Restaurants / Bars

The Real Story Behind All Those Naked Ladies at Poison Girl

Beloved Montrose Bar Fell Into Its Nude Habit Naturally

BY Craig Lindsey // 11.06.17

Scott Repass still remembers the first naked-lady painting he bought for Poison Girl.

When he and his fellow owners were looking for items to fancy their Houston bar up in 2004, they saw a velvet painting they needed to have. “We were shopping for furniture at a lot of thrift stores,” says Repass, “and one of the first places we went, we found that one – the blonde.”

He points to a painting with a curvy gal in front of a black backdrop, behind the bar above all the bourbons. “And we call her Felicia.”

Repass still remembers how damn near impossible it was to get that painting out of the shop. “The guy who owned that store had sort of an unnatural attraction to her,” he says. “He was really reluctant to sell it, and he wouldn’t let us carry her out to the car. And when he put it in our car, he said, ‘Yeah, my wife is gonna be really relieved that’s out of the shop.’”

And that’s how the well-known, Montrose hangout began its addiction of acquiring nude paintings and hanging them on its kitschy walls. The bar, which celebrated its 13th anniversary in September, has spent most of its existence snapping up nude paintings, whether they’re from thrift stores or eBay or even from an artist they commissioned to paint one.

The painting that hangs over the back door to the patio was painted by local artist Patricia Hernandez for $5,600. “It just became an obsession, especially for the first few years,” says Repass.

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Poison Girl paintings
Poison Girl isn’t shy about its nude paintings.

Many of these paintings have interesting stories. The one the “Cocktails” sign is pointing to inside was painted by Repass’s brother-in-law’s grandfather. “He found it in his garage after he died, and nobody really knows who she is,” Repass says.

It’s not all naked ladies. Bartender Jonas Thompson picked up a painting of a sunset reflecting off the ocean that’s located next to the front door. (“Jonas gave us our only, non-girl velvet,” Repass says.)

Since Poison Girl is a 21-and-up spot, patrons have rarely complained about the skin that’s on display. “We got comments like ‘Wow, there’s a lot of naked women,’ ” says bartender Lynn Miano, who has often been mistaken for the brunette gal in the painting that hangs over the bar front mirror.    

Believe it or not, Poison Girl has some paintings they wouldn’t dare put up. “You get some as gifts and you’re like, ‘Ohhh!’ Even I find that tacky,’ ” says Repass. A decade ago, the bar found a place for these monstrosities.

“Probably, like, in 2007, we had a bad-art exhibit and friend of mine, Robin Weinberg, who was a stand-up comic at the time, curated it,” Repass says. “And he went around and found, like, some famously bad nudes where, like, the breasts are different sizes.” 

Repass says his goal is to have nude paintings “from floor-to-ceiling.” But he would also like to pass this tradition of operating a bar and snapping up nude paintings to his offspring.

“My daughter talks about running it – she’s 10,” he says. “What father wouldn’t be proud?”

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