The sign in front of Meet Rack doesn't say "bar." It says "party."
But lately the party has died down a bit.
According to Jim Anderson, who opened Meet Rack 10 years ago and refers to himself as God, business at the bar has been hit or miss lately.
"Well, they screwed around with the smoking, which was horrible," Anderson says. "And then the city of course did some stuff with the road down there, which was not very helpful. But we're doing fine. We're fortunate in the fact that we've been around for a long time and people know us."
Anderson opened his first bar, Someplace Else, in 1972. It closed in the mid-'90s. Today, he lives at Meet Rack, in a side room equipped with a single bed. But Anderson no longer owns the bar. He says he was forced to give up his liquor license after he was cited for illegally selling to-go drinks in disposable cups. Now his daughter's name is on the deed.
Still, there's little doubt that, at least within the bar's walls, Jim Anderson is God.
Pictures of Anderson cover the walls of Meet Rack. His trademark shaved head and long white goatee are everywhere. There's Anderson with celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, G. Gordon Liddy and Burt Reynolds. There he is running in a marathon, holding his trademark staff. And there he is, shaking hands and kissing babies during one of his two runs for mayor.
Ask for a tour of the bar and Anderson will take you to visit his "sex room," which contains a chastity belt, a stockade, a gynecologist's chair and a selection of props including a cat-o-nine tails, a paddle and a club. He says the room is mostly for inspiration.
"People come here and they get ideas and then they go home and make their own fun," he says.
An alarm is triggered inside the bar anytime someone buys a condom from the dispenser in the women's bathroom. Women emerge from the loo only to find that their purchase has been exposed.
The only beer on tap at Meet Rack is Pabst Blue Ribbon. There are no drink specials, though on your birthday you get a free bottle of champagne. According to Anderson, every hour is a happy hour.
Anderson says the bar's most popular drink is the "Way to Be," a mixture of rum, vodka, apricot brandy, peach brandy, grapefruit juice, pineapple juice and triple sec.
Meet Rack's kitchen is always open and serves a half-pound ground sirloin burger, tuna melt, grilled cheese and New England clam chowder. Anderson says the cheeseburger is the most popular menu item. It is served with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper on a grilled kaiser roll. There are no additional condiments or fixings available.
"If you want ketchup, mayo or onion, bring it with you," Anderson says.
The burger is served with clam chowder. French fries, Anderson says, "are too complicated."
Meet Rack has a side patio with a pingpong table that college students sometimes use for beer pong. Next to the pingpong table is a concrete throne where customers pose for photos.
On a side wall is a plaque that displays anniversary chips that members of Alcoholics Anonymous have traded in for free drinks.
"This one is from a kid whose parents spent $80,000 to get their son clean," Anderson says, pointing to one of the chips. "He got out of rehab and came straight here."
If you're planning on spending a lot of time at Meet Rack (we're talking years, not hours), you might want to consider letting Anderson brand you. The brand, which costs five bucks, features Anderson's bald likeness. Those who bear the quarter-size mark get 50 cents off any drink for life.
In 2001, a woman claimed she got drunk at the bar and that she was held down and branded against her will. She filed a lawsuit against Anderson and the bar in Pima County Superior Court. Anderson filed a counterclaim, saying the woman sought to profit from his notoriety as a mayoral candidate. Ultimately, the two sides agreed to settle the matter on TV's "The People's Court," where, in May 2002, both the woman's claim and Anderson's counter-claim were dismissed.
To date, Anderson says he has branded 1,298 people.
Meet Rack will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Nov. 25. Anderson says all the bar's old bartenders will be on hand, pouring drinks.
If you go
• What: Meet Rack, 210 W. Drachman St.
• Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
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