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Besides the giant slabs of smoked meats, chef Jimmy Bommarito's menu includes calamari "steak" pieces cut into strips rather than rings and deep-fried artichoke hearts, both appetizers big enough to serve as main courses.
On a recent Wednesday evening, Twist's trademark tornado logo and a Z107-7 [107.7 FM] van greet visitors to the St. Charles County strip-mall location. By 10 p.m. the grill has stopped serving food and the speakers blast ridiculously loud Top 40. With hordes of young women blitzed on free booze, Ladies Night's popularity is rivaled only by "NASCAR Sundays," when racing action dominates the joint's ten screens and patrons who purchase a 120-ounce "vessel" of beer get a free pizza.
The eatery-cum-nightclub is sandwiched between a Mexican restaurant called Tequila and the future home of the Monkey Bar & Restaurant, a "dance club/martini bar/restaurant/sports bar." Its proprietors include Chris Brockmeyer, who also co-owns the Vault, a Central West End nightclub that gained notoriety last year when it hosted a "Girls Gone Wild" party.
In February Twist tried to sink the Monkey Bar, arguing before Weldon Spring's board of aldermen that its owners would bring a lecherous element to the mall. The board thought otherwise and the club is scheduled to open later this year. Somewhat surprisingly, Brockmeyer holds no ill will. "Tony's been very helpful," he says.
On the dance floor at Twister's, frat guys in ball caps pursue blondes in tube tops and denim capris, while the green-eyed, full-figured April Twist does the books in the back office. "Since my [waitresses] dress promiscuous, I also do the same, because I couldn't ask them to dress one way, and me to dress any different," she says. A calm but firm manager, dressed tonight in an aqua micro skirt and black heels, she works Tuesdays at the Havana Cigar Room but otherwise spends the most of her waking hours at Twister's Bar & Grill, bartending, waitressing even scrubbing toilets.
"Most bars that open up have many investors, and if they lose it's not that big of a deal," she says. "So that's why Tony and I work so hard to make this successful, because if we lose, we lose huge. Half of what Tony had was taken from him by his ex-wife. We're trying to rebuild what he lost, which was a lot."
Like April, Jocelyn is blond and striking. She works as an account manager with a local public-relations firm, currently promoting a new, Chesterfield-based junior hockey team called the St. Louis Bandits, which is owned in part by Kelly Chase and Brett Hull.
Jocelyn says that being married to a professional athlete was difficult and, like many athletes' wives, she often worried about being cheated on. She sometimes resented being stuck at home with the kids while Twist lived it up on the road. Still, she describes her ex-husband as a romantic partner and a good father and says their marriage, by and large, was a happy one.
"I just think we just got married way too young," says the 41-year-old Jocelyn Twist. "Tony was a father of two by the time he was 22 years old. I never thought the marriage was bad, but its dissolution was probably best for everyone, except the kids."
Without offering specifics, Twist counters that their union was miserable for much of its nine years. He claims his ex-wife has not been a responsible parent since the divorce. "We don't get along," he says. "She's not good people. She's fucking up with my children. She never sees the kids."
"I see them as often as I can," responds Jocelyn. "Being in PR, I work a lot at night, and he moved them out to Defiance."
The kids live with April and Tony, Jocelyn says, in part because she is a Canadian citizen, here on a short-term visa. If she can't get it renewed, she may have to return to Canada in a year.
Twist became a U.S. citizen after marrying April, whom he met a few months before his motorcycle accident. At the time, she was a 22-year-old manager at Mike & Min's and didn't care a lick about sports. She didn't even recognize the Blues enforcer when he came in. Whatever the case, they clicked.
"He just caught my eye and I caught his eye," she remembers. "It was really bizarre, sort of like a fairy tale, because most pro athletes don't leave their wives for a bartender."
Jocelyn doesn't blame April for breaking up her marriage: "If it wasn't April, it would have been someone else. We were growing apart."
The Twistelli TempestHad Tony Twist and Todd McFarlane gotten to know each under different circumstances, they might have become fast friends. They're both former professional athletes who once called Kamloops home. McFarlane played center field there, for the Seattle Mariners' farm club, in the early '80s.
An über-sports fan famous for paying $3 million for Mark McGwire's 70th home-run ball, McFarlane amassed a fortune creating comic books and action figures (including ones for Napoleon Dynamite and members of the rock group KISS). A hotshot illustrator at Marvel Comics for eight years, McFarlane left in 1992 to start his own company, Image Comics. McFarlane's departure was widely publicized and caused quite a stir in the comic-book industry. McFarlane took with him a handful of other talented Marvel illustrators, and the company lost $137.6 million in market value overnight.