A hot gay mess in St. Louis

I’m a collector of colorful characters. And I’ve summoned them all to St. Louis for Labor Day Weekend, a city that not only has character, but is in itself a character.

Following the local LGBT community over social media is like watching a soap opera – and I’m not talking about your run of the mill bar feuds or relationship drama. No, in St. Louis you have a queen successfully pretending to be an attorney for months – handling cases in the courtroom and collecting fees before getting caught.

You’ve got a bar owner rumored to have burned down one of his bars for the insurance money, then getting his mugshot in the paper for allegedly embezzling funds from a Hamburger Mary’s – all while former employees, who publicly complain of bad checks, vent about him showering his beautiful young boyfriend with expensive gifts including a car.

AB-Skyline-300x250You’ve got another top bar owner charging a $30 cover for an emotional going out of business gala, only to open up for business as usual the following morning.

You’ve got a beloved local celebrity forced to resign from leading the LGBT Center for misuse of funds.

You’ve got a trans advocate who, having fallen out of favor with the establishment, bitterly calls out community pillars in epic tirades vowing revenge.

Then there’s the former Pride President turned convicted sexual predator. And this is just scratching the surface. I live in the Bay Area, have traveled from New York to New Zealand, and I’ve never seen a show like this.

AB-Lafayette-200x300Drama aside, St. Louis’ sizable LGBT community is vibrant, interesting, and uncommonly hospitable. The city is rich with gay neighborhoods where couples enjoy palatial historic homes with lush gardens; many circa 1880 to 1925, for prices that make coastal queens cringe. They make use of those homes too. I’ve never seen anyone who can entertain in the home/garden like my friends in St. Louis. And speaking of friends I’ve lived there on two occasions and have no greater concentration of friends in the world. St. Louisans aren’t only a good time, they’re fiercely loyal.

St. Louis has an impressive backstory, which I’ll attempt to highlight in one breathless paragraph. A few miles east of the Gateway Arch is the World Heritage Site Cahokia Mounds. The ancient city of Cahokia was the largest settlement north of present-day Mexico and was larger than London in AD 1250. The French flag and the Spanish flag flew over St. Louis before the Americans took over. Little more than a century ago she was the 4th largest city in the nation, neck and neck with Chicago, and was the largest city west of the Mississippi. A city mighty enough to host the first Olympics in the United States and to launch the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight. As recently as 1960 St. Louis was larger than Dallas and Atlanta combined, so the brick urban core is substantial.

IMG_0459-300x200

John Schwaig & Brian Derton

Guests attending my “Jet Set: Gateway Glitterati Weekend” include my San Francisco happy hour crew, known as “The Castro Consorts”, “The Mayor of Gay Oklahoma City” Floyd Martin and his entourage, a group of high-powered Kansas City attorneys, a straight auto mechanic from the great plains, a gal from Tulsa who explained sex to me when we were in the third grade, and a couple dozen others from around the country.

We’re taking over two floors of the historic Chase Park Plaza, and our main public event is a show called “HOT MESS” at Rehab St. Louis on August 31st. VitalVOICE gossip columnist Penelope Wigstock sums it up this way:

That's me.

That’s me.

“Former St. Louisan and AMERICAblog/Vital VOICE writer, Chris Andoe, is bringing his twisted dog and pony show to the Lou on August 30th. He’s named the weekend “Gateway Glitterati,” and if you’re wondering what treats might be in store for those who participate, check out an old David Lynch film or watch one of Stefon’s “club revues” on Saturday Night Live: narcoleptic drag queens, loud drunks with access to limitless booze, an entrepreneur with a glory hole franchise, and garden variety predators and sycophants…these are a few of my favorite things!!! The highlight (?) of the event-Hot Mess- takes place at Rehab on Saturday, August 31st. Mark your calendars and make it a point to stop in to see the Emperor and his merry troupe of misfits as they entertain and delight the curious and uninhibited.”

