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The Red Bull

James HawkinsA Bullish Time

By Jim Hawkins, Co-Founder of The Red Bull and Former Owner of The French Market, Norma's and The Glory Hole Bars

There was more than one Red Bull on Missouri Avenue. The first one was at 506 Missouri Avenue. Gerry (Jerry) Edwards an I opened it in 1968. We worked on this old condemned building for six months to get it back in working order.

Jerry went to work around the corner at Helen Schraeders, another gay haunt, to learn how to tend bar. We didn't know the first thing about the business. When he went to work at night I would go work on the bar across the street. I would slip in the back door of the Bull and work putting this old building together.

We had tried four times to open a gay bar and four times we were stopped. We knew what we wanted in a bar that we enjoyed. The Bull opened in August 1968. All we had was nine hundred dollars to buy stock and buy our liquor license.

At that time males were not allowed to dance together. We talked to a gay attorney
who informed us "If no one is touching, it's exercising".On our dance floor we had many strands of lights hooked up to two modulators which were hooked up to our jukebox. They would go on and off with the music. A year later We started what is now called Disco.Our drag show on the second floor first started with our home stereo and spotlights made from #10 soup cans with colored lights hooked to a 2x4 on the ceiling controlled by dimmer switches.

In 1969 we started Go Go Boys on the bar (naked of course). In 1971 we started the first official Drag show in St. Louis at The French Market in South Saint Louis in Soulard. Because of that "Little Red Bull" all of this entertainment is now possible all over the region. And what's so great about it is It was done by gay people for gay people and supported by the greatest group of gay people in the St Louis area.

Jim is working on a book about his experiences and life in St. Louis - stay tuned...

 

Copyright Steven L. Brawley, 2007-2015. All Rights Reserved.