Our History

Pete Kuzinich Sr.

{ Excerpt from the San Jose Mercury News 'West Magazine,' 1996 }

Pete Kuzinich got into the skin trade by accident. Certainly he didn’t start out to become the area’s pre-eminent purveyor of female nudity.

In September 1963, at age 31, Kuzinich purchased Victor’s Club, a gloomy little bar at 328 S. Bascom Ave., a two-lane street with angle parking. By finally becoming boss of his own establishment Kuzinich thought he was settling in for a nice, peaceful life.

He had no idea.

One evening in the early fall of 1965, Pete took a night off and went to the county fair. The next night he found the bar surprisingly packed.

“A couple of the go-go girls had a few drinks and took their tops off,” is what the bartender told Kuzinich, who immediately had a brainstorm and “suggested” that the dancers repeat their impromptu performance. Meanwhile, he checked with a lawyer, who told him there was no law against topless dancing.

Kuzinich closed for a week, did some minor remodeling and renamed the bar the Pink Poodle. A week later he was in the adult cabaret business, complete with a live band, national headline strippers, singers, comics and novelty acts.

And business was great. So great that the following year “beer, juke box and nude babes” establishments started opening up all over California, including nearly two dozen in nearby cities such as Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Campbell. There were so many brawls and problems in those places that in 1969 the Legislature outlawed nude dancing in establishments serving liquor.

Kuzinich’s business dropped off immediately and a return to the normal bar format did not fly. “I was running a legitimate business and they stopped me even though I had no police problems,” says Kuzinich, who still tells his saga proudly. “My dignity was taken away because I could not support my family and was losing my house and cars and had kids to feed.”

In 1970 he installed X-rated movies, supplied by the Mitchell Brothers of “Behind the Green Door” fame, and charged $5 admission to a place that served liquor. Business took off again, but the Alcoholic Beverage Control board was miffed about the new format. And then the district attorney’s office came after him on pornography charges. On a weekly basis Kuzinich was hauled off to jail, about a dozen times, and 25 films were confiscated.

“They put me in a corner, and the only way I could see was to use movies to pay my bills, even at the risk of going to jail,” Kuzinich says. “It was my only way of getting my day in court.”

His day in court became three years of short, successful trials that ultimately allowed him back into the nude dancing business (without his liquor license) by 1973.

Then in 1984 a decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that cities had the power to zone away adult businesses. But in a stroke of good fortune, the court ruled that the one previously existing nude dancing establishment would be forever grandfathered in: the Pink Poodle.