The Bird Cage Theater was a combination theater, saloon, gambling parlor and brothel that operated from 1881 to 1889 in Tombstone, Arizona, during the height of the silver boom. It is one of the most haunted locations in Arizona.
The Bird Cage Theater opened on December 26, 1881, It was owned by Lottie and William "Billy" Hutchinson. Hutchinson, a variety performer, originally intended to present respectable family shows like that he'd seen in San Francisco that were thronged by large crowds. After the Theater opened, they hosted a Ladies Night for the respectable women of Tombstone, who could attend for free. But the economics of Tombstone didn't support their aspirations. They soon canceled the Ladies Night and began offering baser entertainment that appealed to the rough mining crowd.
Bar, theater, and poker roomEdit
Once inside, customers could buy a drink at the long bar. Behind the bar hung a painting of buxom belly-dancer Fatima in an exotic Oriental outfit. The painting is still hanging behind the bar. It still has six bullet holes and a knife slash in it. The main hall contained a 15 by 15 feet (4.6 by 4.6 m) stage about 5 feet (1.5 m) above the main floor, and an orchestra pit. The stage was lit by a row of gas jets along the front side. There were fourteen cages or boxes on two balconies on either side of the main hall. These boxes, also known as cribs, featured drapes that patrons could draw while entertained by prostitutes.
Between acts, the dancing girls in short dresses and low-cut necklines served drinks and offered sex. Beer was 50 cents on the main floor and $1.00 in the boxes on the balconies.
In the basement, a poker room was the site of the longest-running poker game in history. Played continuously twenty-four hours a day for eight years, five months, and three days, legend has it that as much as $10,000,000 changed hands during the marathon game, with the house retaining 10 percent. Some of the participants were Doc Holiday, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, and George Hearst.
The Bird Cage Theater operated continuously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for eight years, from 1881 to 1889. It gained a reputation as one of the wickedest theaters between New Orleans and San Francisco, prompting The New York Times to report in 1882 that "the Bird Cage Theater is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast". More than 120 bullet holes are found throughout the building.
One of the first acts at the Birdcage was Mademoiselle De Granville (real name, Alma Hayes), also known as the "Female Hercules" and "the woman with the iron jaw". She performed feats of strength, specializing in picking up heavy objects with her teeth. Other acts included the Irish comic duo Burns and Trayers (John H. Burns and Matthew Trayers), comic singer Irene Baker, Carrie Delmar, a serious opera singer, and comedian Nola Forest. Lizette, "The Flying Nymph", flew from one side of the theater to the other on a rope. One of the more elaborate acts featured "The Human Fly" in which women dressed in theatrical tights and brief costumes walked across the stage ceiling upside down. This act lasted until one of the clamps supporting the performers failed and she fell to her demise.
Entertainment included masquerade balls featuring cross—dressing entertainers, like comedians David Waters and Will Curlew, in outrageous female costumes, performing outlandish antics, bawdy skits, and singing vulgar ballads. Each evening entertainment began with a variety show at 9:00 pm and lasted until 1:00 am or later. When the stage show ended, the wooden benches where the audience sat were stacked on the side. The orchestra performed and the audience danced and drank until the sun rose. Miners could drink and dance all night if they chose.
In March 1882, miners in the Grand Central Mine hit water at 620 feet (190 m). The flow wasn't at first large enough to stop work, but constant pumping with a 4 inches (100 mm) pump was soon insufficient. The silver ore deposits they sought were soon underwater. Hutchinson sold the Birdcage to Hugh McCrum and John Stroufe and they sold it again in January 1886 to Joe Bignon. Bignon had managed the Theater Comique in San Francisco and performed as a black face minstrel and clog dancer. He refurbished the building and renamed it the Elite Theater. He hired new acts interspersed with the bawdy entertainment the miners were used to. Bignon's wife, known as "Big Minnie", was 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and weighed 230 pounds (100 kg). She wore pink tights and sang, danced, played the piano, and sometimes acted as madam to the prostitutes in the cribs and bouncer.