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My cast of characters will take to St. Louis like catfish to the Mississippi, and any kindred spirits or voracious voyeurs are welcome to join us for an epic weekend in this storied metropolis. Like Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond- once the biggest star the world had ever known, St. Louis is a regal old diva. With her world class attractions, fine architecture, fascinating residents and one of the most recognizable skylines in the world, she’s just as BIG as ever!


Chris Andoe is a New York based writer and seasoned activist. After meeting John Aravosis at a Chicago “StopDrLaura.com” protest in 2000, Chris was inspired to organize his own major demonstrations in St. Louis, his adopted hometown, which drew national attention. Since then, his activism has revolved around LGBT, affordable housing, and mass transit issues. While living in San Francisco, Andoe made headlines taking on the amorphous hacker group Anonymous for publishing nude photos of a Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesperson, saying “Puritanical shame-based tactics have no place in the capital of sexual liberation”, and he extensively covered the city’s jarring gentrification, from mass evictions to the nudity ban. Back in St. Louis Andoe’s hosted public events on the subway and elsewhere as “The Emperor” and writes the Tales from the Emperor column for Vital Voice Magazine. Always in the fray, Andoe’s been interviewed by NPR, CBS, and has been quoted from CNN to The St. Louis Post Dispatch. His upcoming book of short stories, Delusions of Grandeur, is expected out early next year.

Share This Post

  • Jack Long

    Its all about how you handle yourself. If you act like a jerk, gay or straight whatever-people are not going to like you. But some try to make being gay the factor. If anything its more like an excuse. Act like a human being period.

  • Jack Long

    Ruby is right. I get updates from other cities and this isn’t unique to us.

  • Jack Long

    I agree Dr. Keith.

  • Jack Long

    Read all the comments….and you will see the mentality that fuels the fire here. Their are enough things that could remain unsaid. But many have too much fun provoking drama. You are just as guilty as those you want to bring down**

  • LaDeshawntessa Jackson

    AS LONG AS SHE STAY AWAY FROM THE MCDONALD SO I CAN GET MY EGG MCMUFFIN ON

  • The_PH

    Indeed, that is why Leon’s thievery is being toted as a misuse of funds in this article and was sugar coated in the Vital Voice when they announced him stepping down. Thank goodness REAL news sources printed the truth. Vital Voice is nonsense.

  • JR

    I would hope my neighbors would feel the same irrespective of my sexual orientation. That’s because, unless you’re my husband, being gay is probably the *least* interesting thing about me. I’m a good neighbor. That’s why my neighbors and I get along.

  • The_PH

    Exactly, Paula. And the dirty Vital Voice staff are just enamored with her. It would be nice if we had a real gay newspaper. It would have to be better than this fluff.

  • for the record
  • who knows

    His payroll checks might never have bounced but his rent checks have.Many times.

  • Dr Keith

    Why is everyone concentrated on the negatives, when there are SOO many great, positive, role models in this city that get overlooked since many are focused on what is wrong with the LGBT St. Louis Community.
    I have met countless LGBT people in St. Louis, that SHOULD be considered leaders for the impact they make or have made.

  • michael

    stay in Lauderdale douche, we have enough here already!

  • Danny D

    yep too much Colin & Gramps, too many Center fundraisers. Don’t know the drinking hat person but there’s prolly too much of his/her ass too.

  • calm it

    Bro I think you’re taking all this shit too seriously. Mark’s been laughing about it since last night

  • Paula

    GURL…. They so let that criminal Dieta
    Pepsi off easy in the blog story! That Drag clown has done just as much if not
    MORE damage to the LGBT community as all the other criminals mentioned! Almost
    took down 2 yes 2 LGBT establishment by her stealing and scamming.. smh

