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November 14, 2009

Paul Vivari's list of awesomely bad bar concepts

midnight stunnedLadies and gentlemen, give a warm round of applause to guest columnist Paul Vivari, who has delivered a rousing column about awesomely bad bar concepts. And you know how we love awesomely bad bar concepts around here. Take it away, Paul:


At Comrade, the Communist bar, you become a part of the bar the moment you walk through the door. There are no bartenders, who are viewed here as bourgeoisie doppelgangers, oppressively controlling the distribution of alcohol to the proletariat; instead, all patrons get one beer at the top of every hour, to ensure that everyone is given equal amounts.

Although the beer served is usually warm and flavorless, customers are consistently told over a crackling loudspeaker how delicious and satisfying it is and how lucky they are to be there. While this occasionally leads to moments of unrest from some of the patrons, these ‘defectors’ are aptly dealt with by head bouncer Klaus Glostsky-Brenovich, who strong-arms them into the basement’s exclusive Club Siberia, where they stay for a period ranging from a few minutes to several decades. ... 



Hooligan’s attempts to bring the passion and fervor of soccer hooligans from the UK to the US, in a sports bar that focuses very little on actual sports and more on smashing someone’s face in. Be careful wearing your favorite team’s jersey here, as it will most likely result in the rival team’s fans beating you senseless, although this can be tricky since wearing a jersey is mandatory. Ordering at the bar can also be difficult, as drinks aren’t so much served as much as violently hurled at your head at random, but as your reaction time improves you’ll catch one eventually.

If you’ve never been in a sports-related confrontation before, the World’s Goriest Soccer Riots DVD that plays continuously on a loop on the bar television should give you a few pointers, but if you can’t see the TV through your freshly fractured retinas, just remember the hooligan’s motto: ‘When In Doubt, Gouge, Gouge, Gouge’.

Prohibition Tavern

Prohibition Tavern markets itself as a place with all the comforts of a regular bar, but without the alcohol. Not surprisingly, it blows. However, it’s maintained a small but loyal customer base, consisting mainly of dorks and nuns. They offer the usual assortment of non-alcoholic drinks, but aside from the variety of juices and teas, you can also try their house non-fermented beer, which is just a pint glass of barley and yeast filled with tap water. On second though, don’t.

The place maintains a nice 1920’s-era décor, with the parquet flooring and potentially fatal electrical wiring, but it’s not enough of a draw in itself. Most newcomers inevitably wind up next door at Hooch, the speakeasy-themed bar, where every half-hour a portly, comically-mustachioed Irishman in a constable uniform bursts through the front door and bellows “WHAT’S GOING ON IN HERE?” to raucous cheers and applause.


Depressed lighting, morbidly graphic murals and wheelbarrows of mannequin corpses await you at Leper’s, the area’s only Black Death themed bar. Although business has been spotty at best, Leper’s has been consistently lauded for sparing no detail in its devotion to the bubonic plague, right down to the staff, which consists only of cheerless amputees and acne-scarred bartenders.

Although the soundtrack of coughing, heaving, and pleas for the sweet mercy of death is a bit much, it’s worth it to stick around and check out the specialty cocktail list, where you can get an Abscess-tini, Tumor and Tonic, or house favorite Big Bottle o’ Puss, or as it’s commonly known, Busch Light. Also, don’t miss the live salsa music on Saturday’s with the peppery Senõr Loco’s Mariachi All-Stars.  


At the only bar modeled after the hit HBO prison drama "Oz," customers can delight in the culture of prison life without having to go to the trouble of stabbing someone in public. From the moment they enter the door, patrons are assigned a gang and are required to mingle only with fellow gang members. Those who disobey are sent to ‘the Hole’ for an hour, a series of dimly lit closets where you are only allowed to drink amaretto sours. Few re-offend.

Even if you’ve never seen "Oz," it’s easy to appreciate the effort that went into the theme, from the metal toilets to the heavily armed security to the almost suffocating sense of homoeroticism. Also, don’t miss Adebisi Thursdays, where all psychotic, homicidal Nigerians drink half off. 

(Photo by Sam Sessa)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:43 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Well done, Mr. Vivari.


I'm not sure why there are no posted comments as I write this, but let me say... YES! Do not stop! I believe I have been to Lepers and Comrade.

How about a rock bar that plays RAP? Good job, Angel's Hip Hop Bar! Might as well call it Angel's Identity Crisis Bar!

Very nice!

btw, Vivari? as in "scoop" from UMD? if so, good to see you haven't lost your touch

"Vivari? as in "scoop" from UMD?"

I would imagine so. I loved that column. One of the few things I miss about that godforsaken hellhole...

Chris and Pat,

Yes, that is indeed Paul "Scoop" Vivari. I edited Paul's column when I worked as entertainment editor of the Diamondback. He's a great writer, and I'm glad I get to work with him again.

Vivari's column started as a Movie Review Without Seeing the Movie. After the movie studios freaked out and threatened to ban the paper from advance screenings, we changed the column to random ruminations on pop culture, called Scoop's Scope.

I still laugh when I think about this one "movie review" he did, of that movie "It Runs in the Family," starring the whole Douglas clan. He wrote something to the effect of:

"It's clear this film is just an excuse to get the whole Douglas family back together before Kirk dies, which will hopefully be soon."

It was brutal, unnecessary and totally hilarious. I had a representative from the movie company (I think it was Disney), call me and angrily read me that line over the phone. It took all my strength not to laugh out loud when I heard her say it.

I also remember Amanda Bynes' fan site ranking my review of her movie on the top of their list of movie reviewers who "just don't get Amanda"

I think I would be embarrassed if I was at the top of a list of people who really get Amanda Bynes.

Where's Baby WIllis & Mister Squirrel?!?!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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