San Diego’s Diminishing Erotic Entertainment Supply Just Got Lower.
I was admiring the adult coloring book art taped up on the hallway wall board in Les Girls stripclub last night. Hadn’t been there in a while and experienced mixed feelings about my visit. I used to venture in there on rare occasions in the late 1980’s, then again in 1990, and the prices hadn’t seem to have changed with the economy: $10 door charge; 75-cent soft drinks (in cans); $10 one-song lap dances in the curtained booths and $30 three-song private dances in the rooms in back. The seediness of the decor was refreshingly identical to what I remember, if at the same time a bit depressing. Until 1992 when the large billboard signs were removed from over the roof outside with their 1960’s psychedelic font lettering saying “LOVE-In” this club was a true time capsule of flower power counterculture nostalgia. But all things change eventually.
I’ve had the urge to revisit this place for a while so I stopped by last night around 7:30, which turns out was early as it doesn’t open till 9. Les Girls is on the corner of Hancock and Riley in Point Loma, facing Hancock Street, as it has since it first opened its doors in 1969. Next to it sharing its parking lot there’s an adult “bookstore” that sells porn dvds and sex aids. I went in to the bookstore to ask when Les Girls opens, suspecting something might be amiss because The Body Shop, a nude juice bar next door on Hancock, looked dark too. The wall racks of the store were more than half empty of merchandise. Usually in a place like this there’s all the latest dildos, cock rings, dvds, and other accouterments of fet-life hanging up for customers. But not now. The store looked in the midst of a going-out-of-business sale, without signs advertising it. I got the opening time for Les Girls from the little Hispanic cutie at the counter and also asked her what was going on.
“One of the owners just passed away,” she said about the bookstore. “So they haven’t restocked in several weeks.”
I asked if they were going to sell or something. She replied that, no, “They’re just going through the paperwork.”
Later on this was confirmed by the door woman at the window inside Les Girls: “They’re probably just waiting for the will to be read.”
I also asked the adult bookstore counter girl about the door time for The Body Shop and she immediately said with a bit of intensity “they won’t open at all any more.”
“Oh, what happened?”
She softened, “They’re going through construction,” and looked away.
“For how long?”
“It’s been several months,” she said.
Later, inside Les Girls, they had a steering wheel tied to the ceiling above center-stage for the dancers to hang onto, one pole also center stage in back, and a couch set into the wall behind the stage in an alcove with a mirror in back that’s at a slightly downward pointing angle so if you’re directly in the front you can see yourself reflected in it. The girls make use of this a lot I noticed, keeping an eye on the customers as they do floor-work dance facing away from the crowd at a low angle. Everything seems to be in some shade of red, pretty much just as I remembered it. There used to be rows of theater benches, if I recall from 25 or 30 years ago, but they’ve been replaced by mostly bare tile with cheap desk or cafeteria chairs.
Les Girls is open until 2 so I used the in-ad-out policy for a quick trip around the corner a couple of times to get little 5-oz beers at Modern Times brewery who closes at 12:30. Unless you’re 20 years-old watching these girls do their thing can be so much easier with a little bit of alcohol in you.
One of the dancers, a redhead called Kitty, had a couple of parody adult coloring book pages that she’s filled in taped up in the hallway that is used to get back into the “Specials” 3-song dance rooms, if you ever wanted to see what Tinkerbell and Alice In Wonderland looked like as strippers. I asked the counter lady how long they’d been there and if I could take photos of them. She told me “about a year” and then got Kitty to agree to cellphone photos of the display.
Kitty seemed pretty friendly. She was dressed like she was ready to go out and was talking to a couple of guys in the front area by the vending machines, asking them if they’d be going to Spin, an outside fetish club that was happening at the end of the month. They appeared to be friends of hers because she asked one of them what he wanted for his birthday coming up.
“Do you really want to know?,” he asked. They all laughed.
“I mean food-wise!,” she chided.
Despite the small crowd and minimal dancer staff the atmosphere here was good. There was even a group of three young hipsters — two girls with one guy — that were in the theater tipping the dancers. Used to be you’d only see dudes in San Diego strip clubs, so maybe that’s changing.
I debated getting a $10 lap dance but eventually decided that I’d maybe do that next time. Before leaving I spoke to the window lady at Les Girls again and she said The Body Shop closed without warning on December 1. “It was news to us,” she said. “The original owner died 4 or 5 years ago and left it to the managers and they decided they didn’t want to do it any more,’ she said.
I asked her about what’s going to happen the venue now.
“They’re trying to rent it out or something,” she said.
“All three of these places (The Body Shop, Les girls, and the adjoined adult bookstore) were all owned by the same group of friends since the beginning… in 1969,” she said.
I remarked about the diminishing amount of adult cabarets left in San Diego, down to a handful from its peak in the mid-to-late 1970’s. She was older than the dancers but not as old as me, so I assumed she’d know.
“There used to be a big sign on the roof that said ‘LOVE-In’,” I said. “Remember that?”