  • Justin

    It’s sad to see things like this go down. I’m sure at some point any of the people called out gave the city & it’s people a new business , people jobs, good times & something to be excited about. If it wouldn’t have been for the Mark Erny / loading zone thousands of people wouldn’t have been able to see Larry Walsh perform every Tuesday night, Meet their bf, gf, first crush, first time passing out in a bar from having such a great time or making a new best friend. As for Mark on Ernys his energy to have a great bar gave way for a new bright hip layout of a bar in St Louis breaking away from the normal blah/ dark theme which made for MANY packed weekends. If not for Dieta ALOT of people would have never liked seeing a drag show or even gotten interested in watching drag because her personality and drive for what she done was just so high people could not helpt but get pulled in. If you dont like Nancy Novak charging a cover then DONT GO! Just johns is next door,,,, I no longer live in St. Louis but I still miss going out and seeing all the different people that make a great city like St Louis as accepting as it is for our community. What we don’t need are people like the one(s) that have nothing better to do than sit at a desk dusting up dirt that they have no business talking about. Pur government has plenty if your bored. Everyone has issues or those skeletons in the closet and the ones behind this article should be ashamed of themselves for getting into old shit that isn’t in their authority to even worry about. Also, great way to promote another business on the same article after bashing all the others. So now I will make sure to take anyone that works or has anything to do with Vital Voice off my Facebook plus when I come home from Fort Lauderdale I will go to Ernys and buy several drinks to promote business in St Louis your trying to run out.

    Justin D.

  • You ppl are crazee

    Why is spell checker not working on this site!
    Colon’s grandfather being a spotlight for LGBT
    military was a joke. All the LGBTmilitaryin this town?
    When the man in the hat drinks, is when she is
    an embarrassment to community

  • You ppl are crazee

    Oh Lordy…all this drama…Sadly, why is it only on Mark Erey?
    What about rest of the freaks in this town? Dieta/Lon, stealing from the Commun Center andn have Colon Lovitt (the President of The Center) brush it off wth “it’s less than $5000. WTF!!!
    Then the same Colon having is Grandfather, be a spot light or LGBT ilitary, evn thuh hcted hs grandson for being gay two years prior.
    Let’s not forgot the “Man in the hat” WTF..She makes a specical of herself iin blic.
    I know I will be attending this event..all the drama filled ‘leaders’ with over inflated egos, should be a great evening!

  • annoyedNoMore

    wow…I can see the comments about drugs.. but hourly wage guys are a turn off…. they are working, so get off your high horse!

  • PenName

    Interestingly enough your laundry list of “bullys” are all people that Mark Erney specifically has wronged in one way or another. Apart from that I’m not familiar with any of the above mentioned people starting any drama with any other person or organization. So while they may have spoken up to make the community aware of a “bad apple” it’s hardly bullying. From what I understand Mark Erney still owes Michael Mullen several thousands of dollars that was lent to Erney to open his second bar, Erney’s 32. It’s pretty hard to call someone who’s invested in the growth of the community a bully, when he’s simply upset that his friend and employer screwed him over and he’s out-of-pocket all that money because he trust Mark as a friend.

  • PenName

    Mark did not open his first bar, Loading Zone. He bought it, turn key, along with all of it’s success that came to a grinding halt once he took it over – with the one exception being Showtunes Tuesday. He did open Erney’s 32 but it’s “success” was short lived, as was his involvement with Hamburger Mary’s. He was removed by the investors before their first year. As to the on-going battle there, it’s highly unlikely the courts are entertaining this case based on gossip and hear-say. If the plaintiff’s didn’t provide reasonable suspicion there would be no case. So while it’s easy to cry “gossip!” please stop and use your brain and think critically about what is being said here.

  • The_PH

    Wish you would have touched on the fact that Vital Voice did a snow job on the “misuse of funds” from the former executive director of the LBGT Center. To quote Joker in the first Tim Burton Batman movie, “This town needs an enema!”

  • guest

    So funny. The blog must have charged by the word because there was a lot left out about Vital Voice but oh wait you work for them.

  • Jill

    Damn I used to love Novak’s!!! I am from STL and love my gays! These are jerks- but there sexuality doesn’t have anything to do with their shitty choices!

