Portraits from Clermont Loungee
Even before it opened as The Jungle Room, back in 1965, rumors of its imminent demise have persisted. Almost 50 years later, Atlanta’s legendary Clermont Lounge is alive and kicking. It’s just as diverse in its clientele--young and old, poor and privileged, OTP and ITP, and as authentic, quirky, and seedy (in a good way) as it ever was. In fact, very little has changed since the days when burlesque icon Tami Roche twirled her tassels.
There’s no food or VIP bottle service. No beer on tap. Just cans, with PBR being by far the best seller. Drinks are served in Solo cups. It’s a cash only operation. And the girls? Most don’t bother to wax. They choose their own music from the jukebox, and perform while chatting with their friends. Don’t expect an air of mystery. What you see is what you get. These are real women with real bodies. Sometimes they fall down. Sometimes they hop off the stage to throw up.
No one gets preferential treatment at the Clermont, though celebrity sightings are common. Ashton Kutcher, Bill Murray, Woody Harrelson, and Margaret Cho are among the famous personalities who have hung out over the years. TMZ reporters regularly wear Clermont Lounge t-shirts on the show. Anthony Bourdain called the Clermont one of the world’s greatest dives, and Esquire magazine lists it as one of the best bars in the country. The Clermont security guards are not impressed.
The Clermont is an institution, a rite of passage for newcomers to Atlanta. From the moment you pull into the gravel parking lot, you suspect it will be different: less fantasy, perhaps, more broken dream. Less polish, more perspiration. Less ‘Make it rain’ and more ‘Buy me a shot.’