Drinkin’ (coffee) with K.J.

Back in August, one of the first interviews I did for my book was with longtime Eureka Springs resident K.J. Zumwalt at local coffee-and-beer hangout Brews.

My focus was K.J.’s former partner, Clary Perez, who holds a special place in Eureka Springs history. She organized the city’s first public Pride event, a parade, in 1994. It marked the 25th anniversary of New York City’s Stonewall Uprising, the catalyst of the modern gay rights movement – which Clary was at. Today’s three-times-a-year Diversity Weekends trace their roots back to that day.

I also wanted to talk about the Center Street Cafe, a fondly remembered local hangout of that time started by Lana Walker and Brenda Evans, later run by Manny Williams and Vernon LeBlanc, then lastly by Clary and K.J. The community supported the cafe, and vice versa, in good times and in hard times.

I’m looking forward to telling the stories of not only Eureka Springs’ more distant history, but also the people who helped shape the town into what it is today. It’s time they got some credit.

K.J. is a veteran of the Eureka Springs scene, with endless stories you would never tire of hearing. Lester Armagost’s legendary Halloween parties. Hauling James’ drunken mishap with a Passion Play billboard (before he became a monk, of course). The nearly sacred experience of seeing the artworks by Bettina de Vescovi at her private Spring Street gallery.

But my book will have only so many pages, so you’ll have to ask her about those stories yourself.

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