story and photo by Robin Beaudoin
Sitting at the crafty coffee spot, City & State, over coffee and hibiscus tea, Jane and David “Parks” Parks have arrived a few minutes behind. Jane says it’s because Parks took extra time getting ready. I smirk, knowing how perfectly coiffed and starched he always is behind the bar in his uniform white Oxford shirt and black tie. The two are a wealth of stories – and a remarkable couple of humans, both together and independently. Their three adult children follow in their footsteps, particularly regarding service and friendship. The pair joined the Mystic Krewe of Pegasus Memphis in 2018, and now, in their sophomore year, are raising money for Special Olympics of Greater Memphis, and Tennessee Equality Project Foundation, with a goal of over $50,000.
David Parks has arguably become the most lauded and beloved bartender in Memphis, winning “Best of Memphis” awards, mixing and mastering cocktails everywhere from Molly’s La Casita in 1988, to 3Angels, Alchemy, The Cove, and Restaurant Iris. He can also be spied serving libations at multiple charity events as a celebrity bartender including a yearly gig with Cocktails for a Cause at the home of Kathy and Kelly Fish, the Mystic Krewe of Pegasus Halloween party, and Works of Heart for the Child Advocacy Center for 4 or 5 years. A former bartender herself, Jane currently works with two luxury travel agents as a travel coordinator.
How did the Parkses begin?
Jane: “I’ve been here almost all my life, I moved here from the UK when I was about two. We’ve been married since 1992.”
They started dating in 1989 after meeting a year before, and their first date was on his birthday.
Parks: “I bought her some presents – earrings – for our first date. We love Alex’s Tavern – we spent a lot of time there when we were young and both tending bar. We’d get off work at 2 or 3 a.m., and there was no happy hour for us, and so we’d go to Alex’s and back then, people knew how to behave themselves. Best burger ever. We kind of sort of got engaged in there – it was the inception of the idea of getting married.”
Tell us about your kids, and are they following in your footsteps as allies?
Parks: “We have Dillon, Nora, and Sam. They’re grown people – 23, 21, and 19. We had three real quick kids, and it was good having them that close together. I like to squawk about my kids. They’re awesome. None of them have ever been in trouble, they have tons of nerd posse friends, and the great thing about having nerds for kids – they don’t come home pregnant in high school and they have great friends. They have gay and trans friends, they’re bleeding hearts. My mom had gay and lesbian friends as kids, and I did too– they have friends who are gender-fluid, genderqueer and they don’t care. They just love them. They’re at an age where they’ve come out of high school, and most of their friends go to college but they’ve stayed really close.
Who are your close friends and family here?
Parks: “I’ve been midtowner since childhood. I work all the time. I know a lot of people, and many more than that know me. I’ll go out once in a while after work, and I’ll try to see Eileen Hogan at Zebra Lounge, and I keep up with Micah Winter, because we all worked together.”
Jane: “I have had the same crew of friends since forever – David refers to them as “sister husbands”. They’re all over the place; my friend Thad, Clint in Atlanta, Reece in Florica, Valerie, My sister Margaret and my other siblings – we’re all very close.
Parks: “They get together at her mom’s house every Sunday for dinner – it’s a thing. All of the young cousins have grown up very tight – the 13 grandchildren are like siblings.
What drew you to Mystic Krewe of Pegasus?
Jane: “It was the Metamorphosis Project [as a charity recipient] – it totally hooked me. I’ve done the Drag Bingo, the Pegasus Yard Sale, and the Cocktail party at Scott Hayes’ house, where David made the cocktails.
What were your assignments for the big Pegasus Mardi Gras Ball this year?
Parks: “At the ball, Jane had assorted odd jobs as a backstage and meet-and- greet gopher.
I was chaperone/bouncer for Alaska, and there were some avid queens eager to meet Alaska!
How did Alaska enjoy her visit with Pegasus?
Parks: “She had a blast. One of the reasons that people who are famous and well-known like coming to Memphis is that people don’t swarm them. When normal people come, we adopt them, ask them to join us, show them around, and they love it. I’ve talked to so many people who have visited and have been flabbergasted at how kind people are.