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You usually hear the voice before you see the man. It’s a deep, gravelly, full-throated voice that people can hear from across the room, and it’s usually spewing out laugh-inducing insults — sometimes crude, sometimes cutting, but always good-natured — into a nightclub crowded with karaoke revelers or drag show audiences. The distinctive voice belongs to Robert “Buddy” Taylor, a fixture of the Kansas City gay nightlife scene, who has worked at, performed at, owned or managed so many bars and nightclubs here since the mid-1980s.
His latest venture is the Main Street bar Sidekicks Saloon, which he bought during the summer. OUTvoices Kansas City sat down with Buddy to talk about his life and career.
“I was raised out in the country on a farm,” he begins. “It was great. I loved living out on a farm. … I played in the first gay softball league in the 1980s, and the rest is history.”
Later, after relocating to Florida, Buddy returned to Kansas City on vacation and stopped into “this little bar called Changes. … And I asked the manager how hard it was to tend bar. … And this was actually a Monday night, and he told me that one of their barbacks had just quit and if I wanted to come in the next night, I could just barback Tuesday and Wednesday and I could make some money on my vacation. I said, ‘Well, you know, it just seems like everybody has so much fun [behind the bar>.’”
This account illustrates two of Buddy’s most significant qualities: his tremendous work ethic (I mean, really, who gets a job while on vacation?) and his love of the social life inherent in the nightclub scene. His barback gig quickly turned into a bartending job, and Buddy decided to return to Kansas City permanently.
Later, in 1986, he began working at the now-shuttered Club Cabaret, tending bar there for many years. In 1994, he moved to a new venue, Missie B’s, which was not much more than a storefront bar at the time. That’s where his Belle Star persona was born.
Having performed in several Bartender Revues up to that point, Buddy remembers “walking up to the stage, and someone said, ‘You need to get a drag name, bitch!’ And I said ‘Let’s come up with one.’ And we ended up having a contest that was six weeks. We got 5,000 names, and I narrowed it down to the top 12. … And that’s how my name Belle Star came about.”
Eventually, Buddy left Missie B’s to open his own bar, Time Out, which catered to a Latino crowd. That venue, successful as it was, was torn down by the city to make way for the Sprint Center. Then, soon after a venture that was marred by an unfortunate partnership, Buddy returned to Missie B’s and began doing shows again.
Jan Allen, now manager of Missie B’s, has known and worked with Buddy for two decades. “When he left here and he got his own bar, I think that it was sort of a struggle. But he built a crowd. And then the city came in and said, ‘We’re going to tear this building down.’”
Allen says of Buddy’s career: “I think his charity work is definitely one of the highlights.”
She is referring to the extensive fundraising that Buddy has done for Family Health Care on Southwest Boulevard, a nonprofit safety-net clinic that provides family medical care. For the clinic, Buddy began the “12 Months of Christmas,” which held benefit performances throughout the year to buy gifts for young patients affected by HIV. Eventually, these performances morphed into the “Angel Tree Fund,” where bar customers can adopt a Christmas angel ornament for which they pledge a holiday gift for a clinic patient.
Now, with Sidekicks Saloon, Buddy has moved into a new chapter of his career, and this one is not without a bit of controversy. Sidekicks traditionally has been Kansas City’s gay and lesbian country and western venue, but now it will cater to a more diverse crowd, with drag shows, Latino-themed nights and karaoke.
Some in the community have criticized these changes, but Buddy defends them.
“If you bring me enough country people to keep it open seven nights a week … I’ll do it,” he said. “But you can’t — there’s not enough country people, and this is not just in Kansas City. … There’s not enough young cowboys growing. ... Running Sidekicks, I have to do what pays the bills.”
This pragmatism is characteristic of Buddy. Aside from all the fun and games involved in the nightclub business, it is a business, and hard choices underlie all of it. The fact is that Sidekicks Saloon may have closed if Buddy had not bought it. And the upgrades he’s made are impressive — new bar tops, tiling, improved restrooms and nifty freeway shield and neon sign designs give the place a clean and expansive feel that still preserves the country and western look.
Darren Steinwand, owner of the gay sports bar OutABounds, has known Buddy for several years. “Buddy,” he says, “is somebody that, honestly, hands down, is very open-hearted, very caring as far as taking care of other people and doing what he can to help.”
Jan Allen agrees: “People love Buddy, and he will always have a following.”
But perhaps Buddy puts it best when asked what he sees for his and his new bar’s future — “I expect to be successful. I expect no less. We are well on our way, well on our way, and I’m happy.” "
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at email@example.com.