Rogue of the month: Lori Lynn Melton
YES THEY’RE REAL Lori Lynn Melton isn’t shy about her guns and wants you to know that not only are they real, “THEY’RE SPECTACULAR."
(Photo by Stacey Warde)
‘Only on occasion do I get out of hand. I’ll do my shots of Yukon Jack, or my favorite—Kahlua, Bailey’s, and a floater of 160 proof Stroh’s.’
ROGUE OF THE MONTH
The ex-Amazon bitch from hell
One of the last of the genuine saloon girls
By Dell Franklin
Back in the day, when Happy Jack’s Saloon in Morro Bay (since 1927) was one of the wildest fisherman’s bars from Alaska to San Diego, Lori Lynn Melton, in all her glory, and known as the self-pro-claimed “Amazon Bitch From hell,” was the day bartender.
I’m now hanging out in the same bar, only it’s called the Fuel Dock, and the sewer stanch and shark-infested grotto-like environment has been replaced by a cleaner, brighter, stylized atmosphere. And Lori Lynn still holds down the day shifts.
“You have a bunch of brothers, right, Lori Lynn?”
“Yep. They range from seven feet two to the runt, six feet eight.”
“So you know men.”
“I know men. On a personal basis, these days, I prefer dogs. I just lost my Lab, Lilly, so I’m down to three cats, and it’s not enough. I’m about ready to get a new dog to greet me when I get home from work.”
“You like animals more than humans?”
“Most of the time.”
Back in the day, Lori Lynn’s running mate and compatriot was a voluptuous and volatile blonde who went by the self-proclaimed moniker of “The Sidewinder.” Together, they went bar-hopping in tight T-shirts, tight Wranglers, big belt buckles, and cowboy hats.
“What bars did you hit?”
“All the local taverns in the county that had action and live music. If there was no action, we made it.”
“How were you welcomed?”
“People looked up and saw us and said, ‘Trouble just came in the door.’ We never entered a bar without our calling card—the primal scream. Mine’s the loudest, longest in the county, and it climbs in octaves to this piercing sound that causes some people to fall off their bar stools.”
“Uh-huh. So, did you intimidate men?”
“Yep. Still do.”
“But at this point you’re the ex-Amazon Bitch from Hell, right?”
“Right. I wore my voice out. No more primal screams. Less boozing. Only on occasion do I get out of hand. I’ll do my shots of Yukon Jack, or my favorite—Kahlua, Bailey’s, and a floater of 160 proof Stroh’s.”
Back in the day, Lori Lynn worked at Happy’s with the legendary “Jackie,” a strapping knockout of an Amazon blonde herself—ex-stripper and biker chick from Orange County who took the bar community by storm, causing some cringing among the matrons of morality plaguing Morro Bay at the time. Just being around Jackie was scandalous.
“What about Jackie?”
“She’d ride in on the back of a motorcycle, right through the bar, get off, go to work. She could dance. She could flirt. She could cuss and chew ass and cry with the best of them. Sometimes, when the place was packed, and she’d had a few mudslides or shots of Jack, she felt it her duty to liven things up, so she filled up this squirt gun that was a dead ringer for an erect penis with balls and hit the dance floor, waving it around, squirting everybody, flushing out slummers and those who couldn’t take Happy’s.”
“You didn’t do that sort of thing, did you?”
“Of course not.” Looking coy.
“What did Jackie teach you?”
“Tits for tips. I got ‘em, make sure you show ‘em just right.”
“They still look good, kid.”
“You got it,”
“What size, if I may please inquire?”
“No problem. 38 D cup. And they’re real.”
Back in the day, when fishermen, still in boots and stinking of fish and sweat, trekked up to the bar from the embarcadero with wads of big bills after a good haul on the high seas, Lori Lynn faced them with a smile and the goods. Good with the bottles. Kept a neat bar and a pleasant, comfortable rap. Had a following.
“So what was it like when fishing was going strong?”
“Well, a lot of the people who come in now probably would not have come in then. There was more trouble and stress, more danger, lots of fights and craziness. Guys pulled knives and guns. Drugs and sex in the restrooms. Sometimes you mopped up blood. There used to be a big group of guys who fished who called themselves the “Brew Crew.” They were like cowboys coming in off a cattle drive. They kinda treed the bar, throwing things around, scaring people. Every time you turned around they were waving empty beer bottles or glasses or money at you. Guys came all the way from the coast of Oregon and Washington for action in this bar. I tried to corral them, but not always.”
“What are they doing now?”
“Not fishing, with the exception of one or two. Married. Kids. Real quiet. Some died at sea, and some are probably in jail.”
“And those days are over?”
“Over. Fishing’s just about gone in this town. I miss those guys. They were real characters, with big hearts under those rough edges. Now it’s more of a Yuppie crowd, and business is way better, and working here is really stress free and fun.”
Back in the day, there were very few female bartenders around town. Those that were had the wherewithal and attitude that allowed them to deal with the worst elements. A few of them worked at Happy Jack’s. Many of them suffered and paid dearly for it. They’re long gone. Lori Lynn remains. Fifteen years at the same bar. From Amazon Bitch From Hell, she morphed into an old pro, last of the genuine saloon girls left in the area, or perhaps the county.
“Young girls are hired right and left all over the county to tend bar these days, Lori. I’m talking twenty one, twenty two, and hot, hot, hot.”
“Yeah. I was thirty when I started, and hot. Had some seasoning and savvy, too.”
“What do you have that these young’uns with the big guns don’t have, now that you’re a middle-aged woman?”
“I still got my guns. And I know how to handle
trouble, not make it, not be it. I can anticipate trouble right off, and diffuse it.”
“You no longer work nights, right?”
“Not even. At night, the monsters, the tweakers, the Frankensteins come out. I got my calm little day crowd, my Happy Hour crowd. I’ve got people from age 21 to 94. We have fun without hurting each other. It’s just right.”
“But there's no more dogs in the bar.”
“No. The county doesn’t allow dogs in bars. Too bad. Back in the day, dogs were player friendly. The roughest, toughest, most violent fishermen had dogs that were so mellow—opposite of their masters. We wanted those dogs in the bar, because they worked as a great tranquil-izer….”
“And they got guys laid.”
“Well, Lori, we’re just about done. One more question: Are you as tough as you made yourself out to be, back in the day?”
She juts out her hip and thrusts out her chest and challenges me with a sassy look. “What do you think?”
“I think some women are fawningly sweet and cutesy-cutesy and goody-goody, but sometimes, inside they’re like poisoned Hostess Twinkies, cold as ice, calculating as the women who marry an asshole like Donald Trump. I think you, beneath the salty surface, are a creampuff, and a very vulnerable one at that.”
“All right. That’s enough. Interview over.” §
Meet some of our previously featured "rogues" here:
Dell Franklin is publisher of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.