Biloxi Entrepreneur, David “Bubba” Mattina

gpt-music-fest-al-fights-jazzeppis-002Bubba Mattina was a pioneer in the realm of adult entertainment in the 1970’s. Mattina has always had a “spot on” instinct for what the public wants. He has excellent taste in music, design, and cuisine, and parlayed his talents into an exciting and very lucrative career as a night club and restaurant owner. David is his given name but he is known affectionately as Bubba. “If the day ever comes, and a bus is heading straight for me on the street, and I am not paying attention…if people scream out, Look out David! I’m a dead man,” he said. “I am Bubba.”
It all began in 1976, when Mattina and two friends, Joe Simonich and Hugh Webb, decided to open their own nightclub. They invested $2,000 each and opened the “Sports Page” which was located on Highway 90, above the Fiesta. The Fiesta was a very popular night spot at the time, where people could engage in games of chance. When the 70’s came along, nightclubs were all about Disco dancing. With $6,000, they were able to get their liquor license, and decorate the interior of The Sports Page. They had no experience between them and had to learn everything through experience. “I had a mentor, Jake Mladinich, who was the owner of the Fiesta and he offered the Sports Page property lease to me after a previous club in that location closed. The lease included all the furnishings and everything was ready to go. It was literally from soup to nuts. My partners and I made some modifications and put our own stamp on the place,” Mattina said. A dance floor was number one, as well as the most innovative thing ever…a VCR.
The Sports Page was the first club where four televisions were suspended from the ceiling, and thanks to the VCR, Bubba was able to project constant sports on the four TV’s. “I would record Wide World of Sports and anything else I could find that was a sports show or game broadcast and I had many of those huge, hulking tapes filled with sports stuff. I would just play one right after the other. Everyone wanted to come to the Sports Page to watch the sports and hang out,” Mattina said. A favorite tape was that of the Muhammad Ali – Joe Frazier fight. “I don’t know how many times I played that fight…but people were just amazed,” he added. Bubba and his partners also remodeled the venue. A wall was taken down which revealed a very large room behind it. They wasted no time in turning the space into a game room, the likes of which no one had ever seen before on the Coast. It was complete with pool tables and pinball machines.
Webb, Simonich and Mattina had become very successful with the Sports Page and wanted to branch out even further. The next property they acquired was an existing lounge in The White House Inn, also located on Highway 90 in Biloxi. Amelia’s opened in 1979, named after the female aviator, Amelia Earhart. “I had an idea that all the ladies who worked out at Keesler would be attracted to the name. They were independent and had a little money, I thought they were a good target group for our new place…however…that never happened,” Mattina said. Business in the 1980’s was tough, the recession was a factor as well as the oil business taking a big hit in Louisiana. Mattina would work at the Sports Page until closing and then go over to Amelia’s and tend bar there. “I stayed till the last person left the bar. It was often 5:00 A.M before I would close, and word started getting around that we were open all night. More and more people started coming in. Coctail waitresses, and bar tenders from other establlishments liked to unwind at Ameilia’s, as well as exotic dancers. Soon more clientele filtered in, men following the dancers! We got so busy, I had to hire two shifts, then two bouncers and three security guards. We added another bar and started imposing a cover charge. This was going on seven nights a week! I continued to tend bar but the place took on a life of it’s own,” Bubba said. Word of mouth was the best advertiser but the partners also ran some radio spots.
Amelia’s had two mirrored dance floors and the disco dancing never stopped. There was a continuous light show that bounced around the venue to the beat of the music. A huge silver, light catching orb (disco ball) was placed strategically over the dance floor as well. Disco was so popular because you couldn’t help but get swept away with the fast music, flashing lights and all the glitz. Bubba and his partners were at the forefront of the Coast Disco scene and it didn’t stop there…next came male strippers.
Although this new form of adult entertainment was sweeping the country, it had never been seen before in Mississippi. Once a week, Amelia’s hosted a show featuring the non other than male strippers. Mattina was threatened with arrests and fines if he didn’t stop the performances. The ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) said they were to cease and desist immediately. “I did not and opened anyway. My club was filled with Coast female Movers and Shakers, along with the wives, daughters, and girlfriends of local dignitaries and VIP’S on the night of the raid. The women booed the agents when the show was shutdown and it was quite a scene. I was arrested but paid the bail, with the promise to never do those shows again,” Mattina said.
