After the turn of the millennium, Higby, the Shim Sham owner, decided to close the club and move home to California. He was a new father, and, according to friends and colleagues, had already hosted most, if not all, of his personal bucket-list shows. He officially shut Shim Sham’s doors on June 6, 2003, at 6am (6-6-6) after an all-night party. Coincidentally, around the same time, Hackford lost the lease on El Matador.
“Rio said, ‘Why don’t you and I do this thing together?’” recalls von Hesseling, who had previously helped Hackford design and build out the Matador. “The timing was perfect.”
The two partners jumped in. They renovated the scrappy Shim Sham with crimson flocked wallpaper and vintage black-velvet nude paintings bought on eBay (“We love that vibe, that ’70s style,” he says) and moved the horseshoe-shaped bar, custom-made for the Matador from curved pecan wood, down to Toulouse Street. Burlesque came back; so did theater, the ’80s night, and rock ’n’ roll. As the comedy scene in New Orleans grew, One Eyed Jacks became a regular host for touring acts like Moshe Kasher and Natasha Leggero (who got engaged there), Hannibal Buress, and others. When Louisiana tax credits began to attract film and television productions to the state, the club turned up again and again in productions including NCIS: New Orleans, All The King’s Men, and Preacher.