Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nightclubs of Northern Kentucky

In the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th, Northern Kentucky (the Newport area) was the nation's mecca for casinos, strip clubs, porno theatres, illicit gambling, liquor stores, taverns, burlesque halls, pervy private clubs, disreputable cabarets and piano bars, sleazy country clubs, speakeasies, opium dens, brothels, mobster hangouts, seedy bookstores and no-tell motels.

Though not quite as transcendentally amoral as the Weimar Republic, the glory days of Northern Kentucky were a heady and dizzying hell-ride through the underbelly of America's underbelly. Even celebs like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Joey Bishop came to Kentucky to party during Newport's heyday.

Unfortunately, the forces of purity, piousness and clean living began to put the pressure on, and eventually the party was over. The mob packed up their tommy guns, the showgirls packed up their feather boas, and the action all moved out West to a little nothing spot in the desert called Las Vegas. By the 1970s, Newport was no longer known as "Sin City" and Kentucky's reputation for decadent libertinism was dead.

But as Bruce Springsteen once said, "Everything that dies, one day comes back". We're absolutely certain of it.

Postcards shown, top to bottom:

  • Glenn Schmidt's, 18 E. 5th St., Newport, KY
  • Club Alexandria, 2124 Alexandria Pike, Newport, KY
  • The Silver Slipper, 613 Monmouth Street, Newport, KY
  • Jai Alai, 804 York St., Newport, KY (back of card reads "Delightful Piano cocktail Lounge. Our delicious drinks are made for the Connoisseur, priced for the average person. Your favorite music at Cocktail Hour and nightly from 7 P.M. 'til 5 A.M.")
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