By David Perloff
Photos by Brevin Blach
It's just after sunset on Friday night. The Gaslamp is hoppin', and the karaoke room at Analog is filling in, but no one is stepping up to the mic.
Breaking the ice is the job of Teddy, a cuddly-bear of a guy with a big smile and huge cajones who mans the karaoke machine, fearlessly entertaining the crowd between patrons' performances.
As Teddy kick-starts the party with an energetic rendition of Mr. Brightside by Vegas-based rockers, The Killers, tonight's blind daters flip through a loose-leaf binder of song titles. They met about 15 minutes ago, and now they're on deck to sing.
Lauren and Zoltan signed up for the date on PacificSD's Facebook page. They agreed in advance to the karaoke-an especially bold move for Laura, who's never sung in public before.
Zoltan, on the other hand, has belted out his share of hits on stage. His recent performance of Vanilla Ice's Ice, Ice, Baby included light choreography and brought down the house at The Lamplighter in Mission Hills . In case you missed that moment in musical history, perhaps you remember the Z-man from when he was on PacificSD's November 2009 blind date with his brother (see Four Play).
But it's just the price I pay
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes
'Cause I'm Mr. Brightside
Sounds like Teddy's on the final chorus. Before our rock stars face the music, let's review the pre-date interviews.
PacificSD: Where are you from and where do you live now?
LAUREN: I am from the Del Cerro/San Carlos area and currently live there.
ZOLTAN: I grew up in Alameda, a small town in the San Francisco Bay area, and now live in Mission Hills. I've been here in San Diego about six years.
What do you do for a living?
LAUREN: I'm an S.E.O. copywriter at an Internet marketing company.
ZOLTAN: I'm a high school biomedical science teacher.
What do you do for fun?
LAUREN: Travel. I usually plan a new trip every few months. I love checking out new restaurants or entertaining at home, trying my hand in the kitchen, reading, taking kickboxing classes and playing with my recently adopted puppy, Ryder. And-this makes me sound shallow-but I really like to shop.
ZOLTAN: I like to Zumba dance, Frisbee golf, save kittens out of burning buildings, travel, teach old people how to use computers, barbeque, karaoke and work on putting together the ultimate slow jam mix tape. And that's it.
What makes you a good catch?
LAUREN: I have a lot of great things going on in my life that I am eager to share with someone. I have a fantastic family, job, friends, my own place and a really cute dog. I'm fun to be around, honest, down-to-earth and independent. Also, I think growing up with two brothers helped me appreciate and enjoy the company of guys.
ZOLTAN: I'm a very respectful and thoughtful person, I'm stable in my career and in life and I put out on the first date.
What are you looking for in a date, physically and/or otherwise?
LAUREN: A great conversationalist who is a total gentleman and has a dry sense of humor similar to mine. Physically, of course, I want to him to be attractive, but I don't have a particular type in mind. I'll be happy if I don't tower over him in my heels, and if he dresses well and smells nice.
ZOLTAN: I'm looking for someone I can bullsh!t and have fun with. No one stuck-up or pretentious. Physically, someone with most of their limbs and teeth would be nice.
What is your biggest fear?
LAUREN: Killer whales.
ZOLTAN: Prison, mainly because I'm a stomach sleeper.
Fill in the blanks: In general, the people I date are "blank" and "blank."
LAUREN: Guys and have little in common, except for a shared love of beer.
ZOLTAN: Bullet wounds and daddy issues.
Fill in the blanks: I want my date to be "blank" and "blank."
LAUREN: Outgoing and a good singer.
ZOLTAN: Skilled in karate and have strawberry-scented farts.
What's your favorite thing about yourself?
LAUREN: I'm a thoughtful person. With great hair.
ZOLTAN: I'm pretty much down for anything. I think it keeps things exciting but can lead to some awkward situations.
What's the best song your date could sing for you and why?
LAUREN: Baby Got Back, by Si Mix-a-Lot. I think it would be a compliment. It's a hilarious song and it actually requires a level of skill to sing it well. And I could do the intro, "Oh, my God, Becky, look at her butt. It is so big!"
ZOLTAN: Baby Got Back, by Sir Mix-a-Lot, because my anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, hun.
What's the worst song your date could sing for you and why?
