Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fight nights

By Sir Thomas The Alcohol Man

B.J. Hedger grew up in the small town of Martin's Ferry, Ohio, where he was the seventh grade spelling bee champ. And he still has it: "O-n-o-m-a-t-o-p-o-e-i-a. Onomatopoeia."

Hedger is a very busy man. When he isn't pouring cocktails at Karma nightclub, he attends school full-time, runs a small business and he's involved in mixed martial arts.

He cornered his training partner, Sean Salmon, when Salmon headlined UFC Ultimate Fight Night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 25. On March 3, he'll be cornering Rex Holman at Nationwide Arena.

Hedger doesn't drink a lot. "I don't like the taste of alcohol," he declares. "I just haven't found anything that I like yet."

So can how a man who doesn't drink come up with something like this: "I wonder if a dog that is born in Mexico and a dog that is born in America, when they bark at each other, do they bark in the same language, or different dialects? And I've never done a drug in my life."

What's the scene like at Karma?
We are trying to bring the best of all nightlife into one building. Everything was redesigned. The front room is a great place to kind of hang out. We have big-screen TVs all around, which is cool whenever there's a sporting event. It shows the versatility of Karma.

In the main room the bar was completely redone. The sound system is one of the biggest improvements—from what I understand it's one of the biggest and best in the Midwest. The VIP rooms are the epitome of why you spend money to be a VIP. When you walk in there you feel special, you feel good and it's a great place to hang out.

The back room is our Asian Room, which is probably the coolest part of Karma. There is a waterfall in back. We also have a pretty extensive sake menu, which is unusual for a club. It is similar to a Las Vegas atmosphere.

We are bringing in a trendier crowd. Once people come in and experience what Karma is like on a night-to-night basis, they are going to want to come here. We have the best DJs, great servers, beautiful people and it's a great place to be on a Friday or Saturday night.

What's your signature drink?
Girls will come up and say, "Make me something surprising." Depending on how interesting the girl is, I make an Ice Breaker Martini. They drink it and they love it. Then they ask me what it is, and I say, "It's the Ice Breaker Martini." I introduce myself and ask their name.

As a non-drinker, what do you think of drunk people?
For me it is funny and entertaining. My theory on life is that God put everyone here on earth for my entertainment, and that is epitomized every night working at a bar.

Can you tell me about your business?
Sean Salmon's brother Danny and I just started our own management company, where we manage fighters. We help get them in fights and get sponsorships. I also own a clothing line, which is my passion project right now. It's called Chosen One Athletics and we sponsor mixed martial arts fighters.

What's your favorite bar story?
One of my very best friends in the whole world is known for getting obnoxiously, belligerently drunk, and it's always entertaining.

Before I went to work, we were all sitting at my house watching the World's Strongest Man competition and one of the events was when they bend the pipes around their heads. We came home [later] and he's drunk. We were all sitting on the porch having a nightcap and all of sudden our door tears open.

My buddy runs out in nothing but his underwear and jumps off the side of our porch and rips our gutter off our porch. He runs out in the middle of 17th Avenue and starts bending the gutter around his head yelling, "I'm the World's Strongest Man!" Which is funny. We got a kick out of it.

We were finally able to get him inside and he's passed out on the couch and we go back outside laughing about what just happened. Next thing you know he comes out again and this time [he's] completely naked.

The girls who lived across the street were having this huge party on their roof. He starts climbing the lattice to get to the roof, completely naked. He gets to the top and passes out and falls to the concrete.

Here we are three guys, "What do we do?" We thought he was dead. He's this naked, lifeless, bleeding body and we pick him up and start carrying him back across 17th Avenue. As we got to the street a police car comes driving down the street. We decided that we had to get rid of the body, so we toss him in the bushes and act like nothing had happened. We ended up going back over and got him.

He woke up the next day and had no idea what happened. He thought he had been in a bar fight. The scream that he let out in the morning when he saw his face was one of the funniest things that I had ever been a part of.


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