The Last Days of Club Hubba Hubba
After a thorough renovation, about all that's left of Honolulu's most infamous strip club is the legendary neon sign out front, and the memories of Hubba Hubba's lurid past.
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“About the time I started at Club Hubba Hubba, it was on its way out and so was my career.” If there’s an ounce of sentimentality in Gilda, a former stripper at the legendary Hotel Street landmark, it doesn’t show. She talks about Club Hubba Hubba with the cold, forensic mien of a coroner conducting an autopsy. But in this case, the patient was still alive. Barely.
It was 1993 when Gilda landed at the Hubba Hubba, 40 years after it first opened its doors as the premier venue of burlesque in the Pacific. What she found was a broken-down strip joint, grossly accented with the miasma of stale beer, cigarette smoke, roach spray, cheap perfume and Pine-Sol. Aside from the rats that populated a basement flooded from broken water pipes, Club Hubba Hubba was home to a cast of characters right out of a Tennessee Williams play. There was the head bartender, “Apache,” a blonde girl from Boston who fell in love with a local cop, which caused a scandal, since he was a married man with a family of five. There was Frank, who left his wife in New Zealand and moved into the club as a live-in handyman. He took cheesecake photos of all the dancers that he had to develop himself because Kodak wouldn’t process naked-lady photos. There was the womanizing back-up bartender and stockman Harold, who liked to dance to “Achy Breaky Heart” and rented out mini-refrigerators to dancers for five dollars a week. There was “LeeAnne, the mahu barmaid,” a guy who dressed as a woman but “liked the ladies.”
And then there were the girls. The dancers. The talent. Gilda describes them as a rag-tag group of former porn actresses, burned-out, big-name strippers from Las Vegas and the less desirable strippers in Honolulu who couldn’t get work at the hot clubs like Club Femme Nu or Club Rock-Za. They included the beautiful, yet obnoxious, Diamond.