The place where Atlanta's alternaqueers flock for a rowdy church service just found Jesus. As in a massive one that measures nine feet wide and 12 feet tall. Of course, gay barkeep Grant Henry plastered it above the patio of his popular bar.
Because where else would the former billboard Jesus go than Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium in the Old Fourth Ward, Henry's kitschy play on a church complete with velvet visages of Elvis, MLK and Jesus. But this massive likeness, installed on Saturday above the bar's patio, greets southbound drivers on Boulevard and mark's Henry's first large-scale attempt at taking his indoor irreverence outside.
“It just went up Saturday and people were already stopping and taking pictures. It's pretty awesome,” Henry says. “If there weren't buildings there, you could probably see it from Freedom Parkway.”
Henry has had the mammoth Jesus for more than a decade, since a friend armed with ropes and X-acto knives cut short a coffee klatch with Henry one Sunday in the late 1990s to remove it from a billboard alongside I-75. Since, Henry has struggled with how to best display the rubberized vinyl likeness.
“I've never really had much use for it. I've used it once for a show. So I just had it rolled up in Church,” he says.
Henry hoped to find a home for the banner inside the Church he's opening next month in Athens, but couldn't make a place for it. So he turned to the patio, an outdoor space that lacks the design flair of the bar's interior two floors.
“I've always wanted to make the patio more Church like, but I just never did anything back there, decor wise. I would rather have one very large thing than tons of small things on a patio like that,” Henry says.
It's a patio that plays host to DJ Vicki Powell and her popular Sunday Service, as well as the bar's overflow crowds of gay patrons, progressives, gay-friendly drinkers and even a few porn stars and a rabbi. Since Jesus went outdoors to bless the patio, Henry says the reaction has been positive.
“Other than jokes on Facebook, I haven't really heard of anyone with a problem with it. I don't think anyone will say anything, but this Jesus is awfully overpowering. We'll see if the city lets creativity flow or if they'll make us take it down,” Henry says.