A Hogs Story
We just broke up. He told me I’d be a perfect bartender at Hogs & Heifers. What does that mean?! Is that supposed to be an insult? Where is this place??
FUCK OFF, KEVIN*!
I figured out where Hogs was at in the coming days, took a cab and walked in. Gussied the fuck UP after looking at the website and calling to find out what to do. No answer so I just went down there. Jasmin took one look at me and said, “You’re here for a job, huh?”, asked what I wanted to drink and made me a Sailor Jerry and Coke. She immediately got me on the bar in heels to dance to Black Betty. Michelle watched me dance on the bar and that was that. I filled out some paperwork, had an interview with Red and was hired.
My second shift was with Jodi. Read that again. MY SECOND SHIFT WITH JODI. I’ll never forget watching her do somersaults from the flag room (stage back then) out to the front door. I just shrugged and thought to myself, well fuck. Now what? Took the rest of the money off the bar from tips and kept doing dishes. I GET IT NOW. I know why you’ll never catch certain bartenders on the same shift. Not even working on the same day.
I was young and a *bit* wild. You’d have to ask Rianyn what her first memory of me is, at Hogs. I laugh every time she brings it up. I’m a little nervous to know how I’m remembered but I’ll accept it. I have a feeling more people remember the wild shit I’ve done there than I remember. We didn’t have professional photographers or photoshoots done We had Mark, a regular. Who has a knack for always catching the worst possible shit And Bart. Who did special events. Those two are the single handed reason I could never have a spouse who runs or holds a public office. Not that I want to run for anything, but a picture is worth a thousand words and there’d be volumes published off those photos.
Flashbacks! I’d just been broken up! He told me I was a perfect HOGS & HEIFERS bartender. I knew what it meant and I embraced it this time. He meant it as an insult but really he was just addressing his own insecurities.
FUCK OFF, COREY*!
Hogs wasn’t a job. You’ll never hear a bartender from there address it as “just a job”. It’s a lifestyle. The girl I entered that bar as, isn’t the woman I left there as and continue to be. Hogs crushed the wimp out of me and forced me to find the backbone I’ve always had but wasn’t sure it was okay with society, men, or the patriarchy in general, to use.
I learned so much about myself, other people, the art of relationships and more importantly life, grief, happiness, joy and how we all might be “different” from each other but deep down we all just want to be valued. As a Hogs bartender, you sacrifice a lot of who you THINK you are in order to become who you REALLY are. Hogs taught me not to underestimate my contributions, no matter what they are or aren’t. Everything you do and say, or don’t do or don’t say, has an impact and a truth to it. Remember that.
None of the people I’ve met through or interacted with at Hogs have seemed to have had bad intentions. Selfish? Yes. Bad? Maybe one person.
There is a beauty to the relationships formed with other people because of and during both of my ‘engagements’ has a Hogs Bartender. The support while I was there was real. The friendships were and still are, very real. The Hogs Bartender Cinnamon was, isn’t who Cinnamon turned out to be.
I’ve met so many amazing people during my time at Hogs but I can’t say I’d want to change anything except one.
Pro-Tip: When Kelly says DON’T FUCK YOUR COWORKERS, listen to her.
*The names are not being changed because that only happens for the innocent.
Photography by Cameron Smith | noremaC Studios
THE HISTORY OF HOGS & HEIFERS SALOON:
The idea for opening a bar and calling it Hogs & Heifers was conceived in, of all places, a bar. Allan Dell was a self-proclaimed functioning alcoholic and figured he spent enough time sitting at a bar and that he might as well make some money while he sat there. Allan’s two friends and drinking buddies were a Master Carpenter and a Graphic Design Artist and he talked them into helping him build a bar. They would all drink for free and get laid regularly and for three broke guys in their early to mid twenties, who could ask for anything more. Allan’s father agreed to finance his project if he could find an experienced bar owner to “father” him in the business. Enter Tom McNeil, legend in the Dive Bar business. McNeil owned the Village Idiot in Manhattan’s East Side, which was the Boys’ favorite watering hole, where they could sit for hours drinking ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon for a $1.75 a can. Allan knew that he wanted to open a bar that had to do with motorcycles and women and the original logo did, in fact, include an illustration of a chopper. The Boys were trying to come up with a name, while sitting in the Village Idiot one afternoon…”Hogs & something”. On the wall above the bar was a sign for a Heifer Auction, and a heifer being a cow that has not yet been bred, is essentially a virgin cow. The name Hogs & Heifers was born. The fact that the bar ended up being in a real meat market was simply due to the affordable rent at the time, but it was a perfect match and had a great deal to do with the success of the business.
Hogs & Heifers Saloon was to be an all American classic country and southern rock-n-roll dive bar. Allan knew he wanted it to have the look and feel of a gin mill and that he wanted to hang “stuff” all over the walls. Other than that, there was little else that he had thought about. He had a lot of friends who liked to drink and planned on throwing a party for them every night. Allan may never have imagined that it would turn into the famous bar it is today, but it was absolutely his pride and joy and he considered it his greatest achievement and reveled in its quick success.
Having entered the picture prior to its opening, Michelle Dell was the first bartender to be hired. The routine performed and style of dress worn by the bartenders behind the bar, which has made Hogs & Heifers famous, was born from Michelle’s heart. Hogs & Heifers opened in November of 1992 during an unseasonably cold winter. There was literally no heat source of any kind in the bar and it was so cold you could often see your own breath. Both Allan and Michelle believed in the notion of less is more when it came to dressing behind the bar and it was always freezing; did we mention the bar had no heat? Finally, Allan bought these little space heaters that did next to nothing to provide heat and with Necessity being the Mother of all Invention, Michelle began dancing on the bar–in the empty bar–as a means to keep warm. She would throw a few dollars in the jukebox and just get up on the bar and dance. Little did she know it would become the trademark theme of Hogs & Heifers and lead to countless celebrities dancing on the bar and donating their bras. The Julia Roberts photo was seen around the world and her bra still hangs there today, albeit hidden beneath some 18,000 bras! Michelle’s famous routine has inspired a Major Motion Picture and a league of copy cat Bars.
Essentially, Allan and Michelle, and their friends, were just a bunch of kids with nothing to lose and they threw a party that they enjoyed. They were fortunate and blessed that so many others would love to come to their party and would do so repeatedly. The two were married in Reno, Nevada, on November 16th, 1993. Allan Dell passed away on June 7, 1997. Hogs & Heifers continues to be run by Michelle Dell who was the sole proprietor of the New York City location. She now lives in Las Vegas, close to her favorite saloon!