Alton Confidential: Naked truths about bare-breasted barmaids, horrific murders and the ghosts that haunt our favorite little river town

It is a quarter till six on a Thursday night last month, and a small group of regulars is seated around a bar in downtown Alton, Illinois. The male crowd wears five-day-old stubble on their cheeks. A few sport Harley-Davidson T-shirts and orange bandanas tightly affixed above their brows. In the corner of the dimly lit lounge, a lone female customer cackles and coos each time someone sends a shot of Jägermeister her way.

Last January, smoking was banned in all Illinois restaurants and saloons, but that doesn't stop anyone from lighting up in Alton's many dive bars. The only evidence the law even exists is that taverns no longer furnish its customers with ashtrays. At this lounge, patrons flick their ashes into Altoids tins and near-empty bottles of beer.

Lining the wall behind the bar is a row of video slot machines, and every few seconds the games draw attention to themselves with an explosion of lights and whistles. Pasted above each game is a small sign that reads: "For Amusement Only." Though like similar slot machines found in watering holes throughout southern Illinois, everyone knows these games pay out behind the bar.

But we're not here tonight to witness anything as humdrum as illegal gambling or the flouting of state smoking laws. No, we've driven twenty miles north along the Illinois side of the Mississippi River from St. Louis to eyeball more wanton acts.

It was this past summer when an Alton local first informed us about how bartenders served drinks in his hometown. You might call it bartending au naturel. Venture into any of a half-dozen bars in this quirky river town, our informant told us, and you'll find female bartenders slinging drinks in the buff.

These aren't strip bars, mind you. They're blue-collar juke joints, where showing some skin has become commonplace over the years. As our source explained, you might compare it to the serving of tapas in a Spanish wine bar. Whereas in Spain you expect to receive a small morsel of food with every drink you order, in Alton you expect that Bud Light to come with, well, headlights.

Apparently our man from Alton wasn't lying. In September, sheriff deputies in nearby Jersey County walked into a bar in New Delhi, Illinois, to find a 33-year-old bartender wearing nary a stitch. Less than a month later, police made an arrest in Alton when someone called to complain that they just saw a woman working "totally nude" at the Pub Room, an establishment known for its lascivious proclivities.

With all the recent crackdowns, we figured we'd better hightail it to Alton to behold this nudie phenomenon before it's too late. We're seated at our barstool for all of five minutes when things start to look promising. A heavyset man in a St. Louis Rams jacket walks over to the jukebox in this dark, smoky lounge and cues up the song "Show Them to Me" by country-music comedian Rodney Carrington. The tune may as well serve as unofficial anthem of Alton's underground boobie bars.

Show them to me
Lift up your shirt and let the whole world see
Just disrobe and show your globes
And a happy man I'll be
Show them to me...

As Carrington's lyrics spill from the jukebox, several male patrons goad the barmaid to play along. Soon everyone, including the lone female customer, is encouraging the barkeep to reveal her breasts. "C'mon," screams the man in the Rams jacket. "You heard him! Unclasp your bra, and set those puppies free!"

The bartender protests for a second, then reaches into her shirt and fishes out two goose-bumped, quivering mounds. "Dammit!" she replies to whoops and whistles. "Why can't there be a song that encourages men to show their junk? I'd like to hear that one."

Similar scenes are unfolding at a handful of taverns located down the street on Broadway, Alton's main drag. In a biker bar just a block from city hall, a freakishly top-heavy waitress dressed in jeans and a tank top informs an inquiring customer that her enormous bosom can only fit into a bra with an L-cup or larger. Later, this same barmaid will consume several shots of Rumple Minze and lift her shirt to unleash a snow-white avalanche offset only by two angry brown eyes. Picture a pair of basketballs stuffed into tube socks.

Behind the bar her rail-thin colleague struts about in a bikini top and a miniskirt so short it fails to cover her ass cheeks. She's not wearing panties. When a customer tosses a $1 tip onto the floor, the woman pushes her derriere into the air in an exaggerated effort to collect the money. Proctologists rarely have such a vantage point as do the patrons seated on their barstools.

For a $10 tip the woman grabs a horsewhip from behind the bar and leads a male patron with an S&M fetish to the rear of the tavern. She pulls his jeans down around his ankles, bends him over a pool table and starts flailing away on his hairy, exposed buttocks.

