Orangevale’s Pink Pussy Kat a Go-Go may have been short-lived and lacking in grandeur, but it left its mark on American culture through its challenge of perceived and later instituted indecency standards. Having found no recorded account of the club or the trial, I wrote one based on news stories obtained through The Sacramento Bee and an autobiography written by former exotic performer Susanne Haines Register. Please help me improve on this article. — Ed Fletcher
The Pink Pussy Kat was a beer bar and strip club noted for its legal wranglings with county and state authorities over indecency standards in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was located in Orangevale, CA, about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento.
The bar, which featured beer, food, pool tables and topless (and sometimes bottomless) barmaids is believed to have closed on or around the March 1976 death of owner Leonard Glancy. It was located at 9346 Greenback Lane, in a drab Orangevale shopping plaza.
Sacramento County Sheriff “Big” John Misterly actively sought to reign in the 1960s counterculture movement and tasked detectives with making regular check at the region’s adult-themed bars.
On July 27, 1969, dancers Susanne Marie Haines, 22, and Sheila Brandenson, were arrested after performing fully nude. Owner Leonard Glancy was taken in as well. Topless had been the acceptable practice. Presiding over the trial was Sacramento Superior Court Judge Earl Warren, Jr., who happens to be the son of former California Governor and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Warren still resides in the Sacramento area.
The trial made national headlines after Warren agreed to a defense motion to temporarily move the proceeding to the club and allow the jury to see the offending performance. On Sept. 17, Haines attempted to replicate the dance for which was was arrested. She danced to “Suzy Q,” and songs by the Byrds and Jimi Hendrix under dim lights with psychedelic art projected on the walls. On Sept. 22, noted San Francisco topless performer Carol Doda also performed for the jury.
The dancers and Glancy were acquitted Oct. 2, 1969, by the 10-man, two-woman jury, but that was far from the end of the legal fight over nude dancing.
On Oct. 21, Sacramento County enacted an ordinance prohibiting topless and bottomless dancing, and topless waitresses.
Glancy and Haines challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance.
During the legal fight, Glancy turned to various other means to keep his business going, including offering patrons a closed-circuit broadcast of on-site strip performances and putting dancers in see-through panties.
The result of the case, which was combined with other challenges from similar laws, is California’s current practice of not allowing alcohol at fully-nude strip clubs based health code rules.
On May 12, 1970, Glancy was arrested in the shooting of a patron in the parking lot. Glancy claimed it was in defense.
Shortly after her indecency acquittal, Haines left the Pink Pussy Kat. To further her career as striptease performer and capitalize on her notoriety, she began touring gentlemen’s clubs across the country as a featured performer. In 1971, she won the title of Miss Nude Cosmos, often known by its more legally dubious name, Miss Nude Universe. During her time on the road, doing a week or more stints at strip clubs, she was arrested more than a dozen times for performing bottomless. By her account, these dances — and her arrests — were part publicity stunt, part legitimate act of free expression.
Death records indicate Glancy died in March of 1976.
It’s unclear when the club closed.
In 1978, Haines, under her married name Susanne Haines Register wrote, “Take It All Off,” an autobiography that followed her path from Mormon schoolgirl to “dope-smoking” dancer and on to her eventual self-described “salvation.”
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