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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lust's End: The Lusty Lady to Close

Posted by on Sun, Apr 11, 2010 at 4:22 PM

  • dmcopernicus on Flickr

At a staff meeting this afternoon, the managers of the Lusty Lady announced they were going out of business and would permanently close their doors in just two months.

Gypsy, a dancer at the Lusty Lady, said the meeting was "heartbreaking" and "very, very emotional" as general manager Darrell Davis, longtime location manager Deborah Seaver, and staff members told stories about working at the iconic, woman-managed peepshow.

Despite the landlord cutting their rent several times in recent years, the Lusty can't afford to pay its bills. "It's really the world economic climate," Davis said in an interview after the meeting. "Amazingly, pornography is not recession-resistant. The other recessions we've had in the past have not had much impact before. But we're right across the street from the Washington Mutual Tower, all the small sandwich shops nearby are closing—there's just no traffic."

The internet has also steadily eroded business. "We had our all-time high in 1998," Davis said. "The fact that you can get massive amounts of fairly high-quality pornography for free has had a definite effect."

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The peepshow was originally called the Amusement Center—company lore says it took its name from the already-existing sign for a business that used to have pinball machines. "Then we changed to adult amusement, 16mm films called 'Panorams,'" Davis said. In 1981, the Amusement Center installed its first New York-style peepshow (live dancers on a mirrored stage with two private booths for viewing) and in 1985 changed it name to the Lusty Lady, after a San Francisco business Davis and the other owners had opened.

The SF location was sold to an employee cooperative in the early 2000s and Davis and the other managers focused their efforts on the Seattle location.

The Lusty is known as a friendly, family business. "Candy [sister of manager Deborah Seaver] still sometimes gets up to dance on holidays," Gypsy said. "Their daughters work there, too."

"We're amazingly different," Davis said. "There used to be this idea that 'those kinds of women' weren't dependable or reliable, all these assumptions about people who take off their clothes and dance for a living. And we're women-managed. I've been shocked to hear women say they've felt safer working at the Lusty Lady than in a law office and I'm like 'what?!' Like the RCA dog with my head cocked: I just couldn't believe the stories of sexual harassment."

"I had a very, very hard time not crying at the meeting," Davis continued. "One of the women got up and told Deborah that she had taught her all the things her own mother hadn't—you could take that sentiment and reproduce it a thousand times for lots of the women who worked with Deborah over the years."

From Wikipedia.

Mimi Gates, stepmother of Bill Gates and director of the Seattle Art Museum, said "The Lusty Lady's marquee is a Seattle landmark."

In 2006, the Seattle Lusty Lady survived a threatened wrecking ball when the building's owner, a Seattle family, refused a multi-million-dollar tear-down offer from developers of a new Four Seasons Hotel next door. The owners instead received $850,000 "for air rights to the views over their property". Employees celebrated by posting on their reader board: "We're Open, Not Clothed!"

Mimi's right: the Lusty's marquee is a Seattle treasure. More photos of it here.


Comments (77) RSS

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Meags 1
Oh man. Who will provide me with high quality, sexy puns now?
Posted by Meags on April 11, 2010 at 4:39 PM · Report this
Posted by Dan Savage on April 11, 2010 at 4:42 PM · Report this
I've never been, but man that's a bummer...
Posted by Chris B on April 11, 2010 at 4:47 PM · Report this
sepiolida 4
This is sad. I'll have to get down there.

They'll probably turn it into a taco bell or something.
Posted by sepiolida on April 11, 2010 at 4:49 PM · Report this
Annag 6
That marque is like the best part of walking down 1st.
Posted by Annag on April 11, 2010 at 4:52 PM · Report this
Fnarf 7
It's funny how it changed over the years without changing -- the neighborhood changed around it. When it opened, it was an oasis of clever in a desert of sleaze; now it's the only saucy thing on a street of corporate blankness.

In 1960, it was the Seven Seas Tavern.
Posted by Fnarf on April 11, 2010 at 5:03 PM · Report this
It's the only thing with personality and authenticity in that whole area. Wedged uncomfortably between the hoity toity 4 Seasons and the high-rise condos, it's the only slice of humor and cheeky creativity left on that strip. Sad day.
Posted by -ink on April 11, 2010 at 5:33 PM · Report this
JoeG 11
The marquee is indeed a Seattle treasure.

