Why San Diego’s Rock Church Bought a Strip Club

The Body Shop: "You can rest assured it will never be a sex shop again," said Pastor Miles McPherson, whose Rock Church bought the property. (Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune)
The Body Shop: “You can rest assured it will never be a sex shop again,” said Pastor Miles McPherson, whose Rock Church bought the property. (Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Body Shop, whose “NUDE GIRLS” neon sign flickered above Point Loma’s Midway district for 50-plus years, has been stripped of its old ways.

“We are not sure what we are going to do with the old Body Shop building,” said Miles McPherson, senior pastor of the Rock Church, “but you can rest assured it will never be a sex shop again.”

In June, the church and several investors bought the aging strip club for $1.2 million. Today, McPherson and financial backers, including controversial developer and former San Diego Port Commissioner David Malcolm, will hold a news conference at the site.

The purchase, Malcolm said, eliminates a suggestive come-on seen by generations of drivers exiting Interstate 8 at Rosecrans Street.

“We can clean up the entrance to the Point Loma community and one of the gateways to San Diego,” said Malcolm, whose Port Commission tenure ended in a 2003 conflict-of-interest lawsuit. (After pleading guilty and serving 80 days in custody and three years’ probation, his conviction was expunged and he was allowed to plead not guilty to a misdemeanor.)

The Body Shop+ had a long, if not illustrious, history. Within months of the club’s 1964 opening, The San Diego Union reported that dancers “played to standing room only.” A local landmark, the club nonetheless lost much of its clientele over the last two decades.

“First the Navy base closed,” said Richard Zamora, the Body Shop’s former doorman, citing the 1997 closure of the nearby Naval Training Center.

“Then the Internet hit. It’s expensive to go out — we had a cover charge and a two drink minimum — when you can stay home and see it for free.”

At least one more factor hastened the club’s demise. For years, the Rock Church had decried the Body Shop and its neighboring partner in the skin trade, Les Girls.

“Every time I drive down Rosecrans and see those neon lights, I am reminded why we do what we do,” McPherson wrote on the church’s website in 2010. “So many people are hurting. They go to bars and strip clubs to self-medicate.

“What many of them don’t realize is that those places will never meet the true need of their heart.”

The heart, though, was never the Body Shop’s aim.

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SOURCE: Peter Rowe
The San Diego Union-Tribune