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Infamous landmark ‘Naked Harem’ sign removed in Lower Valley

The Naked Harem sign in the Lower Valley as it was being removed.
The Naked Harem sign in the Lower Valley as it was being removed.

EL PASO, Texas -- An infamous Lower Valley landmark came down on Friday when El Paso County officials had the iconic "Naked Harem" sign on Alameda Avenue removed.

The sign's takedown occurred a decade after the troubled strip club was shutdown by authorities after its two owners were accused of using the business as a front for prostitution.

Workers strapped into a lift Friday and took the neon lettering down.

“So they are going to take it over to Ascarate Park where they’re gonna chop it into pieces and then they’re gonna dispose of them properly… they want to make sure that it’s taken care of and that it’s gone,” said Precinct 2 County Commissioner David Stout.

The commissioner said he's long found the sign problematic for its explicit neon depiction of a naked woman, as well as the club's criminal history of engaging in sexual victimization and exploitation.

The Naked Harem was operated by co-owners Phillys Woodall and Jeanette Coutta, both of whom were indicted and later convicted of aggravated promotion of prostitution and organized criminal activity.

The pair each received lengthy prison sentences and the business' property was seized by the county.

With the sign now gone, ABC-7 asked Stout what the county's future plans are for the former strip club site.

“According to chapter 59 in criminal court of procedures, it has to be turned into something that helps victims, that provides rehabilitation, mental health services, something along those lines," he explained. "It serves the opposite purpose of what it was.”

The building was not always a seedy strip club. According to the El Paso History Alliance, it was originally built in 1948 to house the Valley Theatre. Later, that location became the Azteca Theater before eventually being turned into a strip club in more modern times.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

Wil Herren

Wil Herren is an ABC-7 reporter who covers both news and sports.


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