The large Cornish engines brought in by the mine owners kept the water pumped out of the mines for a few more years, but on May 26, 1886, the Grand Central Mine hoist and pumping plant burned. When the price of silver slid to 90 cents an ounce a few months later, the remaining mines laid off workers. Many residents of Tombstone left. The Bird Cage Theater closed in 1892, but is was somehow reopened in 1934.
The Bird Cage Theater features various arena interactions. From farthest left to right, they are:
- A mannequin that can be used to strike the opponent with it.
- A mahogany chair that can be used to strike the opponent by the head with it.
- A mahogany table that can be thrown at the opponent with it.
- A glass jar containing a tarantulas that can be thrown at the opponent by the face with it.
- An empty root beer bottle that can be thrown at the opponent with it.
- A ceiling fan that can be used to jump kick the opponent multiple times.
- A table lamp that can be thrown at the opponent with it, thus electrocuting them.
- A chandelier equipped with low energy light bulbs that can be used to jump kick the opponent multiple times.
- A metal food tray that can be thrown at the opponent with it.
- An empty soda bottle that can be thrown at the opponent with it.
- An empty fishbowl that can be thrown at the opponent with it.
- A teak chair that can be used to strike the opponent by the head with it.
- A teak table that can be thrown at the opponent with it.
- An empty wine bottle that can be thrown at the opponent with it.
- An empty beer glass that can be thrown at the opponent with it.
- An empty wine glass that can be thrown at the opponent with it.
- A baseball bat that can be used to bash the opponent by the head with it.
- A yellow bass guitar that can be used to smash the opponent by the skull with it.
- A purple electric bass guitar that can be used to smash the opponent by the head with it.
- An umbrella that can be used to hit the opponent with it.
- A tennis racket that can be used to hit the opponent by the head with it.
- An ax that can be used to hit the opponent's forehead with it.
- A pickax that can be used to strike the opponent's forehead with it.
- A claw hammer that can be used to smash the opponent by the skull with it.
- A violin that can be used to hit the opponent with it.
- Leonardo's ninja swords, Raphael's sais, Donatello's staff, the Penguin's umbrella, Luxord's tarot cards, Mad Mod's cane, the Gentleman Ghost's cane, Flash Sentry's spear, Poison Ivy's spear, Michelangelo's chained-sickles, Applejack's brown cowgirl boots, Braeburn's cowboy hat, Braeburn's vest, Casey Jones' hockey stick, Fong's meat cleaver, Hun's black sunglasses, Gary's black sunglasses, Timmy Turner's pink baseball cap, the Shredder's claws, the Shredder's dark purple cape, the Shredder's boots, the Shredder's armor, Tiger Claw's matchlock, Myles Standish's matchlock, Karai's ninja sword, Mulan's sword, Rose Wilson's sword, Pinkie Pie's party cannon, Rainbow Dash's electric guitar, Fluttershy's tambourine, Applejack's guitar, Applejack's cowgirl hat, Applejack's lasso, Alvin Seville's red baseball cap, Alvin Seville's red electric guitar, Silver Spoon's glasses, Sweetie Belle's red hairband, Casey Jones' hockey helmet, Casey Jones' hockey boots, Casey Jones' hockey gloves, Octavia Melody's violin, Octavia Melody's cello, Octavia Melody's double bass, Jeanette Miller's glasses, Tsoi's purple headband, Daphne Blake's light purple hairband, Velma Dinkley's glasses, Simon Seville's purple glasses, Scooby-Doo's light blue dog collar, Karai's ninja boots, Karai's ninja gloves, Karai's ninja headband, Karai's ninja armor, Karai's ninja robe, Karai's ninja pants, Brady's red electric guitar, Butchy's black sunglasses, Simon Seville's blue electric guitar, Theodore Seville's green electric guitar, Theodore Seville's green baseball cap, Theodore Seville's green Sherlock Holmes' hat, and Theodore Seville's brown backpack can be seen in the background.