Main Attraction leaving downtown Oceanside

Strip club gives way to five-story housing complex

"They can now get a Hilton or Marriott to come in."
  • "They can now get a Hilton or Marriott to come in."
  • From Main Attraction homepage

Gentrification has accomplished what eluded city bureaucrats for decades.

Oceanside’s Main Attraction, North County’s only remaining topless club, is going away. A five-story 308-unit, apartment complex is proposed as its replacement.

Main Attraction

939 North Coast Highway, Oceanside

Known to locals as “the purple church,” the Main Attraction bar and restaurant hosts between eight to 20 ladies a night who dance on stage around a brass pole while a DJ spins “Cherry Pie” or “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Admission is $11 every night after 6 pm but $14 for the once-a-month “amateur night.” Dancers are topless but never fully nude. Once inside, patrons are frequently asked if they would to pay extra for a private lap dance.

“It is my understanding this property is being sold to a developer,” says former mayor Terry Johnson who adds that getting the topless bar off that city entryway will be good for the whole street. “I am sure things will now start moving with the [long closed] Bridge Motor Inn property [to the north]. They can now get a Hilton or Marriott to come in. And things will start moving with the Motel Six property and the vacant Mira Mar building to the south.”

Johnson was mayor when Oceanside bought the “totally nude” Playgirl Club on Pier View Way in 2002. Johnson says the city forked out $1.5 million to owner Skip Arthur which included a reported $700,000 for the building and property, and another $800,000 for the business and a promise for Arthur never to open another strip club in Oceanside. That building now houses the California Surf Museum.

“Skip gave me the disco ball,” says Johnson about the highly publicized Playgirl closure 16 years ago. “I declined the dancer’s pole.” Johnson and other councilmembers took turns on a cherry picker to paint over the Playgirl sign for TV cameras.

“As soon as the Playgirl closed down, almost immediately the problems outside went away.” Johnson says the 18-and-up all-nude strip club attracted drug dealing and prostitution. “If we hadn’t gotten rid of the Playgirl, the Thursday night farmers market and the surf museum would have never happened.”

The city had tried for 20 years to close down the Playgirl. “But they fought back using the First Amendment,” recalls Johnson. He says the city has tried to get the Main Attraction to move somewhere else since its location at 939 North Coast Highway is seen by visitors as they motor into town. It is located across the street from the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and the Oceanside Welcome Center.

According to city documents, on August 22 the city held a developers conference about a proposal from the Lightfoot Planning Group regarding 5.3 acres adjacent to North Coast Highway and Costa Pacifica Way. Plans call for a five-story “mixed use” project including 308 apartments. The property includes five different parcels, one of them being the Main Attraction property owned by Gene and Judith Ann Edick.

Calls to Edick and to Main Attraction general manager Jamie Iglesias were not returned. Ann Gunter of Lightfoot Planning, was unavailable for comment.

Ex-mayor Johnson says the tools used mostly by the city over the years to get the Main Attraction off Coast Highway were financial incentives. But nine years ago owner Edick claimed the city was openly and illegally hostile to the strip club. Oceanside Police staged a raid after a bartender allegedly sold a single painkiller to an undercover officer. Edick filed a harassment lawsuit against the city alleging “outrageous conduct.” That case was dismissed by a trial court and the city was awarded its legal costs.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control shows no current discipline activity logged against the Main Attraction.

Kristi Hawthorne has worked across the Main Attraction for nine years. She is the vice president of events for the Chamber of Commerce. As president of the Oceanside Historical Society, she serves as the unofficial city historian. She says she is happy the Main Attraction is leaving but admits the business has behaved itself.

“We haven’t had any problems lately,” says Hawthorne who says she is only speaking for herself. “They have been good neighbors.”

But Hawthorne admits giving directions to the chamber headquarters was “embarrassing” at times. “For the last few years we could tell people we were right next to In-N-Out Burger. But before they came in, I would tell people we were across the street from the La Quinta hotel. And they would say, ‘Oh you mean you’re right across from the strip club?’”