One that made me bust out laughing:
"Carpe Carnem"
Posted by JoeG on April 11, 2010 at 5:49 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 12
Now I know we are in a depression. Sex is not even selling.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on April 11, 2010 at 5:53 PM · Report this
Jessica 13
The first time I was turned loose as a teenager downtown, the Lusty's marquee during the Chuck Close (Chuck Clothes) exhibit was the only thing I took a picture of all day. Guess I'll have to venture inside now.
Posted by Jessica on April 11, 2010 at 5:56 PM · Report this
From the outside: It's a treasure. It's the rare business that deserves the adjective 'sassy'.

From the inside: I have no idea. That will clearly have to change.

I foresee that there will be many trips made by in the weeks to come by folks who loved the signage but who could never bring themselves to brave the interior. I suppose that could be decried as the typical 'too-little-too-late' spectator-ism, but so be it. Seattle will give the owners a couple of good months before they sign off.
Posted by dirge on April 11, 2010 at 5:56 PM · Report this
Tingleyfeeln 15
That place is a seattle icon, for its marquee alone. Another piece of my hometown flushed away by the prevailing tastes of the world. Sad.
The autopsy will be death by free internet porn.
I guess I'll have to pop in, pay my respects, and risk getting my shoes stuck to the floor!
Posted by Tingleyfeeln on April 11, 2010 at 6:00 PM · Report this
Tingleyfeeln 16
Oh, and thanks for the mammaries!
Posted by Tingleyfeeln on April 11, 2010 at 6:00 PM · Report this
I'm going there at least once a week until they close.

Posted by Kelly O on April 11, 2010 at 6:13 PM · Report this
very bad homo 18
Oh Seattle, you will never be the same.
Posted by very bad homo on April 11, 2010 at 6:23 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 19
Sad. What will the World Economic Climate take from us next?
Posted by Josh Bis on April 11, 2010 at 6:27 PM · Report this
Banna 20
Should have bought and managed way back in the day when the domain was still available; of course then they probably would have IPO'd and gone bankrupt in 2002.
Posted by Banna on April 11, 2010 at 6:40 PM · Report this
Baconcat 22
@17: Do a story there, Kelly!

Hell, go tits out (literally) and ask to perform as a part of the story.
Posted by Baconcat on April 11, 2010 at 6:45 PM · Report this
Where's Paul Allen when we need him?
Posted by Lack Thereof on April 11, 2010 at 6:51 PM · Report this
kamen 25
NOOOOO!!!!! I walk by the Lusty Lady every day. I'm really going to miss their ever-changing-signs-o-pun!
Posted by kamen on April 11, 2010 at 6:51 PM · Report this
When is the last day and why is it not part of the art walk?

Posted by Jeff on April 11, 2010 at 6:52 PM · Report this
People should suggest that the Lusty Lady donate the marquee to the Museum of History and Industry to display with all of the other defunct Seattle landmarks they already have (the Toe-Truck, the Dog House Bar sign, the seat from the bubble-ator, etc).
Posted by maeveh on April 11, 2010 at 6:55 PM · Report this
There should be some kind of endowment to keep the sign up, on, and supplied with sexy sexy puns.
Posted by Angry Sam on April 11, 2010 at 6:59 PM · Report this
We must save this important cultural institution.

I'm going down there for a wank right now!

Who's with me?
Posted by codswallower on April 11, 2010 at 7:09 PM · Report this
if they moved it into the new chihuly exhibit at Seattle Center we could all be happy.
Posted by Meinert on April 11, 2010 at 7:11 PM · Report this
fourfingersdown 31
@26, I see a point83 ride on the horizon.
Posted by fourfingersdown on April 11, 2010 at 7:28 PM · Report this
What #7 said.
Posted by burien top team on April 11, 2010 at 7:30 PM · Report this
elenchos 33
If that Seattle PI globe is a landmark, how could the Lusty Lady sign not be? The city needs to step in and preserve at least the sign, if not the whole establishment.
Posted by elenchos on April 11, 2010 at 7:43 PM · Report this
Perhaps the Wrights could buy it and install it in Seattle Center instead of the Chihuly crap. If they lowered the admission price, it would be a nice moneymaker and patrons would certainly go more than once. Tourist attraction, also.
Posted by sarah68 on April 11, 2010 at 8:06 PM · Report this
Lose-Lose 36
This is the worst news I've heard all week.
Fuck the fireworks, we need to save the Lusty Lady.
What can we do?
Posted by Lose-Lose on April 11, 2010 at 8:16 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 37
@ 14, hilarious! I remember that sign.

This is the sort of news that's dreaded but not unexpected. Who goes to a 25-cent peep show these days?
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 11, 2010 at 8:17 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 38
This is awful. I'm going to have to go rent Cinderella Liberty and then have a good drunk and a good cry.