In spite of the change in the line up, business was booming. Cars were parked all over the nearby neighborhoods and traffic was a real problem for the residents. Complaints were being registered right and left, and at the time, Amelia’s seemed like the only game in town. Patrons flocked to the White House Inn but ignored the other businesses in the area. The decision was made to close the doors because of all the headaches. Mattina had already found a new property he was interested in and was ready to move on. This time, the new venue would be built literally on the beach, exactly where the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino stands today. “Oscars” would open next and keep Mattina embroiled in controversy.
Bubba Mattina chose the name Oscar’s for his new club. He decorated the venue from top to bottom with movie posters and memorabilia, and was very pleased about the easily recognizable name. Named after the Hollywood statuette, Mattina thoroughly enjoyed the theme and carried it through the club with a very distinctive and fun motif. Oscar’s was often mistaken for a theater because of the clever decorations inside and out. Anywhere he could place the name, he did so, in order to brand his new business. The club was very popular, actually thousands of people had come to the trendy nightclub. Two years later, a registered letter arrived from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, demanding that the name be changed immediately and to stop using the likeness of the famous statuette, which are all registered trademarks for the Academy Awards. The Oscar’s debacle became the talk of the town, and Mattina was once again the center of attention. Had the name remained the same, the Academy would have taken 30% of the profits for copyright infringement. Needless to say, the matter was settled out of court. Five months later the name of the club was changed as ordered but Mattina kept the film motif that was so popular with his customers.
In filmmaking, when they don’t get it right the first time, they try it again. The second try is called – “Take Two.” Bubba Mattina thought it was the perfect new name for the old Oscar’s. It would also be the beginning of another brand new business venture with his friend, David Mills. Mattina learned very early on that it was important to constantly change things in his clubs. Every year, without fail, he would come up with new and different ideas to surprise his clientele. The changes were sometimes subtle, and sometimes grand but they made a huge difference – giving a fresh, new feel to an old familair place. Mattina attended numerous conventions over the years to keep on top of his game. He has always been imaginative and adventurous, which was key to his success. Weekends at Take Two served up live entertainment, and on special occasions, Mattina brought in big name bands including B.T.O. (Bachman Turner Overdrive), Wet Willie, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
David M’s opened in 1987 and was known as the largest adult playground and entertainment center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It was a four part complex where people could relax and enjoy great drinks and food, soak up the sun and take part in all kinds of grown up fun. Take Two was the first and only shooter bar at the time. Guests were always welcomed with a free shot at the door, served by theater ushers. The dance floor was solid Italian marble, with an incredible stereo system and specialized lighting for the ultimate dancing experience. Mattina chose Top 40s mixed in with oldies for the perfect selection that everybody loved. Spinnaker Run’s entrance was on the water. Boats of every shape and size would come and go loaded with customers that would spend the day. The best in live entertainment was available seven days a week. A 300 foot pier offered patrons ample dock space as well as three different options to quench their thirst, bask in the sun, or cool off indoors with central air. Whatever your heart’s desire, you could find it at David M’s Spinnaker Run.
The complex also offered apartment living, complete with membership to an on site health spa. The spa was outfitted with the finest amenities and residents also were given free cover charges and admittance to all events on the property free of charge for one year. Private memberships were also available for purchase. “We spent insane amounts of money to get this thing going, and had so many problems with the construction and the weather. We made so many mistakes and just never caught a break no matter how we tried. It was so huge and it became an impossible situation due to the bad economy and the bad weather. David Wells walked out on me, so I was left to deal with everything myself. I hung in there for quite awhile, and business finally picked up but it was never what I had hoped for, the concept was simply ahead of it’s time,” Mattina said. Gambling arrived on the Coast in 1992 and he was asked if he wanted to lease the property for casino development. The response was a resounding yes. Bubba Mattina felt such relief to finally be free of the very costly venue.
Today, Bubba shares ownership of Jazzeppi’s with his wife of 20 years, Sharon. Jazzeppi’s is a Coast mainstay, located on Porter Avenue in Biloxi. They have weathered many storms over the years, including Katrina and the oil spill. The restaurant is lovely. It is one of the most elegant, and most intimate dining locations in the area. The coctail bar is just as unique, a favorite hang out for young local professionals and executives. Mattina is taking the back side of the property in a whole new direction. It has been revamped and remodeled as a brand new dance club for a more mature crowd. “Finnalle’s” opens this month, and it is extraordinary. The music was all personally selected by the owner himself, but each tune has been remixed for a whole new flavor. The dance floor is small for dancing close and communal tables are perfect for quiet conversation and making new friends. No doubt, Finnalle’s will be a destination of choice for many!
Go To Places Monthly is proud to name Bubba Mattina as our Mover and Shaker for the month of September. His contribution to the growth and development of Coast Adult Entertainment is legendary.

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