  • michael

    Hardly bashing & shit disturbing, Liars & thieves need to be called out for all to see!!!
    Mark Erney has been stealing from our community for YEARS & finally got caught red handed. I can give you a huge list of people who have been cheated by him!

  • RubyShoes

    St. Louis, like any other city is as great as you want it to be or a shitty as you want it to be. All about your perspective. While these cases are interesting, they are not unique to this area nor the gay community and therefore I do not read this article as bashing anything. Facts are facts. Enjoy your LaborGay Fest! Sound like a blast and thank you for pouring $$$ into the local economy :)

  • Amused in Atlanta

    LMAO I can’t wait to check out the STL shitshow .I HATE that the Chase is sold out tho. Where else should I stay?

  • OKCVisitor

    Is there an official bird of STL, because her feathers sure have been ruffled!!

  • Koskalaka Maricón

    I’ll meet ya’ll in St. Louis.

  • Jay F

    ^^^^ bar owner

  • Jay F

    I think the problem is how they approach the world every morning. I mean this in a fashion that should completely remove sexuality from the picture. How they approach themselves, and how well people can approach them.
    I’m not even gay, I just see Sideunes probably finds it easier to write off his problems to “oh, well they treat me that way because I’m gay”. Anyways what do I know right?
    Kind of the same point about JR, if you were straight I’d bet your neighbors would still probably love having you around in their company no differently.

  • michael

    Mark stole from his employees as well. Many of the rare checks I would get from him bounced, as well as several from a personal loan I gave him. He still owes me over$6000.00. SCUM!!!

  • Josh Waters

    I was smart enough not to take a check from Mark :)

  • Adam

    Didn’t you have some checks bounce Josh? Or did you even get one to begin with?

  • Adam

    How is it even legal to have an un-insured business?

  • Namaste

    Is this article a bridge?
    Cause there
    sure are alot of trolls underneath it!

  • irawkit

    OMG! this deserve and around the world and back snap.

  • irawkit

    yeah that’s totally bs. I’ve lived in St Louis for 10 years and it’s like any major city. It’s where you live and what you do. My bf and I just bought a hosue in the gay neighborhood. Which we have more than one of. Now nobody said anything about STL county.

  • Josh Waters

    That would be Mark’s partner, Paul. Obvious!

  • Josh Waters

    LOL! I find this extremely humorous. Clearly Mark Erney is behind this post, attempting to defend the piece of shit he really is. And, funny that the people mentioned in this comment are former employees of his, that could air his laundry quicker than he could get the money to bail himself out of jail next time. Don’t want to be a stereotype? DON’T ACT LIKE ONE! Loser.

  • Fancy

    You sure are obsessed with that ONE PART of the story about ONE bar owner….
    “Things that make you go hmmmm”

  • Fancy

    Bitter much? Seems your entire identity is based on moving away from your hometown.

  • NoMore314

    Ah… and now, I’m reminded why I don’t try all that hard to move back to the place I call home. Unless it is possible to find gay friends who are not tethered to the St. Louis gay bar “scene”, rocking their 2004 fauxhawk haircuts, after knocking down Linda Ladue and Chrissy Clayton at West County Mall in a grab for the last Affliction t-shirt… then I’m probably better off where I am. While there are some wonderfully accomplished gay men in St. Louis, the uneducated, hourly-wage, drug abusing twink population tends to be given the air cover to play voice and face of the entire gay community. St. Louis’ urgent and dire need to reinvent its economy to stop the population decline is an even bigger issue. The gays are leaving and going where there are better jobs, better weather, or BOTH better jobs AND better weather in some cases.

  • Rona Sine

    Seems like the details of the article don’t support the headline.
    _______________________________________________________
    issaquah dentist

  • JR

    Bullshit. I’ve lived here for 10+ years, and don’t have any problems. My husband has been here all his life and has been out since high school. Our next door neighbors have said, in so many words, “I hope you guys never move away.” That’s the same neighbor who hosts a Bible study group every Wednesday — one to which we have a standing invitation.

