L.A. Hippest Lesbian Nightclub Celebrates 20 Years—Michelle’s XXX


Me, Rara, and Michelle back in 2007 celebrating their 17th year in the biz…

My girls Michelle and Roz are celebrating 20 years in the business of doing the damn thing.  I guess that means I am going to have to come out of club retirement and make an appearance to say thank you and job well done, lol.

For my L.A. folks in the life, here’s the details…

Details…

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 Wednesday, February 23, 2011
20th Anniversary Celebration of Michelle’s XXX
9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
@ The Original Spot Where it All Started “Peanuts”
7969 West Santa Monica Boulevard West Hollywood, CA
21 & Older, Upscale Attire…you know how we do
www.michellesxxx.com

About Michelle & Roz

Long before rappers Jay-Z, Too Short, Snoop Dogg, and Ras Kas, gave them international fame, Michelle Levy and Rosalind “RaRa” Renfro had made a name for themselves by hosting one of Los Angeles’ hottest clubs for lesbian and bisexual women—Michelle’s XXX.

Known for hosting an upscale nightclub on Tuesday and Saturday nights for women of color, Michelle and Roz have been a wining combination in front and behind the scenes since 1990.

Michelle Levy, the club’s namesake, was born and raised in Inglewood, California.  The product of a Mexican Irish mother and a Spanish Jewish father, Michelle grew up an only child.  At 27, she found herself working for Peanuts in West Hollywood as a security guard.  Eventually a friendship with the club’s owner developed and Michelle went from a security guard to working the bar rack, bartending, promoting, and eventually managing the club.  Finally, the owner offered her the opportunity to host her own night at the club on one of the club’s down nights.  This is how Michelle’s XXX came to take place on Tuesdays.

Enter RaRa.  Originally from Indianapolis and a graduate of Ball State University, RaRa came to California in 1986.  After hanging around for a while, she decided that she didn’t like any of the clubs that were for women who liked women and decided to offer something else that would be specific to women of color.  So with the help of a friend, she started doing parties and events under the name LIPS, Ladies in Pursuit of Success which gained wild popularity among Black lesbian women in Los Angeles.

Eventually as luck would have it, both Michelle and RaRa met and began a friendship that has lasted for almost two decades.

Their first New Year’s Eve party was in 1989 at the Factory in West Hollywood with subsequent parties held at the Ivy Substation and an after hours club called Coconut Teazers.

On September 28, 1990 the first Michelle’s XXX took place at Peanuts and in the its early days it wouldn’t have been unusual to find Prince, Chaka Khan, and others in the club’s backroom every Tuesday night hosting a jam session that lasted for hours and attracted many.

For almost a decade Michelle and RaRa held Michelle’s XXX on Tuesday nights at Peanuts to the delights of women from all over the world who would came to Los Angeles to experience the club that was known for having beautiful women and friendly staff in a safe environment.  All things that were important to the business partners who built their reputation on being able to offer an upscale club that was safe and respectable.

In 1999, Peanuts was destroyed in a fire.  And even though the club w as eventually rebuilt, Michelle and RaRa, in order to keep their club alive, had to move their party to a different location.

And like with any club, a lot has changed from 1990 to today.  But Michelle’s XXX has managed to survive in a city where clubs come and go everyday.  Both Michelle and RaRa attribute their success to their ability to accommodate the needs of their clients who they view as their number one concern.  In the early days, RaRa recounts how they asked their patrons to fill our surveys that listed what they wanted most in a club.  In addition, both Michelle and RaRa acknowledge that their club changed as different genre’s of music became the popular culture and the generation of club goers that they started off with had begun to disappear and were being replaced with a younger generation of women who were beginning to find themselves and were looking for a place to be with their own.  In addition to that, their club still was an attraction for celebrities as much as it was for your everyday downlow housewife.  And with that came other issues that presented themselves like the influx of heterosexual men who wanted to attend.  And because of California’s anti-discrimination laws, Michelle and RaRa could not turn them away.  But it was their way of handling the men that attended the club that earned not only the respect of the men themselves but their female patrons who still wanted to be in a safe environment.  If you were a male and you wanted to attend Michelle’s XXX, you had to have been invited by one of the regulars.  It was made clear at the door that the disrespect of the women who attended the club would not be tolerated and that meant touching the female dancers as well.  Michelle and RaRa didn’t care who you were, celebrity or no celebrity, the safety of all of the women inside came first.

Aside from hosting Michelle’s XXX, Michelle and RaRa started Soulful Touch Entertainment which today is the umbrella corporation that all of their business ventures fall under.  West Hollywood’s Pride celebration Christopher Street West (CSW) approached them a couple of years ago to host a hip-hop tent at their annual gay pride celebration.  This year, CSW combined the hip-hop tent with the Latin tent and over the two day celebration managed to attract thousands, both Black, brown, and white making it the most successful and popular attraction at this year’s event.  In addition to both Michelle’s XXX and CSW, Soulful Touch Entertainment also hosts Club Sexy which takes place on certain Saturdays in Los Angeles and they also are the Official Women’s Party hostesses for Los Angeles’ Black Pride celebration At the Beach.

While Michelle’s XXX is known for a variety of reasons, one of the most popular is its XXX Revue that features exotic female on female dancers many of whom won’t hesitate to tell you that they are educated and look at their dancing as a form of art and a way to make extra money.  The protection of the dancers at all times on the floor is of the utmost importance to the business partners and it’s what has attracted dancers from all over the country to Michelle’s XXX.

But even with all of the success that Michelle and RaRa have achieved they both admit that they still find themselves dealing with the issue of racism.  RaRa, who is African-American, says that she still catches hell from some in the community for going into business with Michelle, who is Latino, Irish, Spanish and Jewish.  Michelle admits that the hateration coming from some in the community towards her for not being Black did bother her, but that she’s learned to not let it get her down anymore.  She says that there are more people that are in support of her and RaRa and don’t care what color her skin is than that do.

About their business relationship, RaRa says that she’s the financial and logistics one of the duo while Michelle freely admits that she thrives as the being the creative one.  Aside from their business venture’s both Michelle and RaRa hold careers of their own.

Michelle has been an actor on The Shield, where she played an undercover cop.  She’s also appeared in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and in the L.A. Times and TV Guide.  RaRa by day is known as Rosalind and has served as the Director of Business to Business Western Region Marketing and Branding for American Express for the better part of two decades.

Minority AIDS Project L.A. is one of many organizations that has benefited from the duos community involvement and charity.

Both business partners agree that the recipe for their success has to do with their commitment to each other has friends, their family, and staff.  They live by rules of compassion, love, and strength and at the end of the day, they never lose sight of the fact they love what they do.  RaRa admits that there have been times when business wasn’t that great but that all of their staff went home paid even if she and Michelle didn’t.

So here’s to 20 more years of fun up in da club and congrats Michelle and Roz!  See ya soon.

The Court of Public Opinion

  • Chacacon Walton

    Want to know if this club is still there?