SOCIAL ENGINEERING AT THE ATOMIC LOUNGE
By Ethan Payne
“Written in tight script on one of those green-and-white guest check pads, her words account a surrealist barnyard: ‘gecko elastic, cookie armpit, giraffe crotch, zebra elastic.’ I had noticed Rachael working on the far end of the bar, pulling costumes from cubbies and then carefully refolding and restacking each one. But I hadn’t realized that she was doing triage, making note of which of the thirty or so costumes they stock needed repair.”
—John T. Edge, “Social Engineering”
John T. Edge, the director of the Southern Foodways Alliance and author of The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, has served as an Oxford American food columnist since 1997; under the shingle “Local Fare,” he interrogates trends, profiles innovative figures, and upends assumptions (sometimes his own previous assumptions) with passion, style, and intelligence.
For this video, filmmaker Ethan Payne interviewed Feizal Valli and Rachael Roberts, owners of the Atomic Lounge in Birmingham, Alabama, to discuss bar regulars, costume role play, and the Legendary Sex Panther.