Memberships, Curtains, Stage

Interior, 521 Sussex Drive

Membership CardThe move also required printing up a new card with the owl logo and the new address. The life time membership cost a dollar. Harvey wanted to scrap it altogether, but I refused as this to me was part of Le Hibou identity. I felt that people were proud to have a Le Hibou membership card in their wallet, and they expressed it to us many times. So it was kept.

At first I set the stage on the large platform in the bay window on the left. I had moved the front door to the right where the second large bay window was located. Thus we had a more discreet way for the public to come in, and we also had better control. Having the stage on the platform made more space for seating but also it created a long room. As before, for the background we used discarded CBC black curtains (limbos) and thus blocked any peering eyes from the street. But sometimes there was a small space in between the curtain and we would see happy faces taking in the free performances.

The performer was also at a small disadvantage since he or she had to walk through the crowd to get to the stage. And since the front door was close to the stage, it created a distraction when somebody wanted to come in during the set. So, I decided to put the stage along the brick wall right in the centre of the room to solve all these problems. With that beautiful wall we required no background curtain whatsoever and we also instantly created a proximity between the artist and the public and enhanced the intimacy. That proved to be quite so as everybody would rave about the closeness to the performers, be it folksingers, jazz, blues, or actors.

Chac Mool / Potbelly Boutique

Penny also moved her Chac Mool Boutique to the new space. She had two large vertical display panels built on wheels which would be opened in the day time and closed and locked for the evening—it was like a large steamship trunk set vertically. As we stored it in the corner, it didn’t take much space. Since Penny had started on Bank Street, she had evolved more and more into designing dresses and developing a good clientele.

Later when her brother, Alan Knight, who worked at Le Hibou, received a scholarship for his Masters at Columbia University, we would take the Volkswagen van down to New York. There, we stayed at his flat on Orchard Street, where all the textiles remnants shop were located. Most of the shop owners were Jewish and connected with the New York textile industry. They had plenty of fantastic ends of lines at great prices. We had heard (urban myth?) that they were quite superstitious: If they didn’t sell to their first customer, the day would be lousy. So Penny was always there as soon as they opened and, whether it was due to superstition or something else, always ended up with excellent bargains.