|Founder Paul Raymond|
Raymond revuebar sign 2015
The Raymond Revuebar (1958–2004) was a theatre and strip club at 11 Walker's Court (now The Box Soho), in the heart of London's Soho district. For many years, it was the only venue in London that offered full-frontal, on-stage nudity of the sort commonly seen in other cities in Europe and North America. Its huge brightly lit sign declaring it to be the "World Centre of Erotic Entertainment" made the Revuebar a local landmark.
In 1980, the Boulevard Theatre section of the venue was hired by comic actor Peter Richardson to stage his alternative comedy revue, The Comic Strip. This attracted a younger punk audience to the venue. In 1989, the Boulevard became Eddie Izzard's stand-up venue. In the 1990s, the Revuebar struggled, with its dated image and competition from newer more sophisticated venues such as Spearmint Rhino and Stringfellow's. The name and leasehold was bought by Gérard Simi in 1997. The Revuebar closed on 10 June 2004 and became a gay bar and cabaret venue called Too2Much, designed by Anarchitect. In November 2006, it changed its name to Soho Revue Bar and was the home of club nights and special events. On 29 January 2009, the Soho Revue Bar closed, reopening in February 2011 as The Box Soho, billed as 'A theatre of varieties', under the ownership of Simon Hammerstein.
The Raymond Revuebar was the creation of property magnate and magazine publisher Paul Raymond. The theatre was formerly the Doric Ballroom. When it opened on 21 April 1958 it offered traditional burlesque-style entertainment, which included strip tease, and was popular with leading entertainment figures of the day.
The Revuebar was one of the few legal venues in London to show full frontal nudity; by turning itself into a members only club it was able to evade the strictures of the Lord Chamberlain's Office which then barred models from moving. Even though homosexual acts between men were illegal at that time, the Revuebar also incorporated a Sunday night show aimed at a gay audience. By 1967, the venue was purely hosting striptease. This would, in turn, make way for glitzy, big budget erotic shows of the type presented by Continental clubs such as the Crazy Horse. Performers were mostly female, with a small number of male dancers. Shows involved a mixture of solo striptease acts mixed with simulated boy/girl and girl/girl sex. These were packaged together as a show known as The Festival of Erotica which ran for many years, with as many as three performances nightly.
In 1980 Peter Richardson, with assistance from Michael White sourced the Revuebar's second venue, the Boulevard Theatre as a new venue for Richardson's own comedy club. Richardson called it The Comic Strip, bringing with him a core group from The Comedy Store, including Peter Richardson, Nigel Planer, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Alexei Sayle. It opened in October 1980 and ran until 1981. In 1989, the Boulevard Theatre was also home to Eddie Izzard's stand-up venue, Raging Bull.
During the 1990s, audiences dwindled. Competing table dancing clubs such as Spearmint Rhino and Stringfellow's offered a more intimate experience for patrons, and with Soho was becoming more of a venue for gay nightlife the Revuebar was looking increasingly dated. The name and control of the theatre (but crucially, not the property itself) was bought by Gérard Simi in 1997. who reconfigured the show as a more conventional striptease revue. Gradually the theatre's fortunes waned, with Simi citing rising rent demands from Raymond as the cause.
The Revuebar closed on 10 June 2004 and became a gay bar and cabaret venue called Too2Much, designed by Anarchitect. In November 2006, it changed its name to Soho Revue Bar, where it was the home of popular club nights including Trannyshack and hosted frequent special events including the West End Gala performance of the musical Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens on 1 December 2008. On 29 January 2009, the Soho Revue Bar closed.
The venue reopened on 8 January 2011, with a new name and new management, and a complete decor/equipment refurbishment/upgrade.