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.

A vintage photograph of the Pink Pussycat, advertising its college of striptease on the side.

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.

Cover of the application, featuring a cat rubbing against the leg wearing fishnet stockings.

The requirements? The following:

  1. Over twenty one
  2. High moral character
  3. Seriously interested in the art of the strip tease
  4. Voluptuous body

Inside the application, featuring the text of admission requirements and lessons.

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:

  1. History and Theory of the Strip Tease
  2. Psychology of Inhibitions
  3. Controlling the Structural Components of Anatomy
  4. Applied Sensual Communication
  5. Elementary Bumps and Grinds
  6. Methodology of Teasing, Tantalizing, and Titillating
  7. Fundamentals of Taking-It-Off
  8. Dynamic Mammary, Navel, and Pelvic Rotation and Oscillation
  9. Experimental Workshop
  10. Advanced studies and Seminar In New Trends and Techniques of the Strip Tease

Inside the application, featuring the text of admission requirements and lessons.

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!

Stripper Fran Sinatra is instructed by Sally Marr in removing her dress.

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!

Flyer for the at-home Stripper Kit, featuring an illustration of a stripper wearing feathers in the hair, wearing pasties and G-strip, a cat sits at her feet.

The at home version - complete with garter, G-string, pasties, and various ephemera.

Flyer for the "tease shirt" for the Pink Pussycat

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.

The Pink Pussycat sign as seen in The Swinger, black, with neon reading "The Pink Pussycat" and "burlesque." The names on the marquee read "Fran Sinatra" and "Samya Davis Jr."

The Pink Pussycat as seen in The Swinger, the side reading "Pink Pussycat College of Strip Tease"

The Pink Pussycat as seen in The Swinger, it's front mural reading "Burlesque A Stage Full of the Most Exciting Girls in the World"

The Pink Pussycat interior as seen in The Swinger, with Ann-Margret being assisted by Pussycats wearing the trademark pink feathers in their hair.

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.”

Alice in a white cocktail dress with her pussycats wearing lacy strapless black tops and pink feather tutus with pink feathers in their hair, emulating cat ears.

Old photograph of the exterior of The Pink Pussycat, painted pink and black, including a large mural of a cat rubbing against a fishnet covered leg.

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 Pink Pussycat today - A cream colored building with mint green sign reading the address number and "cocktails" in neon.

The door to what is now the Dahlia nightclub, which features a porthole style window.

Close-up of the sign.

The Pink Pussycat today - A cream colored building with mint green sign reading the address number and "cocktails" in neon.

Close-up of "cocktails" in neon.

Close up of the sign, still original from its time as the Pink Pussycat, now painted green. Features address and "cocktails" in neon.

The former Pink Pussycat College of Strip Tease is located 7969 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.

Sources
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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