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This Place Is Tits

Bossy Grrl’s Pin-Up Joint opened its doors in April. Mere months after, the pint-sized pub’s business is booming, attracting both area locals and sub-urban sippers. What’s the Old North newcomer’s secret to achieving near-instant neighborhood love?

By David S. Lewis

Published August 1, 2013

Everyone likes boobs.

That’s sort of the underlying business strategy for Amber Myers and Sandy Rollins, co-owners of Bossy Grrl’s Pin-Up Joint, a burlesque-themed bar nestled between Kobo Live and Ledo’s. But the ladies of Bossy Grrl’s are doing something rather different.

That’s probably because they themselves are a little…different. Early in our exchange:

“Well, when we first opened…can I say ‘bitch’? Yes? This Bitch here broke her ankle,” said Rollins affectionately of her partner, Myers, who devastated the aforementioned joint on a Razr scooter while playing with her kid.

Their back-and-forth banter is generally hilarious:

ROLLINS: I badgered the shit out of her for weeks…I’m definitely the…

MYERS: Nag.

ROLLINS: I am the momentum!

MYERS: She is the nag.

And, later:

ROLLINS: “I’ve always really wanted to be a cop.”

MYERS (laughing): “She thinks she looks good in a uniform.”

ROLLINS: “I looked ridiculous going in for my physical, because I was the only little girl with long red hair and fake tits, like, in my little Victoria’s Secret outfit, and they were like, ‘this bitch is crazy.’ That’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

MYERS: Or a mechanic…

ROLLINS: Or a mechanic. Which I’ve never really gotten the skill set to do.

MYERS: She can’t fix anything.

While most of the other alcohol slingers in the Old North lean towards heavier music, here the paint on the small stage by the front door of bar is usually under attack by the heels of a slew of cowboy boots and stilettos. Every week at the bar begins and ends with burlesque, the sexy-to-ribald performance art of disrobement.

“Burlesque, on Mondays, is hands-down our best night,” said Rollins of their Monday Mayhem burlesque, a no-cover party that starts at 9 p.m. Rollins is a fixture in the city’s burlesque scene, and the Bossy Girl behind the Sex Kitten Purr-lesque, her own troupe.

“We have a Monday night that every bar owner envies, I’m sure,” added Myers.

The second Saturday of every month is also burlesque, but turned up a notch, with a deliberate focus on ladies from out of town. Skinful Saturday showcases a single troupe, giving them a stage on which to build their show.

“It’s more put-together, because we’ve brought in Sin City [Burlesque] from Cincinnati, and we’re working with all the groups in Columbus, and we’ve started talking to some Dayton girls and some Cleveland girls,” said Rollins. “We’re bringing in out-of-town burlesque, so it’s not just Columbus girls.”

That’s not to say that scantily clad art students are all the entertainment the Joint has to offer. The bar has made friends with some of the best rockabilly and alt-country acts in town, who have in turn maintained a regular schedule at the bar. Tuesdays, for instance, sees the folk-country duo of Buckles and Boots, while other Wednesday features the hand-percussion driven folk of the Devil Doves. And, in keeping with vaudevillian roots of the burlesque scene, the bar features comedy every third Friday, hosted by Brooke Cartus.

Their selection of beers, a regularly rotating cast of craft beers, both local and from afar, affords special consideration to those produced by women-owned breweries, like Lost Coast. Indeed, the whole bar seems very women-friendly; frequented by strong women, you’d be surprised to see much in the way of usual booze-fueled grab-assery. For all the wildness and innuendo (the chandeliers are festooned with panties and brassieres, evoking an over-sexed Wild West saloon), it seems like a safe and welcoming place, a refreshing change of pace. While Rollins says that Bossy Grrl’s is not intended to be a “gay” bar, it is also undoubtedly an LGBT-friendly establishment.

So it’s a gay friendly honky-tonk vaudeville-style striptease club…one helluva distinctive brand experiment.

That eclecticism sure seems to be working. Despite setbacks (“At some point, I’m going to take that kegerator to a shooting range,” said Rollins in an aside to me. “And I’ve never shot a gun, but one day, I will to shoot that kegerator”), Bossy Grrl’s has established itself quickly as a fixture in the neighborhood. Opening its doors back in March, the Joint has attracted both a dedicated local crowd while still managing to serve as a destination for folks a little drive away.

“People come out specifically to come here, but I think we’ve done a good job of reaching out to the locals and letting them know that we are here, too,” said Myers.

“We’ve also had people come in randomly and they hear about all the things that are going on…I’ve had a lot of people come in for Monday Mayhem and they’ve never heard of burlesque before – and they love it,” chimed in Marla, a bartender/supporter/burlesque dancer who goes by the stage name “Dee Dee.” (She was in here gluing pennies to the floor before we opened,” noted Rollins gratefully.)

Rollins and Myers speak of their quick success with humility, and give credit for it to the customers who have found a home in the snug little bar on North High – and their performers, who they speak of with a respect that borders on reverence. When we asked for their help and suggestions for our photo shoot, Rollins quickly invited many of the city’s burlesque performers…and Buckles and Boots, and Heather Denney, and quite a few of the regulars. It was a natural option for Rollins, who embraces the quirky family vibe of the place wholeheartedly.

“We love the energy our regulars and performers create in here,” Myers said. “People comment all the time on the great vibe and that’s created by our badass customers – the talented local musicians and burlesque dancers mixing here and just having fun.” •

Bossy Grrl’s Pin-Up Joint

2598 N High St. www.bossygrrlspinupjoint.com

Comments

Madam Ofeelya Redd @ 08/01/2013 07:17 pm

Fabulous article, but not all the scantily clad performers are art students. Some are 40-something women with a regular M-F 9-5 and family :-).