A former showgirl relives her botched abortion.
A mob boss and his “Fellas” are still watching.
The Comedy Store is a showcase comedy night club, where people enjoy stand-up comedy shows that promote up-and-coming comedians and well-seasoned ones as well. Many well-known comics got their start here, and this venue has remained very popular indeed!
The Comedy Store makes its home in a three story building that has long been the home to various popular entertainment venues. Inside, the patron can see shows in the original showroom or the much enlarged main showroom. The showrooms have backstage dressing rooms. There is a basement storage area below the stage and the first floor, a kitchen, and an annex off the kitchen. Offices are located in the second and third floors of the building.
The Sunset Strip was not under the jurisdiction of the city of Los Angeles from its beginning in 1870, until the year 1984. Before that it was part of West Hollywood. Uh Oh! This led to its being open for all kinds of illegal activity, including sensual entertainment, “games of chance”, and of course banned alcoholic drinks during Prohibition. Night clubs were a convenient way to to provide all three, being legal businesses that were conveniently near or next to not-so-legal entertainment. Organized crime groups were good at running it all.
The building that now is home to The Comedy Store was built by night club developer and owner William Wilkerson in the late ’30s to be a ritzy nightclub, Ciro’s, for the rich and famous, offering top-grade entertainment. For nearly 20 years, it was the premiere place for Hollywood stars and other high-profile people in the movie and TV industry to hang out and enjoy themselves.
During this time, the mafia of course “had its fingers in this club.” As Wilkerson had several clubs on the Sunset Strip, he probably worked out business deals with Micky Cohen, the underworld boss who controlled the vice businesses on The Sunset Strip.
From the 1920s through to the 1950s, mobster Micky Cohen ran a brothel right next to Ciro’s. Beside demanding a cut of the club’s profits (a cost owners paid to stay in business and breathing as well), Micky set up his headquarters in an office upstairs in the Ciro’s building.
Official mob business was taken care of in the basement. There was a killing and torture room to deal with problem people. Customers who couldn’t pay their gaming debts, romanced the wrong waitress or showgirl, or were guilty of some other offense were the ones who suffered and died here.
In the basement, there was also an abortion clinic set up for showgirls, prostitutes and girlfriends of mobsters to get rid of their tummy bumps. These women probably didn’t have a choice in the matter. A nurse of questionable skill was on Micky’s payroll, to perform illegal abortions. One woman died from her abortion, and the nurse was “publicly humiliated” and probably killed by the dead woman’s boyfriend.
During the ’60s, the club changed to providing rock and roll stage acts, up until the mid-1970s, when new business people moved in to try something new. Sammy and Mitzi Shore and Rudy DeLuca started out their comedy club venture by renting a room in the building, where they opened up a unique venue on April 10th, 1972 that featured male comedians. Their success let them move to a bigger space.
The Comedy store didn’t make money in its first two years in this new space. When Sammy got a job in Las Vegas, Mitzi took over and revamped the club to feature talented new comedians. This change turned the cash-strapped club into a money-maker.
While The Comedy Club excelled, the marriage between Sammy and Mitzi ended. In the divorce settlement, Mitzi was left with The Comedy Store. She did so well with it that she opened up a second Comedy Club venue in Westwood, and it became hugely popular with local UCLA students. It also caught the attention of Hollywood agents who were always looking for new talent.
When the original Ciro’s building was put up for sale, Mitzi bought it, and enlarged the main stage. The most popular young comics performed here, as well as more established, seasoned comics. On another stage, Mitzi gave women comics their own stage, and called it The Belly Room.
At this time, she also moved one of her Los Angeles Comedy Stores down to La Jolla, and hired her daughter to manage that one. This success inspired other comedy venues to pop up in Los Angeles. But while all the Los Angeles comedy venues were making a lot of money, it turned out that the owners were not paying the comedians for their performances. Uh oh!
Comedians were no longer willing to “be paid” by having the opportunity to perform. They wanted to be paid in cash as well. After striking at all the comedy venues in Los Angeles, owners (including Mitzi) relented.
One comedian, Steve Lubetkin, who was a close friend of Mitzi’s, was heavily involved in the strike. Afterwards, he was banned at the Comedy Club. This pushed him over the edge, and he jumped from the 14th floor of the Continental Hyatt House, which was right next door to the Club.
He was aiming for the roof of the Club but landed in the driveway instead. His suicide note stated: “My name is Steve Lubetkin. I used to work at the Comedy Store.” In his note, he blamed Mitzi for not letting him perform there.
Throughout the years at The Comedy Store, audiences have been entertained by stand up comedy from such people as Bette Midler, Robin Williams, John Belushi, Gary Shandling, Michael Keaton, Arsenio Hall, Richard Belzer and Sam Kinison. Other Comedians that got their start there included Louie Anderson, Jim Carrey and Chris Rock. The Comedy Store still offers the top up-and-coming talent to audiences, as well as more established comics.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
People who kill themselves sometimes find no relief from their troubles on the other side, and find themselves stuck in this world because they can’t let go of their pain. They try to make themselves feel better by staying where they longed to have success, or where all their unhappiness is tied to, trying to work through it.
