Mig Mike, gimme a draft.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Pussycat Lounge

I've been probably a little over-focused on the fate of the old Pussycat lately. (Especially considering that the fate of Grant Street is still not totally certain, and it's by far much more important musically to Lafayette.) It's just that it, along with Metropolis and the Loose Caboose, was one of my favorite Lafayette clubs. I loved the complete do-it-yourself primitive lawless pirate bar aspect of it. I was (at least in theory) Bernard's partner in it, so it kind of bums me out to see the old girl in such a sorry state. These blog entries are readily searchable on all the search engines, so consider this entry an attempt to write down some of the info about the club for posterity. From looking at it, I can't imagine that it will be around much longer.

Here's the future Pussycat seen in 1981 (from Lafayette LINC.) Even then, the building was looking past its prime. It probably dates from the early 1900's. I was told that it had at one time been a warehouse for Sears & Roebuck. From looking at the inside construction of the building, we could tell that the center part of the front facade (roughly the part directly below the raised part that says Broussard's in the above picture) had originally been open and was a loading dock that went back to two big old wooden doors that could be raised or lowered via large pullies up in the ceiling. Just across Jefferson at that time would have been the edge of the old Southern Pacific railyard, and directly behind the Pussycat there is still an old delivery track that was used to load and unload railroad cars into the building. That track then continued across the alley and then across 3rd Street. It eventually became part of Broussard's Feed and Seed, which also owned the elevators across the alley, the building directly behind the Pussycat (now torn down), and the building that Labor Ready was in. From the above photo, it's apparent that the building didn't change much from the 1950's until Hurricane Rita.

Here's the front of the building now (from Jon J.) Rita collapsed almost the entire front facade of the building. Really, the facade was one of the most important parts of the building's character. In the early 1980's, it had been used as a set for the movie Southern Comfort and had been transformed into a stripclub called The Pussycat Lounge. The front was adorned with that name plus some paintings of risque ladies. After the movie, the facade was painted over, but over time the old movie paintjob started to show through again, thus inspiring Bernard with the name.

After the demise of Metropolis, there was a period where there really wasn't any live music venue that was filling the void that it had left. Grant Street only did big acts, and most of the time it was stuff for an older crowd, and all of the other places only had bands occasionally. Bernard hooked up the Feed and Seed building for ridiculously cheap (I think it was $300 a month), and started trying to get it set up for shows. The space was only slightly smaller than Grant Street, although in very rough shape. Keep in mind that this was before downtown's renaissance, so the area around there was still a little shady.

Aided by prehistoric wiring and an unlocked disconnect box behind the old elevators, we were able to covertly reconnect the building's power and essentially got electricity courtesy of Labor Ready. The warehouse had also been equipped with an ancient sprinkler system from its fertilizer storage days. It was fed unmetered directly off of a city water main. Dana and I managed to disconnect the bathroom from the old metered water lines and connect it into the unmetered sprinkler system. If only the sewer line had been functional we would have had completely free utilities (as long as we didn't get busted by inspectors.) Alas, it had been severed when B's Lounge was built next door (in the 60's?) The Pussycat had a big huge open space in the back with a smaller lowered area in the front where the old loading dock had been, and a small room off to one side of that.

The above two photos were taken by the Poster Children when they played the place in 1999. See their tour log here, where Rose gives it a fairly high review. Some of the other acts that played there were Trans Am, The Fucking Champs, Circus Ridickuless, arguably the best Frigg show ever, Urbosleeks, Santeria, and Roads to Space Travel.

Here's the same window from the Poster Children photo (courtesy of Kristie Cornell, notice that the sign originally said ENTAR). If I remember correctly, it was this wall that Bernard was tossing some smartass punk up against because he was punching dents in the tin sides of the building. B threw him around like he was a rag doll. Bernard's a big boy.

Here you're looking at the crumbled remains of the O and the U in "Broussard's" (courtesy of Kristie Cornell). Ah the memories of that place... drunken coonasses, Fruge eating a bunch of angel trumpet and turning into some sort of garden gnome creature, Bernard going on an acid induced freakout and not showing up for a show, undercover cops showing up and Bernard calling them out, etc. Basically it was like being a kid again, but on drugs and having the world's largest clubhouse.

