327 Bourbon St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
After over 60 haunted locations covered in the great city of New Orleans, I have finally reached the last one…at least for now, and what a way to finish! Allow me to be the first to warn you, if you are easily offended, you may want to skip this blog, as there is no way to sugarcoat and glorify a strip club. I understand the job market is tough and a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do, but I have never been able to understand the logic behind being a stripper. Sure, the successful ones may make thousands of dollars a week but what about all the others who are leaving their dignity behind as they crawl around on their hands and knees for three or four crumpled up dollars? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying every strip club is a rat-infested cesspool, but I have sure been to some horrible ones in my days!
Fortunately, the location at hand is not such an establishment but I must take the time to honor some of these venues for their shear awesomeness. Word to you women out there who are entertaining the idea of becoming a stripper; just because you are a woman, does not necessarily mean men will want to pay to see you naked! Unfortunately, many of these low rent strip joints do not tell the ladies this during the hiring process. I have visited some of these locations that were so bad, they were enjoyable, as it was apparent they were an equal-opportunity employer, not discriminating against age, size, nor appearance. Let me be the first to say I am no Adonis by any means, which is why I keep my clothes on. There is nothing wrong with a woman with high self-esteem but sometimes a line needs to be drawn.
Not mentioning the name of the venue, but one memorable establishment will be etched in my memory forever. It must have been “Caesarean Sunday”, as every one of the performers had been rode hard and hung out to dry. As one particular dancer stomped her foot, the cellulite continued jiggling to the music, which was quite an interesting talent. As she held on to the pole, which was actually a piece of unpainted PVC pipe that was not secured to the ceiling, it began to sway with the weight being applied. Due to her size, this poor gal could only get so low on the pole before she had to slowly pull herself back up. The song may have only lasted a brief moment but at the time, it felt like she was dancing to an instrumental version of Moby Dick!
Regardless of the level of class, every single strip club has one goal in mind and that is to seduce you out of every penny you have, whether it be through watered down drinks, dry humps, or a combination of the two. The same routine is played out daily. Guy walks in and is quickly greeted by a young woman, normally with some awful stage name like Babydoll, Sapphire, or Naveah, which is heaven spelled backwards in case you didn't know. Those that are immediately hooked are offered a private dance and/or the option of buying the lady a drink, which turns out being an eight dollar Sprite. The ladies can spot these gullible and desperate guys a mile away and will milk them out of every penny. By the end of the night, the poor sap in love is left drunk and broke with a severe case of “turquoise testicles” (if you know what I mean) unless they are in “one of those establishments” where that can be taken care of too, for an additional fee of course.
Now that I have enlightened you of the wonderful hustle that has been around since the beginning of time, let's move on to the epitome of every young male paranormal investigator's dream; a haunted strip club! With the French Quarter being known as an incredible place to party, obviously it would be home to its fair share of strip clubs, or as the “classy” ones like to call themselves, Gentlemen's Clubs. A quick walk down Bourbon Street and you are instantly greeted with free samples of some of the venues at hand, often furthering the enticement with signs advertising drink specials or no cover charges.
As we have learned, every building in the French Quarter has served as a private residence or some other venue with an interesting history at some point or another. The plethora of strip clubs is no exception and in this case, the concentrated amount of haunted activity shows no bias either.
One unique gentlemen's club at 327 Bourbon Street sticks out from the competition, not only
|Décor that is definitely different than most strip clubs.|
Years before the two-for-one lap dances, provocative twerking and Cirque du Soleil-like acrobatics around a shiny pole, Temptations Club was the four-story mansion for a successful gentleman who would play a huge role in Louisiana's political history. Judah Phillip Benjamin was born on August 11, 1811, in St. Croix to Sephardic Jews, Philip and Rebecca Benjamin. By 1821, in an attempt to better themselves, the family moved to a large Jewish community in Charleston, South Carolina. While attending Fayetteville Academy, a young Judah was acknowledged for his exceptional intelligence even at an early age, although he was often a trouble maker. By the early age of fourteen, he attended Yale College but only stayed there for two years. His true reasons for leaving are unknown but some say he was caught stealing. By 1828, Judah moved to New Orleans with basically just the clothes on his back and his intelligence. After working in a mercantile business, he became a clerk for a law firm, where he began to read law, studying as an apprentice. In late 1832, at the age of twenty-one, he was admitted to the bar.
|Photo of the building taken sometime in the 1930's.|
All of Judah's attempts at impressing his wife fell on deaf ears, as she would never return. Judah would remain at the plantation, making a fortune in the refining of sugar. It is uncertain as to the type of person Natalie was, but many say she was quite promiscuous. Others say Judah was the issue, as he was also said to have affairs and some rumored him to be homosexual.
Whatever issues Judah had in his personal life, he was extremely successful in business and politics. Before his death in 1884, Judah Benjamin would become the first openly-Jewish Senator, the Confederate Secretary of State and one of the most prominent American Jews of the nineteenth century. To show you how significant of a role he played, Benjamin was also featured on the Confederate two dollar bill. This would have been extremely ironic, if the Confederacy would have won the Civil War. Just imagine, if changes were made throughout the years with our currency, the strippers of Temptations could be shoving two dollar bills containing the portrait of the home's former owner up their cracks instead of George Washington!
|Photo of the building in 1965. Used for a business|
known as "Pepe's".
I really would like you to get a mental picture of the conversation that was taking place. This was not your regular interview or preliminary investigation that I have conducted a hundred or so times. Instead of quietly sitting across a kitchen table talking to the homeowner, I sat in a large velvet armchair sitting across from a beautiful young woman wearing clothing no bigger than a Band-Aid. As we spoke about ghostly apparitions and disembodied voices, another young woman performed a dance number around a pole that would have made Mary Lou Retton proud! I have to admit, this was definitely a first for the paranormal community!
In true stripper fashion, the young woman told me it was her turn to dance on stage but she would go get the manager who could give me a tour of the building. Sure enough, a well-dressed
|Surveillance footage capturing the alleged murderers of Lockhart.|
The manager then took me to the rear courtyard where the slave quarters were. He began to tell me this area was where additional private dances were held. He said on numerous occasions, the doors to the rooms would open and close and even lock by themselves. As we continued talking, a
|Photo of the courtyard taken in the 1940's. |
It looks much different today, as one might imagine!
For obvious reasons, I didn't bother asking if we could conduct an investigation of the club. Being opened twenty-four hours a day, I knew this place had a huge business going for them and could not afford to close even for one night. I graciously thanked the manager for taking the time to show me around. He then told me that they owned two other clubs further down on Bourbon Street and those were reportedly more active than Temptations!
So there you have it folks! Only in New Orleans, do strip clubs not only look, but also act like a nineteenth-century mansion. When I began writing this blog, I contemplated the idea of having a catchy title for each location but decided not to. If I would have opted for this technique, I had the perfect title for this entry:
“Is that Ectoplasm on Your Pants or are You Happy to See Me?”