Comedian Steve Lubetkin killed himself because he had hoped to resurrect his comedic career here, and couldn’t face not having this chance to do so.
Women who die from abortions or childbirth gone bad, stick around this world because their death was unexpected and a shock to them, and they can’t believe that they died. The girlfriend of a mobster died from her abortion in the basement clinic.
People who enjoy working at a place and the camaraderie they experienced there, sometimes like to continue there even in spirit form.
The close fraternity that was evident among Micky Cohen’s fellas.
People who enjoyed the entertainment at the theatre or club, sometimes continue to do so after passing into the spirit world. The spirits also enjoy the comedians, with the exception of the very loud ones.
The Mafia has long had their fingers in night club entertainment, stretching back to the twenties. When Prohibition forced the sale of alcohol into the black market, where it became part of the Sports Package of illegal prostitution and gambling, mobsters found their way into legitimate night clubs. If a deal couldn’t be made, they used muscle and threats to take a piece of the pie. Sometimes they took over completely with the demise of the old owner, who refused “a deal he couldn’t refuse.”
Mobsters sometimes used brutal persuasion and fatal, painful punishment on those who broke their rules or didn’t see things their way. Mobsters also cleaned house by killing competitors and those employees who knew too much about their operation.
People who cause others pain and death in cruel and vicious ways sometimes find that they are grounded in the place where they were so brutal. There is a nasty, negative, aggressive presence in the basement of the Comedy Store, still yearning to hurt someone. Now, all he can do is get his chuckles by scaring employees.
Victims who suffered violent, cruel deaths at the hands of others are sometimes so traumatized by the experience they are not ready to accept their deaths, and they are stuck in the place of their demise.
Victims viciously tortured and killed in the basement and on the floors above are still there.
The staff and managers of The Comedy Store have had the following experiences. Comedians Joey Gayner and Blake Clark both got their start at The Comedy Store, working as doormen and security men. Servers, assistants, and office personnel have had encounters with the spirit people as well.
The entity of Steve Lubetkin
The comedian who suicided.
Steve Lubetkin is probably one of the spirits who enjoys watching the new comedians perform on stage.
He could be one of the spirits who likes to play pranks on the staff there, letting them know of his presence. Other spirits too get their chuckles at the expense of the living.
Like the Quiet Hours
Besides the entity of Steve Lubetkin, there are at least 5 spirits that hang around the building, all originating from the 1930s through the 1950s, probably as a result of Mob activities.
They become most active when the place is quiet, especially in the early morning hours, though they have been known to be active at other times as well.
Pranksters at play in the Main Showroom
While locking up one night, the doorman and security man, comedian Blake Clark, saw a chair on the stage slide for 20 feet effortlessly all by itself.
Waitresses have set up the tables before a performance, and when they leave for a moment, they come back and everything is off the tables, neatly folded up and stacked.
As Comedians Joey Gayner and Blake Clark were closing the main room one night, they walked out for a moment. When they came back 10 chairs were stacked on top of each other in the middle of the room.
Don’t Challenge, Just Experience
Clark and Gayner, and other staff members, have had several personal experiences with both Micky Cohen’s fellas, the female spirit, and the spirits of the victims of Mob torture and punishment.
When Joey and Blake were both in the main stage area, Joey decided to challenge the spirits to show themselves, against the advice of Blake. They both watched an ashtray slowily rise from a table in front of them, and throw itself at Joey’s head. He ducked quickly, letting the ashtray hit the wall behind them.
A woman’s voice has been heard in the show rooms, and her moans and cries are heard in the basement areas as well. She seems to enjoy her memories in the show rooms, perhaps watching the new living talent on stage as well, but also relives her pain, distress and dying moments because of her abortion.
Victim of the Mob – Entity of WWII Airman
One quiet afternoon, Blake was playing a video game in a room near the kitchen. He suddenly felt a presence watching him, about 3 feet behind him. Looking out of the corner of his eye, he saw a man dressed in a WWII brown leather bomber jacket. Turning to say something to him, Blake could see right through the man, who faded away right before his eyes.
That same afternoon, this same man in the brown leather bomber jacket, appeared in a third floor office in front of an assistant, Debbie. He was crouching in a corner, terrified. He faded away before her eyes. It seems that he may have been killed in this office, by an associate of Micky Cohen.
Micky’s Ciro’s Club Enforcer, Gus
Apparently, The Comedy Store owners have an unpaid floor security manager in spirit form. Staff members have often seen a man whom they call Gus, standing in the back of the performance room, dressed in his dress black dress suit and fedora, eying the crowd and watching the staff perform their duties.
While on the phone, talking on a business call, Comedy Store Vice-President Michael, and the employee who sits at a desk across from him, both saw a man dressed in forties attire walk between their desks, glancing at them, perhaps checking on their work habits. He disappeared as he left their office space. Just a few seconds after seeing this entity, both Michael and his employee dashed through the doorway following the entity on patrol into the adjacent office. The employee there didn’t see anyone living come through.