There are still several old graffiti pieces inside (again from Kristie Cornell). I think at least one of them was done by Dana. A pretty funny story:

Dana and I were working on trying to rig the ancient bathroom in the building to work off of the equally ancient sprinkler system. There was a sprinkler nozzle in the bathroom, and we found where the main cutoff valve was for the entire building and turned it off. After considerable struggle, we finally got the rusty plug off below the sprinkler nozzle and rigged an adapter and some pvc to run water down into the old bathroom pipes. We turned the main valve back on and got nothing. We checked the entire system out and couldn't find anywhere where it had been disconnected.

So here's the picture: I'm standing on a ladder looking up into the open sprinkler pipe trying to figure out why we're not getting any water, and Dana is standing on the ground between the ladder and the door. I ask him to hand me something to stick into it to make sure it's not clogged. Unbeknownst to us, it is, and we've left the main valve on, which leads directly into city mains, so we've got muy mucho pressure on the other side. He hands me a tube of lipstick that had been left behind in the bathroom at the previous show and I start shoving it into the pipe. Of course, I stick it through the clog, the water releases like a shotgun, the lipstick shoots off never to be found again, fifty years of sediment and built up muck comes shooting out of the pipe at mach 10 coating my face and most of my body in sludge, I fall off the ladder, and Smith does this headfirst aerial leap thing through the door and cuts his shoulder open on the door jamb. Anyway, we got the water turned off and eventually got the bathroom to run off of the sprinklers, but only after learning a valuable lesson: we're idiots.

This is the wall that separated the lowered area where Frigg and Poster Children played from the side room where the equipment and miscellaneous junk was kept (photo from Jon J.) Another story: we changed out the old toilet and set it out back temporarily. The next day we came back and bums had not only filled the toilet with shit (in direct view of Jefferson Street), but had wiped their asses with a pair of pants and left them next to it. Thanks, bums!

This is the design from some Pussycat tshirts we printed. It's an old masonic drawing, and I just removed the masonic compass from the sun and replaced it with a cat. Yeah, I know, not real creative on my part, but it was such a weird cool drawing.

You remember the good old alley (courtesy of Kristie Cornell and Poster Children). It smelled like piss and death. Drunk girls peeing all over the place. Drunk people climbing up the old elevator scaffolding. Somebody told me some chick peed on him from above while he was trying to climb up it once. How many clubs can claim that kind of street cred? It's glorious. Remember that big mysterious tank thing (at the left in the second photo) that always stunk? Bernard said he opened up the side door of the Pussycat one day, and there was a hooker standing next to the tank smoking a cigarette with one leg hiked up on the control box thing while some bum was sliding her the salami, and there were like five more bums lined up waiting their turn. It was apparently payday at Labor Ready.

Well, all I can say is that those were really fun days, and I will be sad to see this building go, if it does indeed go. Viva Pussycat!


Anonymous nick said...

damn! hooker with a leg hiked up, cigarette in her mouth and a line waiting behind her. you went there and i feel a little dirty.

the first time i ever went to the Lounge, i made the mistake of bringing two stoned friends. they were too scared to go in. I did. it was a trip. that night was a dj/rave night and i remember seeing a guy i knew do the rave dance on a dirt floor while everyone watched. it reminded me of the early 1900s - 1940s hoedown, speakeasy, good time juke joint, hillbilly clubs i've read about ... but with techno and rock.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Great Boudenny said...

Sketchy good times, yes, but I can also remember other times that were a little weird. Like when Trans Am played and it was freezing and there was no heat in the place. The band set up in the middle of the big room and everybody huddled in a circle around them to keep warm. At the time it was kind of burly but I guess in retrospect it was kind of cool.

5:18 AM  
Anonymous Dege said...

Saw The F'ing Champs & Trans Am play there. I think we (santeria) played the night of Bernard's "freakout" no-show...with Roads to Space Travel. We all got WAY waysted. I remember chunking a beer bottle in the air during out set and it accidentally hitting one of the RSTravel guys in the head.

That place ruled. Guerilla Shows, Good People, etc. I remember they even had a few underground Laf hiphop shows there, that I went to.


2:13 PM  
Blogger Great Boudenny said...

I just edited the entry to include you guys and R2ST.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey i have some info you might remeber and i haven't seen then listed. the first and only show i went over there was DEADBOY AND THE ELEPHANTMEN before they were agents of oblivion. one show only with choke and ice pick

9:25 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Never give Bernard acid or mushrooms. Usually, he ends up freaking out and getting naked and running away....Scary stuff!

Anyhow, the Pussycat, Metropolis, the Bluebird...downtown Lafayette was so much fun back then.

9:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home