Seattle’s Lusty Lady marquee comes down

After decades of delivering cheeky one-liners and daring double entendres, the marquee of the Lusty Lady building in downtown Seattle was taken down Tuesday. 

But it’s not forever: The new owner of the building once home to the famed strip club at 1315 First Ave. is planning to bring the beloved marquee back after the building’s redevelopment and facade renovation are complete. 

The marquee “will play a prominent role in the new building,” said Jim Graham of architecture firm Graham Baba in a statement.

In an interview, Graham said the marquee’s removal was necessary to erect a temporary enclosure to protect the building while work is in progress. He also said the marquee is in bad shape and could be a safety issue for passersby, as it hasn’t been maintained for more than a decade. Plus, he added: “It’s not being used as a marquee. It’s just an armature for graffiti.”

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In case any history buffs are confused: Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry has part of the sign in its collection, but only the plastic panels that provided the backdrop for the pink and black letters; it does not have the lightbulb-framed armature, or marquee, that held the sign — the part that was taken down Tuesday. 

From “Happy Spanksgiving” to “All clothing 100% off,” or “The devil wears nada,” the marquee’s puns often engaged with pop culture and even exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum across the street. In 2010, the Lusty Lady, and the marquee, signed off with “Thanx for the mammories.” 

Save a few pop-ups, the building had been vacant — and the marquee largely silent — since the closure of the Lusty Lady. This March, Andrew Conru, a Seattle entrepreneur who made his wealth in adult online entertainment and a host of early web businesses, purchased the property for $3 million, in what he called a “gift to the city.” 

Plans for the building were unclear at the time, with the entrepreneur launching a website where Seattleites could vote on their ideal future uses for it. Conru — who was not available for comment before the publication of this story — has since announced he’s hoping to turn the Seven Seas Building, as it is also known, into a multiuse space for art exhibits, educational programs, workshops, plus a restaurant and bar. The rooftop will include outdoor seating with views of the waterfront to the west and the Seattle Art Museum to the east. 

While the original plan was to renovate the 1890s unreinforced masonry building, its age and condition made that unfeasible. This June, as first reported by the Daily Journal of Commerce, Seattle architecture firm Graham Baba filed plans with the city to demolish and redevelop the building for an estimated cost of $18 million. The goal is to tear down the building but to keep and renovate the brick facade, which needs structural reinforcement. Graham said that due to permitting, it’s unlikely work will start in 2023, but that they’re working toward a 2026 opening.

As for the restoration and the future of the marquee itself, no formal plans have been made. “Once we get it down and we assess its condition, we’ll know … how to restore it,” Graham said. For now, the sign will be stored inside the property.

The marquee will return to somewhere in or on the building as soon as it opens, though much — including whether cheeky puns will also make a comeback — is still to be determined. One thing is sure, Graham said: The marquee’s “power to enliven the cityscape is a wonderful, wonderful thing that will return.”


This coverage is partially underwritten by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The Seattle Times maintains editorial control over this and all its coverage.

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

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