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Boulevard Theater: The New Incarnation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Erik Bojnansky   
February 2010

For owner Leroy Griffith, it’s back to old reliable: naked ladies

After toying with the idea of having a weekly fight night at his x-rated Upper Eastside venue, the venerable Boulevard Theater, adult entertainment entrepreneur Leroy Griffith has decided to stick with strippers, at least for now.

Club Madonna II, which opened on January 14, will operate like his Club Madonna on South Beach, Griffith says. This means women spinning on polls while in various stages of undress, and offering lap dances. But unlike the Miami Beach operation, Club Madonna II will be open in the afternoon, have a full bar, and offer free parking.

Ever since 1971, when Griffith bought the Boulevard Theater, a former one-screen cinema at 7770 Biscayne Blvd., the theme has been sexual, whether it showcased porn movies, female exotic dancers, or male strippers, whether it was called Pussycat Theater, Black Gold, or At the Boulevard.

After his concept for a topless sports bar flopped last November, Griffith hung a banner on the place that read: “Look What’s Coming!” He told the BT this past December that he planned to bring professional boxing and kick boxing events to the venue on weekends. But the boxing bouts were not to be. Griffith claims the club was too small, that he would need to accommodate more than 350 people.

There may have been other obstacles, especially if Griffith really intended to host professional fights. Julio Martinez, a veteran of the local boxing industry, points out that the Florida State Boxing Commission, a division of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, oversees such professional matches.

Aside from a ton of financial and regulatory requirements, fight promoters must use referees, judges, and doctors assigned by the state commission. Because of this, he explains, it’s impossible for a venue to have even one event a week, much less the two per week Griffith wanted. “You call the commission and they give you [a date] that’s available for them,” Martinez says. “They don’t have that many people and it takes like 20 to 50 state employees to do one boxing event.”

Griffith remains undeterred. “I’d still like to have one night for fights,” he says. A proprietor of burlesque clubs since the 1960s, he’d also like to toss comedic acts and maybe even (yes, he said this) some dinner theater into the mix. “I used to bring Henny Youngman and Frank Sinatra Jr. to the Carib Theater in Lincoln Road,” Griffith says with some pride.

Upper Eastside resident Bob Flanders thinks Griffith should accept the fact that the neighborhood has been gentrified, and give up on strippers altogether. He suggests turning the theater into an art gallery or independent movie house. “It’s a very difficult venue to make anything work, particularly if you do something people might eschew as being alternative or slightly unsavory,” Flanders observes. “Who would even be seen parking their cars there?”

“Tell him to finance it, and I’ll be glad to,” Griffith replies, insisting that Club Madonna II is making him plenty of money. “We’ve been here a long time and the only reason we’re still here is because there is still a demand for it.”

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