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Joker's Wild-Loopers Unite!

I am in one of my “ahh the good old days” moods and somehow was brought back to the Joker’s Wild in Superior. I know it’s gone, but the good times just linger on.

I first went there when I was in kindergarten. My Dad was unemployed and I would go to half day at Blaine and we would spend the rest of the day at the bar. He would drink beer and I would play the shuffleboard/pool game. When I turned 21 I became a regular-had my wallet stolen while playing pool, met many good friends and since it was before cell phones I even got phone calls there!
For years now I have tried to remember two things.

What were the quintessential jukebox songs? I have wanted to make a Jokers Jukebox tribute album. I know I always played the same songs, over and over and you probably did too. Kate Bush Rocket Man, Cherokee Nation, Wild World, The End by The Doors. Sherman and Dr. Thunder played Judy in Disguise and Busy mixed with some Smashing Pumpkins. What did you play?

Now the Loop. What was a loop? -somebody-usually this guy Gayle? (blue shirt in photo) would say “Loopers!” and we would all rally to the call. The deal was you entered a bar through the front door, ordered the signature drink as established by Looper custom and then left through the back door and off to the next stop. From Jokers it was to the bar across the street which I think was a root beer barrel shot-then to Labelle’s which was scary and I can’t remember what we drank, amaretto sour maybe? I know the next bar was Mama’s behind Lignell Drug. That was a gin/vodka tonic. You stood in a circle and said, “Straws?! We don’t need no stinking straws!” and then threw the straw over your shoulder. It would all end with heading to the VFW and buying off sale bottles of Mad Dog which were shared in the alley and then smashed against a wall with a final “Loopers!” call. These photos are from the New Year’s Eve Loop 1993/94.
Jokers burned down about 9 years ago-I know it was after I moved to Chicago in 1997. Dr. Thunder even has a piece from the wreckage. Screw the Berlin Wall memento's I want a piece of Jokers!




Jokers - yes! The Loop did originate with Gayle. The first stop was the Polish Club and then across the street for a Quick Carlos, then to Labelle, Mama's, a quick stop through Carignans and finishing up at the VFW. I don't think I ever finished that without puking!

There were a number of other things that really stood out about Jokers.

1. In the men's restroom, the urinals were always full of ice. It was rumored that there wasn't any plumbing underneath so they needed the ice.

2. Cam - the owner - was a classic. Always a good time.

3. Pizza Fries.

4. Kamikazes!

"My hot piss melts the ice"

Spent my 21st birthday at the "Joke" with my big Brothers Gayle(yes the same one) and Mike. Don't remember too much after the 2nd Windsor Coke........

I'm in those pictures, and Gayle, Shawn, and myself were the tri-founders of the loop. Here's how it went:

1. Joker's Wild: Assemble Loopers.

2. Polish Club (which became Norm's): Goblet of beer. Type of beer was irrelevant. Had to be served in one of their glass goblets.

3. Strikers: Quick Carlos with a beer snit. You drink the shot, but then shake out the last drops into the snit, and then pound the snit.

4. LaBelle's: The Kevorkian. This was essentially a root beer barrel except substitute the root beer schnaaps with Phillip's Hot 100. Actually not as bad as it sounds. This was topped off with a cherry bomb (maraschino cherry soaked in Bacardi 151).

5. THE BAR (S&J's...became Mama's): This was called "THE BAR" because of the small orange neon sign housed in a cage above the side door. The drink here was slightly optional. It was a rail booze mixer (vodka & seven, gin & sour, etc) but you had to suck them down quick and preferably do more than one. You had to stay long enough to count the cases of beer on the Budweiser wagon in the ceiling lamp.

6. Carignan's: A shot of jagermeister. Pure and simple. Being in that place was punishment enough.

7. The Temple: This was my favorite part of the loop. Depending on how many survivors were still with us on the loop, we'd get the appropriate number of bottles of Mad Dog 20/20 to share among us all (whatever flavor sounded good at the time). The best part was that we'd ask for it "to go" in a paper bag, and we'd go out and slam it in the alley like bums. I think after a lot of broken glass started piling up out back, they made us start getting it served in plastic cups. Still good though.

