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Carousel Club


Nic Martin
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I was looking through my collection of magazines and things, and I've only found one picture of the outside of the Carousel Club, which I promptly scanned in from an issue of "ParisMatch" dated December 14, 1963. Just out of curiousity, are there any more? (Nic Martin)

There are these ones, Nic. Great image by the way.

James

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I was looking through my collection of magazines and things, and I've only found one picture of the outside of the Carousel Club, which I promptly scanned in from an issue of "ParisMatch" dated December 14, 1963. Just out of curiousity, are there any more? (Nic Martin)

There are these ones, Nic. Great image by the way.

James

Thanks, I hadn't seen those before. The billboard in the top right-hand corner seems to read the same for both sets of images, so either that billboard never changed, or these images were taken around the same time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is a film called "Naughty Dallas". I haven't seen it, but apparently it's still available on VHS from a company called Something Weird.

http://www.somethingweird.com/4277.htm

Here's a description from the Something Weird website:

NAUGHTY DALLAS AKA NAUGHTY CUTIES & MONDO EXOTICA

#4277 1964 / color

SOUTHERN BURLESQUE STRIPPERS

Produced by BRECK WALL

Directed by LARRY BUCHANAN

with JADA, KIM ATHAS, PEGGY STEELE

A small-towner with high hopes fantasizes about breaking into show biz and becoming the proud owner of a pink poodle. Dallas, being the entertainment hot spot that it is, naturally attracts the pie-eyed lass. After a day in the big city, she decides that burlesque is her bag & signs up for an amateur-show. Unnerved by the dazzling array of talent on display at the nightclub, she is unable to perform and leaves the stage in tears. Now for the heart -wrenching decision: run home to the country, or stick it out in Dallas ... after all, if you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere. Or maybe not.

Filled to the brim with classic burlesque, Larry Buchanan's (MARS NEEDS WOMEN, ZONTAR THE THING FROM VENUS) naughty nudie was filmed on location at Jack Ruby's actual nightclub. Truly a history making motion picture.

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Nic,

I was looking through my collection of magazines and things, and I've only found one picture of the outside of the Carousel Club, which I promptly scanned in from an issue of "ParisMatch" dated December 14, 1963. Just out of curiousity, are there any more?

Though not of the outside, there ae a series of pictures taken of the inside in the Armstrong Exhibits to the WC Hearings at 19H36 +

CE 2427 at 25H526 has a picture of the Closed sign posted in front of the Carousel.

Steve Thomas

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Nic,

Though not of the outside, there ae a series of pictures taken of the inside in the Armstrong Exhibits to the WC Hearings at 19H36 +

CE 2427 at 25H526 has a picture of the Closed sign posted in front of the Carousel.

Steve Thomas

Yes, I'd seen the CE pictures, forgot to mention that. I've been through those exhibits more times than I can count, always hoping to catch something that'll trigger a thought. :D

And, Roger, thanks for information on the film. Although it's not intended for my age range ( ;D ) I'll look into that, definitely! :D

Edited by Nic Martin
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  • 2 weeks later...

There hasn't been much new information about Jack Ruby - not that I'm aware of. This is an area that deserves greater attention. Gary Cartwright's article for Texas Monthly (November 1975) is a good read. Be sure to catch his update published in the same journal on December 1990. His roommate in 1963 was going out with the stripper Jada and he claims that Jada confirms Beverly Oliver's story about Oswald being in the Carousel Club.

Another excellent source is Seth Kantor's book, "The Ruby Cover-up." I have the 1992 paperback, but it was first published in 1978 under a different name. Kantor was the person who saw and talked to Ruby at Parkland Hospital.

"Jack Ruby's Girls", by Alice Anderson and Diana Hunter, is of interest mostly for adding a little "color" to the story. The book doesn't show any photos of the Carousel, but it has an excelllent description of the club and how it operated. This book is hard to come by, so I've scanned an excerpt. (The statement about not seeing Oswald at the club deserves some comment which I'll save for a later post).

Class on Commerce Street

(from Jack Ruby's Girls, by Diana Hunter and Alice Anderson, 1970)

Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club was a night club with girls and drinks and strippers. It was like a lot of other clubs in Dallas, but then it wasn’t like any one of them. Dallas has never been a city famous for its night life—strong church influence prevents that—but the Carousel always had a certain reputation.

Unless you knew the Carousel was there, you might have missed it, sandwiched between a parking garage and a short-order restaurant, except for the pictures of Jack Ruby’s girls in scanty costumes and inviting poses pasted around the entrance to lure the customers inside. The location was 1312½ Commerce Street, right in the middle of downtown Dallas, halfway between the county jail and the police station. Jack Ruby knew people who’d been locked up in both places, but although he had been arrested for minor offenses on numerous occasions, he had never been locked up in either one himself—never, that is, until November 24, 1963, the day he shot Lee Harvey Oswald. After that, he was never out of one jail or the other until he was taken to Parkland Hospital to die.

