Let’s have some fun today! Here’s a New York City tale with a Quentin Tarantino twist. In Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” characters Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) visit a restaurant called “Jack Rabbit Slim’s.” The restaurant, as seen in the movie, was a wonderland of neon and a hodgepodge of 1950s and 1960s iconography, complete with a wait staff performing their duties in character as celebrities of the time (James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Ed Sullivan, and several others).
To this day, many people wonder if the Jack Rabbit Slim’s seen in Tarantino’s film was a real location that could be found on a map. Several of Pulp Fiction’s shooting locations were (and are) real, such as the infamous pawn shop seen in the film and the exterior of Jack Rabbit Slim’s itself (it was actually a bowling alley), but the interior of the time-warped venue only existed on a soundstage in Los Angeles.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, So what the heck does this have to do with New York City? The answer is simple: 266 East 10th St. (between Avenue A and First Avenue in Manhattan) is the former address of a New York City nightclub named Jack Rabbit Slims (spelled without the apostrophe, likely for legal reasons).
The real NYC location opened several years after Pulp Fiction’s run in theaters, so instead of 1950s and 1960s themes, it had a 1970s look as its attraction. And unlike its fictional counterpart, the real nightclub did not have Travolta and Thurman as dancing customers and its wait staff did not perform imitations of era-specific notables. However, it did have certain naughty touches such as racy posters and… oh, boy… poles normally associated with “exotic dancers.” (There were dancers using the poles but they were not “exotic dancers”! Hey, this is still a clean blog, you know!)
Although the combination of a retro presentation and an atmosphere that spurred the hormonal urges of its young adult clientele made the venue well-liked by frat boys and the girls who wanted to meet them, Jack Rabbit Slims eventually closed. With few 1970s-specific venues existing in New York City, it seems there’s little hope of ever seeing Travolta and Thurman dance “The Hustle” in a glittering space festooned with Saturday Night Fever posters featuring a younger Travolta in his famous white suit. Now that, my friends, would be an absolutely surreal and ultimately priceless moment to behold.
Before ending, I have to note there is a real sports bar named “Jack Rabbit Slims” (again, no apostrophe) in Denver, Colorado. While they don’t feature any celebrity impersonators, the venue is definitely reflective of today’s aesthetics and their pizzas look absolutely delicious. (Darn it, I’m on a diet! No pizza quest to Denver for me!)
Now it’s your turn. Do you know of any real-life versions of fictional venues? Do you know of any other Jack Rabbit Slims in existence? Have you visited the location in Denver? Sound off in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by.
Clubplanet, Inc. (n.d.). Jack Rabbit Slims. Retrieved February 5, 2020, from https://www.clubplanet.com/Venues/84314/New-York/Jack-Rabbit-Slims
IAMNOTASTALKER. (2011, March 10). Jack Rabbit Slim’s Restaurant from “Pulp Fiction” – IAMNOTASTALKER. Retrieved February 3, 2020, from http://www.iamnotastalker.com/2011/03/10/jack-rabbit-slims-restaurant-from-pulp-fiction/
The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. (2020). Filming Locations for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994), around Los Angeles. Retrieved February 4, 2020, from https://www.movie-locations.com/movies/p/Pulp-Fiction.php
Time Out New York. (2010, May 6). Jack Rabbit Slims. Retrieved February 4, 2020, from https://www.timeout.com/newyork/bars/jack-rabbit-slims-closed
VIP Nightlife. (n.d.). Jack Rabbit Slims. Retrieved February 5, 2020, from https://clubzone.com/places/jack-rabbit-slims/