Churchill's Pub: An Oral History

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Bowe: A band from France, Costes, that Rat brought in, the girl had her period on him, and then he shit on her and started rubbing it all over himself.

Rat Bastard: Costes is one of the greatest performance artists in the world. He's played Churchill's twice for free... He's so intense, he actually spent five years in prison for his art.

Bowe: Then he ran for the crowd, and the whole crowd took off for the other side of the bar. He said, "No, those idiots; it was chocolate pudding." He put a bag up his ass, so when he stuck his finger up it, he punctured it with a long fingernail. And he did it so perfectly, everyone thought it was shit.

Rat Bastard: I said, "If someone took a dump on the stage, you'd smell it from a mile away." That's a combination of chocolate pudding and sauerkraut.

Bowe: There was Wednesday-night Jell-O wrestling. These girls were lesbians, bisexuals, whatever you want to call them — all of them had something to do with Churchill's. Some were bartenders; some were in bands. Eight of them sat down together and said, "Let's do this." It became kind of a theatrical thing. They'd sell the ringside seats for $12, the outer-ring seats for $10, and it was $7 to get in. Three to four hundred people would come in here on a Wednesday night. So all the perverts would have the $12 seats, all the semiperverts around them, and these girls would make a fucking fortune.

Rat Bastard: It wasn't just Jell-O. What they did was use different foods. They did peanut butter, spaghetti, some weird ones.

Davila: Dave was really upset because it's not really Jell-O; it's like some Jell-O-like substance. But Dave really wanted us to make boxes and boxes of Jell-O. So he bought a ton of boxes of Jell-O and was like, "Why don't you guys just make it?" We were like, "Where do you think we're going to store all of this stuff to fill a whole pool?" So we have tons of Jell-O if anybody's interested.

In the club's final weeks under Daniels' tenure, some of the original Churchill's acts — including Charlie Pickett, Henk Milne, Rob Elba, Juan Montoya, and Jim Camacho — came back for a last hurrah. Kreamy 'Lectric Santa flew in from Asheville, North Carolina, to offer tribute, and Rat Bastard played his final set at the pub.

Daniels expects to leave Churchill's by the end of May and has plans to live between here and England and write a historical-fiction novel set in his hometown. And yes, he will still watch the 2014 World Cup at Churchill's Pub.

Daniels: The thing I'm going to miss the most is the contact with young people. I sort of have a rapport with these young girls, and miniskirts are getting back to nearly as short as they were in England in the '60s. That contact has kept me a bit younger.

Toth: As much of a pervert as he is, as creepy and dirty as the place is, he's one of my favorite family members. Dave has always been nice to me, and I like him better than some of my family members for sure.

Bowe: I wonder what Dave's going to do. We've argued, screamed, and shouted at each other, left, come back. It gets pretty crazy at times. That's how it goes. But I'll always walk back through the door and say, "Hey, that doesn't mean you're not going to come to Christmas dinner."

Daniels: I've been here too long. I'm completely exhausted. I'm working too many hours, and I'm too old. I'm looking forward to being able to stay in bed all day and travel.

Franklin: I think a lot of people in this scene took Churchill's for granted. I think they saw it as an institution and didn't realize how blessed we were to have a place we could experiment in. That's not particularly necessary for a scene to have. You do that stuff in a garage or your house or maybe in a warehouse, but you don't necessarily have a stage with new customers, where there's a built-in audience; that was a luxury Miami musicians had for 30 years.

Rat Bastard: He doesn't interfere with the artistic or musical event. He lets anything happen at Churchill's. That's why he has been successful and stayed in business for 35 years. All these other brain surgeons that think they run music bars around here, but they don't know their ass from their elbow.

Pickett: People make music. And there's only eight notes. But somehow, over 3,000 years, those notes have resonated and continued to resonate with the whole world. So music matters, and when there's a place to create music, play, and help it flourish, that elevates everybody. Churchill's is that kind of place. And I can tell you that it's changed my life.

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Liz Tracy and S. Pajot