The fun soon ends when a drunk sneaks off without paying his bar tab. As the scofflaw heads for the door, the bartender drops her whip and dials 911. Police arrive minutes later, just as the barmaid is pulling on her panties and barking at patrons to extinguish their cigarettes.

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15 comments
Roswell2012
Roswell2012

Nothing wrong with a little T&A as long as the ladies aren't being harassed or forced to reveal anything they don't want to. Sounds like they don't have a problem with it and even enjoy the attention and extra tips they get from flashing. The people with the seriously conservative viewpoints that are bothered by it need to stop trying to force their views on other people. That shit really pissed me off. If you don't want to see it, don't go there, plain and simple.

givemedirections
givemedirections

I totally agree with Number 6. If they dont want to show them, they dont have to. Its a good thing when they do. If people dont like it they should go to a differant night club, go to Tonys with its pretend to be upidity crowd. They all just want to sleep with each other. Praise to all those barmaids.hope they make as much money as they can, as I do to anyone that is willing to work and not take from the system

Steve Evans
Steve Evans

Flashing Boobies for Tips in Alton has been a custom for many years. In the 80's there was a VERY chesty Bar Maid at the Pub Room who would undo buttons on her vest. When the Tips were rollin in, she took the vest off. When the tips slowed down, she put the vest back on. It took a considerable amount of $ in the jar to get the vest off a second time. Quite a racket!

Gump
Gump

This is for Kellee Baker, the girl in the "Alton Confidential" picture. You need to get a job bartending in Alton! You could make some good money and you would raise the quality of barmaid to the next level! HubaHuba!

Alby
Alby

Hehehehe. This article cracks me up! I am a fairly new transplant to Alton, and this hits the nail right on the head. The naked bar tenders should be the last issue the city fathers should worry about. Lack of jobs and industry, an aging housing stock, slumlords, rampant drug and crime problems, and diminishing city revenues are all major problems that need to be tackled first. The casino was merely a crutch for so many years; never really improving Alton; just helping it squeak by. Alton has it's bright spots and some good people, but if something isn't done to change the demographics, it will be a magnet for criminals and bums. Alton is a true case of urban decay. Many of the decent people who want to live a clean life have fled for greener pastures. Free the BOOBIES and fix whats really wrong with Alton!

Bradfordshort
Bradfordshort

I live in Alton and have heard people complaining about this article. Especially some of the politcals and wanna be big shots. When I was done with the article I was in total agreement with it. The people over here can bitch all they want. But they are bitching about the truth. If the people of Alton don't like what the article says then change it. The writer had the town drunk driving him around trying to show how great Alton is.

troy
troy

Yep,thats my old hometown.The police play cops and robbers.Its a joke.Alton has a huge drug problem.Everything is cheap.Including the value or quality of life.The prostitutes,drugs,felons,lingerie shops,payday loans,pawn shops,gambling.I have a son to raise.I moved and never looked back.Even the cops dont have to live there.Wake up somebody!!

Ben There
Ben There

No, Jamie instigated Jamie's nudity. Sweet girl, but she was one of those girls that liked to show off. The only reason she was arrested was because she kept walking outside naked, and someone would call the po-po.

above the law
above the law

I only wish the author of this story would have interviewed Jamie the Alton Barmaid who was fired for nudity. He could have asked her who the main instigator was to her nudity and this story would be as big as the Blago story.

Ben There
Ben There

Sorry MK, but you're wrong about most of what you wrote. Nobody barks at them, especially the owners. Most of the time, nothing gets shown until the owner leaves. If they don't want to show anything, they just say no. Not that bigga deal. And on a good day, they make a LOT more than a few measly bucks. They don't generally stay very long anyway. It's just place to make a few bucks til they find something better. I remember one that worked in one for a couple of years while she finished law school and never showed anybody anything. Didn't have to. Now she's an attorney, a damned fine lookin one. Helluva debater too.OTOH, there are/were those who were quite narcissistic about their exhibitionism, and just loved the attention.Some didn't even care if they didn't get any money. They just like to show off.But don't EVEN come off like it's some kind of sex slave thing. Because it's not.

