A family affair

Posted on 17 Dec 2009 at 10:21am
By Rich lopez | Staff Writer Lopez@dallasvoice.com

Sisters club keeps it close to home but brings new energy to Dallas’ gay nightlife


sisters doing it for themselves | Kevin Barnett, far right, keeps his new Sisters Club in the family way by going into the venture with his husband, John Garska, left. Niece Dawn Dean, middle right, and her girlfriend, Elisha Eby manage the nightspot. (Gregory Hayes/Dallas Voice)

It was a sad day when the long-established Buddies II shut its doors last October. Being one of two local clubs geared toward women, it’s closing also shut down options for female fun in the big city.

But the doors on that space reopened last weekend and although it’s not Buddies III, the new Sisters Club is stepping in to reinvigorate the lesbian nightlife scene.
"People are not going to stop going to bars. There is a definite need to have another ladies club. We’re pretty excited about this," Kevin Barnett says.

Barnett is the president and co-owner of the club, along with his husband John Garska. Still, this venture is a departure for them. They own a day spa in the Mid Cities but have never opened a club before. But when they saw a need and had the resources to do it, they jumped at the opportunity.

"It worked out pretty well and financially, we were able to do it. It was one of those things where I had more money than sense.  Plus, this was an investment for my niece," he says.

Barnett is making Sisters Club a family affair. While he and Garska own the spot, his niece Dawn Dean runs the show as the general manager along with her girlfriend, Elisha Eby. The goal is to not only follow in the footsteps of Buddies II but to improve upon it. And Barnett is confident Dean will pull it off.

"Being the new kids on the block, we want to bring back Buddies’ clientele and definitely welcome men, too," Barnett says.

Last weekend was a good start, according to Barnett. They are completing the remodel of the dance area, but had a soft opening in the back bar. The grand opening is set for January and by the sound of it, everything has gone surprisingly smoothly.

"I had no trouble getting my liquor and dance licenses. I hired a lawyer and got everything in about five weeks," he says.

And even though Barnett feels it is too early to make official holiday plans for the club, he’s figuring weekends will add vigor to the Maple scene of clubs.

"It’s a tight time limit and we’re hoping to have the dance bar by New Year’s Eve. But we plan to have DJs and more live entertainment. We want Sisters Club to be like a gay Pride weekend every weekend," he says.
Better grab your rainbow shirt.

Sisters Club, 4025 Maple Ave. Open daily until 2 a.m. 214-559-2511. SistersClubDallas.com.

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The Italian stallion

From serving in the Italian army to being crowned the new Mr. Dallas Eagle, Jack Duke is on quite a journey.

And that is just how he sees it. But he doesn’t have long to wax poetic about it.

"From the army to my first leather bar, the community has been very friendly and embracing. I was so happy to win, but now starts the tough part," Duke says (pictured far right with outgoing Mr. Dallas Eagle and International Mr. Leather champ Jeffrey Payne).

With little time to celebrate his recent victory, Duke now has to prepare for the Mr. Texas Leather contest at the end of January — minus the two weeks he’ll be spending in Italy for Christmas. But with his new title, he plans to represent Big D overseas.

"I’ll be visiting Madrid and going to the leather bar as Mr. Dallas Eagle. I’m lucky. I get to travel a lot so I want to try to connect communities. Always space to grow," he says.

By day, Duke works as a gelato master, teaching area shops and chefs how to properly make the creamy dessert. He works across eight states in the Southern sector of the country sharing his wisdom and techniques. It’s a different type of master representing the leather community. But he holds his title and its significance in high regard.

"People like Master John and Jeffrey Payne are like idols — I look up to them," he says. "It’s a very honest and true community. Plus, the nice part of this is I have an easy job thanks to new Eagle. I am very proud to represent this place."

But you may not always recognize the new symbol of Dallas leather. He spruces up pretty nicely it sounds.

"Oh yes, I have my Dolce & Gabbana and Prada products, too!"


— R.L.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 18, 2009.

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