Serpent's Egg

The Eroticism of Fat Men

The Cally is stripped of erotic shows as pub goes gastro

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman, near King’s Cross station, will reopen as a ‘gastro venue’. Below: Stripper Edie

Stripper Edie

Published: 23 October, 2015
by KOOS COUVÉE Islington Tribune

THE long-mooted redevelopment of a “traditional” strip pub in Caledonian Road has gone ahead.

The closure of The Flying Scotsman, near King’s Cross station, and  its redevelopment into a “gastro venue” mark the end of a long-standing connection between the sex industry and Caledonian Road.

Of the strip joints, sex shop and two erotic cinemas located in the Cally 10 years ago, none is left.

The pub’s dancers – it is believed to have had around 20 women on its books – received a text last Tuesday thanking them for their services, and informing them that the pub would not reopen as a strip joint.

Stripper Edie, in her late 30s, who had been working at the pub for about a year, said the closure is part of a trend towards American-style strip clubs, away from the “traditional” British strip pub.

“Everyone knew this was coming because the council wants to gentrify the area. They don’t like the old King’s Cross,” she said.

“The old pub model with jug collections is disappearing in favour of big American-style clubs where it’s all about private dances rather than stage shows. When you work at these places, strippers sometimes have to pay £150 upfront and the girls are a lot more aggressive because they have to make their money back.

“On top of that, because it’s a strip club the licence is up for review every year, which disincentivises the owner to invest in the business.”

Edie, a member of East London Strippers Collective, which aims to challenge the stigma that exists around strip club activity and to fight for a better deal for performers, added: “This is not just about strip clubs, it’s the loss of traditional British pub culture.” In 2013, The Flying Scotsman, owned by Brill UK Ltd, a subsidiary of the Keystone Group, was given an extra year to run the club to help finance the building of a restaurant and offices on the site.

It had its sex establishment licence renewed in June.

Caledonian ward councillor Paul Convery welcomed the redevelopment. “There will be people who will scream gentrification but this [a gastro venue] will be much better than what there is now,” he said.

“In fairness to the owners, they are doing what they have said for some time, turning it into a higher-end bar and restaurant. It will bring footfall and it will bring better, more regular jobs to the area.”

The Tribune contacted Robin Norris, chief executive of the Keystone Group, for comment but he had not responded before our print deadline.

Builders working in the pub said they believed the venue would reopen in May.

An exhibition by East London Strippers Collective, The Art of Stripping, opened yesterday (Thursday) at the Red Gallery in Rivington Street, Shoreditch.

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