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A Brief History of Archibald’s Making News—Long Before Hunter Biden Visited the DC Strip Club

The K Street establishment has long been a spot for Washington Post reporters to seek a quote.

Photograph by Andrew Beaujon.

The New York Post reported last week that employees at Archibald’s Gentlemen’s Club on K Street, Northwest, said Hunter Biden spent thousands of dollars at the strip club and may have smoked crack there. This is hardly the first time the club has made news–its primo location near the White House (it is one of the few spots in Washington whose proximity to the executive mansion is worth mentioning) as well as the Washington Post’s old building won it frequent visits from Post journalists who checked in on the club periodically to see how Washingtonians were coping with various events. Herewith, some highlights from the Post’s Archibald’s archive:

January 1, 1980: A sextet of Washington Post reporters led by Martin Weil contributes an account of popping in to Archibald’s on New Year’s Eve to see how Washingtonians at the bar have chosen to welcome the new decade.

At Archibald’s bar on K Street NW, a topless dancer gyrated her way into the new decade while the bartender called out, “Happy New Year, Everybody,” to about 30 persons who seemed to be rather dispiritedly nursing their drinks.

The response was lukewarm at best, and the bartender later explained, “My boss didn’t get me the noisemakers I wanted.”

November 5, 1980Washington Post reporter Pete Earley visits Archibald’s to see how Washingtonians at the bar have chosen to welcome Election Day. After observing a “lanky, raven-haired dancer” remove her shirt, he quotes Gregory Maroulis, who “glanced at the two men quietly drinking at his bar and his yawning barmaid. ‘This is terrible. I’ve been in business 20 years and it’s never been this bad. Nobody is coming in today.'”

January 1, 1981Washington Post reporter Michel McQueen (later known as Michel Martin) checks in with Archibald’s dancer Diane Semenuck for her predictions regarding the new year. Among them: “I think in 1981, this is going to be the best club in town.”

July 19, 1986: Post reporter Ed Bruske visits Archibald’s to see how Washingtonians at the bar are reacting to a proposed law that would prohibit strip clubs from selling liquor. “I’ve brought my fiance here,” someone who described himself as an unpaid worker for Senator Gary Hart tells Bruske. “And this is the woman who’s going to bear my children.”

June 22, 1991: Post legend Henry Allen visits Archibald’s to see how Washingtonians at the bar are reacting to a possible ban on nude dancing. “The same people who come in here, they’re the ones who want to outlaw it,” one dancer tells Allen.

February 14, 2010: Post reporter Michelle Boorstein pops into Archibald’s to see how Washingtonians at the bar are welcoming a break from Snowmageddon.

At lunchtime, some regulars returned to Archibald’s Gentlemen’s Club, which was closed for much of the past week and had to postpone its 41st anniversary party. Dancers on a platform slipped off their clothes as Rose Frisoli, a bartender with blond braids and a red negligee, chatted with a few customers who had come into the downtown Washington club to celebrate her 32nd birthday.

“They had to park way down K Street to find a spot, with all this snow,” she said.

May 14, 2017Post reporter Abha Bhattarai visits Archibald’s to gauge how Washingtonians at the bar are handling President Trump’s new administration. Sales are up 46 percent, Bhattarai learns. “Politics can be very seductive,” marketing manager Antoinette Garza tells the reporter.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.