Monday, August 22, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 82: The Party

First things first: On Tuesday, August 23, I will be at Brazos Bookstore in Houston for a 7 p.m. signing, so all of you Houstonians who missed me on my visit to H-Town two weeks ago, here's your chance to right that particular oversight.

Secondly, the Austin American-Statesman acknowledges my humble book's existence with "All over the book map with the latest Texas titles." It's been quite illuminating to watch how individual media outlets approach my book and attendant subject matter.

I've been running hard these past few weeks, and this past weekend was the most intense for me yet. There was a huge turnout for me at the Nesbitt Memorial Library Thursday in Columbus, with a turnout even larger than that of La Grange, believe it or not. I came darn close to running out of books, and that's a good thing. Amazing interest and enthusiasm from my home town.

Friday saw me back in San Antonio, for a signing at the Twig Book Shop. Again, a strong turnout showing interest in the Chicken Ranch isn't about to ebb any time soon. The staff was wonderful and accommodating, but the audience is what floored me. One woman drove all the way from Uvalde to meet me. Another couple had just moved here from out of state and thought the Chicken Ranch as good a place as any to start learning about Texas lore. Long after my reading and Q&A had ended people continued to trickle in, hoping they weren't too late to meet me and get a copy of the book. When your signing's at 6 and people are still showing up at 8 on the off chance you're not gone yet, well, that's enthusiasm.

The highlight of my weekend, however, was the book release party on Saturday. I've never had a book release party before. With Voices of Vision it just didn't really make sense, and all my other publications have been in magazines and anthologies. So this was something I'd been looking forward to. We had a fantastic time. People started showing up half an hour before the shindig was supposed to start, and continued coming and going the rest of the night. The weather behaved for the most part, with some rain starting up around 9:30, but the party continued unabated and before we knew it, the clock was showing 2 a.m. and we were still gathered 'round the back patio, talking away and enjoying our drinks (on that note, I have to say I've fallen in love with Amarula Gold. It's generally rum-like in profile (and I do like rum), but smoother and a lot more fruity. I found it mixes very nicely with guava nectar for a easy-sipping tropical drink).

Lots of people got copies of Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch and a few enthusiasts also took home Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch, but nobody went home empty-handed. We had party favors, you see. Take a look at that picture up top. "Baby repellent" is what my 10-year-old son calls 'em. We had bowls and bowls filled with baby repellent, and there was lots of laughter when our guests took a close look and realized what was going on. I mean, it's a book about prostitution, after all. What could be more appropriate?

A lot off you may know that I'm into homebrew, although I haven't been terribly active since our move almost two years ago now (Goodness! Time does indeed fly!). Well,the party was as good an excuse as any to shake off the doldrums, and I brewed up six gallons of nut brown ale, in this case, offered as "In-the-Buff Brown Ale" and also "Chicken Ranch approved." Brown ale is a great choice for this kind of thing.. First of all, it's almost impossible to screw up as long as all the equipment is sanitized well. It's a dark beer that has an interesting, rich flavor profile but at the same time is light-bodied and crisp so as not to overwhelm people who normally drink Budweiser, Coors and the like. The custom beer with custom labels earned widespread approval. I also uncellared my last two bottles of the best mead I've ever made and labeled them as "Chicken Kisses." Mead is like wine, but instead of fermenting grapes, honey is used instead. This was bottled back in 2014, before out move. It started out as demi-sweet vanilla bean mead, but the result was somewhat bland, so I steeped some bags of icewine-infused tea we brought back from Vancouver on our vacation that summer. The result was smooth and gently spicy and very pleasant to drink. Lots of people had never sampled honey wine before, so it was a popular novelty experience.

Next up was Miss Edna's Rules for Boarders. I've never been able to actually get my hands on an original booklet, but I did have a copy of the original rules handed out at the Chicken Ranch, so I used my imagination to create what one might have looked like. There are some anachronisms here--the "chickens in love" logo didn't exist until 1977, but hey, we're just having fun with this. I also printed them up in blue ink to simulate the old mimeograph machines us children of the 70s remember from our school days. Sadly, I was not able to replicate the damp paper and distinctive scent of those long-ago copy machines. The rule booklets proved very popular, and just about everyone there found a seat at one point or another to flip through and soak in the sometimes absurd history.

And then there were the koozies. Nobody went home without a koozie. Sometimes with armfuls of koozies to pass out to friends and family. Hardly a wedding goes by without the foam drink wraps being handed out, so why not do the same for a book release party? I've been using them for a few weeks now myself. They class the joint up, don'tcha know.

As for the rest, well, a party happened. The Wife and her friend Laura really outdid themselves. The decorations were amazing. There was so much food! And desserts! We've never had the time to have a proper housewarming party when we moved in, so this one did double-duty. We showed off the pool and the patio and The Wife's photo studio (which we spent most of last year building). I debuted my tiki bar, which I built with my very own hands over the past couple of months (don't tell anyone, but it's not actually finished), which I think impressed more people than my book did. Even Lola, our studio mannequin, got in on the act a little bit. I did a short reading that was well-received and talked about all sorts of things, including--but not limited to--the Chicken Ranch. A good time was had by all, and we hope to do it again before long. We always suspected our new house had been designed, at least in part, to accommodate parties, and now we have verification.

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now available from both and It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

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