Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Clubs: Athens Strip

Strip Club:  Athens Strip (mid-60s thru mid-70s).

photos: frame grabs from Mars Needs Women. 

Athens Strip was a strip club located at 2121 Greenville Ave in Dallas. 

The club opened in 1966 and closed in 1977, reportedly because of damage from an arson fire.
Athens' Strip danced into infamy when it was the featured in grade-Z filmmaker Larry Buchanan’s most memorable movie, Mars Needs Women, filmed in 1967.

 In one scene a Martian ogles stripper Bubbles Cash as she dances on the Athens Strip stage, selecting her as a candidate for alien abduction in an attempt to increases the female population of his home planet.  This scene preserved images of Athens Strip’s exterior and interior for all eternity, and hopefully saved the Martian race.

 Previous to this the Athens Strip made some ink in the Dallas press when a lion named Blondie, who was part of an act by an Athens Strip dancer who used the name Patty Pleasure. The city claimed that the lion was improperly caged and in violation of a new Dallas wild animal ordinance. The defense was that the lion was too fat and lazy to harm anyone.  Ms. Pleasure is quoted as saying “Blondie is gentle but not quite as gentle as a pussy-cat…”

  Athens’ Strip was in the news again in the 1975, although only in passing. Diana King, one of the clubs dancers, did a show and tell strip-tease at the Richardson Unitarian Church in front of a congregation that included children. This made national headlines but the event’s most lasting effect was being referenced in church newsletters as an example of a typical Unitarian service.

The former site of Athens’ Strip is presently occupied by a Chinese restaurant with the unintentionally humorous name New Big Wong.

  Coming in part 2: The facts about the arson fire.


 Sources:

Post by Joel Parks on the Dallas Historical Society web page “phorum” http://dallashistory.org

How Bad Were They?  - Smith Douglas St. Clair (Ivan Stang) - Texas Monthly May 1986

Mars Needs Women movie directed by Larry Buchananhttp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060672/

Metro Past - The Dallas Morning News - May 15, 1985
Animal Ordinance by James Ewell - The Dallas Morning News – Oct 05, 1966
New Big Wong - The Dallas Morning News - May 22, 1987
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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Was Oswald a Burlesque Buff?

There is much speculation that Lee Harvey Oswald may have known Jack Ruby and spent time at Ruby’s Carousel Club, but what if Oswald was just a fan of girl shows?

Buried among the documents collected by The Warren Commission is an account of Oswald trolling burlesque clubs in downtown Dallas.
An image of The Baker Hotel in Dallas, TX from a postcard from the 1930s
An FBI document dated Nov. 30, 1963 states that Ecuadorian foreign exchange student name Cristobal Espinosa Landivar traveled from Austin to Dallas to see a football game. On Oct. 10th 1963, the day after the game, he met Lee Harvey Oswald on the street outside his hotel. He had Oswald write his name down on a piece of paper to make sure that he got his name correct, as English was his second language and he still had difficulty with it.

Oswald talked to him for a while, mostly asking questions about Equator.  As they walked and talked the FBI document states that “ESPINOSA recalls that his  contact with OSWALD lasted from 15 to 20 minutes in duration and that during their conversation they were walking around in the vicinity of the Baker Hotel and covered an area of perhaps four or five blocks in that vicinity. During the course of this walk, they observed a burlesque type show across the street from the Baker Hotel and engaged in a conversation concerning the burlesque shows in that vicinity and ESPINOSA recalls that they passed by the entrance to at least three burlesque  type shows and that OSWALD commented concerning these shows and advised ESPINOSA that certain of the shows were better than the others and OSWALD seemed to be well acquainted with the shows in each of the three or possibly four burlesque shows which they passed…“ but that “…ESPINOSA is sure that neither of the burlesque shows that were discussed by he and OSWALD was known as the Carousel or the Vegas Club.”
The Carousel and The Vegas Club were both connected to Jack Ruby.
Cristobal contacted the FBI after recognizing Oswald on TV after the Kennedy’s assassination. He looked for the paper with Oswald’s name written on it but was unable to find it, so this tale of Oswald the girl-show connoisseur remains a phantom of history.

Update:


Although the FBI document seems to go out of its way to point out that Oswald said nothing about any of Jack Ruby’s clubs it seems highly improbable that Oswald and his new friend could have passed three burlesque clubs near the Baker Hotel without one of them being The Carousel Club. In the book Jack Ruby’s Girls by Carousel champagne girl Alice Anderson and Diana Hunter (aka Diana The Huntress) they describe the neighborhood around the club and specifically mention two hotels, the Adolphus Hotel across the street and Baker Hotel which they describe as “adjacent” on Commerce Street. “We thought you’d like to know this…” say the girls, “…because these two hotels were where so many of our out-of-town customers, and some local ones, too, spent the night after we’d fleeced them right out of their socks.”
References:

Jack Ruby's Girls by Diana Hunter and Alice Anderson, 1970