Bob Jamerson affectionately refers to his alter ego Baton Bob as The Ambassador of Mirth. Mirth may be an uncommon word in most of our vocabularies but anyone from St Louis to Atlanta that’s had the pleasure of Baton Bob’s performances knows he’s an uncommon man.
At an early age, Jamerson was enamored with the halftime shows of college football games. Forget the football players and cheerleaders, he loved watching a baton soar effortlessly through the air. Little did he know that his childhood fantasies would result in a lifelong reality that would bring joy to others.
Jamerson taught himself how to twirl a baton through visualization and imitation. “It immediately became a favorite hobby,” Jamerson beamed. But like all hobbies real life must take precedence.
Prior to becoming an Atlanta transplant, Jamerson called St. Louis, Missouri home. There he managed and owned a successful floral business that he was able to run in tandem with his work as a flight attendant for Trans World Airlines.
For over a decade, Jamerson maintained his floral business and flight career, but like most of America, Jamerson was affected by the 9/11 tragedy.
Jamerson found himself laid off from TWA following 9/11 but instead of wallowing in depression, he reached back into his life for a golden nugget of advice.
“In 1996, I reached out to a therapist to deal with some personal issues,” Jamerson confessed. “In one particular session with my therapist, he suggested an antidote for depression. He said ‘the next time you feel yourself slipping into a depressed state of mind, go do something you know for sure makes you feel good’.”
What made Jamerson feel good? He mined his childhood ambition and reached back into the closet and pulled out his trusty baton. The baton that had never let him down as a child was sure to help him move past this stage of his adult life.
When Jamerson tossed that baton into the air for the first time, he was not only trying to move past that stage of his life but create a new one. “Laughter is our natural universal healing gas,” Jamerson exclaimed. In order to induce laughter during a bleak period of time, Jamerson took his baton and in the winter of 2011 decided to costume himself in order to help himself and others make it through the holidays.
Baton Bob was born. A penchant for costumes (admittedly his favorite being wedding dresses), Baton Bob hit the streets in St. Louis.
After a few years of performing in St. Louis, Jamerson was assaulted. After weighing his options in light of his newfound celebrity, Jamerson relocated to Atlanta in 2005.
Jamerson took to the streets of Midtown, whistle in mouth, donning outrageous costumes, letting his baton soar through the sky and Atlanta welcomed him with open arms. He graced the cover of Atlanta publications including Creative Loafing and was named Best Street Character year after year in their annual Best-of issue.
After years of performing, Baton Bob went missing from Atlanta’s streets. Jamerson underwent some family drama and “had to save his mother from the clutches of an evil heifer”. His father’s aversion to homosexuality resulted in his parents being moved without his knowledge. Jamerson fought tooth and nail to restore his parents to their home but his father passed away during the battle. With his mother back in her home, Jamerson undertook his persona once again, hitting the streets in full force.
This Friday (August 10th), Jamerson brings his one-man show The Myrtle Hat Tour to Park Tavern. Despite a recent minor setback in which Jamerson was verbally threatened while performing as Baton Bob (he declined to comment on the issue due to his renewed fame and commitments), Jamerson is hoping to shed light on Bob Jamerson as a person and the birth of Baton Bob.
One thing is for sure- whether you know the definition of mirth, Baton Bob’s show is guaranteed to leave a smile plastered across your face.
Baton Bob is scheduled to perform the first show of his Myrtle Hat Tour Friday August 10th at the Park Tavern. You can purchase tickets online here.