Sold-out performances of Late Night Theatre’s Golden! Girls Gone Wild!!! are just another sign of the creativity that Missie B’s, one of Kansas City’s favorite gay bars, has shown during the 20 years it has been in business. Hosting live theater is new for this classic establishment, but owner Michael Burnes has been open to changes over the years.
“I always believe that if people spend their money, they want to see you reinvest,” Burnes said. “As Missie B’s grew, we expanded. Through the years, we’ve reinvented ourselves many times to make it cohesive to the community. It’s not gay old yesterday sitting here. People have gotten older, we’ve gotten new generations, we’re catering to a whole new [group> of people.”
Although Burnes leases the building, he does incur expenses for projects such as the addition of reinforced steel beams to support the second-floor dance floor.
The newest expense was building the sliding wall to block the stage area from the main bar so that they could do paid-admission shows, such as those that Late Night Theatre has been doing. He said the group would do more shows in the future. “And I’m thrilled,” he said.
“It was another one of my goals,” he said. “And I think it’s time. It opens the option for us to offer a great fundraising venue. It’s because Missie B’s has always been the one to go to bat and raise money.”
One example is Missie B’s annual holiday Angel Tree fundraiser that occurs between Thanksgiving and Christmas and raises thousands of dollars for the Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care clinic. The bar’s manager, Jan Allen, said that this year they raised $5,600, thanks in part to one donor who gave $1,000.
Burnes had a long history of bar ownership before Missie B’s. He was instrumental in creating the Dixie Belle Saloon, which morphed into the much-larger DB Warehouse. He owned the original Mari’s bar and restaurant that had drag queens serving as waitresses and also was involved with the Kon Tiki bar.
When he bought Missie B’s, it was a small bar in the current location that was called Lupe’s, surrounded by other businesses both next door and upstairs. Burnes gradually took on those adjoining spaces when the lessees moved out, as he expanded the bar five times, including the second floor and the outdoor smoking patio.
Burnes started to explain how he bought Lupe’s: “I got drunk that one night on Boodles …”
Allen, who was also participating in this interview, broke in here to say, “And that’s why we don’t stock Boodles.”
Burnes continued with his account: “And said, ‘I’m going to buy this place’ and asked how much. And I called Johnny Parks and said, ‘Get a check for $20,000 and I’m going to buy this place.’ The next morning, I woke up and said, ‘I surely didn’t do this,’ and he said, ‘Yes, you did.’”
Burnes started in the restaurant business back in the 1960s as a cook at the Leed’s Café