Voyeur – Site of RNC ‘Big Spender’ Scandal – Has Storied Past, Was Home to Rat Pack Strip Joint Pink Pussycat, a 1980s Gay Disco and Later a Venue for Transgender Entertainment

The owners of Voyeur, the celebrity-oriented, lesbian bondage-themed night spot in West Hollywood, should be ecstatic. The “big spender” scandal rocking the Republican Party is generating the sort of publicity money cannot buy.

And yet when a New York Times reporter dropped by for a daytime visit on Monday, she found “a few random fellows who said they were the owner and managers — young, good-looking and a little cranky — lolling on a velvet couch.”

Did the club owners rouse themselves and chat with the New York Times reporter? Nah. They let their director of special events, Sarah Waldman, set the Times straight.

“We are most certainly not a strip club. We cater to a high-end, A-list clientele with live art installations with a voyeuristic theme.”

“We are most certainly not a strip club,” Waldman said. “We cater to a high-end, A-list clientele with live art installations with a voyeuristic theme.”

On MSNBC Tuesday night, Keith Olbermann and Michael Musto had fun with Voyeur’s highfalutin pretensions.

OLBERMANN: [The] live art … includes the installation of a half-naked girl hanging from a net across the ceiling.

MUSTO: I feel sorry for Annette, the girl she’s hanging from.

OLBERMANN: Does this place match your definition of an art club, and therefore is the GOP supporting the arts?

MUSTO: Yeah, but then again I think Planet Hollywood is a museum.

Obviously nude lesbian bondage performance art is in the eye of the beholder.

Voyeur’s owners may be ambivalent about the publicity but in the 60-plus year history of the venue, at 7966 Santa Monica Blvd., its current brush with notoriety is nothing new.

The Seville

The first club to occupy the space was the Seville, a jazz club, which opened in the late 1950s, but never caught on — possibly because of its location on then-downscale Santa Monica Blvd., a few blocks too far south of the Sunset Strip. The Seville’s closing in the spring of 1958 bankrupted Clifford Rue, 34, one of the club’s employees. Unfortunately, Rue had run up a $4,200 tab, equivalent to $29,000 today, with his bookie, Maurice “Goldie” Goldsworth, 52. When Goldsworth called a meeting with Rue at shop Rue was remodeling on Ventura Blvd. in the Valley to collect the debt, Rue explained that he was broke and — apparently being a bit fuzzy on how bookies operated — offered to make a down payment of $200, or about $1,400 today.

Not surprisingly, Goldsworth refused the $200 and demanded payment in full. Goldsworth’s refusal enraged Cliff Rue. When Rue became hostile and and aggressive, Goldsworth pulled out his gun. Rue grabbed a hammer and bashed Goldsworth in the head, grabbed the gun and shot and killed him. Panicked, Rue stuffed the dead bookie into the bookie’s car and drove off toward the desert to dump the body. Rue got lost in the Valley, however, and eventually abandoned the car on a dead-end road and left the scene on foot. A cop noticed blood dripping from the trunk of Goldsworth’s car a few days later. The investigation led Rue, who confessed to the murder after a lengthy interrogation. After surviving a suicide attempt in jail, Cliff Rue was eventually convicted of second-degree murder.

A few months after Rue’s arrest, Harry and Alice Schiller, a Beverly Hills couple, purchased the building and reopened the Seville. Business at the Seville was better for the Schillers than the previous owners, but after bumping along for a year or two, Harry Schiller proposed a new approach to his wife. He suggested they open a strip club — not a sleazy joint, but a high-class venue where gentlemen could take their wives.

6 Comments

  • Ethel
    April 2, 2010 - 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Your knowledge of Hollywood history is really fun to read. Are you doing a book on the Strip? I hope so.

  • Steve O.
    April 5, 2010 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    truly the rest of the story…well done. sounds kinda like what cheney did with gitmo…

  • May 24, 2010 - 11:46 pm | Permalink

    Wasn’t he involved in a crazy shooting incident?

  • Derek
    February 17, 2011 - 10:41 am | Permalink

    I worked at Peanuts from 1981 until 1997. I performed in and was host for drag shows, lesbian strip shows you name it. It was a fun place. Alice Schiller was a sweetheart who used to bring in sodas into the dressing room for performers. Josh soon took over and ran the place until he died from Leukemia at age 36 in 1994 or so.

    In the early 80’s when it was the lesbian bar “Peanuts” some of those hardcore dykes could get pretty rowdy and pull a knife when drunk. Despite all of this those times were quite innocent.

    That Voyuer nonsense sounds like sugarcoated sleaze to me. High gloss but still pandering to these pseudo celebs that run around today. At least back in the day we had a sense of humor about ourselves that is sorely lacking these days.

  • steve olsen
    April 15, 2013 - 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Ain’t those the “Dancing WTS’ guys?

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