The Real History of Fellini’s

In 1994—the year that Fellini’s shut down—I was sixteen years old. That was the summer that I started to spend all of my waking hours downtown, and I knew Fellini’s only as something legendary that I’d just missed taking part in. The restaurant’s reputation for debauchery and its position as a hub of the downtown social scene were and remain legendary, but it’s remained in the realm of oral tradition until recently. Over the past two weeks, C-Ville Weekly has published a two-part series of J. Tobias Beard, “The (Mostly) True Story of Fellini’s” and Here’s Looking at You, Chief.” I found these to be fascinating reads, and learned both that Fellini’s was far more interesting than I’d ever known and that, if I had been able to hang out there, my parents probably should have been investigated by social services. I’m tempted to summarize the story here, to pique your interest, but I couldn’t possibly. It’s got sex, drugs, murder, crime, and a whole lot more, and concludes with Beard tracking down Chief Gordon in L.A.

This is the sort of story that, I’ve found, is a sort of a litmus test. One group of people will find this terribly exciting, and another will find it exhausting and self-indulgent. Chalk me up as an enthusiastic member of the former.

5 thoughts on “The Real History of Fellini’s”

  1. I found it an interesting read as well. As a native it was interesting to see names I had long forgotten and have a clearer understanding of what all the gossip was about.

  2. “Do NOT go up the stairs folks, do not GO UP the stairs….” what code was that again?

    heh heh heh…

  3. I enjoyed it but think it was perhaps a little sentimental – an overly-romanticized account of a past that never really existed. Like in Dazed and Confused when Slater says, “The girls, man, in our classes, they’re all prudes, man. They’re worthless little bitches, man. It’s the girls ahead of us were wild. Our class is worthless.”

  4. Though I do feel kind of strange about the sort of digging-in-the-dirt, skeletons-in-the-closet nature of the article (although I only personally know 2 of the individuals named in it, and they’re both fairly peripheral characters), I too appreciated the look into Charlottesville’s cultural history.

    I was 11 or 12 when Fellini’s closed, so it was well before my time, but I always heard hearsay and whispers about what had gone on there, and wondered what the story was.

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