The Minister’s Mister
The Minister’s Mister is an unstuck drinking establishment which caters to the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. Founded by an aging Sarah Silver as a speakeasy in the waning years of Prohibition, this deconsecrated church was intended to be a safe haven for Sarah’s young niblings Eli and Dottie—and their increasingly queer assortment of friends. And for several years, it was just that. But after Sarah’s murder in 1933, an angry mob burned the place to the ground and this magical place was seemingly lost.
Strangely, following the 1944 death of Dottie Silver, rumors spread that the Minister’s Mister had reappeared. And though to all outside appearances the site of the original building remained a ruin for decades to come, stories about long evenings spent in the place were legendary—cementing its reputation as something of a gay El Dorado, a Shangri-La (of sorts) for the Friends of Dorothy.
The secret to gaining entrance, it seemed—even after the ruin was razed and a convenience store was raised atop its ashes—was possession of a print of Dottie Silver’s most infamous painting, The Temptresses. Holding a print of that image in front of oneself, on approximately the same spot from which Dottie painted it, allows a person to “step through the painting,” across time and space, and into the bar as it never was but was always meant to be.
The Building & Its Location
Before it was unstuck from the normal flow of spacetime in 1933, the structure stood on a knoll along the road between the towns of Eastham and Provincetown on Cape Cod. And while its whereabouts between 1933 and 1944 are still a mystery, the building has been tucked into a corner of The Skerry of Souvenirs since at least the mid-40s.
The building itself is typical of seventeenth century American churches. It is a single-story wood-frame structure topped with a gabled roof and sided with clapboards. The square tower which rises above its entrance was once topped with a steeple and cross but is today capped off with a simple hip roof. A small stone-lined foyer serves as the front entrance.
The interior has been heavily modified, with the sides of the nave occupied by “confessionals” where alcoholic beverages are served as a “penance” by “confessors” to patrons of the establishment.
Anyone who asks why there are Catholic confessional booths inside a Protestant church is told to go grab themselves another libation and fuggedaboutit.
The center of the main hall is populated by a series of tables big enough to seat four patrons a piece, while the chancel has been converted into a stage for the venue's musical guests.
The Minister’s Mister is staffed exclusively by the ghosts of queer folk who have opted to postpone their trip to whatever’s next so that they can help provide easier, more enjoyable lives for the gays of today than they (the ghosts) had themselves.
They are expressly forbidden from revealing their true nature to the bar’s patrons, lest they blow the poor souls’ minds. This secret-keeping is aided by the nature of the intoxicants the tavern serves, which clouds patrons’ memories of the place in a pleasant fog.
The third child of Silas Silver VIII and Esther Young, Sarah made a name for herself as an outlaw—and, later, a bounty hunter—in the wild west of America. She was also infamous amongst her extended family for having been the former lover of not one but two of her younger brother’s seven wives.
She might have even wooed a third if she had not been, in her own estimation, “getting on in years.”
In her old age, she served as a maternal figure and confidant for her brother’s children Eli and Dottie—and was particularly fond of her gender-nonconforming niece. She had the Minister’s Mister built for them in particular, and has acted as the place’s one-woman security team ever since—even now, in death.
The transmasculine hero of Eden’s Neverland region is a frequent visitor to the Mister. He is fond of flitting across the The River Without End to act as a babysitter of sorts for queer parents who can’t find a sitter for the night.
He masquerades as a normal human tween, however, careful to not blow Earthling minds by revealing his true nature.
Robin and the Redheads
After her 2006 murder and before her 2011 resurrection, Robin Gates assembled various configurations of her backing band the Redheads to play the stage at the Mister with regularity and with relish. Their sets were sillier and more filled with covers than they’d been out in the living world, but they were just as tight and unforgettable.
Built in the seventeenth century by the members of a since-forgotten Christian sect, the building which houses the Minister’s Mister served as a church for well over a century. And yet, by the time of the American Revolution the congregation which called the place home had disappeared. Whether they were absorbed into other parishes throughout town or driven off by “better“ Christians who feared their strange ways, no one is certain. What we do know is that by the early 1800s, fearful of knocking down a house of God, the townsfolk began searching for a member of that lost faith who might deconsecrate the place before it was demolished.
By 1865, the year Sarah Silver first left the Cape, word of the haunted church had reached Sarah’s hometown of Harwich. In fact, Sarah rode east and then north to see it before she fled for greener pastures and bigger adventures out west. The dauntless Sarah was sorely disappointed by the mundanity of the place, however—how little it lived up to the stories, but she did admire its view of the Atlantic and the simple, austere beauty of the place.
It would be a further 67 years until Sarah saw the one-time church again, when she took a Sunday drive with her nephew Eli and her niece Dottie in Eli’s first motorcar—a novel experience for the now 92-year-old Sarah. Eli, Dottie, and their friends had been gathering in the abandoned place for impromptu jam sessions and for “indecent” art projects, and they wanted to show their dear old aunt what they’d been up to.
Reminded that afternoon of her own misspent youth out west, Sarah decided to buy the place with the last of her part of the family’s dwindling fortune. Then she set the kids and their friends to work on remodeling the interior, asking only that they embrace the most coarse and “indecent” aspects of themselves as they did—demanding only that they live their lives as freely as she once had.
They christened the place The Minister’s Mister after a saloon owner Sarah had befriended in the olden days, Emmett West, who had been the secret lover of the town’s preacher. Opening for business in July 1932, they were the scandal of the summer on Cape Cod. And they kept making headlines—and attracting the attention of the police force—for the remainder of that year.
The real trouble came in 1933, following a series of raucous concerts played by The Eli Five and The Bass River Trio. Bootleggers from Boston caught wind of how much liquor Sarah Silver’s establishment was selling each night, and arrived one evening to demand a cut of the action. They figured they could easily rough up the aging proprietress of place, who had just celebrated her ninety-third birthday.
They were wrong.
The bootleggers lost so many men in the resulting gunfight that they fled. But they came back the next day, having riled up the local townsfolk with stories of the wicked and licentious behavior taking place inside the Minister’s Mister, and they burned the place to the ground.
Little did they know, the exhausted and bleeding Sarah Silver was asleep inside. And when word spread of this accidental murder, all sympathy for those ne’er-do-wells from Boston dried up and they were sent on their way—never getting the chance to establish their business on the Cape as they'd hoped.
And of course their quest to rid the world of Sarah Silver’s establishment backfired. Eleven years later, upon the death of Sarah’s niece Dottie from tuberculosis, the Minister’s Mister was reborn just outside of time—and just outside of reach of anyone who might do the place or its patrons harm.