MK
MK

As if the majority of these women are doing this on their own volition. If the men weren't there demanding it, they wouldn't do it. If they didn't get barked at, bar owners encouraging it, etc., it wouldn't happen. Even in this article, it states how the women were reluctant to show anything. I'm sure some women are all about it, but the majority..no way. Bar owners and managers know it's why people come to those bars and enjoy the profits. The women are making a few measly dollars. Don't blame the women, blame the bar owners for not just allowing this, but for encouraging it and profiting from it.

Ben There
Ben There

I've been a patron in those Alton bars for years, and yes, I've seen a fair amount of nudity. Sure, as a man, I sometimes enjoy a nice set of boobies with my beer. Most make me smile, some have made me have to force a smile. One line I remember from some drunk dude was, "Damn! Looks like golf balls hanging in a sock"! Of course the bartender didn't appreciate that very much. But what kills me, is the fact that some people actually go to these places, knowing full well what goes on there, just so they can see it, develope their self rightious better than thou attitudes, then go snitching to the authorities. Busybodies with apparently nothing to look forward to all day, so they decide to go ruin someone elses day. And with all of the murderers, crackheads and car thieves running around Alton, the police aren't really interested in fighting the evil threat to society that bare mammory glands cause. Funny how America is so backward that way. You can go to any European or Carribean beach and see the same exact thing, and nobody complains, nobody gets hurt.Personally, I can live without bare boobies. Seen 'em before. Big deal. Bags of fat. Whoopteedoo. But over the years, I've noticed a trend.Used to be, the only girls who worked in these places were former strippers from the east side. Battle hardened drug addicted hooker types that no one else would employ. It was hard to feel sorry for them. But nowadays I'm seeing something different. I'm seeing young single mothers, freshly divorced, who normally wouldn't be caught dead in these types of places. I'm seeing young single women who don't make near as much money on their day jobs, so they have to moonlight just to feed their kids. or some have been laid off from minimum wage jobs.And I do feel kind of sorry for them. I listen to their stories of abuse from their ex-husbands, or being laid off from "regular" jobs, and can easily see that they've been dealt a crappy hand.So next time you look down your naked nose at someone's naked breasts, and decide to rescue the world from the evil society collapsing scourge of bare boobies, ask yourself, "Self, will I make the world a better place by snitching on a woman who's just trying to live a life and feed her kids, who isn't trying to murder you, sell drugs to your kids, or sell you a senate seat?

Travis
Travis

I am an Alton area native. I went to the Pub Room about a week before the shit went down in September. After viewing a horrible excuse for a vagina(I'd like to call it a birth canal) from the skanky bar maid, she got pissed and called me uppity when I requested to not drink from their glasses. This article needed t be written. Alton has many short comings, and many natives (like myself) find humor in them. The city is beautiful in it's own right, and has many great establishments that are trying to better the city (i.e. Spirits Lounge, Gentelins on Broadway, Bossanova, etc., etc.). Also, the Grafton scene is great for wine and dining. Why not mention that? Kudos to Chad for making the venutre out to check out the Dive Bar scene (which is one of a kind). I encourage people to check out the historic the riverfront district (state st., etc.) and the many hidden treasure Alton has to offer. It is photographer's dream. Plus a lot of great music and art has came from the "city" of Alton. i.e. Camp Climax For Girls, Judge Nothing, Yorktown Heroes, uns of Navarone, Back of Dave, etc.

P.S. The Alton Telegraph is horrible!

Aaron Goodrich
Aaron Goodrich

I am a former son of Alton, born and raised. I now live in Portland Oregon, which has at last count 92 full nude bars. Alton could do much worse. I also used to work in the Mineral Springs Hotel and will testify that the place is haunted as f#@$!

John Olson
John Olson

Dennis Grubaugh is the epitome of a yellow journalism, and why you offer him another platform is beyond me! He is glad to tarnish the innocent on page 1 of the Telegraph, while child molesters are relegated to the back of the paper.

I'm not sure why there's an issue about women showing their tits anyway? Besides dive bars, there are plenty of churches you hypocrites can frequent.

While I do live in Alton, I am not a fan of the city. I also realize that cigarette smoking and amusement devices can be found all over the area and not just at the Pub Room. And for Mr. Garrison to hone in on bars in Alton is beyond me. NTM, the poker machines come with the blessings of Springfield.

So I raise my glass to the Marlboro Man. PAULA SIMS, SHOW ME YOUR TITS!

 
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