The debut book from Joshua D. Fischer – and the first to come from Bedford + Bowery – is called “Meet the Regulars: People of Brooklyn and the Places They Love.” To get you psyched for this hardcover collection of photos and interviews (out in May from Skyhorse Publishing), here’s another new installment of the series.
With peanut shells littered on the floor beneath his boots, an American flag draped over a dirty tin wall to his right, and vintage country music flyers posted behind him, Richard Mark Jordan praises the authenticity and culture of Skinny Dennis. He calls the owners of this Williamsburg honky tonk bar “wizards” for their curatorial skills. And they must be, seeing as they cast a spell on Rich and got the Texas-born Brooklynite to appreciate the South as he never had before.
Rich, a 33-year-old actor and casting director, was raised in Dallas and just never took to it. “It wasn’t my place,” the self-described “outcast” says as he sips his Bulleit bourbon on the rocks – he also favors the bar’s signature Tito’s lemonade. After stints in France and Mexico (where he worked as an entertainer at Club Med!), Rich arrived in New York with nine hundred bucks and a couple suitcases. Since 2005, he’s lived in Bushwick and considers Brooklyn, rather than the South, home.
His goal was to become an actor, and he’s making progress. You might recognize Rich from his profile on Humans of New York, his appearance on subway ads for social site Badoo, his role as co-creator of the parody Brooklyn Boys, and assorted College Humor vids. But, his biggest break so far is getting cast on the new HBO show from Martin Scorsese Vinyl, as a member of the core group at the fictional record label office.
Rich saw a different kind of fame at Skinny Dennis back when he played in the band Jumbo Brown and they had a residency here. The “high energy Americana, rock n’ roll, dirty blues” outfit would pack the place, Rich says, and he reveled in his role as second singer who played slide and train whistle to add “comic punches.” Drinking in the vibe, Rich reflects on what he calls the “authentic, desirable culture surrounding music, booze, people and togetherness,” at this drinking hole that’s a little bit country, a little bit rock n’ roll, and all the way Brooklyn.
When I walked in, I felt like this place has been here for fifty years. And it had just opened up. Immediately, I felt like I was in some roadside dive but with magical people. I got a beer. I saw peanut shells on the floor. I was like, this place kind of feels like home – whatever that is. Not the home I came from but the kind of home that is wherever I am.
When I was living in Texas, I hated country music. And I hated the whole lifestyle. Skinny Dennis has played a major part in me reexamining that culture and lifestyle. At Skinny Dennis, no one’s really racist; no one’s really bigoted. All those things I didn’t like about Texas are not here.
Skinny Dennis plays mostly classic country music. There’s a big portrait of Willie Nelson on the wall right there. Country music that, now that I think about it, I did like, but I didn’t know it.
Brooklyn and Skinny Dennis provide a hybrid-culture of progressiveness mixed in with an homage to the best parts of Southern rock and country. So now I can go [back to the South], and I can enjoy the spots, those dive bars. I can have a conversation with somebody, and even though there’s a few key things I might disagree with a person, there’s other things about this person and culture that I can really enjoy.
In the bathrooms, [Skinny Dennis] plastered vintage Playboy and country nudes. It was relatively tasteful. I wouldn’t call it gratuitous. It was kinda fun. It was something men and women both enjoyed. But over the years, people have graffiti’d it. And I’m like: Really? You’re gonna graffiti beautiful tits? No one cares about your stupid signature. Let something beautiful stand by itself.
There’s a little cove near the back of the bar that’s been nicknamed “Fingerbang Alley.” It’s a place where people hook-up a lot. Mostly making out. But there’s definitely some lifting up of the skirt that goes on there. What other bar that you know has Fingerbang Alley? You can’t make this shit up.
I’ve made out with some chicks at the bar or on the dance floor. Especially after a show. We’ve played for three hours. And they were very generous with the drinks. We’d sing about drinking and fucking. People would get on the bar. Girls would sometimes show their tits. We had people taking shots. If there was a girl that was into me or any of the band members, that was it, man. We’re making out on the dance floor.
It never lets me down. I’m generally in control of my emotions. I’m pretty Zen. But I still have bad days. This is one of the only bars I can go to after having a bad day and instantly flip my mood.