Tony Corso: Boo Boo Brings the Bucks

Photo by Theo Welling.

Tony Corso — better known around these parts as Boo Boo — revitalized the Bartender Revue at Just John a decade ago, making it the hotly anticipated annual event it remains today.

The annual drag comedy event, held in January, raises money for charities handpicked by Corso and Just John co-founder Jeromy Ruot.

Founded in 1980 at Faces in East St. Louis, the Bartender Revue went on a long hiatus before Corso willed it back into existence. He says he and a former coworker, James Dunse, talked for years about bringing it back. “We were like, ‘What are we waiting for? Let’s bring this back. Let’s just do this!’” Corso says.

Corso, 51, has been working at Just John for fifteen years. (Previously, he was a bartender at the Central West End’s Loading Zone.) For the past two years, he’s juggled that with working as as a florist at Ken Miesner’s Flower Shoppe.

Outside of work, Corso is an avid cyclist, a cake decorator and a loving father to his fifteen-year-old daughter.

“She’s my world,” he says. “She’s a very old soul, laid back. She’s got a heart of gold and she’s musically gifted, academically gifted.”

The Revue has raised funds for ten organizations and LGBTQ campaigns more than $46,000 during Corso’s tenure. The event typically raffles gift baskets filled with bottles of liquor and gift cards from gay bars and businesses, as well as selling vodka-infused gummy bears. To bring in even more money, the bar enlists the help of various local drag queens, with Corso as one of the performers.

“I’ve done some pretty ridiculous stuff up there,” Corso says.

Corso says the event wouldn’t be possible without DJ Danny Morris, showrunner (and Pride St. Louis president) Matt Harper and Just John owners John Oberkramer and Ruot.

Last year, the Bartender Revue raised around $13,000 for the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The event was highly emotional for Corso.

“I started crying because I didn’t know that something like this was happening in St. Louis,” Corso says. “The youth [are] our future and they need to know that they have a place that they’re welcome and there’s a community out there for them.”

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