7.5. Sometimes, we'd do a "way-back" loop where we'd detour through the back door of Strikers and get another Quick Carlos w/snit before heading back to the Jokes.

8. Back to the Joker's Wild for pitchers of Kamikaze's.

And that is the Gospel that was the Loop. Best (and most blurry) days of my life. Say the word and I'm on my way for a reunion tour.

Ahhh... Jokers (snif). BEST. BAR. EVER.

This list of comments is almost as good as a reunion! Jeff Gauger! I wondered if you would see this. I get a little queezy reading the drink list. God my liver was strong in my youth!

Hello, Gayle here. Shawn, Jeff and myself created the loop. Shawn died in 1995 and we had a memorial loop for him consisting of 35 people. Jeff and I have decided to do a memorial loop before summer ends. Pass the word to all loopers, we will ride again soon! stay tuned and keep in touch...

fyi, the jokers did not burn down, the amzoil company behind it wanted the property and worked with the city council of superior to have jokers condemned, then bought the building and property for one dollar!!!!! they tore down the best bar of all time...but dont worry, gaugs and i have sat in its spot and drank beer. the loop will rise again!

BTW Laurie, man were we cute!

Everyone is here! Gayle, before you moved away you taught me you're Jokers routine. I made sure to do the stand by the back steps, survey the scene, etc. Those were the days. And yes Purple, we were cute. I will post more pictures later.

I have only vague memories of Joker's and doing the loop with Chris Williams, Todd Fromberg, Kristin Halvorson et al. I remember Fromberg setting off the alarm of a fire escape ladder in an alley after each loop.

I also remember Chris would program the jukebox to play "Rock you like a hurricane" by the Scorpions ten times in a row and then we would leave to go to another bar.

Ice in the urinal, yes, its coming back to me. It seemed the big attraction to Joker's was they would let people smoke pot inside. I now remember one of my top ten hangovers of all time after a loop. Nevermore...

Some of the tunes in the jukebox. Lot of music was supplied by Jeff and myself.

Adorable - Against Perfection (one of the best bands on the planet, and still listen to them all the time)
MTV 120 Minutes - Vol 1 and 2
Verve - Storm in Heaven
Doors - Morrison Hotel
New Order - Substance (double album)
Smashing Pumpkins - Gish
The Cure - Standing on a Beach - The Singles

Those are some off the top of my head, although we put close to 20 CD's in that juke. I guess just so we could listen to "our" music there. I'm sure it changed the lives of many.. :)

I have obviously been on the loop many, many times. But some things that can't be forgotten about the Jokers. No door on the shitter stall, to shit there was a display of a real man (Gayle).

Pool. In a sense that bar was a major pool hall as well.

Monday night $2.00 pitchers. I remember times when there were probably 250 people in that place. The capacity sign on the wall read 98 if I remember correctly.

Indeed very open with the pot smoking. You could pretty much get high just being in the place.

Pizza fries and pickled eggs. All the nutrients a growing boy needs.

And everyone's favorite town drunk.. RUBIN!

Don't forget about "Sunday Funday, no work 'till Monday." That was when several of the regulars would go to the JW on Sunday nights when Cam was working, for what amounted to customer appreciation night. When business would get really slow (usually by 10 or 11), Cam would shut down early, lock the doors and turn off the neon signs in front, and then let us have pretty much free reign of the place. Free drinks and free pool. The catch was that you'd have to go behind the bar and serve yourself. Oh yeah, and no jukebox. The other catch was that you'd have to put up with whatever cheesy Sunday night show Cam would have on those glorious console TVs. Usually Married with Children, or some old spaghetti western. Damn that was sweet!


how about the bloody mary's? cam had style - instead of pickles, he used pickled asparagus.

other memories:
-big taxidermy
-free galaga
-summa hummers
-football sunday funday
-is there a longer bar in soup?
-cam blasting a potato cannon out the back door

don't forget about the poker room upstairs. who has seen the bathtubs in the hotel?

many more memories, should be shared in person. loop reunion tour - t-shirts five bucks!

norton rules

norton rules

I remember the jokers,getting shitfaced and passing out on the bar.I think I only went on the loop a couple times,I really don't remember,to many beers since then.

