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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Raymond's Revue Bar
This is where the first Soho Strip joint opened it's doors.
Location: 11 Walkers Court, Brewer Street, Soho, London, w1f 0ed
Description: Raymonds Revue Bar became, in 1958, the first joint to be licensed for serious nude striptease. The Windmill had exposed naked female flesh for the previous wartime generation, but the Lord Chamberlain insisted that the Windmill flesh must not quiver or titillate a nanomillimetre. Plainclothed policemen Peeping Tommed to enforce the law.
In its glory days, it was flash and brash and expensive. Merchant bankers and Americans in white tuxedos and their ladies in evening dress perched on stools at the long bar, eating tournedos Rossini and drinking over-priced champagne.
On the adjacent stage just below their noses, within touching distance, the girls wriggled and wiggled and performed intimate exercises with bottles and boa constrictors. It was the smart place for the well-heeled louche to go. And it was the Mecca for an (exorbitant) night out in Soho in the Swinging Sixties.
Raymond became known as Mr Soho and his Rolls Royce and fur coats became Soho trademarks here.
But sexual liberation coincided with the rise of feminism. Stripping no longer seemed glamorous or a giggle, but the seedy exploitation of desperate women. Lap-dancing chains have invaded the high street. Porn is readily available on the internet and video for Americans, without the expense or danger of travelling to Soho.
Raymond has been driven out of business by increased competition, tawdrification of its supposed glamour, and the fall-off of its clientele which lately came mainly from the Far and Middle East. 9/11, Sars, the economic downturn and avian flu have destroyed Raymonds income.
In 2004 it closed and became Too2Much, where it hosted in 2005 Elton John and David Furnish's lavish pre-wedding party.
Now it is the Soho Revue Bar.