A Failed Revolution

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

In the badlands of western Pennsylvania, about thirty miles east of Pittsburgh, sits the town of New Alexandria. Should you ever find yourself passing along Route 22, keep an eye out. At 40° 23′ 52.8″ N, 79° 29′ 37.8″ W, you’ll be able to spot both the birthplace, and the final resting place, of a revolution. For it is in New Alexandria, on the westbound side of the William Penn Highway, that you will find the remains of a truly one-of-a-kind business.

It’s likely you’ve never heard of this business, nor of the revolution it attempted. The establishment never flourished the way its creator no doubt hoped it would when he unveiled the concept back in 2000. In fact, less than a decade after the introduction of this groundbreaking idea, it was gone. Perhaps the world just wasn’t ready. Ultimately the entire enterprise went, well, to use an otherwise-crass-but-in-this-case-wholly-appropriate phrase, tits-up. That’s a shame, because New Alexandria was once home to Climax, the world’s only drive-thru strip club.

Climax, Fading
Sure, it looks humble, but from little acorns do mighty oaks grow.

On a trip with my good friend Todd, I had the opportunity to visit this testament to American ingenuity. We wanted to document the incredible landmark before it gets razed or replaced with something slightly less sexy, like a fruit stand. Won’t you join us on our tour?

Options
Upon arriving, you were presented with a choice. You could park and head inside, but why not take advantage of the speed and convenience of the drive-thru lane?

Payment Due Up Front
Much like your favorite drive-thru restaurant, payment was due first.

Payment Options
Once upon a time, Climax accepted all major credit cards, and also Diners Club. The upscale atmosphere was maintained down to the finest detail, as evidenced by the extremely classy sliding payment drawer.

Filming is Prohibited; Your Film Will Be Confiscated.
It’s OK, I used a digital camera. I did not, however, “relax”.

Tiny Viewing Stall
Presumably, most customers went to the venue alone, to wallow in their own sadness. However, even if you wanted to be in a car with others, the viewing stall’s design certainly did not encourage carpooling.

Tiny Viewing Window
That window was about the size of a 22″ TV, with glass as thick as a bank teller’s window in the bad part of town.

Exiting
And just like that, it’s over, because how long can you really sit behind the wheel in silence and stare at a naked woman gyrating behind possibly-bullet-proof glass? You’re now exiting the “world famous” Climax drive-thru strip club. Come again soon!

Like so many patrons of Climax, and dancers as well, I was left to wonder: Where did it all go wrong? Climax sought to combine the thrills of voyeurism with the fun of sitting alone in your car. It seems like a can’t-miss proposition. Sure, you were basically paying to be a peeping tom, but it’s that payment which kept you out of jail, and off of the sex offender registry. Though Climax’s glory has faded, the kernel of the idea it pioneered still lies dormant in New Alexandria. It waits for a like-minded visionary to come, to fertilize it and help it grow. Maybe some day.

Update (November 8th, 2013): Following a great response to this post, I wrote up some more information on Climax that you may enjoy.


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