Taking the idiom “cleanliness is next to godliness” more literally than most, Donald Anderson along with partner John Clay recently launched “Living Clean Entertainment” on Chicago’s West Side.
The venue, located on 1539 S. Pulaski, will host Jazz concerts, plays, spoken-word poetry events and blues revivals in a unique nightclub atmosphere. Patrons can watch performances without the usual behaviors associated with the nightclub: smoking, drinking of alcoholic beverages or profanity. As a result Anderson, a deeply religious man, hopes to create a more positive, family-centered concert hall where all ages are welcome.
“I enjoy going to comedy clubs, but many times when I would go I would leave with my clothes smelling of cigarettes and the bars would serve few drinks beyond alcohol,” said Anderson. “I wanted to open a venue where teenagers could come, as well as, seniors.
“So far since we opened I’ve heard many customers echoing my sentiments telling me they love the idea of attending a play or concert and don’t have to hear offensive language and smell cigars.”
“Living Clean Entertainment” opened its doors on Oct. 15, and since then, has held a stage play – “Detour to Calvary” which focused on the crucifixion of Jesus from an African perspective – a jazz performance by the group TriFactor and spoken word shows, which have each drawn diverse multi-generational crowds.
This drawing power is nothing new to Anderson who also works full-time as a Senior Tape Operator on the Oprah Winfrey Show. He’s worked with the show for 17 years.
“You may not see me on the screen, but you can see the tape operators at work on the show whenever Oprah introduces a guest and shows clips or segues into a commercial break – that’s me,” joked Anderson.
Currently, Anderson is planning for what figures to be a busy and very productive year for Living Clean Entertainment.
He wants to schedule Chicago Idol winner Maurice Mohad to perform at Living Clean. He is also planning a reading by poet Indie Blue and performance by Blues group Ramblin’ Rose on Jan. 20 and 21.
Also, “cleanliness” at “Living Clean” is not just regulated to the bar, which only sells juices and energy drinks or the rhetorical skills of the performers, but also physically as well.
“There is a shower in the woman’s washroom,” said Anderson pointing to the glass shower door. “This is because we want to open a jazzercise class here as well and it will be targeted at women. The shower allows them to come, exercise and shower before they go to work. We’re hoping to have it going sometime next year.”
On Feb. 3 and 4, he will hold a spoken word night. Auditions are currently taking place on Tuesday’s from 6 to 9 p.m.
Even though the event is billed as a “Spoken Word” event, each poet has already been chosen and practiced in advance in an almost stage-play type setting to avoid nervousness and ad-libing, which might lead to the accidental use of expletives or interrupt the flow of the event.
Because of the general demographic of 20-somethings that are likely to perform at the spoken word event, Anderson is upfront about any reluctance on the part of the poets to be censored.
“Not really,” said Anderson. “Poets that were chosen and read poetry that had a few bad words simply agreed to re-edit them. There has been no backlash.”
For more information about Living Clean Entertainment call 773/521-9150.