copyright © 2002 Todd Ristau

(in darkness, dance music. It fades as lights up on man with slicked back hair, white shirt, gold chain standing next to a tray with a bottle of Everclear, and a shot glass.)

I own a bar in a university town. Its a very good way to make a living. Especially in this university town because you got thousands of young kids with young kid ideas, ambitions, and desires and nothing for five hundred miles in any direction but cornfields and pig farms. People want excitement. They want more excitement in their lives than they have in their entertainment--so they tear down goal posts, they dress like whores and rock stars and they get together and they act out. People line up for two hours in the rain sometimes just to get in my place.

I get a good class of customer in here, not the artsy fartsy dress-in-black crowd making trouble, no geeks or stooges, no tramps, no dykes, no fags, just the kind of young person who has money and wants to get drunk with other kids who have money.

Every bar in town has a gimmick, you know, a schtick--like the Mill, they got that god-awful folk music and all-you-can-eat-spaghetti. Fine. Who wants Italian Hillbillies? Keith can have them. Gabe's Oasis, they got the "progressive live music" and a beer garden. Fine, let the Hippies drink downstairs till they can't smell each other and the punks bash each other's brains in on the dance floor upstairs--just so long as they stay out of my place. You into the Grateful Dead? Go to the Deadwood and I'll be grateful. You're a football player? Go to the Field House. I don't need your steroids and agression levels.

My place was always gonna be someplace special.

They denied me my initial application for a liquor liscence last year. Oh, yeah, got a big write up in the paper--I was stunned. It was the first time in 20 years an application for a new bar was turned down. They said something about my moral character which I won't repeat here, I know there was some concern about the other bar I'd managed on campus, you know, the suspensions for underage drinking and the two bikini contests...and how it seemed inconsistent that on the application I said it would be an adult place not crowded with college kids--but also said I'd lose $40,000 if we didn't open before the end of the semester...but, I got it appealed and I been open since June.

And its been great--I mean really really great. What's my gimmick? I got charsimatic bartenders who can really get the customers fired up--they provide the excitement my customers are craving--bottle spinning, lively banter, the kind of tricks and things you see in the movies.

There's one thing one of my guys does that is so great--(laughing) we got a stainless steel bar and one night my guy spills his Bacardi on it and says, "Shit, I ain't cleaning that up" and he tosses a match to it and it just ignites--instant clean! We nearly pissed ourselves laughing.

This turns into a regular thing he does--the patrons love it as much as I did. Let me show you how it works-- (pouring clear liquor into a shot glass as he speaks) See--the higher the proof, the more flame you get. Baracrdi 151 is good, some of your vodkas are nice--Everclear, that is the best, its 190 proof--you just need a little bit of open flame. Keep the match away from the bottle!

(He swallows the shot and lights a match, then sprays the alcohol at the match--but it doesn't ignite, instead it is stage blood and it showers him--he is unphased by it.)

She spit her drink right into the fire on the bar--Her face was white, her arm was on fire, and her hair was singed right off...Six people were carried out on stretchers, but this won't cost me my do I know?

Because the people have spoken....After the ambulances left, kids were still lined up to get in, the music was still playing, and people were dancing just like nothing happened.

(Dance music up and lights out)

Daily Iowan article


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