Longtime Star-lite bartender and original member of legendary Richmond punk-rock group Avail, Beau Beau Butler is a tattoo-covered, dyed-blue (or red, or maybe green, depending on his mood) mohawk-rocking, 10th-grade dropout with a retractable front tooth and a nose that by his estimate has been broken 15 or 16 times.
Sit down at his bar, and going strictly by appearances you expect to get punched in the face. But — Facebook rants at the world aside — it turns out he's utterly congenial. That is, if you don't act like an asshole here.
You get the impression that Butler isn't the type that suffers fools for long, and that's probably because he's crystal clear with his views, especially on Facebook where his pre-shift Tuesday rants have gained cult status among Richmond bartenders. "All I got is $1 People's Beer of Richmond and punk rock and roll tonight with a sidecar of 41 y/o angst. So come on by, or don't. I don't care," he offered in a recent posting. (See below for a special Beau Beau exclusive for Style Weekly.)
Or maybe it's his almost complete lack of eyebrows that gives you the surly impression. "Fucked up from all the scaring," he explains, popping out his front tooth for me to inspect.
Before becoming a bartender, Butler was a bouncer at numerous local spots, including the Old Dominion Club, the notoriously sketchy after-hours bar. Before that, he traveled the world with Avail as its hype man — or according to Avail's Wikipedia page, its cheerleader.
"I basically just got up on stage, spit, bled, jumped around and got naked," he says.
Facial scarring and punk-rock pedigree notwithstanding, Butler has built a legion of devoted regulars during his 10 years behind the stick at Star-lite Dining and Lounge, on the corner of Main and Robinson, with his lack of pretension and jarring honesty. He's become Richmond's answer to "Simpsons" bartender Moe Szyslak.
While he pours me drinks from behind the bar on a Tuesday night, I ask if, at 41 years old and with a little 4-year-old mohawked version of himself at home, his outlook has changed. Maybe softened a bit with the passage of time?
"The only thing that changed is that I have to watch kids TV now, which fucking sucks," he says. "Otherwise, I'm still punk rock. All of my ideals are still the same. I still have a healthy distrust of white people, the government and the whole nine yards," he says, smiling (his tooth back in).
"I guess I just really enjoy pissing people off," he says. "Challenging people. Listen, I really only dislike about 90 percent of people.'
Spoken like a true punk bartender.
And with that, I order a shot and shut my mouth.
Fired Up: Beau Beau Butler Rants for You
Hello dummies, it's learning fun time. …
1. Flip-flops are never OK! Girls, you did your hair and makeup, so put on some fucking shoes. Guys you look like a toolbag and you're not Jimmy Buffet — and if you were I'd stomp your open-toed foot after I bounced you off the sidewalk. Go back to margarita hell, you turd.
2. May 5th is Mexican St. Patrick's Day, aka Cinco De Mayo. Great — white folks drinking tequila, fighting their best friends, drunk-texting their exes and sleeping in their vomit ... weee stoopid!
3. This month Darius Rucker, Lenny Kravitz, Christopher Cross and Lance Bass were all born, proving once again that God hates me!!!
4. $2 highballs Tuesday @ Star-lite.
5. The Hindenburg burst into flames this month ... flammable gas?! Fuhhhk! Who thought that was a good idea?! Ze nutbag Germans, that's who. They also thought Hitler was a good idea. Enough said.
6. Hey assholes, it's LEARN HOW TO ORDER A DAMN DRINK MONTH! Liquor then mixer! C'mon, is this your first time in a bar?
7. Reaching over the bar and touching my hair will get the same reaction as trying to touch a large black woman's hair — she/I might try to end your life!
8. May 21st is national waiter/waitress day — finally! They deserve a day! Tipping less than 20 percent is never OK and makes you a dick. That is all, now come get drunk.
- Beau Beau Butler