She says she would not like to see the Main Attraction to move, say, to an Oceanside industrial park. “I would rather it just go away altogether.”

But a five-story apartment complex? Really? “It’s better than a five-story strip club.”

Hawthorne says in the '50s and '60s the place was a roadside bar and restaurant called the The Wheel Club. “Barbara Mandrell played there,” she said of the Oceanside-raised country music star. “In the '70s when it was The 101 Club it was still not a strip club. For a year or two around 1979 it was the First Edition disco club. In 1981 it became Francine’s which was a Top 40 dance club. We found a newspaper ad from late ’81 where they were looking for male dancers for a while. By the time it became Pure Platinum in the late '80s it was a full-on [female] strip club.

No announcement has been made about the date of any future public meetings about plans for the development.

Kyle Frolander is vice chairman of Oceanside’s planning commission. Speaking only for himself, he says the city is currently being overwhelmed with requests for general plan amendments that increase density. “We should be more cautious and start listening to what the people want.” He says having an appointed, unelected mayor is not helping the people have a voice.

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Comments

I worked Main Attraction on Friars Road in the 70's. Took my dad and grandad for lunch one day.

The signage on that operation in Oceanside is discreet; it doesn't make much of an impression. A few of the spots on Kearny Mesa Road screamed "NUDE" right on the 163, unlike the Main Attraction.

But there's an unanswered question: what will all those young Marines do for entertainment? Oceanside used to have many offerings for them, and recent years have had most of them shut down. Where do they go to find those vices and entertainment? Human nature hasn't changed, and there are still large numbers of those young guys on the base.

It is possible the city council would allow the licensee to move his business and his liquor license to somewhere else in Oceanside. Or maybe he might opt to just sell the liquor license to someone who wants to use it somewhere else as a regular bar/restaurant.

This article reports on the "understanding" of an ex-mayor, and city documents about a developers plans. There doesn't seem to be any confirmation that the property is being sold nor that the business is closing. Can The Reader offer any proof that this is accurate? Do developers have to prove they have a contract signed to acquire property? I ask because it seems like every few years, there are reports that this business will be closing.

Wildbill...there has been a meeting of the minds between the owners of the five parcels and the developer known as "Wood Partners" represented by longtime developer Lou Lightfoot who has a 40 year History of shepherding developments in the city of Oceanside. Hence the Aug. 22 developers conference. Lughtfoot Planning Group wrote in its presentation with graphic renderings about the building: "these properties are being consolidated to create a development area suitable for the proposed mixed use building." There you go wild bill.

Thank you for your reply, Ken. Your direct and clear reply makes the Reader a better publication than most of the conventional print media publications.

So, just to be clear, you are reporting that the current owners of the Main Attraction are part of the "Wood Partners" group and are working with the developers that made the presentation.

As far as the business closing, I never said that. Only that it will be leaving 939 north Coast hwy. It is noteworthy that the owner could have taken financial incentives to move the business over the years to move it. I do not know if the city council now has the will to allow it move to another site within the city. From all accounts the Main Attraction does very good business, and it does not seem to cause problems. It could be the owner may just sell his liquor license for the going rate of $100,000 or so. I wonder if he could to move to SD county property like Bonsall or Fallbrook? He could rename it Fallboobies.

Again, thanks for the reply - much appreciated. Google Maps has the current location of The Main Attraction at 3.1 miles from the main gate of the main US Marine Corps facility on the west coast. I would imagine that the financial incentives the city offered paled in comparison to the cash flow of the margin on alcohol sales.

