Former Playboy model and Pin Up star Claire Sinclair had a capricious year, knowing an impending cancellation of her burlesque show at the Stratosphere (where she’s been living the past four years) could happen at any time. After months of uncertainty, Sinclair learned the show was ending on March 4. But when one door closes, a fabulously ornate pink one with a crystal doorknob opens.
In April 2016, Sinclair bought a 5,400-square-foot building (on 427 S. 11th St) off Maryland Parkway and 11th Street, just north of The Center, to transform it into an Airbnb named Clairbnb, with seven themed rooms, each a meticulously designed art installation with a stocked fridge.
“I’m obsessed with themed motels. I love the Madonna Inn [in San Luis Obispo],” Sinclair says. She spent a week there to gain inspiration from the whimsical designs with wild carpet and wallpaper patterns. But the idea came after her boyfriend Jon Crowder, a former Artifice bartender, started renting out his decked-out ‘70s-style bachelor pad (located in the building before Sinclair bought it) on the room-sharing platform.
Once the idea was set in motion, Sinclair’s dad had a “Clairbnb” sign made as a gift and mounted it on the side of the building while she was out of town, bringing unwanted attention from code enforcement. She says the city was mainly concerned that it would turn into a party house. Sinclair and Crowder petitioned, handed out flyers and held a neighborhood meeting to get the community on board with their project. “It was a four-month process from hell,” she says. Her license was officially approved in August.
As of now there are four complete rooms, each a collaboration between Sinclair and Crowder, who Sinclair says is the craftsman and artist “bringing the ideas to life.” One unit is inspired by a Jayne Mansfield’s ’50s mansion—pink with glitter walls, golden swan faucets, flowers and faux polar bear–skin rug (like Mansfield’s real one). There’s Crowder’s ’70s bachelor pad, and a fairy-tale inspired-room that is currently being refined. Another room is a throwback hunter’s lodge, while the Crystal Kingdom room is loosely inspired by a mashup between Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” room and “Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest” video and light installations. She is currently in talks to acquire licensing to do a Pee-wee’s Playhouse–themed unit.
Sinclair and Crowder are experimenting with how quirky they can get. She says Crowder’s dream unit is “grandma’s basement from the ‘80s.” The idea behind the room is guests visit Nana, there are vintage toys left over from when her kids were little, Nintendos and grandma’s personal items such as prescription pill bottles, padded-shoulder dresses in the closet and dentures on the night stand. “It’s a gamble. For us, [a room like] that would be really cool, but we don’t know,” she says. “We’re barely scratching the surface with how deep we want to go with these themes.”
But she says she still has to talk her boyfriend down occasionally—for now. “I’m not Rockefeller who can fund all of the shit he wants to do,” she says, smiling. Her goal is to get all seven units up and running then continue to add details with time. “I want it to be an attraction” she says. “I want it to be an experience in and of itself.”
Getting the units to that point is why Sinclair says Pin Up coming to an end is a bittersweet sensation. She will soon have time to focus her attention on her project, which needs swaddling. “It’s a baby. It’s the hugest infant baby in the world,” she says. But where the building and design need tender care, her employees need tough love. “They are dreading it,” she says of her working and living full time at Clairbnb. “All of my construction guys and my boyfriend, too.”
Makeup Etienne Lovelle for Agency: One Luv using Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. Base: Face Atelier Ultra Foundation, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector; Hairstylist Bo Brinkman