VEN (SOUTH BEND) — Once one of the liveliest and most respected gentleman’s clubs in the United States across the street from the old Penny’s building and kitty-corner from the La Salle Hotel next to where the old Greyhound Bus Station used to be, the Original Penguin Lounge in South Bend, Indiana — home to former coach Brian Kelly’s Live from the Penguin Lounge weekly radio show — has, like the once storied Notre Dame football program — fallen into hopeless disrepair.
Bartender Eddie Sacks points to an autographed photograph of former headliner, Kitty Litter — Miss Raybestos, 2010 — a beautiful and voluptuous redhead, as he pours a Crown Royal for VEN‘s Senior Nostalgia Reclamation Correspondent George Gipp.
“You know, pal ” Mr Sacks sighs. “As big a jerk as he was, and he was a pretty big jerk, when Kelly owned the place, and Kitty was performing, there was a line twice around the block to get in. At the end of her fourth song she’d be covered in five and ten dollar bills. I’d make three or four hundred dollars a night.
“Now, it’s just the dregs. Most of the girls look like Lizzo, so what’s the point. Some can’t even dance. And they’re so heavy and out of shape they keep breaking the damn poles!
“In fact, business is so bad, the University is talking about turning the place into a gay bath house, if you can believe that. They want to change the name to Fat Eddie’s. It’s such a shame!”
The only other person at the bar — a regular — looked over and scoffed.
“You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about! Kelly was a bum. I used to come here when Ara owned the place. Before they started calling it the “Original” Penguin Lounge.
“The place was a dive when he took it over. They’d find bodies in the dumpster almost every Sunday morning, that’s how bad it was. And he turned it into one of the premier gentleman’s clubs in the United States.
“You think Miss Raybestos was something?? Ara had the most beautiful women from all over the country working here! It was like the Playboy Club, only classier. No strippers. Great food, beautiful women. And the best martinis in Indiana!
“Holtz brought back some of that, but when he left the clown parade of know-nothing jerks who came after him turned it back into the sh*thole it was before Ara took over.
“Kelly was a f*king moron — waitresses wearing shiny gold shoes, plastic grass on the floor, jumbo flat screen TVs.
“And that know-nothing fat f*ck Weis, who never owned a gentleman’s club let let alone managed one, tried to get the dancers to use steps that were so complicated the girls were tripping over themselves and falling down on the runway.
He slams his glass down on the bar in disgust.
“Well, we got a new guy coming in, Bobby,” Mr Sacks explains. “Maybe he’ll turn things around.”
“Right. After an exhaustive bullsh*t 24-hour national search, they promote the guy who runs the bouncers to manage the place. Another “nice guy” with no management experience. But the strippers like him. Apparently no one on the search committee ever read fu**ing Drucker or Deming. Or How to Hire a Manager for Dummies.
“You know what I’d like to do? I’d like to throw one of those goddamn chairs through that f**king wall over there!
“Jesus, I am so sick of this! They ought to just knock the place the f*ck down, and turn it into a self-serve ice cream stand!”
Developing . . . .