I admit to reading into the article regarding the business closing, because as I said there have been rumors every few years. I have my suspicions that recent changes to the independent contractor laws in California are related to this owner's change of heart regarding on selling the property. I think the independent contractor law changes may be a factor in other recent closures of "gentlemen's clubs" in San Diego counties. Most of the independent live adult entertainment venues rely on an independent contractor business model for dancers. Maybe only the "corporate" adult entertainment companies (RICK, PTT) that are publicly traded will survive.

Thanks again for replying to the comments Ken. You've made me a committed reader of the Reader. By the way, the best gentlemen's club name on the planet is "Legs and Eggs", which I once saw across the turnpike from Newark airport in New Jersey.

To Rylan Fernandes...Not everyone is shaming strip bars. But most people agree that is not a good location for the purple church. Oceanside needs the money. Why not let marijuana and gentlemen clubs move to industrial parks? What could it hurt? That's what some locals are saying.

Wild bill... The Edicks are the longtime owners of the Main Attraction. It is unclear if they are part of the Wood Partners. The presentation from Lightfoot did not explain who the Wood Partners are. Bottom line: bare boobies good......residential development better.

Hmmm ... so even allowing for the reputation of the representative of the development group, you are not reporting an actual confirmation about the current owner's plans or any documented commitment they may have to leaving that location, other than the "understanding" of an ex-mayor, and city documents about a developers plans.

Hi Ken, thank you for responding to others’ questions, as a little more “light on the subject” is much appreciated. I am just wondering, is there a public transcript of the city documents from the developers conference held on August 22? Thank you.

Hi Ken- We appreciate your attempts at clarification on the matter, however, the article leaves much room for speculation and interpretation. If nothing is set in stone, and no confirmation has come from the Edicks, why make this claim? Concerning the validity, one's first question is 'What decade is this?' Cherry Pie and Def Leppard?! Really? Not for a good 30 years. Also, the pole has not been 'brass' for several years. As you can see, this makes it difficult not to question the credibility further. Anyone who has been to the Main in the last decade can vouch that this is the most G-rated 'strip club' one can find. It's more like your friendly, neighborhood bikini bar. Entertainers are only permitted to be topless whilst on-stage, and must remain at least 6ft from patrons once topless. All dances are bikini dances and performed in an open, monitored area. They do not offer 'private' dances, as you stated. As far as location, it's pretty discreet in a very plain, small-ish building with minimal-to-no signage, and not in a high foot-traffic area. Overall, this place is a haven for locals, military, and tourists alike. It's part of Oceanside's history and does NOT attract crime, as it's records can show. You can't possibly compare this business to the Playgirl that closed 16 years ago. It's an unfair association for anyone to make. I hope it stays.

Susanb-Gene Edick has agreed to include his property in a new 5.3 acre residential development that includes his and four other parcels. The city....ultimately the city council after going through staff and the planning commission...must ultimately approve the zoning change and the size of the development. But Gene Erick has signed on to the idea. I think the differences between the Playgirl and the Main Attraction were made clear in the article. The comparisons are obvious: they both use (used) nudity as an important part of their business model, although to different degrees.

Susanb- since you are so knowledgeable about the Main Attraction, why don't you ask Mr. Iglesias the GM about this. I was told that he would be having no comment to me about this after I told the gentleman who answered the phone what I was calling about.

No one is going to die because a titty bar is closing. I wonder how many people have died because some drunk stimulated by watching women whore themselves drove away and was involved in a crash that killed or injured someone. These places are demeaning to all women and do nothing for the maturing of the male.

To wild bill and susanb....if you don't believe me please see channel 10 video clip on line or watch it tonight. But remember where you heard it first. And Susanb....why lie about the private dances? Yes there are private dances. Not only do you make stuff up, you preach to me about my credibility. Really? Pour some sugar on me!

You discredited yourself multiple times in the article. And yes, I know things about this business that the average reader does not. Your writing suggested that you have not been to the Main in several decades, if ever. I merely pointed that out. And while you can get a lap dance there, and I never said you couldn't, this club does NOT offer anything private. No curtains, no booths, not even a partition. The whole place is one big room, and all business is conducted out in the open. Do your due diligence as a writer/reporter and you won't have those issues.

