ORLANDO – Ask anyone these days about what it’s like coping through these tough economic times, and more than a few will tell you, it’s a jungle out there.
Tony Edge fully understands that. But he thinks that’s a good thing – at least, during Jungle Sundays, anyway.
“I wanted to go with a jungle theme,” Edge said. “So I came up with the idea for Jungle Sundays. We have guys behind the bar, they wear underwear and sometimes less than that, as long as it’s legal. We have go-go boys, and catered food, and a D.J. It’s like a topless bar. We have a good time.”
A former bartender himself, Edge jumped from behind the bar into his own company – Cutting Edge Events, a promotional firm based here in Orlando. He also manages Jungle Sundays at The Monkey Bar in downtown Orlando, an opportunity for gays, women and anyone else who likes handsome, buff bartenders to enjoy a drink and some eye candy, and to have a good time in a section of downtown, the Wall Street Plaza, that’s getting hotter every day.
“My intention wasn’t to compete with any other bar in downtown,” Edge said. “I wanted to bring something new to the Orlando scene. To me, it’s not about competition. I wanted an alternative spot people could go to.”
The Monkey Bar seemed like the ideal location for the kind of fun gay night event that he wanted to organize.
“This is an everybody bar,” he said. “It’s not pretentious. It’s a different crowd that comes there. It’s definitely a unique venue.”
Jungle Sundays started on June 12 at The Monkey Bar at 26 Wall Street Plaza, beginning at 8 p.m. There’s never a cover charge, and the evening promises a free Tapas buffet, drink specials like $3.50 Pinnacle Vodka flavors and $2.50 domestic beers, and, of course, “wild boy dancers” – a nice way to cap off the weekend before the Monday morning grind starts up the new work week.
“The Monkey Bar is a cool ultra lounge combined with a tiki bar,” Edge said. “The venue has pictures of monkeys with jungle scenes around it, and the owner of the Wall Street Catina got a metal crate from off a ship, and brought it over from Ghana, Africa, and the entire bar is made of that wood. Everything in it has a jungle scene.”
What Cutting Edge added on Sundays was buff, and attractive.
“My bartenders are fun and friendly,” he said. “They don’t just look good, they have a great personality. It’s a fun place where anybody can go and hang out and have a few drinks and some shots. It’s not a high drama bar. We have a place where people can go and dance. It’s not your typical gay venue. It’s a very cool little bar, up and out of the way from the entire street, and not a lot of people know it’s up there. It’s kind of a unique little place, like all of Wall Street Plaza is.”
Edge, who also writes the “Edge of Fitness” column for What’s Happening magazine, and is a personal trainer with a private training studio, knows a thing or two about the world of bars and nightclubs.
Starting Cutting Edge, he said, was “the next logical step for me after bartending. Bartenders have the potential to be master networkers because of all the people we come in contact with every day. It’s a great opportunity to bartend, and that’s how bartending led me to be a promoter. I try to learn something and take something with me from every field I’ve been in. I’ve been in bank retail and book retail, I’ve been a dishwasher and prep cook — I’ve done everything you can do in restaurants.”
Observing how bars and restaurants promoted themselves, he learned quite a bit, which is how he moved on to his new field, promoting events for profit.
“Cutting Edge Events was something I came up with last year,” he said. “When I started Jungle Sundays at Monkey Bar, I wanted to bring something new to the city of Orlando as far as events go, whether it be charity events or for profit events. Now I’m moving forward to the next stage, getting my own office.”
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