Staff credits (alphabetical):
- Bruce
- Cam
- "Fred"
- Jim (bouncer with the Raider's shirt)
- Kathy
- Kirk
- Linda
- Mike? (Little guy who looked like Cam's brother)
- Peggy
- Rhona
- Sara

- Maybe another Kathy? Can't remember her name, but she worked there not too long and was quite the hardcore partier.

I died a little inside when I heard that jokers was gone. Best bar ever period. Best things about Jokers:

- you could do anything there and not get in trouble. Cam would yell at you and then start to laugh.

- dylan thomas grafitti on the mens room door

- daring people to eat pickled eggs

- getting a drink from honda rhonda that was 90% bacardi and 10% coke and paying 2 dollars or something rediculous- you could go out with like 20 bucks

- 24 hour new years eve drinking binge

- doing completely inappropriate things in the bathroom with a girl while people banged on the door and laughed

Joker's was THE place....we didn't need no stinkin cell phones. You started the night @Joke's ...you ended the night @ Joke's.
Don't forget about stuffing the pool cues down the holes in the floor.
The guy behind the ladies in the photo is Corey. He used to get crazy and dance by himself in the middle of the place-priceless.
I was part of his bro's (Mike)crowd. Gayle & Co. drove the hard core loop train. True Joker's celebrities. They had some great house parties too!

The best Loops took less than an hour to complete. There was no standing or sitting around talking. It was just waiting for the bar tender to pour the drinks, slam it and move on.
This way if we left the Joker's at midnight, we got back by 1:00. That left enough time for two or three more drinks before last call.

As for tunes on the jukebox :
Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful World
Mountain - Mississippi Queen

How did the Jokers become such a hopping place, you ask? It all started with Gayle, myself, Randy Raoooool, and anybody else from UMD that wasn't quite 21 yet, but really needed a place where everybody knows your name. We went bar hopping in Superior one night. After a look into the old checkbook the next day, I asked if anybody ever heard of "The Jokers Wild"? Well, apparently we went there, because I wrote a check there. Then the light bulb went on. Someplace will serve us alcohol before we're 21!! Good old dependable Cam. I think he's a dealer at a casino in Las Vegas now, since the city stole his bar and our youth out from under us. Jokers was just a dingy little hangout for a few "full timers" back then. While I was one of the originals, I believe it was Gayle's following that really filled the place up. Kind of like a "Pied Piper" for alcoholic degenerate juveniles. It was the best of times, it was the best of times: singing "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong at the top of our lungs. Pretending it was our bar after Cam would lock the doors so we could serve ourself. Gayle and I laying down two 5 dollar bills on the bar and telling Cam; "this is all the money we have, let us know when we need to leave". Then drinking for 6 hours while Cam says, "you still have more coming". Being there on New Years Eve for 14 hours, with small naps in between shots. Cam switching from frosty mugs of beer to plastic glasses because, as he said, "you and Gayle keep taking all the glasses and pitchers home with you". These are just a few memories off the top of my head. I spent the formative years of 1987-1993 or so calling Jokers home. And as long as you didn't look at the large holes in the ceiling or see the place during day light hours, it was a great home.

I heard about the Jokers posting and than stumbled across it. I dont believe the Jokers burned down but was condemed and torn down within 6 weeks. Very sudden.
I hatted the place when my boyfriend Fritz started draging me there with he and his buddys. I do not drink, Dont like the tast. I grew to Love the Jokers Wild and the assortment of people it attracted. To this day some of my best friends are people I met and hung out with around the pool tables. I still laugh to meselfe about things I witnessed in that place, As I was never drunk and have a less foggy memory.

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