Dressed in 1940s style suits, they appear in solid form in the back when something interesting is happening in the show rooms; perhaps wanting to put their best foot forward and fit in with the living better.
Pain in the Heart of the Building
Because of the torturous experiences that people have gone through in the basement, it is thought that the basement is the heart of the building, because of all the pain, suffering and death that happened there, and in the abortion clinic room. The atmosphere is heavy and an oppressive energy pervades this space.
Screams, moans and cries are heard coming from the basement area.
The abortion was done by a nurse, probably in a crude procedure that had the risk of the woman bleeding to death or dying from infection in an un-sterile environment.
The sadistic executioner did his work in a room here, where he broke knee caps and legs, before finding just the right cruel way to kill his victim who had crossed Micky Cohen in some way.
Nasty Male Entity in the Basement
Joey Gaynor and Blake Clark’s Terrifying Experiences with this black-hearted spirit thug:
One early morning at 3 AM, Blake and another staff member heard a low “guttural growl” coming from the basement. Blake and another staff member bravely went down to investigate. The padlocked gate in front of the basement was bending out, like something was pushing, trying to get out.
The gate suddenly snapped back into place. But before their eyes, they saw a huge, seven foot black form now standing in front of the gate, a menacing entity that “radiated evil and malevolence”. Blake and the other staff member didn’t stick around long enough to see what it would do and flew up the stairs and out of the building.
Blake and Gaynor went down to the basement later to see if it was still there. Yes indeed. It formed in a corner of a room, a big dark mass of a man with no face, with a very menacing countenance. It whizzed by them, and they ran up the stairs in record time.
In fact, Blake refused to go into the basement at all any more, ever since a piece of black cardboard fell from nowhere, hitting his hand, while he and Joey were in the basement. He turned the cardboard over, and his name was scrawled on it. It knew his name! Yikes!!
All of the spirit people like to watch the shows. Steve makes himself feel better by living the career he wanted through seeing these talented comedians entertain the audience. Spirits in residence, with the exception of the Nasty One in the basement, not only appear in front of the staff and others, but have been known to critique the performers:
One evening, while Sam Kinison was on the stage of the original showroom, Clark was next door, closing up the main showroom. As he heard Kinison go through his comic routine, getting louder and louder as was his custom, Clark heard a low buzz of voices, which also got louder and louder. When Sam reached his trademark scream, Clark heard the voices angrily chanting, “It’s him. It’s him. It’s him.”
The ghosts did their best to dissuade Sam from performing. They messed with the lights, and interfered with the sound system, annoying Sam. One night, Sam boldly challenged the ghosts to show themselves. The lights all went out.
Staff and others have been experiencing the full paranormal sports package, courtesy of the spirits who stay here, for a variety of reasons. These witnesses don’t need anyone to prove to them that The Comedy Store has spirits.
In 1982, Dr. Taft and his UCLA parapsychology team came to investigate the The Comedy Store because of all the activity of the spirits. When they got to the backstage area by the dressing rooms, two coins fell from the ceiling. When they got to the basement, the psychic Dr. Taft suddenly was overcome by agonizing pain in his legs. He had picked up the horrible pain some unfortunate soul had suffered, inflicted by someone else. One torture tactic of the Mob was to break legs and knees.
Personal Experience of Dr. Taft: 1994
In 1994, a segment for the TV series, “Haunted Hollywood,” was filmed in the original main room. Dr. Taft came along to watch the taping. He saw in the back of the room, three men, all dressed in 1940s style suits, including the fashionable wide lapels. After the filming, everyone packed up and left, leaving Taft the last one to leave. Taft came up to them to acknowledge them, as they were still standing there. However, these solid-looking apparitions disappeared before his eyes.
Paranormal EXP conducted 4 overnight investigations at the Comedy Store in West Hollywood, CA in September 2011. Their results are compelling in what they captured in hard evidence.
A strong YES INDEED is in order. With the exception of the suicidal comic, Steve, the spirits come from the 1940s and 1950s, when Micky Cohen and his mobster crew were a strong presence in the place. Many spirits are stuck reliving their deaths via Mr. Nasty, or through an underachieving abortionist. A few others can’t give up the jobs they had in Micky Cohen’s organized crime outfit. They all enjoy the great entertainment on the stages, and get their chuckles by teasing or terrifying the living who work here.
Ciro’s Comedy Store
8433 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069
The Comedy Store is located in the Sunset Strip area of Los Angeles, in West Hollywood. The building is on Sunset Boulevard, right across from the intersection of Sunset Blvd. and North Olive Road on the left. It is right next to the Katana Japanese Restaurant on its right and very near the Andaz Hollywood Hotel on the corner of Sunset Blvd and North King Rd.
- Club History page on thecomedystore.com
- Hollywood Haunted: A Ghostly Tour of Filmland
By Laurie Jacobson
Angel City Press
- The Comedy Store page on Wikipedia
- “The Sunset Strip: Haunted Comedy Store” page on seeksghosts.blogspot
- YouTube video — Paranormal Investigation: The Comedy Store – West Hollywood, CA
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr