Gary Zinter and Mark Mitchell are calling their new club the Bus Stop, a name inspired equally for its theatrical reference as well as the fact that it's situated at a Metro bus stop. With a stage and clear windows that will lend no air of mysteriousness--they're trying not to convey exclusivity--Bus Stop is meant to be a place where performers of several disciplines (comedians, playwrights, dancers, musicians, and the occasional open-mic poet) can try out new material in an informal setting. Drag-queen performer Sylvia O'Stayformore is scheduled to appear soon after opening. "Everything we're doing," says Zinter, "we want to be really casual." Mitchell says that's the reason for the unadorned windows: "So people can walk up and see what's going on and come in if they find it looks interesting. We want people to know exactly what they're going to get before they come through the door. Curtains are old and played."
Right now, the space is nothing but a gutted room with a bucket for a sink, a toilet, and a couple of stools set amongst pieces of demolished plaster. An original brick wall will remain as is. Zinter and Mitchell have applied for a liquor license and plan to set up a small bar that faces the front of the room so that the crowd can be easily monitored for assholes. (Security will be on hand to eject them.) The partners also don't want the place to be so packed you can't move. Both of the previous tenants threw rock shows and dance parties that were nearly impossible to navigate in the darkly lit room.
Zinter and Mitchell's idea includes the possibility that Bus Stop will become a place where people hang out just as if it were any other bar, but regulars should be prepared for changes in atmosphere or entertainment each time they choose to stop by. "It will probably change every week," says Mitchell, "but sometimes things might just be one-time events." They note that some of the other spaces in the neighborhood appeal to a more upscale crowd, and that there have been some tiny squabbles with other nearby businesses, but that the Bus Stop will definitely offer a comfort zone that benefits the performers as well as the audience. "It's no Linda's, it's no Manray, and I think," says Zinter, "I think, knock wood, we have a small enough space without much overhead that we won't have to charge a gazillion dollars at the door to make money. We want the kind of people to come here to be the kind who respect the place and know what it's about to be here." He continues, "We're not going to put a lot into it, so if we flop, it's not going to be that great of a loss."
What little staging or furniture they'll have will be moveable--except, thankfully, the bathroom, which was practically unusable during the dance parties held by previous tenants. (In order to flush or wash up, patrons often went next door to Bimbo's or the Cha Cha to use their facilities, and then ran back to where they came from without even stopping by the bar to purchase a drink.) Zinter and Mitchell promise that the problem will be taken care of before the Bus Stop has its opening night.
Zinter is a local theater actor and producer. Mitchell formerly worked as a tattoo artist just a few blocks up Pike Street and is now a member of the gay country band Purty Mouth. Their reason for opening the Bus Stop is that it will offer performers a space when other venues may prove to be too big or too intimidating for what might be someone's work in progress. Considering that the neighborhood surrounding the cabaret space is itself in a constant state of flux, a work in progress, too, the Bus Stop will be a glorious new option for the any-day-of-the-week kick-ass party that is Pine Street--a place where you can put on a floorshow without getting 86'd.