Best marquee ever: "Veni, Vidi, Veni."
Posted by kk in seattle on April 11, 2010 at 8:19 PM · Report this
Bozeman Bill 39
I hope the last sign says "We are going tits up!"
Posted by Bozeman Bill on April 11, 2010 at 8:20 PM · Report this
Lose-Lose 40
#37: are you kidding? Lotsa people. Granted, "most" of them are, um, "questionable", but fuck yeah, where else can you see a LIVE NAKED LADY for only 25c? Sure the hell beats online Russian prostitutes from Novosibirsk (who won't show you the goods until you cash out $5). The imitators (Showgirls and Fantasy tried doing something similar at $1. I don't even know if they still do, the results were frightening.)

I wish the LL franchised and took over the city -it's especially needed in the U Dist and Ballard.
Posted by Lose-Lose on April 11, 2010 at 8:35 PM · Report this
@35: Sarah68, you are a goddamn genius.

I hope Tom Douglas is a fan of the LL.
Posted by karion on April 11, 2010 at 8:48 PM · Report this
Mahtli69 42
They paid their employees well and let you see a real live vagina for a quarter. I'm shocked it survived this long.
Posted by Mahtli69 on April 11, 2010 at 8:55 PM · Report this
My favorite marquee of theirs was "See Our Girls and Their Cunning Stunts".
Posted by ggrav on April 11, 2010 at 9:11 PM · Report this
rara avis 44
what 28 said. I'm sad they're closing but that marquee NEEDS to be maintained somehow. we need a miracle...
Posted by rara avis on April 11, 2010 at 9:15 PM · Report this
Paul Constant 45
@38: That's my favorite, too.
Posted by Paul Constant http:// on April 11, 2010 at 9:16 PM · Report this
playswithknives 46
Calling Jim McDermott, we need a frickin' earmark here. think about how pissed off this would make the loyal opposition! I'm guessing that a third of them will implode and create mini black holes.Keeping the Lady open will cost less than a tire change on a B2 bomber. You know, those bombers that we use every day to protect our freedomz from teh Messicans.
Posted by playswithknives on April 11, 2010 at 9:21 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 47
I always liked "Erin go braless" every St. Patrick's Day.

@ 40, maybe they should have charged 50ยข ?
Posted by Matt from Denver on April 11, 2010 at 9:46 PM · Report this
biju 49
I'll miss the signs but I'm surprised they lasted this long. Anyone on this thread even been inside? I guess I should go check it out before they close for good..
Posted by biju on April 11, 2010 at 10:33 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 51
I think their demise has little to do with the economy, and more to do with XTube. With the abundance of free porn on the internet, I'm surprised they lasted this long.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on April 11, 2010 at 11:29 PM · Report this
Roma 52
38/kk: Best marquee ever: "Veni, Vidi, Veni."

I was wondering if anyone was going to mention that one. I agree. It may not have been original, but it's brilliant.

It wasn't one of the best but I always smile thinking about "Obi Wan Disrobi."
Posted by Roma on April 11, 2010 at 11:40 PM · Report this
This makes me so sad. I worked there for over 8 years, and loved it. What a fabulous community of women. Lusty Lady, I will miss you.

