Rothenburger: Last strip show will mark end of era

She was going to a mining town
Way up north to do her show
I said 'It must be cold up there'
She said, 'It depends on who you know'
- Lyrics from Mitzi Dupree
by Deep Purple

They're calling it the end of an era, the last strip show in Kamloops.

The Duchess, formerly the Village bar, will reportedly host the final revue Saturday. Those with a sociological bent say men have come to understand that watching women undress in public is inappropriate.

Maybe, but at one time exotic dancing was more popular here than hockey.

Some will remember Mitzy Dupree and her show at Bailey's on Eighth Street in the '80s involving ping-pong balls. I never saw her show (honest), but I remember the spirited competition among male reporters for the assignment of "covering" the story.

Her Kamloops engagement made Dupree so famous the rock band Deep Purple wrote a song about her for their 1987 album House of Blue Light. You can now get it as a ring tone for your cell.

Jack Knox, who was this paper's city editor at the time, reminisced about Mitzy just a few months ago. "Kamloops was a veritable Sodom and

Gomorrah, or at least Amsterdam-On-The-South-Thompson," Knox claimed.

We blush at such tributes, but it's true you didn't have to go much past the next block to find a bar with peelers. They still talk about the brass pole in the Plazoo, as the Plaza's bar was called.

I once did a TV interview with Miss Nude California, who was demonstrating her agility on that pole every evening. She didn't feel at all exploited. Male strippers were in vogue, too, and we did a story on a guy who billed himself as Johnny Hot Rocks.

Before all that, in the '70s, there was Linda Adams at Friar Tuck's, a drinking establishment on West Victoria Street where the New Life Mission building now stands. She was the first bottomless dancer in the country, landing in court charged with indecency.

Rafe Mair was her lawyer, and still delights in telling the story. He and co-counsel Peter Jensen called Sentinel entertainment reporter John Pifer as an expert witness. "Pife" and I were pretty good pals back then and I can confirm that, as Rafe wrote, "a less likely candidate as an expert on Kamloops' moral tolerance was hard to imagine."

Adams was found guilty and fined a dollar.

The Rendezvous, a couple of doors down from Friar Tuck's, did good business with its lunchtime peeler shows for many years. Each noon hour, suits from the downtown core would trek down for a beer and a sandwich and to admire the performance.

The 'Vous was once cited for a bylaw violation because its street sign depicted an unclad young woman. A bit of paint in the right places resolved the issue. When I was mayor, the City got complaints about suggestive wording on the bar's marquee. The manager paid me a visit at City Hall, bringing reporters with her to record her lecture on freedom of expression.

There are those who will say the striptease wasn't as bad as the sociologists and feminists claim. Others will say it was a disgusting exploitation of the female (and, sometimes, male) body and its passing is overdue.

And some will say we've just grown up.

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