LAUREN: Anything by Backstreet Boys or Lady Gaga, because I would die of embarrassment on his behalf. N'Sync is acceptable, though. A little Justin Timberlake never hurt anyone.
ZOLTAN: Ice, Ice Baby, by Vanilla Ice. That's my go-to karaoke song, and if she tries to sing it, I might have to leave after my dance routine.
Time to stand up and be heard
Having discussed their song choices over drinks and appetizers, Zoltan and Lauren are ready to rock.
Zoltan's up first. Channeling his inner white guy, he heads to the stage and treats the crowd at Analog to a little slice of the early-90s-Good Vibrations, by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.
When it's Lauren's turn, despite her trepidation, she grabs the mic and does a great job with Katy Perry's California Girls, featuring Snoop Dogg. D-O-Double-Gizzle is a no-show (it's 4:20 somewhere), so Zoltan helps rap-up Lauren's performance.
For their final duet, the couple performs Digital Underground's Humpty Dance, and it goes a little something like this:
I drink up all the Hennessey ya got on ya shelf,
so just let me introduce myself.
My name is Humpty, pronounced with a Umpty.
Yo ladies, oh, how I like to hump thee...
Oh yes, ladies, I'm really bein' sincere
'cause in a 69 my humpty nose will tickle ya rear...
Tough act to follow.
Back in their booth, the couple seems to be hitting it off-talking, laughing, sitting close. They watch a few American Idol-esque Analoggers karaoke their hearts out, then step out onto Fifth Avenue for the short walk over to Side Bar on Market Street.
801 5th Avenue, Gaslamp
The date continues at Side Bar
Tonight is Side Bar's two-year anniversary celebration, and Lauren and Zoltan are on the guest list for the exclusive VIP pre-party, hosted by Dom Perignon. Snazzy.
The date continues at Side Bar
Inside, there's even more snazz-sultry go-go girls undulating to house music on swings and cages. After the couple has had the chance to soak in the scene and a glass of champagne, they're split for mid-date debriefings.
PacificSD: How's it going so far?
LAUREN: It's going really well. I think he's really cute. I think we have the same sense of humor. I would like to say there's chemistry there. I don't want to be the ass#ole that thinks that we have chemistry, and he's like, "Nah, I don't like her at all," but I think we're hitting it off. Do you think we're hitting it off?
ZOLTAN: Bueno. She's fun, very cute, easy to talk to, she's down to karaoke, so it's a good time so far.
Is this the type of person you'd normally date?
LAUREN: No, but the guys I normally date don't work out, so maybe this is a good thing.
ZOLTAN: Um, I'd say yeah. She's very laidback and chill and just down to have fun.
What did you think of Analog?
LAUREN: The food's amazing! Those lobster mini-corndogs are out of this world. And the tater-tot nachos are really delicious as well. The atmosphere was cool.
ZOLTAN: The lobster corndog things were awesome. We didn't really get to the tater-tots-we were too busy rapping our asses off.
How did you sing?
LAUREN: Awful, I sang terrible. It was mortifying, but at the same time it was something that I wanted to do, so I felt sort of accomplished after I finished.
ZOLTAN: First song, Good Vibrations, was a little hit or miss, but the karaoke machine was a little off. It wasn't me, 'cause I know the song. But Humpty Dance, I think I knocked it out of the park.
How well did your date sing?
LAUREN: Like, 10 out of 10-really, really good. He blew me out of the water.
ZOLTAN: She did California Girls, which is a great karaoke song, and she did very well. The high notes are definitely hard to hit, but she pulled it off; it was good. And I helped her out with the Snoop Dogg part.
What's the most attractive thing your date has done so far?
LAUREN: He just seems really attentive to, like...me. He's starting conversation and he's making sure that I'm comfortable. I feel like he's not just self-absorbed. He's kind of concerned about me and if I'm having a good time and things like that.
ZOLTAN: Basically, showing no fear in karaoke. That's a very scary thing to do, and to do it without bitching about it or even being scared about it is pretty admirable.
What would your parents say?
LAUREN: They would ask if he's Italian; they would ask if he was tall. And if I said no to both those things, they would probably be a little disappointed, but they would approve after they got to know him.
ZOLTAN: They'd say she's cute and cool and, you know, bring her over to dinner.
