In the mid-1970s, two young men, John Elmo and Jim Davidson, began calling a bar named the Tube Bar which was located in Jersey City, New Jersey in Journal Square. The Tube Bar was owned by Louis "Red" Deutsch, and most of the time, Deutsch was the person who answered the calls. During each call, the callers would ask Deutsch to call out fictitious names, which, when said aloud, sounded like something else entirely (for example, "Al Coholic" = alcoholic, or "Cole Kutz" = cold cuts). Most of the time, Deutsch would call out the names, unaware that he was being subjected to a prank. Sometimes, however, Deutsch would catch on to the prank, and when he did, he responded with extreme hostility, shouting at the caller with profanity, obscene sexual references, usually involving the caller's mother, and threats of physical harm.
In an act of apparent desperation, Red also claimed that he would reward the caller with $100 if they would "come on down" to the bar and show his face, or meet Red at a place of their choosing. Red eventually raised the reward to $500, in hopes of enticing the young men, however it is widely believed that the callers never collected their reward because of fears of having their "prick cut off", or their "belly cut open".
Although Elmo and Davidson initially said that they had picked the Tube Bar at random out of a phone book, they later admitted that they had passed by the bar several times while still in high school, and had developed a fascination with Red ever since they saw him yelling at his patrons. They recorded the calls that they made on tape. Unbeknownst to Elmo and Davidson, the tapes they had made were beginning to circulate among their friends, and their friends' friends, becoming an underground sensation.
By the 1980s, the equipment managers of several Major League Baseball teams had shared copies of the tapes, which had become known unofficially as the Red Tapes or Tube Bar Tapes. The tapes' popularity spread throughout the league, branching out to other professional sports leagues, and then to sports reporters and into the media. By 1981, one of the Bastards' gags ("Mike Hunt") was incorporated into the movie Porky's. Animator Matt Groening had obtained a copy and incorporated the phone hijinx into a running gag on The Simpsons with barkeeper Moe Szyslak, who is based on Deutsch. Several New York City alternative rock record labels released various edits of the tapes on vinyl, before the Bum Bar Bastards came forward in the 1990s to copyright the tapes. The Bastards later released their own "official" version on CD which is now available for purchase on iTunes.