The origin of species: the go-go birds of Alcatraz Robert Stroud, better known as the "Birdman of Alcatraz", was the

infamous inmat e of Alcatraz. He was first incarcerated for the brutal murder of a bartender wh o reneged on paying "bail". Later, in the 1960s, Carol Doda become the first gogo dancer. Alcatraz was America's premier maximum-security prison during its penitentiary y ears, and the inmates called it "The Rock". The small island initially served as a lighthouse, then a military fortification and later a federal prison until 19 63. In 1972 Alcatraz became one of Americaâ s most prominent landmarks and tourist at tractions. Juan Manuel de Ayala, in 1775, charted San Francisco Bay and named the island "L a Isla de los Alcatraces," or "The Island of the Pelicans" which was also home t o a colony of gulls, cormorants, and egrets. In 1850, President Millard Fillmore ordered that the island of Alcatraz be used by the military following the Mexic an-American War and the acquisition of California from Mexico. Following this acquisition and the start of the California Gold Rush, the milita ry set up coastal batteries to protect San Francisco Bay. Due to its isolation f rom the outside by freezing and hazardous sea currents, this now-abandoned priso n was used to house Civil War prisoners as early as 1861. In 1867 a brick jailho use was built and in 1868 Alcatraz was officially designated a long-term detenti on facility for military prisoners. Later, Robert Stroud, or the "Birdman of Alcatraz", was jailed for the brutal mu rder of a bartender who failed to pay a prostitute in Alaska and took the man's wallet in recompense. It was at at Leavenworth penitentiary that Stroud reared and sold birds and beca me an ornithologist after developing a keen interest in canaries. During his man y years of incarceration there, after finding an injured bird in the recreation yard, he was allowed to breed birds and maintain a lab inside two adjoining segr egation cells. However, after several years of "research", officials discovered that some of the equipment was being used to construct a still. Then, in 1942, Stroud was transferred to Alcatraz, where he spent the next seven teen years. However, despite the nickname, he only kept birds at Leavenworth and contrary to the myth surrounding him he was not allowed to tend birds following his transfer to Alcatraz. Meanwhile, the early 1960s witnessed another explosive phenomenon. Women at the Peppermint Lounge in New York, dancers who were employed to entertain at a disc otheque, began getting up on tables to dance the twist. These mini-skirted clubb ers wearing "go-go boots" were named after the French expression "À gogo", meaning "in abundance" or "galore", derived from the more ancient word "la gogue", or "h appiness". On 19 June 1964, Carol Doda began go-go dancing topless at the Condor Club in Sa n Francisco. She became the world's most famous go-go dancer, staying at the clu b for 22 years. At the same time, go-go dancers were hired at the Whisky A Go-Go on Sunset Strip. This was the first go-go club to have cages suspended from the ceiling (just as they are in Alcatraz bar in Pattaya today), and the idea of th e "cage dancer" was conceived. The concept soon caught on. In Tokyo and then Saigon during the war, there were a feast of go-go bars set up to entertain US troops. Later, the go-go bar emerge d in earnest throughout Southeast Asia and, by the 1980s, Thailand was leading t his industry in the distinguished coteries of Patpong and Soi Cowboy.

Today, Pattaya has the largest number of go-go bars anywhere in Thailand, attrac ting millions of visitors each year to experience the essence of the clubs, main ly on Walking Street, with no small thanks to Carol Doda and Robert Stroud.

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