Everything gets just a little darker around 3 AM. Late-night spots like the Continental in Humboldt Park start to spill over with patrons eager to eke out an hour or two more of party before heading to a hangover. Plane-going-down makeouts, witching-hour pickup attempts, and shots upon shots help create the perfect storm of wrong. And who has a better view of the depravity than those slinging the drinks and spinning the records? We were priviledged to take a (supposedly) sober glimpse at the boozy mess through the eyes of Sean Patrick Riley, a Continental bartender who works the 4 AM shift on Fridays, and Kevin Kujawa, a Continental DJ and vocalist/guitarist in Mannequin Men. —Kevin Warwick
A few questions for Sean Patrick Riley
What’s the worst pickup attempt you’ve seen? There was this guy who came in with like Eye of the Tiger—”I am going to bed someone tonight.” But his tactic was obviously horrible because he kept failing miserably but he kept going. He hit on every girl in the bar. After he hit on a girl and got rejected, he’d have a drink. So the next time he’d be a little more drunk, maybe a little loose, got to hang out a little longer, and then—done. Rejected. A couple hours later, he was so fucking blacked out and still trying to do this, and it was just gibberish. He’d just walk up to a girl and lean into her and be like, “Hey. Hi. Hey, what’s your name.” Finally I had to kick him out.
So he didn’t get laid. Not at my bar.
It would be sad if the girl actually fell for it. Totally. I’ve seen that kind of stuff too, but normally she’s just waiting and might as well have a fucking bull’s-eye on her, like, “Please come talk to me.” When there’s someone looking for something like that, all the dudes smell it. It’s like blood in the water. I’m serious. There are swarms.
Have you ever gone out with a girl that asked you out while you were working? Yeah. I got done, and she was like, “Hey, will you walk me home?” And I said, “Yeah, I’ll walk you home.” So we started walking and talking and she never told me where she lived so I just walked to my house and was like, “Here we are.” And she was like, “I don’t live here.” And I was like, “I do.” And then we dated for like four months.
Didn’t you once jump out of some girl’s window and break your foot? Oh no, I snuck out of her house because I realized that was a bad idea. I woke up, put my boots on. I was so ready to go I just left my socks. I went out the back door figuring that was bluesy and cool. And it was the first door I saw. I went into her yard and climbed the fence because there wasn’t a goddamn gate, and I slipped going over it. I cut one of my hands and broke my foot and then walked, for a long time, on a broken foot. I found a comfy little spot in Humboldt Park, and woke up to some polite homeless woman asking if she could sleep next to me. And then I realized, “Holy shit, who am I?”
Wait, was she hitting on you? I don’t know bum etiquette.
Did she want to spoon? You know, I was so terrified when I woke up that I don’t really remember if there was a pickup line or what. I mean, my arm was covered with blood and I had a broken foot and I was in a park and it was like 95,000 degrees out. But somehow I still hailed a cab. Someone picked me up. 10:30 in the morning hailing a cab with a bloody arm. My face was swollen too. I looked like a monster.
A few questions for Kevin Kujawa
Any eye-opening moments at the Continental? There’s a couple stories that come to mind right off the bat. We were DJing one night in the summer when it had gotten really hot outside. It was pretty disgusting, so we had the back door open a lot. This was before they had put a guy to keep people from coming up to the [DJ] booth in the back. So it was just kind of a free-for-all, with people everywhere. When you have to go to the bathroom and you’re DJing, you have to make your way through a swarm of people and it takes forever. I finally decided that I was going to brave the crowd to go to the bathroom. I get out of the door of the DJ booth and turn the corner to where the first part of the dance floor is. It just smells like, you know in gym when you had that steel basket full of basketballs? It smelled like basketball. It smelled like leather everywhere. You can’t see anything because there’s people everywhere, but I look right in front of me and there’s a dude handily pleasuring a girl with a leather skirt. Her leg is up on this table. Everyone in the room was wafting the scent of her ass as passed through this leather skirt. There’s so much shit that happens there. I want to tell other stuff but I’m afraid . . .
I don’t want to get you in trouble or anything like that. Not that I’m implicated in any of it, but I don’t want it to be like . . .
I assume that it’s pretty raunchy stuff. It’s just random, stupid shit. You know when you were 16 and you had ideas about what it was like to be like a seedy rock star and shit? It’s like kids turning 21 and trying that shit out, but just kind of failing at it or being really hilariously obvious about it. It’s a bunch of Val-Kilmers-as-Jim-Morrison walking around the bar.