Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bonnie Cullum Tells Wayne Alan Brenner The Story of the Butterfly Bar at the Vortex Repertory, Austin Chronicle, January 11, 2013

Austin Chronicle TX

The Bullet Hole in the Butterfly Bar
This East Austin joint's a good story you could be part of
by Wayne Alan Brenner, 11:00AM, Fri. Jan. 11Butterfly Bar, Vortex Repertory, Austin TX

There's a bullet hole and there's a story that goes with the bullet hole, and Bonnie Cullum – artistic director of Vortex Repertory Company, owner of the multipurpose Vortex compound near where Chestnut Avenue intersects the restaurant-studded stretch of Manor Road – Bonnie Cullum is telling me that story.

"It happened in the Seventies," she says. "This bar was at The Landing on San Antonio's Riverwalk. And the story goes, there was a cat burglar who kept coming and breaking the pane of glass, opening the door and coming in and taking all the money out of the cigarette machine. So they hired a private security dude, because they were going to be closed over Christmas, and they thought it would happen again. And the security dude looked remarkably like Santa: Big fat guy, white beard, white hair. And nothing's going down, so he takes a little nap on the bandstand. And here comes the cat burglar, he's breaking into the cigarette machine, and Santa stands up, says 'Hold it right there!' – and he's got a gun. The burglar starts to run and Santa fires the gun towards the ceiling. It's a cement ceiling, and the bullet ricochets off that and goes through the bar and slices off the beer tap. The cat burglar's fainted from hearing the loud bang, he's out cold on the floor, the beer is hitting the ceiling and splashing down, and the burglar wakes up and there's Santa Claus staring down at him, holding a gun, and the beer's pouring down all over him."

That's the story – the story of the bullet hole in the bar at the Butterfly Bar, the Eastside watering hole attached to the Vortex theatre. But the Butterfly Bar has its own story, too – a much more recent one, a story that's still evolving, and we'll get to that soon enough. Right now, let's look at the bar, the impressive artifact itself. The joint's had this gorgeous wooden bar for a while – it used to belong to Cullum's father, renowned San Antonio jazz man Jim Cullum.

Read more at the Austin Chronicle on-line . . . .

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