The former Lusty Lady building on First Avenue, once home for a strip club known for double-entendre messages on its marquee, will become a 43-room boutique hotel.
It’s been five years since the Lusty Lady closed, the last of the old-time flesh joints on First Avenue.
On Thursday, the transformation of that area downtown, where there once were 10 peepshows, continued when a local developer announced that the building will be turned into a boutique hotel.
Oh, there still is Showgirls across from Pike Place Market, but it’s a long ways from the gritty era when this was “Flesh Avenue.”
The Lusty Lady provided 27 years of live dancing that went 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at the Seven Seas Building.
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One of the partners in the hotel project is John Schack, 40, of Revolve Development, who grew up in Kent.
Those go-go years are just history to him. Schack would have been, what, in elementary school?
“I have no real-world knowledge of that time,” he says. “I guess we’ve become a more livable, a more modern city. Gentrified. I guess that’s what it is.”
The hotel, scheduled to open in 2017, will target “creative-class travelers,” say the partners.
So it should fit right in with the neighboring Seattle Art Museum, Four Seasons Private Residences, Fran’s Chocolates, Fonte Café and Wine Bar and the Japonessa Sushi Cocina.
It will feature 43 guest rooms, 4,100 square feet of retail space and a rooftop deck.
Gone from inside the building is pretty much every reminder of the Lusty Lady.
The booths, stages and shutter windows that you had to keep feeding quarters to stay open are no more.
The place has been gutted down to the studs and vacuumed up. The smell now is from structural timbers that date back to the 1890s, not the bleach that had been used for cleanup.
The only reminders are two items:
A sign that had been left that warns, “Occupancy of this booth is at all times limited to only one person. Violators are subject to criminal prosecution under Seattle Municipal Code 6.42.130.”
And the V-shaped sign outside that had fluorescent lights for the Lusty Lady marquee.
You remember the marquee, the one with rotating double-entendre messages: “Thanks for the mammaries.” “Porn on the 4th of July.” “Merry XXXmas.” “Happy Spanksgiving.” “We take off more than Boeing.”
There still exists a website devoted to Lusty Lady puns.
These days, the marquee is on display at the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) with the message, “We Support Forward Thrust.”
In case you wondered, you 15-year-old boys reading this, Forward Thrust was the name of civic initiatives put to King County voters in 1968 and 1970.
The boutique hotel, says Schack, will pay homage to the building’s history, with such features as a “speak-easy bar.”
In some manner, he says, the place will memorialize the Lusty Lady, “although we’re still trying to figure out how to incorporate that.”
The developers say they have a 99-year-lease on the building, which is owned by the Christto and Dorothy Tolias family of Seattle.
The family has kept the old building even though it had a substantial offer.
“I don’t know why. Why does anybody not sell anything? It’s always been in the family,” says their attorney, Ron Meltzer. “They’re pretty private people.”
As for those of you bemoaning the good old days of a gritty Seattle, Charles Royer, mayor from 1978 to 1990, remembers what First Avenue used to be like.
“Back then there was a lot of crime. Pawnshops routinely held up. Guys getting rolled when the fleet came in,” he says.
As for that one-person-only booth-occupancy sign, MOHAI “politely declined” when it was offered to them, says Schack.
“We’ll figure out a way to use it,” he says.
Some of the boutique hotel’s older guests might even remember what it means.