Last night, Glendale's legendary strip club -- Shotgun Willie's -- closed forever. And right next door, in a $4 million building that was just a steel-beamed skeleton when we wrote about it back in August, a new-and-improved Shotgun Willie's opened for business.
In the hours before the new strip club threw open its doors and the first customers threw down their dollars, Westword got a sneak peek at the impressive new space. While the staff emphasizes that it still feels like the old Gun, the club has some new ammunition.
The original Shotgun Willie's opened in 1982 on the corner of Virginia Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. Thirty-one years later, the club is owned by Debbie Matthews, whose husband, Mike Dunafon, is mayor of the 369-acre urban island of Glendale, which is surrounded on all sides by Denver. Once considered the nightlife hot spot, Glendale has since become better known for its municipally owned rugby complex. But city officials have a plan to rejuvenate Glendale's party scene by constructing a $400 million riverwalk along Cherry Creek, adjacent to Shotgun Willie's.
The new strip club won't be part of the riverwalk, per se, but Shotgun Willies's staff hope that if and when the riverwalk is complete, the tourists stop in. As for the old Shotgun Willie's, it will be demolished to make way for much-needed road improvements.
But it won't be forgotten. Manager Michele Poague, who started at The Gun as a cocktail waitress in 1984, says the staff's goal was to make sure longtime customers wouldn't feel out of place in the bigger, better club. "We want people to say, 'It still feels like Shotgun Willie's. I still feel at home here,'" she says.
Indeed, the new club includes some familiar fixtures. The stages are six-sided, black and ringed with neon-colored lights, and there's an area off to the side for personal dances. You can still buy an expensive cigar or smoke a cheap cigarette inside, if you'd like. And the colorful gun that graced the top of Shotgun Willie's outdoor sign now sits atop its new digital display. (Yesterday, the display read, "Willie's in Labor. It's a...Girls!")
But it's the new features that make the just-open club stand out. For instance, there's the glass-sided "board room" complete with a T-shaped conference table, leather chairs and a flat-screen TV capable of showing PowerPoint presentations, if that's your thing. When the TV isn't on, it turns into a mirror -- and the conference table turns into a stage.
The new club is also equipped with a state-of-the-art sound and light system, plush bar chairs for personal dances and a small movie room where customers can pay to take a girl out of the rotation in order to catch a show with her on Netflix. (No porn allowed.) The "barrel room" features seating for customers who've purchased their own liquor lockers. (Those without lockers can reserve a table there, too.) Behind a velvet rope, girls will serve a multi-course dinner from Shotgun Willie's new kitchen -- and with each course, they'll take off another piece of clothing. "It's a twist on a Geisha girl," Poague says.
And then there's the club's firefighter pole. A straight shot from the upstairs locker room to the club's most spacious bar, it allows the girls to make a memorable entrance. "We had a retired fire chief come and teach 26 girls how to do this," Poague says.
If you don't think that's hot, you're probably dead.
Although the club is open now, Shotgun Willie's will host a grand opening on November 13. Check out more photos of the new Shotgun Willie's below.
Continue to see more photos of the new Shotgun Willie's strip club. Continue to see more photos of the new Shotgun Willie's strip club. Continue to see more photos of the new Shotgun Willie's strip club. Continue to see more photos of the new Shotgun Willie's strip club. See more in our Shotgun Willie's slide show.
More from our Business archive: "Glendale CitySet restaurateurs dish about doing business in the tiny urban island."Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at email@example.com
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.