The African Room – Eartha Kitt's Visit (but Consider the Source!)
Updated: Apr 7, 2019
A search for a story about an innocuous swizzle stick marked "The African Room" turned about an article in Pulp magazine. Pulp spins the tale of how the calypso/Caribbean themed NYC club the African Room sued Eartha Kitt for more than $200,000. Allegedly, one night while Kitt and some friends were in attendance to see house act Johnny Barracuda, aka the King of Calypso, she flew into a rage, poured Champagne on patrons, shattered glassware, and kneed one of the owners--an
ex-homicide dick named Harold Kanter—in the gonads.
The lawsuit claimed Kitt shouted:
“This is nothing but a clip joint! You are nothing but thieves!”
The incident was over a $137 bar bill. (about $1,100 in today’s money). Kitt’s side of the story was simply that her group ordered three or four splits (mini-bottles) of champagne—though none for her, as she never drank alcohol—and when presented with an exorbitant tab asked for an itemized bill, only to be met with major static.
Note: Kanter, at 25 years old, somehow had enough money to leave the police force and buy a share of the African Room three years earlier, had already been busted for watering down his liquor, then trying to bribe his way out of trouble. Kitt said succinctly of the episode:
“To me a $137 bill was preposterous. I asked for the bill so I could have it sent to my office. They would not give it to me. That’s all there is to the whole story.”
Matchbook and Postcard Photo Credit: PolynesianPop on Tiki Central