I grew up in a subdivision of Springfield, Illinois called Laketown. It was a quiet, peaceful community of young families and grandparents which sat in the southeast corner of the city, between I-55/I-72 and Stevenson Drive. The northeast corner of our subdivision was a small commerce area, one of several, which was home to a White Hen (later Home Town) Pantry, both Little Caesar’s and Domino’s Pizzas, a Wendy’s, a bank, a pet store, a Chinese resturaunt, a gas station . . . and Deja Vu, a strip club.
The building in which Deja Vu was housed was originally built in the 1960’s as a movie theater, and in the 1970’s it became a theater which exclusively showed films of the “adult” genre. By the time my family moved to Laketown in 1986, it was a Deja Vu strip club, which was owned by the larger, corporate, adult industry company called Showgirls. Their slogan was “Hundreds of beautiful girls! And 3 ugly ones!” It was posted on both sides of their huge marquee sign which sat on Stevenson Drive.
I lived in Laketown until mid-1999, and my parents lived there until the summer of 2001, so I spent many years growing up not 15 blocks from this place, and it’s still there today. The pink and turquoise building became one of those familiar sites of my childhood and adolescence, and as odd as it seems, the site of the building is one that reminds me of home.
In April of 2006, I was visiting Seattle to see if I was really going to move here. I spent a Friday evening through a Monday morning with my friend Brandon. On Saturday we went site seeing, and this included going to Pike’s. We were with Brandon’s then-fiancee, Becky, and her then-roommate Laura Trudeau (now Menocal). We walked east, up a hill, from the corner where the famous fish-throwing stand is, and came to the next corner, where I looked to my left and saw a Deja Vu strip club.
“HEY!! You guys have a Deja Vu!” I shouted excitedly. This was immediately followed by awkward “uh, um . . . hold on! Let me explain,” which was a reaction to the odd looks I was getting from not only my friends but a couple of people on the street.
When I’m downtown I’ll find that I’m driving by that haven of filth and smut, and I get warm feelings in my heart as it makes me think of innocent days riding bikes through the streets of Laketown, buying comic books, Big Slams, and microwave burritos at the adjacent White Hen Pantry, and bus rides to high school, in which I would ride by the Deja Vu marquee and see the humorous name of the next adult film star which would be gracing our neighborhood with their presence. Mmm. It’s like a blanket.