Café Raoul, A Lukewarm Chamomile & My Friend Tony RicciSaturday, January 19, 2013
|Tony Ricci, January 18, 2013|
Yesterday I was at the No. 5 Orange on Powell and Main visiting with my friend Tony Ricci. While he was not the owner of the place when I was first there in the late 70s (the Brandolini brothers were in charge) the venerable place, in spite of new carpeting and re-laminated tables still looks as I first remember it. The girls look more 21st century but their moves on the stage are not new. At age 70 watching the girls take it all off for me resembled the act of drinking lukewarm chamomile tea. In the past I might have indulged in Harry Brandolini’s special Cafés Raoul.
Perhaps the girls were too young as in fact I am too old. The girls, very pretty, looked unfinished in their youth. They did not have (and why would they?) the depth of my own Rosemary and of other women of her age.
There was an old, distinguished gray-haired man sitting at a table who clapped with enthusiasm and called the short order cook of the establishment (the hamburgers are quite good) the chef.
I spoke with the DJ who happened to be a former resident of Mexico City. He has been working at The Five, four months, and told me he still had some of the ropes to learn. One might scoff at the idea of someone working as a DJ at a strip bar. And yet I remember several including one who ended up going to Carlton, working as an arts reporter (a very good one) for the Globe & Mail and is now an established trial lawyer for a good local firm.
Those who work for Tony (an American, a Canadian, an Armenian, a Greek), all, smiled at me. They remembered me from my ventures the North Burnaby Inn, the Marble Arch and The Five. All who work for Tony have done so in time periods measured in several decades. The perks must be good, the working conditions, excellent.
Taking pictures of Tony and of the newbie (just a few weeks) Crystal Lee in one of the original dressing rooms was a spooky treat. I had taken pictures there years before. It seemed like the ghost of one of the dancers from my past, Portia Winters was hovering as I took my pictures.
I used film in my big camera but what you see are some Fuji Instant prints which I think add a nice quality that does justice to a Vancouver institution that will long live in my memory knowing that Tony’s smile will keep on and his establishment will, too. And that, in spite of the lukewarm chamomile tea is comforting.