Denver’s oldest gentlemen’s club, now a late-night dispensary, is apparently haunted — and you can take the tour
Where weed, strippers and ghosts meet for a killer haunted tour
It was a cool and quiet night when I pulled into the parking lot of Shotgun Willie's. Dark clouds drifted slowly over an orange moon — it was the perfect night for a haunted tour.
Shotgun Willie’s is renowned in Denver for many things. Namely, for its beautiful female entertainers and the dimly lit western atmosphere, but also for being totally female-owned and operated, and for being the city’s oldest gentlemen’s club.
It’s an establishment, no doubt, and a locally distinguished one at that.
But I was not there for lap dances and hotties. Not this time, at least. This time, I had come for a very special tour of the adjacent dispensary, Shotgun Willie’s sister business, the Smokin’ Gun. Built over top of the condemned remains of the old strip club, this pistol-shaped dispensary, doesn’t just look like the kind of place that might be haunted, with its old western wall paper, hidden doors, iron barred jail cell, and vintage bank teller check-out station — apparently, it’s actually haunted.
Which is what this tour was all about: showcasing the creepy, ghostly, supernatural side of the Smokin’ Gun Apothecary. And, on top of that, it promised a goodie bag.
Not one to pass up a creepy experience (or free weed) I leapt at the opportunity, got online and RSVP’d. (This weekend there are still two more tours, scheduled at 8pm on both Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th, so RSVP for a spot while you still can.)
Photos credit Lucy Beaugard.
When I walked through the Smokin’ Gun’s hidden entrance and into the dispensary I could tell immediately, that I was in for a treat — the place was fully decked out in Halloween décor and my tour guide met me in full un-dead regalia.
“Hello, my name is Dee, I passed away here several years ago and I will be your guide this terrible evening,” she began. “Walk this way.”
I was hooked.
Dee unlocked a door, and led our tiny private group back behind the bank teller check out area and up a dark staircase lit only by candlelight and occupied by rubber cockroaches. As we moved up the stairs she began telling the story of the Lady in Red, a mysterious woman who’s been caught multiple times wandering the halls of the dispensary after hours. Four different employees have seen her on separate occasions; though apparently, neither the cameras nor the motion sensors ever have…
Did this Lady in Red once work at the strip-club? Was she a dancer? How did she die? And what is keeping her around?
There’s no knowing, Dee said. But what’s certain, is that there have been several incidents over the years that have shook people up at both the dispensary and the strip club.
“Several people have seen the Lady in Red, walking up and down these stairs, on the roof, over at Shotgun Willies, and we just don’t know,” Dee said, as she led us through a door at the top of the stairs and into a room stacked with bud.
Literally, stacked. The walls were lined floor to ceiling with big airtight boxes brimming with bud. Dee pulled down several strains, Jabberwocky, Wedding Cake and a delightful smelling hybrid called Lavender Diesel, opening them up so we could take a whiff of the good stuff. I breathed deeply, taking a face-full of the Lavender’s dank flowery aroma. My God, I thought, looking around at the motherload of marijuana, a ghost could certainly pick a worse place to get stuck in purgatory.
Photo credit Lucy Beaugard.
Dee then put the bud back on the shelf, and she and her cockroach friends led us on, deeper into the darkening dispo.
She showed us their “MIPS room” where the Smokin’ Gun keeps all their non-flower product locked up like bullion in a safe, she took us out onto the roof, to the very spot where the Lady in Red was last seen, and then down the other side, down a separate set of stairs.
In another incident, Dee explained, when the fire alarms went out, they had decided to keep a security guard on duty all night. So, naturally, they had their go-to security tough-guy, Manny, hang out overnight.
He did not know what he was getting himself into.
All night long, Manny was plagued by strange noises, figures moving through the dark, cold-spots and even disembodied voices. The experience scared him so bad, he left the following morning and refused to ever stay the night in the Smokin’ Gun again, as long as he lived.
It was a promise, that Manny has kept, according to Dee.
Photo credit Lucy Beaugard.
There were more ghost stories, more cockroaches and then, quite suddenly we were back on the dispensary’s main floor, bidding our ghostly tour guide farewell. She hooked us up with some awesome goodie bags, and I ended up buying an eighth of that sweet, sweet Lavender Disel before exiting into the night.
I took a deep breath of fresh air, and decided, what the hell, why not get drink? It was Friday night after all. So, goodie bag in hand I walked over to the T-Bar next-door, Shotgun Willie’s bar.
As I was walking in a woman passed me on the way out, a cute twenty-something, blonde and doe-eyed, wearing a fur jacket, tall brown boots and a short red dress...
I almost froze in place.
“Does she work here?” I asked the bartender, sitting on a stool and glancing back at the door.
“That woman, who just walked out when I walked in.”
He cocked an eyebrow at me. “You better take it easy on that stuff,” he nodded at the Smokin’ Gun goodie bag I was holding. “Let me know when you want to drink."