"Thank you, gentlemen," says the final judge Claudia Rene, an actress and model. "100 Proof Hatred, huh? You guys own the crowd." The crowd screams even louder. "The War of Rock told you to bring it, and you brought it. You and your style —"
She stops and smiles hungrily.
"You're playing with my emotions right now."
He was sitting in the DJ booth, cuing up songs for the showgirls of the Texas Cabaret, when Jordan first saw him. She loved the way he wore his bandanna low, the chains connecting to his wallet, the ink that screamed rock 'n' roll. Some of the other strippers thought he was an asshole and warned her to stay away. He'd been convicted of assault, and two years earlier, a police report shows, he'd been accused of dragging his girlfriend by the hair and slamming her head into the floor. (The case was eventually dropped.) But there was something about the way he looked at Jordan, looked through her, like he could see past the mask she donned when she stepped in that club. ("Jordan" is a pseudonym.)
She looked too young to be a stripper. Her light blonde hair was perfectly straight, and her slight frame was draped with tattoos: a nautical star with wings across her chest; a silhouette of her walking the railroad tracks as a child with her grandfather on her side; the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland smoking a hookah on her stomach. Stripping wasn't what Jordan had planned growing up in Weatherford, a rural community west of Fort Worth. She used to ride her bike to a creek at the end of her neighborhood and look at her reflection in the water. She saw a soldier staring back. She planned to join the Navy after high school.
She never finished high school. She was 17 when she started working as a club hopper, waitressing at various strip clubs. Her mom moved to Georgia to be with another man, so Jordan moved to Fort Worth. She made good tips as a club hopper, but management kept hounding her to dance. On her 18th birthday, she says, she took off her top and took the stage. One time turned into five nights a week, and soon she was numb with booze and pills whenever the DJ called her name.
One night, after a dance, Warren called her over. He asked the "house mom," the older woman who wrangled the young strippers, to take a picture of them with his cellphone. Standing next to him, Jordan felt herself drawn to him. He sounded like Dimebag and talked slowly, drawing her helplessly into conversation.
Their connection grew. Then, one night at the club, one of the bouncers, Cliff, was trying to break up a fight when he fell to the floor, clutching his chest. He looked at Warren, who quickly knelt next to him. "Man, I can't breathe," Cliff said, and started vomiting. People swarmed, but everyone froze. Warren scooped vomit out of his friend's mouth and performed CPR, but by the time paramedics arrived Cliff was dead.
After everyone left, Jordan walked into the DJ booth, leaned forward and kissed Warren on the cheek. "I'm here if you need to talk," she said.
He did, and they did, sharing their stories. Warren's mom was a stripper, and he'd been working as a strip club DJ since he was 17. The strip club life was in his blood, as were the chemicals that often go with it. "Warren ate Xanax every day of his life," says Joey Jones, a friend. "He had an incredible tolerance for those things. He could eat a dozen of those a day and still drive a car, even though he didn't drive a car."
He partied with women — always different women — long into the night, but always managed to make band practice and showtime. "It was pretty amazing to see that kind of activity, that many different girls all the time," says guitarist Dave Lewis. "Just running the numbers in your head, you would know that's a dangerous lifestyle, regardless what anybody says or whatever. Your chances of being exposed are greatly increased."
But there was something special about Jordan. In late 2008, he invited her to attend a GWAR concert at the Palladium Ballroom. He pushed their way to the front of the stage, and they spent the rest of the night hanging off the rails as the band destroyed the stage in their signature demonic costumes. They even got slimed. It was a good date.
Soon they were inseparable. They grilled out for Sunday football, played beer pong and watched thunderstorms together. They lived together, partied together, worked together. They just couldn't shake their addiction to alcohol and pills, or their jealousy. Warren hated her stripping; Jordan hated his hanging out with strippers. Mental, physical and verbal abuse ended many of their conversations, Jordan says. One night, she was mad at Warren while he was playing on stage, singing his song "Betrayed." She motioned for him to bend down and ripped out half of his beard. As his adult son (from a previous relationship) tried to throw her out, the whole crowd flipped her off.