Open Mic Friday! featuring Juanita Mantz

Welcome, fabulous friends, to Open Mic Friday!

Today I’m so excited to introduce you to Juanita Mantz, a VONA alum. I love her blog and her guest post gives you a taste of what she writes about there. Take it away, Juanita!


Kegger, Juanita E. Mantz

The idea for a kegger party came to my twin sister Jackie and I during the last month of our junior year of high school. It started out as only an idea and the idea became reality and then, as it often did in my childhood, reality turned ugly.

We lived off of Fourth Street and Grove in a small three bedroom house that my parents rented. My parents had lost their house three years before. After they lost the house, we moved from rental to rental like a band of nomads. Our first rental was a condo in south Upland. North Upland was on the right side of the tracks and south Upland was its ugly neglected stepsister.

My twin sister Jackie and I recruited our formerly angelic little sister Annie to follow us on our ride to juvenile delinquency. We were the holy terrors of the neighborhood. We made out with boys in the community jacuzzi beer bottles in hand. We stole my dad’s car at night and came home to red and blue lights flashing in our driveway. We toilet papered the entire downtown of Upland which turned into a criminal investigation after our friend wrote on a car with permanent marker. I got caught drinking in the front yard with my skater boyfriend and his stoner friends by the cops and was almost arrested. Instead, they cited me for an appearance in juvenile court and as my penance, I attended alcohol classes where they told me to “just say no”.

Add in my parents’ constant screaming and fighting and in essence, they evicted us for being the modern day Inland Empire Hillbillies.

Our next stop on the sad rental train was an old, creepy white house in Upland that looked like the house from Amityville horror. The landlord sold the house after a year and my parents returned to Ontario in their search for a cheap rental.

When we moved to the new, not so new rental, I claimed my own room by biblical birthright. Even though I was a twin, I was the oldest by nine minutes and refused to share with Jackie any longer. Annie and Jackie were forced to share a room. I loved the privacy.

I had a poster of Sid Vicious on one wall and a poster of Bono from U2 on the other. My cat Whitey was a permanent fixture on my bed and she always left white hair on my all black wardrobe. I had my nose pierced the month before and proudly wore my diamond stud to school. It got me a lot of attention.

“No parties,” my dad said with a wag of his finger when my mom told us they were leaving for Laughlin that weekend. Annie was going to stay with her friend Bernadette.

“Party, no way!” I guffawed with a flourish of my hand. Jackie and I caught eyes and the idea was born.

Keg parties were all the rage in the Inland Empire of the 1980’s. The recipe was a simple mix of beer and high school students. Add in a band or at the very least a boom box and the recipe was complete.

We started our party planning at work. Jackie and I worked at the Round Table Pizza on Foothill and Campus in Upland with my best friend Tracy. My “other” best friend Melinda, who I had known since third grade, stopped by after her shift at the mall and we worked out all the details. We decided to “borrow” a couple of kegs from the cooler at Round Table and have them filled by a co-worker’s older brother.

“We need fliers to pass out at school,” I said. I was the unofficial president of the planning committee. “Johnny can draw, let’s have him hand sketch one and we can make copies,” Jackie said. “Have him put in some skulls and beer bottles,” Tracy said. Melinda joined in, “Yeah, and let’s charge three bucks a head.”

We made a hundred fliers and passed them out all week at lunch. The day of the party, Tracy and I talked about it in our part of the quad where we hung out with all the other punks. Melinda walked toward us with a grimace, “Guess who else is having a party tonight? Reggie.” “Shit, we’re screwed,” I said. “When the football king has a party everyone goes.”

That night, Jackie and I waited at the house drinking out of the keg with Tracy, Melinda, our friend Frank and the two guys we hired to work the door. My stomach felt queasy as we waited and waited. By nine we had given up. No one was coming.

All of a sudden, we heard shouting and screaming coming from the front of the house. I walked into the front yard and saw at least twenty cars parked on the street. A guy in a football jersey walked up and said, “Reggie’s party got broken up, everyone is coming here.”

Within minutes, the back yard was full of high school students. Jackie and I worked the keg and tried not to put too much foam in the glasses. The bouncers had already collected two hundred dollars and after the cost of the kegs we were at least a hundred dollars ahead. I took shots of tequila from a bottle someone passed around.

By eleven, the backyard was overflowing. The bouncers were drunk and had stopped taking money. The party had moved inside. I felt as if I was walking through a kaleidoscope of people. What are all these people doing in the house?

Tracy ran up to me and grabbed my arm. “Jua Jua, it’s the police,” she slurred. “They want to talk to someone in charge.” I looked through the front window and saw four cop cars in the driveway.

Jackie was nowhere to be found. I shook myself to clear my head and walked outside with Tracy. An officer walked up to me and said, “Do you live here?”

“Yes,” I said in my oldest child voice. He shined a flashlight into my eyes and I felt myself wobble in my monkey boots. “Are you intoxicated, young lady?” Tracy whimpered beside me. Just don’t let us get arrested.

“No, I’m fine.” I said and shrugged my shoulders.

“We’ve had several complaints from your neighbors and everyone needs to leave. We could arrest you for underage drinking.” I turned my head and watched as the police ushered a line of people out of the back yard into the street.

“Get a move on,” the police yelled through bullhorns. Someone screamed, “Go Juanita! Tell those pigs off!”

“Why are you shutting down the party?” I asked. “This is fucking ridiculous, it’s only eleven thirty,” I said as I got in the officer’s face. “Fuck off!” I shouted, the tequila making me brave.

Tracy tried to calm me down, but I pushed her arm away. Tracy turned and walked into the house. After the cops left, I found her hiding in the closet, black eyeliner smeared all over her face.

The cops didn’t arrest me. They should have. When my parents came home a couple of days later, the neighbors had signed a petition to have us evicted.

When I think back to that night, a night that happened more than twenty years ago, I can’t help but smile. I have to admit that I admire my outspoken (and drunk) sixteen year old self standing there in monkey boots, pierced nostril and all, standing up to a bunch of cops. Yes, it was stupid. Yes, it was wrong. Yes, my parents suffered for it.

But somehow, it seems fitting.



Juanita Mantz

Juanita Mantz grew up in Ontario, California in a family that novels are made out of. After dropping out of high school at seventeen, she waitressed her way through school eventually graduating magna cum laude from UC Riverside with a degree in English Literature. She went on to obtrain her Juris Doctorate from USC Law.

After spending years as an unhappy civil attorney, Juanita found her bliss and is a criminal defense lawyer representing the indigent at the Law Offices of the Riverside County Public Defender. She is currently working on her memoir, “My Inland Empire: Hometown Stories,” and has attended the VONA and Inlandia writing workshops.

You can find some more of her hometown stories on her blog at