The Pink Pussycat College of Strip Tease Where Yesteryear’s Strippers Learned Their Craft
Imagine you are a woman living the high life in early 1960s Hollywood, you have a great husband, who after working hard as a door-to-door salesman, elevates himself to running a haberdashery in Beverly Hills and then enters the nightclub business. It’s a classy life. Then, one day, your loving husband comes home and tells you to wants to transform the nightclub into a strip club. What do you do?
Well, that is exactly the position Alice Schiller found herself in in 1961. When her husband told her of his plans she burst into tears. But soon she dried her eyes and decided that if she was going to run a strip club, she would make it the classiest one in LA, one that men would bring their wives to. So, how did Alice do that? She decided to control all aspects of the club, beginning with the ladies who are taking off their clothes.
Image Source: Retrospace
The Schillers turned their nightclub, Jazz Seville, into The Pink Pussycat. But in order to have the classiest of strippers, they also created The Pink Pussycat College of Strip Tease, which you had to apply for.
The requirements? The following:
- Over twenty one
- High moral character
- Seriously interested in the art of the strip tease
- Voluptuous body
Meet those requirements? Then you’ll need an additional $100. I went ahead and put $100 into government inflation calculator and had it set to June 1962 (you’ll spy “1962” in the lower left of the application, and I used June as it’s the mid-point for the year), and it came out to $833.07 in today’s money!
Classes were taught by Sally Marr, 52 at the time, and included the following:
- History and Theory of the Strip Tease
- Psychology of Inhibitions
- Controlling the Structural Components of Anatomy
- Applied Sensual Communication
- Elementary Bumps and Grinds
- Methodology of Teasing, Tantalizing, and Titillating
- Fundamentals of Taking-It-Off
- Dynamic Mammary, Navel, and Pelvic Rotation and Oscillation
- Experimental Workshop
- Advanced studies and Seminar In New Trends and Techniques of the Strip Tease
Source for Above Three Images: Ebay
In a Time article, Marr is quoted as lecturing her students with “Not too much bump and not too much grind – that’s passé and went out with Minksey.” Marr was also the mother of comedian Lenny Bruce, and she reportedly convinced him to perform at the club as well, comedy of course – not stripping!
Image Source: Time magazine
Alice then gave her new graduates their stage names, some of which were puns of real life entertainers of the day, like Fran Sinatra, pictured above, Dina Martin, and Peeler Lawford. This tongue-in-cheek gimmick helped lure Hollywood elite, including the real Rat Pack, to the Pink Pussycat. Bob Hope acknowledged its status in 1964 at the opening of the Music Center in downtown LA by saying “LA needs culture and the Pink Pussycat can’t do it alone.”
Not in Hollywood? You could become a stripper via mail order for just $4.95 ($41.24 today), plus postage! This home instruction kit featured a booklet, pasties (or as Alice referred to them, “bosom bonnets”), garter, G-string, and rhinestone for the navel! You could also get a “tease shirt” featuring the seal of the school, which read “The Navel Academy of the West.” And seriously, what I wouldn’t give to get my hands on one!
Source for Above Three Images: Ebay
Within just six months of opening, its reputation as the place to learn how to strip that Joan Collins “dropped in” when preparing for role of the exotic dancer, Melanie, in the 1960 film Seven Thieves. Collins received additional training from famous stripper, and one time girlfriend of Mickey Cohen, Candy Barr.
The club was also featured in a montage of various strip clubs in the 1966 film The Swinger starring Ann-Margret, and as the location of of Ann-Margret’s strip tease near the end of the film.
Source for Above Four Images: Screencaps from The Swinger
While Sally took care of teaching the strippers, Alice personally taught the waitresses, which also included tips on beauty. In a 1967 Los Angeles Times article, she boasted “I myself am an authority on beauty and glamor. I’ve probably glamorized 1,000 pussycats. Twenty of my pussycats married multimillionaires.” Fully embracing the pink pussycat life, Alice and her husband drove a pink Cadillac and a pink Rolls-Royce, which enticed fellow drivers, as they read “Follow Us to the Pink Pussycat.”
Source for Above Two Images: LA Magazine
Alice was so prominent that she was made an official city hostess by LA mayor at the time, Sam Yorty, and featured as the mystery guest on the popular game show What’s My Line?
The Pink Pussycat closed in 1970, but Alice continued with the nightclub business, turning it into Peanuts, a discotheque that was just as revolutionary as the Pink Pussycat, as she welcomed gays and lesbians.
In the late 1980s it became Club 7969, and was sold in 2009 by the Schiller family, ending their decades long career in the night club business. Alice passed away on December 19, 2009, at age 95. Today the building, no longer titty pink, is home to yet another nightclub, Dahlia. From their photos, they may have been inspired by their history, with their vibrant pink walls, and old Hollywood glam feel. The original sign still remains, although the neon that once read “BURLESQUE” now reads “cocktails” and features a tiny neon martini.
The former Pink Pussycat College of Strip Tease is located 7969 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.
Fox, Margalit. “Alice Schiller, Impresaria of Striptease, Dies at 95.” New York Times.
“M.I. Tease.” Time. 10 December 1961, p. 76.
Martino, Alison. “Peek Inside L.A.’s Forgotten College of Striptease.” Los Angeles Magazine.
Woo, Elaine. “Alice Schiller dies at 95; businesswoman ran the Pink Pussycat.” Los Angeles Times.
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8 comments on “The Pink Pussycat College of Strip Tease Where Yesteryear’s Strippers Learned Their Craft”
I LOVE this post! It was amazing to learn about The Pink Pussy Cat – both the club AND the college! I love that Alice essentially took control of the situation and made it her own, made it classy and created an empire! What a fascinating woman, what a fascinating piece of history!
Thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed it!
This is my favorite post of yours ever! I love the old photos and the new, and I guess most importantly, the story. Good job.
Really!? Wow! I am so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for reading!
If vintage “adult” entertainment (of a relatively clean nature) is of interest to you, you might want to investigate the history of Hostess Dance Clubs (aka Taxi Dance Clubs) which were once ubiquitous in American cities but diminished in importance by the mid-20th century in most parts of the country. They have survived, albeit on a much reduced scale, in downtown Los Angeles into the current millennium. Of the remaining handful of “American style” hostess dance clubs in the whole country about 4 or 5 still exist in downtown Los Angeles. Few people even know about them and the owners generally want to keep them low profile, but they are the last remaining remnant of a bit of once prominent Americana that is mostly forgotten today. Their history was immortalized in the classic 1920’s movie (and song) Ten Cents a Dance.
I have given some thought to writing about them as Pamela Des Barnes was one of those gals!
I was Alice’s hairstylist in the early seventies. I loved her. She was so kind and soft spoken, she had a little girl voice. She was adorable. I made a few house calls to her home in Trousdale Estates. Alice Answered the door in a full length peignoir (silk nightgown and matching rob). It was pussycat pink with pink ostrich feathers around the wrist and from top to bottom. She walked me outside by the pool to show me the most fantastic view. I will never forget her standing there with the wind filling her gown and blowing it so dramatically. It was so wonderfully Hollywood.
I saw her for years after I retired….. she was always in Beverly Hills lunching with the glamour girls. Alice always greeted with a hug and a kiss.
Oh my gosh, that is so amazing!! Thank you for sharing your experiences with her!