Folk music and Yorkville Coffeehouses

The Mynah Bird

Piranhas. Chocolate covered bugs. A naked chef. Pie throwing contests. And reportedly the first ever venue in Toronto to feature topless dancing, competitions and even topless folk singers - The Mynah Bird was the brainchild of entrepreneur Colin Kerr. Opened in 1965 adjacent to The Penny Farthing, The Mynah Bird was not known for it folk singers but rather the risqué entertainment it provided and the publicity stunts and antics of Colin Kerr.

Named after Kerr's other business venture - his myna bird store on Bloor street - the venue was an L shaped former Victorian home divided into two floors and multiple rooms. Go-go dancers who danced in front of the windows on the top floor. One would enter through a hallway passing several myna birds (one which was Kerr's personal pet named Raja) and an aquarium full of piranhas who were regularly seen consuming goldfish. Patrons would enter either the Stage Room which held folk music performances or the red flecked walls and fake grass floor of the Jungle Room. The Jungle Room was later the home of the topless dancers. The rooms were lit only by candles on the tables making them stuffy and dark.

The infamous Kerr, who bassist Bruce Palmer called "the Larry Flynt of Yorkville" made newspaper headlines with his stunts and like the Riverboat it survived well into the 70s. When the concentration of strip clubs was established on Yonge Street (an area that would be effectively referred to as "the Strip"), Kerr decided to sell The Mynah Bird to developers and set his sights on opening a larger nude club on King Street.

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