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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Steven Fredrick is a history and vintage film buff who turned his passion into business. Along with screening old movies, he conducts walking tours of Honolulu as part of his “Honolulu Ghost and Mystery Tours” business. Those include “The Charlie Chan Mystery Tour,” “Hawaii Wartime History Tour” and “Honolulu Ghost Tour.” He doesn’t include Club Hubba Hubba in his ghost tour, but he does point out to visitors, in the interest of history, that the club wasn’t around in World War II as many people think. The buildings at 25 N. Hotel St. were used as restaurants and cafés, becoming Café Hubba Hubba in 1947. It was changed to Club Hubba Hubba in 1953, well after World War II.
One could disagree with Fredrick’s choice not to include Club Hubba Hubba on his ghost tour. Ghosts are just memories that won’t go away, and there are plenty of those haunting the Club Hubba Hubba property. The two buildings were built in 1899, and survived the 1900 Chinatown fire that burned down almost everything else. There must be some ghosts from that period hanging around. The buildings were used by dentists and photographers and cooks and barbers. All of them had stories to tell. Club Hubba Hubba has starred in many TV shows and movies. It was in a number of Magnum P.I. episodes, including episode 133, “Death and Taxes,” the first episode to be produced by Tom Selleck. It was a regular backdrop for Hawaii Five-0, including episode No. 5 (“And They Painted Daisies on His Coffin”) in which, after being grilled by McGarrett, a stripper coyly asks the crime fighter, “Why don’t you catch my act sometime?” Steve just smiles at her the way he did when chicks dug him.
Hotel Street can be rough, and there were more than a few fights in Club Hubba Hubba over the years. Not all ended in tragedy. In the 1970s, there was a big fight in progress at the club when HPD officer John Shaw got the call. He raced in his three-wheeled police “popsicle wagon” to the scene. It had been raining.
“I was going a little too fast,” he recalled recently. “I hit the brakes and went into a skid. God knows how I got onto the sidewalk and into the bar without hitting anybody or anything. I ended up IN THE BAR. On my bike. I took off my helmet and threw it to the ground because I was pissed. Then I noticed the fight had stopped and everyone was laughing.”
The ghosts must still laugh about the crazy cop who broke up a fight by accidentally crashing into the bar.
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