenade Estate are the most posh of those among the Houses.
The House of Strobe
The House of Strobe makes electronic and cybernetic performance its art. Arguably the best DJs in Touristville are Strobe Children, and they are absolute artists of light and sound. The Mother of the House of Strobe recently died – the Majestrix of Strobe was a beautiful drag queen whose BTL habit finally caught up to her. Now, Saint Michael Strobe, the Arch-Angel of the Dance Floor and the Father of the House of Strobe, is all that remains. A tall, strong elf drag king, St. Michael Strobe has been in mourning since his beloved Majestrix died, though rumors indicate that the House of Strobe is planning a “Return to the Living” party for his return to the NightLife.
The House of Mayfaire
Nearly as old as the House of Serenade, the House of Mayfaire is a high-fashion, glamour House. It only accepts the most beautiful of the beautiful people, though rumor indicates that one of the House of Mayfair is a plastic surgeon willing and able to make some changes to a diamond in the rough, aided by healing magic. The House of Mayfaire is also known for its incest-chic: those who take lovers within the House often pretend they are siblings, going so far as to concoct outrageous stories of their shared youth, often with quite perverse tales.
As such, they are also known for their Egyptian motif, and the Father of the House of Mayfaire is an aging male model who is simply called the Pharoah. His current wife is a gorgeous Indian model that frequently shows up in “Nefer-titty drag” as Ursula Mayfaire has referred to it: a slinky, sexy version of Egyptian garb. Ursula, the actual Mother of the House of Mayfaire is the Pharoah's ex-wife and best friend, as well as a well-known clothing designer who is rarely seen out on the town these days.
The House of Terra-Skerra
Mother Terra-Skerra herself is a rarity – an orc drag queen. Terra-Skerra herself, however, is among the fiercest of the performers in Touristville, with a wit as sharp as any and a temper worst than most. She has chips of diamond inset into her single jutting tusk, and she dresses in what could best be called Terrifying Goth Drag Queen chic. She likes to joke that she's the barbarian queen of all goth babies in Touristville – while they're merely “gothic,” she's “Visigothic.” Her house is made up of the metal-rockers, goths, ghoul-fans and wanna-be Halloweeners, and Terra-Skerra Estate is more like a haunted house. The Father of House Terra-Skerra is a known magician who seems to have copied most of his style from the Church of LaVey – bald head, goatee and a Catholic minister's robe with a red collar.
Other Important Touristville Faces
The Houses of Touristville are far from the most important people who haunt its avenues at night. A variety of party children, drug dealers, con artists, fuck-bunnies and other fringe individuals make up its population as well.
The Leather Devils
Though Touristville is about seven miles outside of Leather Devils territory (the leather go-gang claims the I-90 corridor), it is still a favorite stop-over for the Leather Devils in an “off-duty” capacity. The Leather Devils have established a truce with the Brain Eaters, but only after a protracted conflict between the gangs ten years ago. In the end, the Leather Devils made it clear that they weren't trying to claim Touristville for themselves, but intended to patronize its clubs and bars. In truth, the Leather Devils could probably defeat the Brain Eaters in a turf war, but Touristville is poorly set-up to be part of a go-gang's turf. So, the queer leather gang is content to relax here, technically within the protection of the Brain Eaters.
The Brain Eaters
The red fez of the Brain Eater gang-member is a ubiquitous sight throughout Touristville, as they claim the neighborhood as their turf. A mixed-race gang, the Brain Eaters are interested in smuggling and hacking. Lone Star tends to leave them alone, as they are rarely publicly violent (save in occasional bar brawls and the like), and yet they work hard to keep more hardcore (or in their opinion, unsubtle) gangs out of Touristville. They're also major tech-scavengers and technological-based black marketeers – most of the sale of electronics goes through a Brain Eater somewhere along the chain.
The Hellfire Club
A local S&M organization, the Hellfire Club has a core of hardcore fetishists and professionals who help to create “play dates” for the rest of its population, which generally consists of bored socialites and the kinky denizens of Bellevue and its suburbias. The Hellfire Club loves themed events, throwing masquerades, Victorian kink parties and similar events. They often rent the Meltdown for their parties, which are by invitation only.
The following are some of the business establishments that act as Touristville's main lure.
Meltdown: The Meltdown wears its reputation as a dangerous place proudly. Known as the center for the hardcore, thrash and metal scene in Redmond, the characters who show up here can be quite rough. Its walls are padded in black rubber, and its weekend shows feature some of the most aggro music in Seattle. The Meltdown doesn't see much business during the week, though, so the management often rents the club to private parties and events Monday through Thursday.
Redmond Center Mall: The Redmond Center is a bright now addition to the otherwise dreary Redmond landscape. Many of the stores are owned by Redmond citizens and feature Renton-made products that reflect the regions new economic strength. It is also one of the most heavily-defended places in Touristville, as mobs of squatters have twice tried to break in and loot the place. Security stand at all its doors and have no problem turning away scruffy looking locals.
Sweet Georgia's: Though Sweet Georgia's technically presents itself as a strip club with a couple floors of apartments above it, it's an open secret that any of the boys or girls who perform on the stage (or serve drinks) in the club are also available for a little private service in their room upstairs. Georgia, an older woman in her fifties pulls off the ex-showgirl glamour and Southern accent that makes her one of Touristville's most memorable figures. She is also known to take in “strays” who come to her seeking work – as kitchen and cleaning staff if they don't have the looks or desire to work in the rooms upstairs.
Green Fairy Tower: Once a high-rise apartment complex, Green Fairy Tower has been turned into an interesting enterprise – level after level of old gutted apartments refurbished into taverns and other “specialty shops.” Green Fairy Tower is best known for the following locales:
- Green Fairy: an absinthe bar
- The Lovely Humidor: a smoke shop
- O'Dowell's Pub: an Irish-style pub on the ground floor that sees plenty of bar fights
- Brainscream: a favorite hang-out of the Brain Eaters that specializes in smart drinks
- Aurora Theater: a “personalized theater experience” that all the locals know deals mainly in BTLs
- Lucient's Panoply: a talismonger shop
- Pen & Ink: a tattooing, branding and piercing shop
- Aspirations: an art gallery that specializes in local talent.
Redmond Center Hotel and Dining Room: This plush hotel is right in the middle of Touristville and stands out. Its rooms are excellent yet considered quite affordable – to tourists in the area, of course. There is something of a bias against locals here, though those who have clearly won their way into tourist parties (or who are simply dressed to the nines) can find their way in quite simply.
The Edge: The Edge is a swank grill on the edge of Bellview and touristville. The motif is polished and with most surfaces shining as if they were made of glass. The Edge is known to be one of the least "Barrensy" places in town, having a similar feel to most restraunts in downtown Seattle. The site is a known attraction, having been used to film no less than nine Shadowrunner movie Johnson scenes. Also, unlike The Skeleton, no customers are turned away without due cause. This makes it a great place to see the local color from the safe distance of your own private booth.