Oh, and my favorite marquee line was actually deemed too explicit to post: Cervix with a Smile.
Posted by Honey Lee on April 12, 2010 at 12:10 AM · Report this
So wait, the Central Cinema is putting together a fundraiser to get itself out of the hole but nothing, nothing is happening for the Lusty Lady to ... I'm too upset for puns! This is no time for puns!
Posted by funkathrusta on April 12, 2010 at 12:25 AM · Report this
When I say this, I mean it with completely sincerity... my heart is broken.
Posted by Billy the Fridge on April 12, 2010 at 12:46 AM · Report this
Posted by wow23 on April 12, 2010 at 1:11 AM · Report this
God, what is the world coming to? (Damn that could have been another marquee!) @ 38 - that was my fave too!
Posted by Lisa808 on April 12, 2010 at 1:16 AM · Report this
Where, I ask. Where will the spooge moppers go?
Posted by steakhaus on April 12, 2010 at 1:53 AM · Report this
Fnarf 61
Both this sign and the South End Steam Baths sign (currently languishing in Underground Seattle) need to be at MOHAI.
Posted by Fnarf on April 12, 2010 at 5:20 AM · Report this
Whats sad is that the people of seattle no longer support local businesses who resist the push of corporate homogenization. I, like many others, have watched seattle "evolve" (if that's what you want to call it) from a city that was cool funky and a little raunchy into a city of glass and chrome filled with northface and pottery barns.
And as for an "unhealthy attitude towards sex" definitelynotsad, you assume that a healthy attitude towards sex is the one you possess. how narrow minded can you be? and as for perpetuating that the notion that women's primary value is as an object of male attention... IDIOTIC. the lusty lady is work for many women... how they earn their income. do you let your job define your worth as a person? people choose to work there. it is clear to me that you do not value choice nor do you have any idea what you are talking about.
learn about fourth wave feminism.
Posted by fourthwave on April 12, 2010 at 7:07 AM · Report this
Oh and to Kelly O.....
please do a story about the lusty and please make sure to get the insight of all the amazing people who work there. so many stories need to be told about the lusty to bust stupid assumptions and make people wake up to and fight for the seattle they are losing.
Posted by fourthwave on April 12, 2010 at 7:11 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 68
The last thing that made downtown Seattle NOT like Bellevue finally fell....
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on April 12, 2010 at 7:42 AM · Report this
Niikinick 70
Such a bummer, however I'm really happy the SF cooperative, Lusty Lady, is still in business! Farewell LL! XOX
Posted by Niikinick on April 12, 2010 at 8:57 AM · Report this
Queen of Sleaze 71
This makes me so sad. I worked there for 5 years from while I was in school and met some of the most amazing women you could possibly imagine there. I'm still friends with many of them to this day. Working there was a weird experience and sometimes felt like a bizarre sociology class but it never failed to be the most fun, supportive work environment I have ever experienced. It definitely played a big part in giving me the confidence to be myself and the comfort to express my sexuality without fear or shame. I will always treasure the women, the memories, and the impact the Lusty lady had on my life. I wouldn't trade those years for the world! RIP LL.
Posted by Queen of Sleaze on April 12, 2010 at 9:09 AM · Report this
This makes me angry at the Internet.
Posted by Jen Graves on April 12, 2010 at 9:14 AM · Report this
Lose-Lose 73
Am I the only one (aside from former employees) who'd ever been there? Gawd, no wonder it's closing. LISTEN UP, all you sloggers who say "gee, I've never been, but it's so sad", PUT YOUR QUARTERS WHERE YOUR KEYBOARD IS! Maybe if everyone stepped up and actually went inside and gave them a quarter it wouldn't close...


I still need to know what we can do to keep it open. Some porkearmarks from McDermott? A fundraiser? Tell the building owners to not be such greedy bastards? Anything? Strangers, please, what can we do?
Posted by Lose-Lose on April 12, 2010 at 9:48 AM · Report this
Lose-Lose 74
#62, to echo #64 and #65: aside from debunking sexual myths and empowering women, I think the LL's greatest attribute is that the women are real. They aren't perfect, not always pretty, but they all have personalities, something completely absent from internet porn.

Come to think of it, maybe that's a solution: internet porn tax for promoting personality-less sex objects, all proceeds to go to the LL...
Posted by Lose-Lose on April 12, 2010 at 9:54 AM · Report this
Fnarf 76
@74, what tax rate are you proposing to impose on "free"?
Posted by Fnarf on April 12, 2010 at 10:17 AM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 77
@58.. i believe the correct term is 'cum busser'.. i knew a woman who worked there over twenty years ago, that's what she did there and that's what she called it.
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on April 12, 2010 at 10:50 AM · Report this
So sad, i worked there off and on for 11 years. End of an era, dowtown will never be the same. Many years of many guys getting a safe sexual outlet! And it was soooo fun! best job I ever had.

