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Final curtain for Israel’s ‘Sin City’ strip bars

Tel Aviv’s Pussycat used to bill itself as the premier strip club in the Middle East, allegedly popular among Israeli TV stars and military brass for its notorious private lounge.

Before its closure last year, the Pussycat was a magnet for hedonists in the Mediterranean commercial hub sometimes dubbed Israel’s “Sin City” and known for beachside cocktails and hipster bars.

Now, the eye-catching round mirrored building near the beach that hosted the club since it was founded in 2000 has been converted into a centre for social activism, opening its doors to community programmes.

The club’s demise was partly sealed by legal changes cracking down on alleged prostitution, developments which forced the closure of all of Tel Aviv’s strip joints.

That was a victory for some anti-prostitution campaigners, while others insisted that properly managed strip clubs allowed women to make good money in a safe environment. 

The transformation of the Pussycat was the work of activist Yakir Segev, a former member of Jerusalem’s city council and business executive now devoted to social causes.

The Pussycat, which faced a series of legal challenges over alleged prostitution, “couldn’t be fixed”, Segev told AFP. 

‘Truly admirable’

When a real estate company bought the site that hosted the Pussycat last year, Segev convinced the firm to allow the space to be converted at least temporarily into a hub for social activism. 

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