Missie B's Changes Things Up a Bit
Kansas City’s community of gay bars has a legacy of giving back to the community during the holidays. One of the bigger annual fundraising events is the Angel Tree Fund for children at Missie B’s, the Midtown bar owned by the well-known gay nightclub entrepreneur Michael Burnes.
Jan Allen, manager at Missie B’s, said, “I fill out a little paper angel with their name and ages and all that, and then the customers take the angels off the tree to go out and get something for them, and generally it’s clothes. All of the angels were taken by customers and some were not taken back.”
Allen reported that the Angel Tree Fund raised $4,071, including $500 that was left from 2008.
“We go out and buy at least one item for every kid. We make sure everybody gets something,” said Allen. “There were 54 kids this year.”
“We spent a little more this year because about half of the angels that were adopted this year did not come back, so we had to go out and buy presents for those kids.
The fundraising begins on the evening of Thanksgiving during the bar’s annual Bartenders Revue show. Bartenders made up in drag entertain the crowd, and the bartender
on stage, other entertainers and the bartenders on duty donate their tips to the Angel Tree Fund. Customers also made other cash donations, and Bob Magaha raised $120 by once again donning his Santa Claus outfit and posing with patrons for pictures taken by professional photographer Janet Ryan, who donates her service. Santa Bob also delivered the presents to the kids at the Southwest Family Health Clinic, along with the staff of Missie B’s.
The children are selected by the receptionist, Evie Tygart, at the clinic, which is run by Dr. Sharon Lee. Allen said they’ve had to limit the number of children.
“Last year we did 36, I think, and prior years we’ve done as many as 116, but that was just too out of control.”
Allen said there was also a new program this year for a new Quindaro clinic that Lee has opened. “So we had some money left, and we still have money left, but we had enough that we bought Christmas dinner for eight different families at the Quindaro clinic. We got them all hams, instant mashed potatoes, cake mixes and nonperishables that they could fix for Christmas dinner.”
Although the bar has kept the Angel Tree Fund tradition, other things at Missie B’s are changing.
For years, people have joked that Burnes would change the décor whenever he got bored and wanted a change. The bar has greatly expanded its space in its 15 years of operation. The latest change is the complete renovation of the upstairs bar. The dance floor was greatly enlarged and the color scheme was changed to lighter colors and less of the darker leather bar look.
The space has been greatly opened up, even though there are still two bars with three bartender stations. They’re also planning on doing some painting and recarpeting of the rest of the bar, but Allen said there are no other major renovations planned.
“We’re happy right now with what Dirty Dorothy is doing. We may make some minor changes, but as far as the lineup, probably not.” Allen said they’re looking into bringing in people from time to time for circuit party entertainment upstairs, or to continue doing live shows with singers or comedians like the Eddie Sarfaty event in October.
“We’re moving more toward a video format. In fact, DJ Jerry Griffith has proposed what he calls ‘The Vicious Video Throwdown.’… The customers would recreate their favorite music video, and we would have a contest with a cash prize that is as of yet undecided.
“We’re also trying to plan one major party, one big event, every month,” she said. The recent reunion show on Dec. 27 (see photos on page 13) with Loretta Martin, Kim Kircher, Melody Lines, Martin’s own son and others was a big hit.
“I think they would like to come back and do that type of show occasionally,” Allen said. “We’re trying to think of new and different things.”
Like so many other businesses, Allen said, Missie B’s has been using Facebook much more these days.
For example, they’ve been offering discounts on the customer’s first drink of the night by mentioning the Facebook word of the day.
The Bootleggers Club still meets upstairs. Allen said, “People that have any Bootlegger card or even the old Dixie Belle dog tags, or if they have an old ‘whip it out’ card, we’d like them to come in and show it – they don’t have to surrender it – to pick up their new Bootlegger card.” Membership is free.
They’re even considering hosting Western nights on the dance floor upstairs. “We are anticipating doing a country-western night upstairs, possibly on a Wednesday or Thursday night,” she said.
Missie B’s is one of the many gay bars who have a show at the Gay Pride festival in June. Allen said that the first planning meeting for the bar’s show will be this month.