Posted by Sammy on April 12, 2010 at 11:38 AM · Report this
My nomination for Best Sign, global economics category: "Welcome APECers!" Which was a friendly hellooooo to delegates attending the Asian-Pacific Economic Co-operation conference in 1993. I laugh every time I think about it! Although Veni, Vidi, Veni is pretty darn good, too. Can't believe I missed it!
Posted by Macfunk on April 12, 2010 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Dear #38, #45, #52, & #57 ... thanks! I got a tee-shirt out of the deal that I still own. I never thought it would become a collector's item, but it looks like things change. I wonder if there'll be some sort of auction or sale where those of us who were around in the heady days could pick up a tee-shirt or a play day poster.
Posted by Curtis S on April 12, 2010 at 11:49 AM · Report this
I have worked at the lady for nearly 10 years. It is my home. I still cant beleive I wont be able to come in and have my locker, and see my girls, and go on stage and dance. I love the women. I love my boss. I love dancing. I am so heart broken. P
Posted by Petula on April 12, 2010 at 12:40 PM · Report this
I've worked at the LL for nearly 10 years. Thank you all for your supportive comments. It is a truly unique place and I for one am heartbroken at my impending loss. I encourage everyone to come out and show your support in the next couple months. If you've never been, now is the time to go! And look forward to our final days in June, we will be throwing and epic celebration.
Posted by sasha_s on April 12, 2010 at 1:10 PM · Report this
So sad !!! It would be cool if a coffee table book of the creative marque posts would be published. I'd buy at least 10. Project anyone ?
Posted by MMC on April 12, 2010 at 1:32 PM · Report this
Dougsf 86
One of the last remaining business that contributed to the character of the Seattle I grew up in. Sad to see it go.
Posted by Dougsf on April 12, 2010 at 2:37 PM · Report this
Thank you #38! Veni Vidi Veni is one I'll remember to my grave. I'm a girl and have never been interested in going in there, but I'm so depressed they're closing. Back when I lived in Belltown, and walked to Pioneer Square for work, I also loved them because I could walk under the marquee and get out of the rain for a few seconds. Well, they say every good-bye is a reminder of death!
Posted by aroobola on April 12, 2010 at 6:00 PM · Report this
Fuchsia FoXXX 90
so so sad, the Lusty is one of my favorite things about living in Seattle besides the Wildrose.
Posted by Fuchsia FoXXX on April 12, 2010 at 7:24 PM · Report this
I have worked there off and on for almost 20 years. The LL is and has been so much more than a job. It will always be family, friends, fun, and more so much more, all rolled into one.
To The Lusty Lady; I'll see you again before the end, old friend!
Posted by Miss Fyre on April 12, 2010 at 7:24 PM · Report this
I've truly been touched over the years by The Lusty Lady. I've brought dozens of people from all over North America into those hallways as personal guests. I've seen some amazing things there that could never be recreated in a Starbucks cafe. I've known both values of a quarter; in hand, it's worth a kinky suspension of time in blissful perversion. Drop that same quarter on the floor and it's not worth bending over to pick up out of a puddle of man. The Lusty Lady was Seattle's dirty little secret and without it, we will suffer.
Posted by Billy the Fridge on April 12, 2010 at 10:27 PM · Report this
@93 Sure, because 38-year-olds are so horrifically saggy. What a jackass.
Posted by wendolen on April 13, 2010 at 8:50 AM · Report this
Lose-Lose 95
Dear City Council and Mayor McGinn,

Given all the pressing needs of the city, I find myself writing you by the oddest of all: a strip club.
As you know, the Lusty Lady is not a strip club, and it's far more than a peep show.
It's a Seattle institution, a landmark, a historical palace.
It's a flame of bawdy humor in an otherwise stale, sterile downtown core.
It's vestige of sexuality -the ultimate reason that we all exist, right?- in a neutered society.
A remnant of Seattle's tawdry history.
A place that transcends economic and social barriers, where people of all walks of life come for a quick thrill and a few laughs.

It has been an independent, local/woman-owned business for nearly 30 years.
(If there was any other independent, locally and woman-owned business closing after 30 years, I would be equally upset, but alas, I can't think of any).

I am writing you to help the Lusty Lady: declare it a historical landmark, a treasure, an institution that cannot be replaced and must not close. At the very least, the marquee needs to stay on 1st Avenue (ideally with its off-color humorous puns) much like the Seattle PI remains after the newspaper's demise.

I know how much you, the leaders of the city, are loathe to publicly stand up and support a "strip club", but remember, it's not a strip club, it's a peep show!

And besides, BILL GATES' OWN STEPMOTHER CALLS IT A "SEATTLE TREASURE"! How much more legit public acceptance can you get than that?

Please do what you can.


C. Moore Butts
Posted by Lose-Lose on April 13, 2010 at 11:13 AM · Report this
@93 you sad dried up human being. how dare you talk about people that way. what's so great about you?
Posted by fourthwave on April 13, 2010 at 12:09 PM · Report this
Seattle strip clubs do NOT allow alcohol. I like my sex sober, my strip club ventures drunk.

It's the only way to convince myself of the fantasy ...
Posted by former tri-state on April 13, 2010 at 7:22 PM · Report this
the real veronica 102
I'll never forget the year I worked at the Lusty Lady. I'll never forget the women who were there for me when I needed a boast and helped show me that I was a beautiful and strong person. The end of the Lusty Lady is a sad end, one to be mourned, not celebrated. It was original and unique, with it's ever changing, witty marque and it's variety of beautiful women from all walks of life. It was the best job I ever had.
Posted by the real veronica on April 30, 2010 at 9:57 AM · Report this

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