On “The Simpsons” animated series, one of the long-running jokes is Bart making prank calls to Moe’s Bar, his father’s favorite drinking establishment. Bart would ask to speak to “I.P. Daley” and barkeeper Moe Szyslak would page “I.P. Daley”, causing Bart and his co-conspirators to convulse in naughty laughter.
What isn’t well known is the Moe Szyslak character is based on a real-life, street-tough Jersey City, New Jersey bartender named Louis “Red” Deutsch. And the phone pranks were based on real incidents carried out and recorded on tape in the 1970s by two practical jokers subsequently known as “The Bum Bar Bastards.”
The Bum Bar Bastards
Jim Davidson and John Elmo are The Bum Bar Bastards. Davidson got the idea of prank calling The Tube Bar after passing it for years and watching bums get tossed out the door by Red Deutsch himself.
They called and asked “Is Al there?”
“Al who?” Red answered in his gravel voice from Hell.
“Al … Koholic,” answered the Bastards.
And Red would page, “Phone call for Al Koholic! … Hey! Wait a minute!”
From that moment, Davidson and Elmo knew that they were onto something hilarious and began taping their calls to The Tube Bar. With each prank, Red’s reactions were more violent, obscene, and unintentionally hilarious. Among his most famous invectives, “I’ll cut your belly open and show you all the black stuff you got in there!”
The Bum Bar Bastards made most of their tapes from 1975 to 1976. Red even offered them money to show their faces at the bar. Every once in a while they’d risk their lives and have a drink at The Tube Bar.
The Bum Bar Bastard tapes were soon bootlegged and began showing up at parties and on radio shows. It wasn’t until the early ’90s when Davidson and Elmo finally copyrighted their tapes and released them on album. They haven’t made much money on them.
The Tube Bar
The Tube Bar had no chairs, sawdust on the floor, and until the mid-1970s no women were allowed inside. Red had his own rules. Patrons weren’t allowed to stand at the bar if they were only drinking beer. Only whiskey or mixed drink imbibers were allowed to stand at the bar. Red Deutsch, in many ways, was like the bar version of The Seinfeld Soup Nazi. He wouldn’t even allow patrons to eat or read a newspaper at the bar. They were given the heave-ho.
Writer Jimmy Breslin was a regular Tube Bar patron.
Louis “Red” Deutsch sold the Tube Bar in 1980. He retired to Palm Beach, Florida and died in 1983 at age 90.