By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Pooka is 23 years old. She's a petite girl with strawberry blond (emphasis on the strawberry) hair and bangs pulled back and pumped up into a Gwen Stefani pompadour. She looks at a piece of paper on which someone has drawn a crude picture of a giraffe, complete with a linguine neck and leaking teats.
"Oh! I'm going to draw a lactating girl to match the lactating giraffe," she says in a Latinized suburban Miami accent as her full-bearded boyfriend, John-Wolf, gets up to greet a rocked-out-looking friend.
"Hi, Pooka!" the rocker responds quickly.
"Hi. I like your nipples," she says to him and then gives them a pinch.
Next Pooka gives a brief disquisition on John-Wolf's extraordinary ability to grow a gnarly brawny-man beard in only a week. "Look at him," she says. "Look at that fur."
Then the two men head out in the direction of BT's Gentlemen's Club (5922 S. Dixie Hwy., South Miami), which is next door.
"Velvet's my favorite stripper at BT's," Pooka tells me. "She's a thick girl with a gigantic ass. I mean, I don't know how she fits that thing in human clothes."
"Do you go to BT's because you like to draw the girls?" I ask.
"Mmm, yessss," Pooka says excitedly, but then quickly admits Velvet prefers dollar bills to a sketchbook.
"Do you ever get lap dances, you know, to get a better look?"
"I guess I feel since I'm a female and I don't have, you know, a penis, I shouldn't really be there. So I look at the girls, and I just buy lap dances for my boyfriend. I feel like I live vicariously through him. Like, go and have fun, and I'll just pretend like I did that."
Welcome to Drink and Draw — a social club of illustrators, their girlfriends, and ex-Dungeon Masters who meet the first Saturday of every month, 8:30-ish, on the cobblestone patio of Sunset Tavern (7232 SW 59th Ave., South Miami).
It began in Los Angeles, where a bunch of animators, including L.A. Ink's Kat Von D, decided to meet up every week to draw at a bar. They publicized the idea on MySpace, and some folks in Atlanta picked up on the idea. Then came Milwaukee and Lafayette, Louisiana.
This summer, Greg Narvasa, a Miami T-shirt designer who has a clean, spiky 'do and calls himself "a Midwestern Hispanic," decided to organize the fourth Drink and Draw chapter. After he made a few phone calls and sent e-mails to local friends/animators, about 30 people showed up at the first meeting. There have been four more gatherings since then. Attendance has fluctuated.
The idea, Pooka explains, is to find laxatives to cure "artist constipation."
At the most recent gathering, on October 13, six plastic tables were pushed together and 25 or so bodies were crammed around them, some sketching, some drinking, some just talking.
"It's [a place] where like-minded people can get together and serve as sources of competition and also for inspiration and support," says Jonathan, a floppy and sandy-haired dude who has attended several of the gatherings. He takes a sip of Michelob Ultra. "It's sort of like a workshop with boobs."
He means booze.
Next Pooka introduces me to 33-year-old Pat, whom she calls "Lord Patrick of the Third Realm" or simply "Pat Thai," because of his lineage.
Why does he come?
"I want to see what the competition is," he says. "And I use the term loosely.... I know I'm the best artist here."
Pooka randomly pulls a tube of vaginal cream from her purse and slaps it on the table.
How's that for inspiration and support?
For several minutes the group takes turns working on one big community sketch. Then they hand it over to Greg, the organizer, who lays it out on the table in front of him. It includes the giraffe and, as promised, a curvy, naked woman who has liquid oozing from her breasts. The image is refreshing for the struggling animator, who designs T-shirts for blood drives. "Once in the L.A. group, everyone drew their version of a gay Conan," says Greg.
"Hold on. Conan O'Brien or Conan the Barbarian?" I ask.
"Conan the Barbarian," he says. Then he begins sketching a man who resembles himself. The figure is clutching the giant giraffe's head as if riding a Falkor-esque beast ... while smoking a cigarette.
"Actually, drawing homoerotic cartoons is a good way of making money," 23-year-old Kristal says in a sweetly girlish voice. "I bought my husband an Xbox 360 with money I made from selling gay porn over the Internet."
I ask Kristal, a pale girl with glasses and pulled-back dark hair, why one would come to Drink and Draw.
To brush up on the art of drawing penises, she says. That's an art Kristal has certainly mastered in her own sketches — which she showed me later on. They include a portrayal of Richard Karn (Al from Home Improvement) getting pounded by Elton John atop a unicorn. Then there's my personal favorite: Velma from Scooby-Doo receiving a loaf of bread doggy-style. All of this has made Kristal, a manga convention organizer, quite a pretty penny. "I tend to charge $10 for a simple sketch, $15 to clean it up and make it more refined, $20 for some simple coloring, and $35 for full color with no background," says the University of Miami biology student. "The person sends a description of what they want, and I'll reply with a sketch. They send their money to me through PayPal, and then I'll e-mail them the final high-resolution copy."