Monday, February 25, 2013
Collins Avenue Gayety Larry Griffith and Burlesque Miami Style True Burlesque
True Burlesque of the week is the lovely Gayety Theater in Miami on Collins Avenue! Used briefly in a shot in television show Miami Vice! They needed a sleazy exterior shot.
Strippers are just like birds. They head south for the winter.
IN 1965, the Miami News reported Gayety owner Leroy Griffith "operator of three nudie theaters" was forced to close his clubs for failing to pay his taxes.
In 1970, Leroy was arrested for "unlawfully showing obscene films."
IN 1974, the club owner SUED LINDA LOVELACE. Sheesh, hadn't she had enough trouble? Ironically, several years later Leroy himself was fined for screening an edited version of Linda's film without informing patrons the good parts had been spliced out.
In 1984, Leroy sued a television station for reporting he was "A Meyer Lansky Man" which would be hard to prove. I'm not sure how that turned out.
Obviously, Leroy is a litigious kind of guy, so I better be careful. I'd hate to slander him. At one time, Leroy owned 18 movie theaters. The Miami News referred to him once as a "porno king" so I guess I can too. He was also called him a "burlesque impresario" way back in 1967. Hmm…here is a source which calls him a "flesh purveyor." Well, you can't hate a guy who once hired actor Mickey Rourke as a projectionist. Plus, who can hate a guy who went to court to allow him to screen a film titled "Three Ripening Cherries?"
Leroy was in it from the start. He would purchase legit theaters going out of business and reopen them as adult shows. Soon he was making his own topless films. Creepy "reporter" Earl Wilson once "reported" Leroy offered Jayne Mayne Mansfield some bucks to strip, but she turned him down.
Seeking favor from Miami Beach prudes, in 1984 Leroy let a goofy evangelist (and former dog food promoter) use one of his theaters for revivals.
Leroy the burlesque impresario was arrested in 1988 for "promoting lewd and lascivious performances" but that's nothing. It was reported once that his clubs had been raided eighteen times.
At one time, a Florida disc Jockey was arrested at the Gayety club for, well…sitting in the dark and "performing alone" but I won't name him, as bad publicity is good publicity, and apparently lots of people hated him anyway. It was a Pee Wee Herman kind of thing, and the announcer was one of those hypocritical kind of radio guys, or so they say. The creep might be litigious too, so consider this a blind news item. What? He died? Oh, good. It was Neil Rogers and he was tugging the rope.
IN 1990, Gayety Owner Leroy Griffith decided he would turn the old Gayety dump into an "upscale strip club" which means dumpy with gloss and a higher cover charge. He and his partners intended to call it "Solid Gold" but that didn't last long. At one point, the name is reported to be "Pure Platinum" but it became "Deja Vu" and then "SoBe Showgirls. At least I think so, I loose track. One of Leroy's clubs was named "Madonna" but she sued him. She lost the case as there have been other Madonnas, I guess.
Leroy was a clever man. Miami Beach outlawed alcohol being served where there was nude dancing, so he installed a glass barrier separating the bar from the stage!
A giant profile of Leroy Griffith, "upscale" club operator is HERE and more dish is HERE
PURCHASE BOOKS (AND AFFORDABLE EBOOKS) BY JIM LINDERMAN HERE