Down for the count: Layla, Trinity (on floor) and Arson (with water bottle) practice a woman’s right to bruise during a July 23 boxing event at the Alpine.
Owner Gary Salvatore decided to bring
the event back to the Alpine, 401 Butternut St., on July 23. The last
time he tried it was in 1995. He denied that the economy forced the
gimmick. In fact, he said business is booming. “In this economy you
know what they do. In times like this people go out and drink and have
a good time,” Salvatore said. “We just want to do more for our
The Alpine has been doing that since
Salvatore’s parents Jim and Jenny opened it as a bar and grill in 1953.
Adult entertainment was introduced in 1966. Food has been phased out in
favor of snacks that get your mouth watering at the bar: peanuts and
pretzels. “It’s all an act in here. Entertainment first, that’s what
we’re here for. There’s no second or third,” said Salvatore’s wife,
Three bouts were slated for the big
night. Fighters took fake names like Justice De La Hoya and Bella
Balboa. They sparred in the afternoon before the club opened to prepare
themselves. Salvatore swore “the girls love it, they like to do it,
they enjoy it,” and those on hand spoke for themselves and agreed. “I’m
excited, I don’t get nervous. We’re gonna be the best,” bragged
Heather. Arson admitted, “I occasionally feel the urge to punch one of
my fellow strippers in the head.”
“Fellow entertainers,” corrected Salvatore. Yes, of course.
The novelty of the event generated
excitement, according to three movers from Indiana. After a grueling
day including a 10-hour drive they ate dinner at Alto Cinco. The rest
of their evening fell into place when they saw the Alpine’s
advertisement in the Syracuse New Times. When the doors to the club opened they were there waiting.
Before the main event, it was business
as usual. A deejay introduced exotic dancers one by one, claiming each
was “one of the hottest girls here tonight.” His eclectic playlist
included Eminem and Motley Crue, and possibly Sade. He also gave a
shout-out to three WAQX employees who dropped by to record reactions to
the action but were, as the recent remake would have it, Gone in 60 Seconds.
Pole dancing prowess varied. Some
executed routines that were athletic displays involving handstands,
splits and gymnastic moves. The best, like ballerinas and rodeo clowns,
made physically challenging feats seem natural, effortless and, yes,
sexy. After two song salvos, dancers moved from the main stage to a
mirrored enclosure not unlike a deli case.
A recording of Sly Stallone’s slurred
voice signaled the onset of the festivities around 10 p.m. Thin mats
were thrown down for safety and three white ropes were hooked up to
complete the squared circle. Two contenders made their way up in satin
robes, gloved hands held high. A referee chosen from the audience
joined them and the first match began.
It was all playacting and horseplay but
the hooting crowd loved it. A “spit bucket” for tips got passed around.
There was plenty of aggressive punching—wild jabs and haymakers were
thrown—but periodically the fighters took a break to. . . make up. The
action came to a head when the referee received atypical tag-team
resuscitation after being accidentally “knocked out.”
Victory was beside the point: No one got
hurt and everybody had fun. That’s more than Mike Tyson can say. On the
July 26 CBS-TV telecast of EliteXC’s Saturday Night Fights,
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santors kneed, punched and kicked without mercy
until she was the clear victor and her opponent was a mess of sweat and
blood. It’s debatable if that was a more entertaining spectacle, or
truer to the spirit of sport.
Layla, who “fought” in the last bout,
unhesitatingly said she loves her job. She’s been working at the Alpine
for four months, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., six days a week to support
herself and her young daughter. Her two older sisters work at the
Alpine as well. “If I only make $100 in a shift that’s still more than
most people,” Layla asserted. Her last stint was seven months at Tessy
Plastics, where she worked 12-hour shifts for $8.75 an hour before
getting laid off. “I make more now in a night than in a week at Tessy,”
Some might claim this sort of thing
victimizes women but since feminism has gone plural, plenty of people,
including role-model Madonna, have maintained that women should refuse
to repress their sexuality. In other words, if some men are only
capable of viewing women as objects, that’s their problem.
Because the event was such a success,
Salvatore plans to hold a second foxy boxing night in the fall. Read
the pages of The New Times for details.