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Strip club near LAX to be demolished for a parking lot

September 24, 2009 |  6:25 pm


The strip club advertising “Nude Nude Nudes” near Los Angeles International Airport, which has titillated, distracted or disgusted tourists driving on Century Boulevard for decades, has been shut down. It will be turned into a parking lot.

The lease for the Century Lounge strip club, best known for its psychedelic red-and-orange “Nude Nude Nudes” sign that rapidly blinked, expired at the end of August and the lights have been shut off, said John Day, general counsel for the owner of the property, Los Angeles-based L&R Group of Companies.

The club is expected to be demolished in October, and is to serve as an entrance to the existing WallyPark parking structure, which is owned by L&R, and add 700 to 800 ground-level parking spaces. The existing parking structure, which is several stories high, has an entrance on Bellanca Boulevard, a small street, but company officials have been hoping for a more high-profile entrance on Century Boulevard.

“We bought the property probably about 10 years ago, because it’s adjacent to our WallyPark facility. We had intended to buy out the lease, but the owner was fairly delusional in terms of the price,” Day said. “We waited until the lease was up and it was terminated.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the district neighboring the airport, was ecstatic. “I’m thrilled. I’m delighted,” he said.

Rosendahl said the community’s longstanding opposition to the strip club was primarily with the continuously blinking sign.

“People have a right to be who they are, but for God’s sake, does it have to be in everyone’s face? This sign, ‘Nude, Nude, Nudes’ constantly blasting into your face ... It’s in your face. You can’t avoid it. It affects your sensibilities and your values. It’s basically an insult to the community,” Rosendahl said.

Gateway to LA, the business improvement district covering the LAX neighborhood, has been hoping for the closure of the strip club since the business district was created in 1998. Property owners near the airport were dismayed that the strip club was giving the neighborhood a seedy image, making it hard to attract some groups from having meetings and conventions at airport-area hotels.

“It’s just the perception of having that huge sign on Century Boulevard. Advertising nudes does not add to the area,” said Laurie Hughes, executive director of the Gateway to LA business improvement district.

She said the lights were off, but the sign was still hanging at the establishment.

Howard White, the club's owner, could not be reached for comment.

In 2005, the club was featured in a Times article when tourists and community leaders fumed at the strip club erecting an 18-foot sign screaming “Vagina’s R’ Us” on the strip club’s front.

The club had been a 24-hour bowling alley/cocktail lounge/coffee shop called Carolina Pines in the 1950s and ‘60s, when numerous factories were built in the area around LAX.

As manufacturing plants gave way to large hotels, White, a former talent agent and the son of the original proprietor, sought to boost business by staging lingerie shows.

By 1977, the place had become a nude bar and a disco called Carolina West, where alcohol was served. When White lost his liquor license after his lawyer failed to file renewal papers in time, he ditched the disco and decided to go all nude/no alcohol, he said in a 1994 Times interview.

—Rong-Gong Lin II 

Photo: A portion of the sign for the Century Lounge strip club, whose lease has expired.

Credit: Los Angeles Times