The Birdcage Theatre was America’s most famous saloon from 1881 to 1889. In 1882, the New York Times once called it the wildest and scariest nightclub between Basing Street and the Barbary Coast. At the end of the 19th century the tombstone was at its height.

It was at this time that the largest mountain boom in the region took place. For travelers who cannot attend a tour, this insider guide will answer all your questions about this iconic Tombstone brothel.

Short story

The Birdcage Theatre, owned by Lottie and William Billy Hutchinson, opened on the 26th. Opened in December 1881. Hutchison was a versatile performer who sought to appeal to a wide audience with his family-friendly shows and entertainment. Shortly after the theatre opened, a free ladies’ night was offered to the respectable women of Tombstone.

Unfortunately, the city’s business community has been unable to support their efforts. As a result, women’s night was cancelled and the entertainment was replaced with shows that would have attracted a loud and boisterous mining audience.

Birdcage Theatre Legacy

One of the legacies of the Théâtre de la Cage à Oiseaux is that for nine years the brothel never closed its doors. This lush den of sin was open 24 hours a day for 3,285 days. Before its closure in 1889, 16 cannons had left 140 bullet holes in the walls and ceilings.

Real ladies stay on this side of the street!

All under.

The Bird Cage was aptly named because of the 14 manger-shaped rooms that hang from the ceiling above the casino’s advertising room and dance hall. In these cages the prostitutes, or ladies of the night as they were called, practiced their profession. At twenty-five dollars a night, a gentleman and a lady bought a bottle of whiskey for the evening. All red velvet curtains and decorations are original.

View from the cages of the Birdcage Theatre.

Live entertainment

Among the first performances were such artists as Mademoiselle de Granville (Alma Hayes). She was known as Hercules and was a woman with an iron jaw who picked up heavy objects with her teeth.

Other performers include a duo of Irish actors, opera singers and comedians – many of them women. Sometimes there were masked balls where transvestite artists performed. The miners stayed up all night, drinking and dancing.

Theatre scene in birdcage with faded paint and original curtains.

Stage entertainment ranged from French can-can dancers in the evening and daring shows for the male guests to national stars of the day such as Eddie Foy, opera tenor Caruso and Lotta Crabtree. The few ladies who lived in Tombstone never came to the Birdcage Theatre or even walked on the same side of the street as the Scandal Bar. It is interesting to note that the hand-painted scene with the original stage curtain has survived to this day.

Visits tooffer the opportunity to see many interesting items from this period, including this pharaonic fair chest.

Longest poker game in history

The Birdcage Theatre is probably best known for the longest poker game in Western history. It was a home game where players had to buy a minimum of $1,000 in chips to get a seat in the game. The game ran continuously for 8 years, 5 months and 3 days.

It is estimated that approximately $10 million was exchanged in this game and Birdcage retains ten percent of the profits. It was someone’s job to put the next person on the list if someone left the game. Today the poker table is still there, with the chairs on the old sand floor.

Everything sits around the poker table at the Birdcage Theatre as if we were in the late 1800s.

Known customers

Some of America’s most famous cowboys have come here to have fun and be entertained by the lovely ladies of the Birdcage. Wyatt Earp, Johnny Ringo and Doc Holiday, for example, drank and played cards there. There have been a lot of murders here too. Interestingly, Wyatt Earp met his third wife, Sadie Marcus, in the theater.

Sarah Josephine Marcus Sadie Jo had her own brothel room. She had many romantic relationships with her future husband Wyatt Earp. This continued while she was engaged to the sheriff of Tombstone, who disapproved of her work as a prostitute. Wyatt lived nearby in a covered wagon with his civilian wife, Mattie. When Wyatt left her for Sadie Jo, Matty ended up a prostitute in Prescott, Arizona. Then she committed suicide.

Sadie Jo had her own room in a brothel she shared with her future husband Wyatt Earp.

A reconstruction of a traditional shooting in Tombstone, Arizona.

Stupid Server

The bartender, dressed in a classic red bartender jacket, poured the best liquor in a custom cherry wood bar and in a bar in the back. This bar and transom were brought by boat around the South American Horn in San Francisco and delivered by mule train in Tombstone. There’s a dumb waiter next to the bar sending drinks to the ladies of the party and their customers. Today it is the only bar that is an authentic tombstone from before 1800 and that has been preserved in its original building.

Searching for the famous table

Look out the windows for a glimpse of Fatima’s famous bar painting. This work of art has been hanging in the same place since 1882. Fatima was an animator at the Birdcage Theater. This picture gave him his sympathy for the theatre. When her performances were deemed too provocative, she moved to Europe and changed her name to Little Egypt. In fact, she became quite famous. The board is 2 meters long and is marked by 6 bullet holes.

Fatima was an animator at the Birdcage Theater.

Inside, it is advisable to point the camera at the original back of the French mirror to take a larger picture.

This is one of the best photos taken at the Birdcage Theater.

Frozen in time for 50 years

The unfortunate closure of the Birdcage occurred when the mine was flooded by the tombstone. Initially, the flood was not big enough to stop mining operations. In time, however, the coveted silver ores were flooded. Many miners were laid off and most residents left Tombstone for good. Finally, the theatre was sealed and closed with all the installations and furniture still intact. For nearly 50 years the building remained closed, while its contents were only a matter of time.

Take a walk on the historic tombstone in Arizona.

Tombstone was truly a wild, wild west.

Imagine life during a mountain boom.

Becomes a historical landmark

In 1934, the Birdcage Theatre became a historic landmark in the American West when it reopened to the public. It is the only historic monument in Tombstone that remains in its original condition and has been since 1881. The lights, chandeliers, curtains and gaming tables in the casino are all authentic and intact. The original solid grand piano is also still in the orchestra pit. The coin-operated jukebox still works as it did in 1881. Travelers from all over the world love to visit the building and enjoy the nostalgia of the past.

The original piano is in the orchestra pit of the Birdcage Theatre.

The most precious gravestone

Among thousands of other objects from that time, the most precious antique of the building is the Black Moria. This original Butile hearse is finished in 24 karat gold and sterling silver. A hearse took all but six bodies to Booth Hill. The original coffin, to the right of the hearse, was used in the movie Tombstone.

Black Moriah is the most precious ancient tombstone.

Are you planning to visit Tombstone, Arizona? We highly recommend spending at least one night in the Old West. Here are the best places to stay.

Night travel

According to saloon owners, 26 spirits still like to hang out at the famous Tombstone Saloon/Brothel. It’s even a popular stop for ghost hunters from all over the world. Rumor has it that sometimes you can hear screaming and loud music late into the night.

Listen to and search for paranormal activity in one of the most haunted places in America. Do you see a ghost?

Others claim to smell the scent of cigar smoke and whiskey in the air. An evening visit is probably the best way to discover the peculiarity of the building and try to experience the paranormal. At the Birdcage Theatre, tourists can explore over 100 years of Wild West history.


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