Hi Ken - I watched the news clip and read the News 10 article. Thanks for referencing me to it. All of the info in that News 10 report is based only on information provided by the developer and the city, with no comment or confirmation from or about the current owners of the property. The person in the video who runs the information center never says that the property has been sold, only that the city supports the idea. The voice-over narrator (Jared Aarons according to the byline) however, does state plainly "it's been sold".

I'll wait for a reputable news source to either show the records of the real estate transaction, or a direct quote from the current owners, or a locked door and a Closed sign before I commit my belief. I'm not accusing anyone of anything, but right now I'm 67.5% convinced this is a further harassment tactic by the city of Oceanside. But I could be wrong.

I think another person commenting here had a question about the meeting minutes of the Developer's Conference. The News 10 online article provided a link to the agenda of the Developer's Conference:

https://www.ci.oceanside.ca.us/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?blobid=47922

which contains the statement "The proposed project boundaries include land that was approved for 52 condominiums (Seacliff Terrace, RT13‐00001 et al), but remains vacant, the Main Attraction building, and other vacant commercial buildings and land on the balance of the site. These properties are being consolidated to create a development area suitable for the proposed mixed‐use building."

But, the footnote on the first page states: "The Developer’s Conference provides an informal forum for prospective applicants to receive preliminary input from City staff on conceptual plans that may or may not ultimately evolve into formal application submittals."

The agenda's first footnote also says: "Interested parties may contact the prospective applicant, whose contact information is included on the conference agenda. Questions and comments can also be addressed to Planning Division staff."

So all of us who have questions can take that route, or just wait and see.

Alex Clarke....maybe no one is going to die if a titty bar is closing (your words). in fact, just think about all the older guys with heart conditions who are NOT going to expire when bambi isn't there to shake her groove thing in front of them any more.

It appears to me that if Mr. Edick had any intentions of moving the business, he would have assembled his staff and told them that even though the property is going away, he still wants to keep it going somewhere else. Since he did not, it appears he just wants to sell the liquor license.

So, the strippers will not be living in the new housing or stripping in the old building? How about a strippers only retirement community in Oceanside. This way Oceanside gets revenue from the strippers for rent, food, etc. as they live out the latter years of their life. In the meantime, the strippers can keep working outside of Oceanside.

“But they fought back using the First Amendment,”

That's just awful... those terrible people, doing terrible things, and hiding behind the Constitution like that! Don't they understand that "free speech" doesn't mean speech that I disapprove of?

Jnojr...you make a great point. But the only part I don't get is the freedom of speech part. I mean, what exactly was doing the talking? I mean there was Mr. Ed the talking horse, but are you saying there were actually a talking.....oh....nevermind.

Oh come on. A private dance is a private dance. Its between one dancer and one patron. That is private. It is usually held in a dark part of the room away from where the guy was sitting. Nothing wrong with this, but to say there are no private dances is a lie. Oh, and Susan, why are you also not going after channel 10 and their interview with the city of Oceanside employee?

Wild bill...clearly there was a meeting of the minds between the owner of the property and the developer to sell the Main Attraction property if the money is right. And, clearly, the five story, 300-unit plan would make everyone happy and reach that threshold. This has never happened before with the Main Attraction. Yes, there has to be city approval, etc., before this could all happen. But even if Edrick has not yet sold the property, that does not mean he hasnt reached an agreement with the developer to do so if everything pencils out as presented by the developer and his planning group. That's the way these things work sometimes.

Ken you are a complete idiot and a horrible reporter. The Main Attraction is not closing!

Then why didn't owner demand a retraction. Then why did owner and general manager not want to talk about this specifically? Are you telling me Lightfoot Planning did not have the blessing of owner Gene to go before the city's planning staff? You are anonymous and can say whatever you want.

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