Best and Worst Karaoke Bar - 2001
Most aspiring musicians and wannabe rock stars have already heard of the Mint, the infamous Castro karaoke joint. Stocked with a jampacked songbook, large television screens, and a separate stage area, plus a bar for curious onlookers, the Mint hosts karaoke every night of the week and is usually packed, with waits lasting well over an hour on weekends. It's the perfect place to go if you're a second-rate singer looking to bask in your 15 (more like 3 1/2) minutes of fame, and the absolute worst place to go if you're a lip-syncing virgin or simply looking to have a little fun with a group of tentative friends. Supposedly, the bar welcomes singers of all levels. The truth is the host (on the night we went, at least) is a veritable karaoke nazi, a militant Ed McMahon, intimidating the crowd with barely concealed disdain and blatantly rolling his eyes at nervous novices. When we dared to take the stage, we performed a stellar version of Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer," hitting every high note and playing our meanest air guitar to a jaded audience, who were clearly killing time until it was their turn to hog the mike. Our suggestion? Skip the Mint and rent a private room in one of the many Japantown karaoke houses with your buddies, obviously the only ones who appreciate real talent when they hear it.