Across the street from the Carousel Club stood the old Adolphus Hotel, built by the Busch beer family of St. Louis. Adjacent to it, also on Commerce, was the Baker Hotel. We thought you’d like to know this because these two hotels were where so many of our out-of-town customers, and some local ones, too, spent the night after we’d fleeced them right out of their socks.

The club itself was one flight up a narrow stairway that led from the street level entrance, which explains the “½” on the address. That’s the way they number upstairs locations in Dallas. At the top of the stairs was a tiny cashier’s booth where customers stopped to pay a two-dollar cover charge before they could go inside. The booth had one of those two-way mirrors in the back, with a mirror on the inside which was a window from the outside, something Jack Ruby used frequently to spy on his cashiers and make certain they weren’t pocketing any of the receipts.

Inside, the Carousel was a single, square, barn-like room with dark red carpeting and large booths, covered in black plastic, lined up against the walls. The focal point was a stage about the size of a boxing ring where the strippers performed. An orchestra, usually four or five pieces, sat at the back of the stage and played for the performances and between acts. There wasn’t a dance floor. The Carousel wasn’t that kind of club. Most of our customers were men, and they didn’t come to dance. They came to watch us dance.

Occupying the entire wall to the left of the stage was the bar, a huge boomerang-shaped affair with the bottom part covered in the red rug fabric and the top finished in gaudy gold padded plastic. The area above the bar was decorated with gold crowns suspended from the ceiling. There were crown decorations on the other walls, too, and a big fleur de lis flanking each side of the stage. Gold mesh draperies hung over the windows on the wall opposite the bar, but they weren’t really needed because the Carousel was never open when it was light outside. The only other decoration in the club was an enormous gold painting of a stallion, done in a kind of three-dimensional relief style, that Jack Ruby treasured. He always said it was real class.

Most of the other parts of the Carousel you couldn’t see unless you worked there. A kitchen opened from behind the bar where we cooked pizza, the only food the Carousel ever served. Dressing rooms for us girls were behind the stage area. Jack Ruby’s dingy little office, equipped with a grey metal desk and a small safe, was off the hallway to the left of the bar. The restrooms were back that way, too. They got a lot of use.

A large part of the Carousel’s customers were regulars who’d been coming there since Ruby opened the club in 1960. New customers generally came because someone had told them about the club, or they’d read about it somewhere. A few wandered in off the streets. Those who did had a surprise or two waiting for them when they got inside.

Somebody made a point once that Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club was in the heart of a city that never took the Carousel to its heart. Now what kind of talk is that? True, many of our customers were from outside Dallas, but we had some steady local clientele. They weren’t all hicks and farmers, either. We could count on a cross-section of the adult male population to walk through the Carousel’s doors at one time or another; politicians, salesmen, attorneys, doctors, football players, insurance men, oilmen, truck drivers, newspapermen, everybody. Even a few preachers. Most of these people weren’t ordinarily big spenders, but we coaxed them with a hint that we were really interested in showing them a good time. Once inside Jack Ruby’s club, they either began spending money or soon were back on the street. Ruby had a way of getting rid of the no-spenders, just as he did of tossing out customers who became loud or obnoxious. Those stairs saw plenty of action.

Speaking of customers, we want to state right now for the record that none of us who were Jack Ruby’s girls ever saw Lee Harvey Oswald, or his brother Robert Oswald, or Officer J.D. Tippit, in the Carousel Club. True, a lot of cops came to the Carousel off duty, sometimes even with their wives. But we never saw Officer Tippit there. And we’re as sure as we can be that Jack Ruby didn’t know anything about or have anything to do with the assassination and was not part of any conspiracy.

The Carousel opened at eight every evening, including Sundays, and customers could stay until it closed at two, but they had to stop drinking hard stuff promptly at midnight, one o’clock on Saturday nights. They could buy beer and champagne. If they wanted liquor, they had to bring their own bottle and pay to order ice and a glass. All this was the situation which the Texas curfew and liquor laws imposed on its citizens and visitors at the time when the incidents of this book took place in the early 1960’s.

Jack Ruby frankly admitted that the beer served at the Carousel was the cheapest he could buy, although it went for sixty cents a thick-bottomed glass. His champagne was, to use his own term, pure rotgut. He didn’t encourage his girls to drink the stuff, only to waste it.

Bought by the truckload, the bubbly we served cost $1.60 a bottle. We peddled it to sucker customers for $17.50 a bottle, and they had to pay the price if they expected one of us to sit with them in a booth. Most of the time they handed us a twenty dollar bill for the bottle, and we kept the $2.50 change.

Once the champagne had been purchased, we proceeded to find imaginative ways to use it up as fast as possible. We might drop a napkin in a glass to sop up the liquid, spill a glassful, or even “accidentally” tip over the whole bottle. These tricks were known as “dumping,” a Carousel ritual. Ruby ordered us to do it—partly to keep us from getting drunk as we entertained the customers, but mostly to put more money into the club’s coffers.

And that’s what the Carousel Club was like. In such an atmosphere, the thing Jack Ruby wanted—even more than money—was that his club and his girls would exude “class.” It was the most important thing in life to him, the thing he talked about the dreamed of every moment of every day. But he never found it.

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