Rate your date from one to 10 for looks.
LAUREN: Nine, 'cause nobody's perfect.
ZOLTAN: 8 ½.
Rate your date from 1-10 on personality.
LAUREN: Nine-nobody's perfect.
Do you want to kiss your date right now?
Do you think your date wants to kiss you right now?
LAUREN: I hope so. I might need an Altoid.
If you had to choose between leaving with $100 cash or making-out with your date right now, what would you do?
LAUREN: I'd probably make out with him.
ZOLTAN: Guaranteed make-out? I'd go make-out.
Is there anything that could make this date more fun?
LAUREN: Maybe if we just had a little more quiet time to get to know each other, a little more time to talk seriously.
ZOLTAN: Can we go back to the making-out part?
It Takes Two
The blind daters get into the groove
Back inside Side Bar, Lauren and Zoltan have another glass of Dom. As they begin to get jiggy with it on the dance floor, they're finally left alone to enjoy the rest of their epic date night away from the camera.
Hoping to hear they made beautiful music together, we call the next morning to see what we missed.
PacificSD: Overall, how was the date?
LAUREN: The date was incredibly fun, aside from the five mortifying minutes that I spent singing on-stage at Analog. Both venues were very accommodating, the food and drinks were delicious, and Zoltan and I laughed a lot and enjoyed good conversation.
ZOLTAN: I think it went well. Blind dates can be awkward, but we just had fun with it and ended up having a good time.
How was Side Bar?
LAUREN: Side Bar was busy with their anniversary party. There was lots of champagne and go-go dancers writhing around in cages and swinging in hula hoops that were suspended above the crowd. Some of the hula hoops were hanging so low that at one point I almost accidentally walked into a butt cheek.
ZOLTAN: The music was good and there were plenty of sexy people. There were even half-naked girls swinging right over our heads. A butt cheek almost hit me in the eye. Not complaining.
What was the best part of the date?
LAUREN: Almost accidentally walking into the butt cheek.
ZOLTAN: Probably getting down with the karaoke. It was a good way to start the date. And as long as they have early-90s rap, I'm happy.
Describe any romantic connection.
LAUREN: Does groping on a banquette at Side Bar count as a romantic connection? No, all joking aside, I'd say we got along well. Neither of us wanted the date to end after the magazine left, which was a good sign.
ZOLTAN: I think it's too soon to tell. I liked hanging out with her and I guess we'll see if it leads to anything else.
What happened after you two left Side Bar?
LAUREN: We went over to Fleetwood for a couple more drinks, and then grabbed some pizza at Ciro's.
ZOLTAN: We went to Fleetwood for a drink, then ate some pizza. Nothing crazy. I was actually home by 12:30, just in time for the Charles in Charge marathon.
Was there a kiss?
LAUREN: There was no kiss.
ZOLTAN: No. I might put out on the first date but I don't kiss. What am I, a whore?
What's the smartest thing your date said all night?
LAUREN: A lot of things-he's a smart guy. About midway through our date, he told me how much he was enjoying himself. It was smart because it made me feel so much more comfortable and relaxed, so I think he was able to get a better sense of who I am.
ZOLTAN: She thanked me for not being weird and ugly. Finally, some recognition.
What do you and your date have in common?
LAUREN: We share a similar sense of humor. We both have two brothers. We order the same kinds of drinks. Oh, and we have both been on blind dates before this one.
ZOLTAN: We're both pretty chill and have the same kind of humor. We can easily just bulls#it and have fun together.
Is there anything you wish you had done or said differently during the date?
LAUREN: I wish I hadn't given him my number. He won't stop texting me naked pictures.
ZOLTAN: Hells no. I was cooler than Fonzi with frostbite. Actually, I've learned not to trip over woulda, coulda, shouldas. Besides, I'm happy with how it went.
Will there be a second date?
ZOLTAN: Yeah, we're going to one of my favorite sushi spots this week-Harney Sushi in Old Town.
LAUREN: Yes, he called me over the weekend, and we're going for sushi this week.
(to the tune of Z-man):
Lauren and Zoltan
Sitting in a tree
First comes love
Then comes marriage
Then comes a rapper in a baby carriage
536 Mark et Street, Gaslamp
Check out videos of our daters below:
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