  • Strepsi

    “Well, that just puts the ‘mo in MO!”

  • sideunes

    ST. LOUIS is NOT as gay friendly as this article would have you believe!

  • Indigo

    As collectors go, that’s a little twisted.

  • Phil

    GYAD! And I thought Chicago had issues……

  • backstopper

    people that should be called out in this “community” of haters and shit disturbers… look who’s behind every bashing, bullying, hate and lies.. Jim noshowe, Mullen, Vital Voice, josh watters, some goof Andrew Garette… to name a few.. bar owners that feed the heads of customers with rumors and lies to keep ppl from visiting other bars.. bar owners that cant pass a drug test.. bar owners with fake identity, bar owners with criminal records.. Is it really big news that a bunch of business partners are in a fight over money…. WOW, thats unheard of!! its not a cast of characters over their…. its a cast of seriously problem haters.

  • teamplayer

    although im sure this is intended humor.. STL is drama.. primarily because no one seems to be interested in facts. unless you can damge someone, why speak (seems to be the strat)
    aware of most of these “rumors” made up bullshit. The burning bar is almost humorous except it was un-insured and never considered arson..(owner lost his ass) his payroll checks have never bounced.. his “young beautiful” bf drives a 10 yo truck and works at the bar 7 days a week (hardly smothered in $$$)
    This bar owner has opened 2 of STL most popular bars and then even opened Mary’s.
    Jealousy has surrounded his success and now its struggling because of haters in this community of people that hate anyone being successful. The Hamburger Mary’s is still ongoing fight between busniness partners (why this is new for the gays is a stretch).. the only once of fact in this entire bashing is that a case in pending with partners.
    if thats bigs new… get a life..

  • guest

    You didn’t try to “call” anybody else out Hmmmm… seems everything points to personal grudges of some sort. Bitter party of one, your table is ready. Just sayin

  • just sayin

    Fake Attorney: Dustin Mitchell.
    Embezzling bar owner: Mark Erney (trial for charges still pending)
    Bar that fake closed: Novak’s (Nancy Novak is now being evicted from the bar space on Aug 31st)

  • guest

    lol fair investigative journalism at it’s finest. Sad that our small community has a few individuals who, instead of trying to do good, perpetuate lies and gossip. Lots of luck to ya.

  • Tiara

    Aww hon I’m sure you keep busy with your internet trollin anyway

  • guesto

    There was like a picnic and a block party, I only went to the block party. It was a lot of fun and lots of people attended. It did great for being the first one and on the same weekend as the other Pride.

  • guesto

    Yeah, but TG was actually fun and had like hundreds of attendees. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. I went to both; and while the numbers downtown were great and all it didn’t have a real community feel. I had way more fun at TG Pride.

  • guest

    The bio line says activist and it sounds like all that this person’s life revolves around are bars. hmm. nope not interested.

  • NEXT!

    GURL are you still takin about that picnic protest?

  • Alex

    Until the TG Pride festival was tiny and the actual Pride fest was bigger than ever?

  • guesto

    No mention of the hubub over Pride’s big move and the resulting alternative Tower Grove Pride festival that successfully happened the same weekend? Surprised.

  • G

    Absolutely LOVE THIS!

  • Jim Olson

    Fair enough.

  • Matty

    It’s a public invite Jim! Saturday night at Rehab St. Louis.

  • Jim Olson

    So is this an invitation, or just bragging?

  • Penelope Wigstock

    FYI–KFC, Sonic, and Taco Bell have all been put on high alert just in case Miss Wynonna Juggs “graces” the city with her presence.
    Side note-The theme song for this calamity is Whodini’s “They Only Come Out at Night.”

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Let’s not forget this diva, Nora Desmond:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKfBCitChcg

  • Matty

    So excited!!

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