Family of Edmonton exotic entertainment pioneer Pierre Cochard remembers his legacy

Pierre Cochard ran Edmonton’s longest-running gentlemen’s club. His family is remembering his legacy in Downtown Edmonton.

The owner of Edmonton’s longest-running gentlemen’s club – whose mural on the side of the building has watched over downtown for decades – has passed away. His family is remembering an Edmonton icon who pioneered exotic entertainment in the city from the ground up.

“He was a trailblazer, in that respect. Especially here in Canada, and they targeted him lots for that and they tried to shut him down for that,” said Jesse Cochard, Pierre Cochard’s grandson.

Jesse Cochard now runs ‘Chez Pierre’ — the cabaret his grandfather started in downtown Edmonton more than 50 years ago.

Pierre Cochard originally immigrated to Canada from Belgium. He opened Chez Pierre’s first location on Jasper Avenue in the early 70’s, before moving to its current building a decade later.

Across the street from a church, Cochard faced stiff opposition from the church’s pastor, who would condemn the club on a local bible radio show. But Cochard’s grandson says there are no hard feelings now.

“‘It’s obscene — it’s obscenity down there!’ And he would always laugh. Because the more press he got about this, the busier he got,” explained Jesse. “There would be all this negative stuff and then the next day there would be a line up around the block. His famous line was ‘strippers are God’s children too.'”

When the club first opened, laws prevented Cochard from featuring nude dancers and serving booze. The club didn’t get its liquor licence until 2013, but Jesse Cochard says you could… maybe… get a drink before that.

“It was a bit of an open secret at Chez Pierre’s that you could get booze. A special Pepsi. If you were in the right clientele.”

But as Edmonton mourns the loss of downtown fixture, Cochard’s grandson is remembering the times with his grandfather.

“I couldn’t have been more than 5-6 years old, we’re in the car driving up 10th street, past the club, ‘Oh, that’s grandpa, that’s grandpa’s business.’ I see the sign ‘nude shows’ and I’m like, ‘What’s nude shows.’… ‘You’ll find out when you’re older, son.’ I heard that one a lot growing up.”

Pierre Cochard was 98-years-old. His family is glad to know his legacy of fun will live on.

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