Monday, March 24, 2014

Gary Taylor's Show Lounge

Next week I am going to an event at the Penthouse Nightclub  - a Vancouver landmark and a venue brimming with history. Some of it not so good! The tour is being put on by Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours and I was invited through Facebook by Aaron Chapman, author of Liquor, Lust and the Law. I am looking forward to it and will be sure to bring my camera so I can get lots of photos.

When I went to my dentist and mentioned I was going to this, he - a long time Vancouver resident - mentioned a strip club he and his fellow dental students used to go to. I did a little research and found out some information on Gary Taylor's Show Lounge.
Gary Taylor began his career as a teenaged drummer backing up striptease dancers in the 1950s. He played at venues such as the Smilin' Buddha, New Delhi, Harlem Nocturne and 'girlie show at the Pacific National Exhibition.

Taylor played short gigs at the Penthouse Cabaret, the Zanzibar, and the King of Clubs in the early 70s. Then he opened his own club, Gary Taylor's Show Lounge on Granville Street. Here 'beautiful, innocent-looking women' were hired to strip, accompanied by jazz and blues musicians.

Gary was rumoured to be a smooth, fast-talking man who bet strangers on the street he could get a woman to take her clothes off on his stage. A friend has even joked that Taylor could talk a nun into going on his stage.

I am getting this information from the book Burlesque West by Becki L. Ross and she interviewed Taylor in 2007. Gary says he was at the forefront of a 'pure and innovative' trend to enable women who were 'amateurs' to 'discover themselves' on stage and 'have a lot of fun doing it'. (page 73)



Taylor's method of having small stages for exotic dancers was proving to be a wise move. The Las Vegas style acts with all their pomp and glitter, which were usually held at places such as the Cave, Isy's and the Penthouse became too expensive.

In 1972, nude dancing was legalized in British Columbia but different officials were slow to get on board with that ruling. In Surrey, Mayor Bill Vander Zalm led the charge to ban nude entertainment in neighbourhood pubs and in 1973, the BC Liquor Control Board ruled that all night club entertainers must be accompanied by a three-piece orchestra. This was obviously a back door attempt to circumvent the new law since having to have a three-piece orchestra with all dancers would have made the show too expensive for the common man to attend.

Gary Taylor was charged in November of 1973 with presenting an 'obscene performance' at his show lounge. Taylor and his lawyer, Tony Pantages, re-enacted the 'obscene performance' at the Show lounge with police, the crown prosecutor and Judge McGivern in attendance. Gary Taylor won the case and charges were dismissed against he and five female performers.

Interesting times to be sure. So whatever happened to Gary Taylor? According to his LinkedIn page, Mr. Taylor is still involved in the entertainment business. Now, he manages musical artists and consults with Canadian Music Week, in addition to strategic and creative consulting and such for musical conferences.

The photos you see here were taken from the Vancouver Lookout a couple of weeks ago.

I hope you find beauty around you.




10 comments:

  1. Changing history one person at a time.

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  2. not on granville

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    1. after a discussion with Mr. Taylor, this post has been rewritten.

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  3. I was a dancer at Gary Taylor's I started in 1973 when I was a graduate student at UBC. I answered an ad for a cocktail waitress but after a drink or two and a talk with Gary, I did indeed take my clothes off. I made three dollars an hour but I could come and go as I wished and it was great fun. In those years, Gary didn't even have a dressing room for his girls. We sat around the ladies room between our dances. It was on Granville Street although a few years later, he moved a couple of blocks away. I'm 63 now. Those are some of my best memories.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment Anne. It is nice to hear feedback from someone who was actually there.

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  4. Hi Gary,
    When I first starting going to Gary Taylor's Rock Room, in the late 70's Bill Henderson was a male stripped, and Brian Too Loud McLeod was completely smitten with me. Had tons of fun! Broke a few hearts and one in particular still has all of Canada hearing about it. MY GIRL by CHILLIWACK was written about me. Say hi on FB and Twitter, OK.... Search for MyGirlVicki :) Cheers

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  5. Hi Vicki. If you are looking to connect with Gary Taylor, try Falconettis on Commercial Drive.

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  6. Hi
    I also worked at Gary Taylors in the mid 70's,He actually gave me my stage name then.. it was my first time dancing ever.,but after awhile I loved my job,eventually getting signed to an agency..That was the greatest time of my life back then...
    My Stage name was Tiny...HaHaHa! what a blast we all had.

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    1. Thank you for commenting. I love it when something I have written hits a chord with people

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