8th Street Playhouse

52 W. 8th Street,
New York, NY 10011

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Showing 26 - 50 of 103 comments

cybermoz on April 14, 2009 at 1:08 am

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Tom Snyder’s “Tomorrow” Show (1979) – 7 minutes 29 seconds (540x418, 30 fps, 50.1 MB). Tom Snyder presents a segment on the Rocky Horror Picture Show phenomenon. Includes interviews with fan club president Sal Piro, Dori Hartley, Mark Hopper and Steve Hirsch of the 8th Street Playhouse in New York City, and Ashley Boone Jr. of 20th Century Fox.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on April 13, 2009 at 8:05 am

Looks like “METROPOLIS” and “PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE” on the marquee.

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cybergrafix on November 28, 2008 at 6:14 am

I own some of the seats from the playhouse. I was looking for pictures from the inside of the playhouse. I also was wondering if anyone knows what happend to the rest of the memorbilia from the playhouse.

MKuecker on October 22, 2008 at 10:02 am

KB: If my memory serves me correctly Early mid 1980s to Early mid 1990s. It was constant in the 80s and slightly interrupted in the 90s I believe it bounced back and forth to The Waverly. HEH :)
I can’t remember – I was usually spaced out on sensation – among other exotic things. :)

KingBiscuits on September 9, 2008 at 8:11 am

How long exactly did Rocky Horror run at midnight and was it consecutive or was the run interrupted?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 12, 2008 at 9:10 pm

It ran as the Film Guild for a little over a year, changing to the 8th Street Playhouse in May 1930.

misslauralou on October 3, 2007 at 8:54 pm

LostMemory posted:
“NYC issued a C/O to a building at 52-54 West 8th St on February 1, 1929 for a 490 seat motion picture theater. I’m not sure who "Frederick Kiesler” the arcitect listed at the top of this page is, but he architects name on the C/O is Eugene DeRosa."

Frederick Kiesler was the architect, but was not licensed in NYC at the time the building was done; DeRosa’s name was likely put on the building permit to fulfill legal requirements. Kiesler was the only designer.

misslauralou on October 3, 2007 at 8:49 pm

I have just published a historical article on the Guild (with a lot of photos!) if anyone is interested…

here is the reference info and abstract:
McGuire, L. M. A Movie House in Space and Time: Frederick Kiesler’s Film Arts Guild Cinema, New York, 1929. Studies in the Decorative Arts v. 14 no. 2 (Spring/Summer 2007) p. 45-78

Abstract: Part of a special issue on the study of American Modernist design. In 1929, Viennese artist and architect Frederick Kiesler constructed the most innovative cinema in the U.S. Lacking perceptible walls, curtains, and a stage, Kiesler’s design for the International Film Arts Guild’s Guild Cinema on West 8th Street in New York City, completed in 1929, was meant to transport the audience from total darkness into a drama of light unfolding not only in front of but all around them. As going to the movies was a regular experience for most people, Kiesler hoped that his new concept for the cinema would popularize Modernism, and in this way, he intended to mobilize mainstream capitalism in order to permeate an everyday entertainment with avant-garde ideals. This was a building in which Kiesler attempted to create a vessel for the movement and perception of waves and particles in time and space—the perfect environment, he felt, for an experience with the fourth dimension. The writer describes the building in detail.

Bill Hebner
Bill Hebner on August 27, 2007 at 11:36 am

I, too, saw Rocky Horror at 8th St. It was only 2 or 3 times in the mid-80s, but, being part of the Staten Island-UA/Island Rocky crowd, it was like going to nirvana.
I remember that you had to get there during the day to buy tickets because they sold out. We then had time to wander around. I spent most of my time at “It’s Only Rock & Roll” across the street. It was an upstairs store that sold records (mostly imports), cassettes (mostly bootleg concerts) and memorabilia.
I also remember the pizzeria across the street. My wife thinks the name was Ray’s, but she’s not sure. I just can’t remember.

efriedmann on May 29, 2007 at 11:42 am

AIAlvarez, I hear you. But as much as I love owning DVD’s, in a way, I think the ease and the speed at which one can own their favorite movies has killed the movie-going experience. When I was a kid, my favorite movies like KING KONG, STAR WARS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (remember the 1979 re-released PG version?) and GREASE somehow took on a more special meaning when they were periodically re-released in movie theaters over a period of several years before eventually ending up on HBO and then broadcast television.

It was only a few years ago that what seemed like one last attempt at a theatrical double feature was made, when I saw an add for HOSTAGE and SIN CITY on the same bill.

As for GRINDHOUSE, I’ll give it a look when it becomes available through Netflix.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 13, 2007 at 3:11 am

Love movies, Tarantino tried doing just that with GRINDHOUSE. It didn’t work. Established titles have no subrun life either with DVDs two months later. Most multiplexes have no staffing control for those who have time for a double feature and they are well aware it happens.

muellerg on May 12, 2007 at 5:18 pm

While too young to have ever attended, I recently moved within the neighborhood to a building directly across from the theater without ever realizing the history of the site. To update some of the above posts, the TLA Video store closed about 10 months ago. It is unclear who the owners of the space are, whether they have put it up for rent again, or what their intentions are – perhaps one-last revival of Rocky Horror? Apparently the additional theater space behind it (The Independent) is also no longer operating. Lastly, for those who commented on the studio below – check out their website at http://www.electricladystudios.com/index.html – includes a number of great pictures of the recording space below.

efriedmann on May 3, 2007 at 2:57 am

This theater was classic; in it’s history, it’s small intimate marquee & interior setting and it’s fantastic double-bills! I remember seeing A CLOCKWORK ORANGE & BLADE RUNNER and KING KONG & CITIZEN KANE, just as examples . In 1990, I suggested a double feature of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and STAR WARS. Several months later, there they were and I was one of the first ones on line!
Why, oh why, doesn’t somebody bring back the double features??? It would be a mild step in justifying movie ticket prices as high as $11.00!

checkerphil on April 21, 2007 at 2:04 am

That Stage! Oh yes! I banged my knee many times on it running up to do Time Warp! Tim Curry Shorts: In addition to “I do the Rock ” The also showed “Paradise Garage” which has a cameo of Dori Hartley as Frank N. Furter. (It’s up on youtube for those who need to see it this second) As for the aformentioned Neon lights, There’s a photo of them on the NYC RHPS Supporters/Survivors Society website http://www.rockyhorror.cc/viewtopic.php?t=204 I also reccomend you register and share some of your memories there too! You may even see pics or run into folks you might remember fom back then. (Plus I notice you cant see the pics if you don’t sign in, oh drama!)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 20, 2007 at 6:38 pm

Oh well. I used to love attending the summer rock and roll film festivals here. Man, they really cranked the sound up at those – and usually obtained awesome prints. I remember a screening of the “Grateful Dead Movie” here that blew my socks off. I thought Phil Lesh’s bass notes would lift me right out of my seat. Many memorable screenings of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” are also fondly remembered – I recall they used to screen Tim Curry’s music “video” for his minor hit “I Do the Rock” before “Rocky Horror” in the early ‘80’s.

Most memorable feature of the theater itself had to be those neon zig-zags on the side walls near the screen recess. They’d be lit up until showtime. Was there a small stage in front of the screen – perhaps a foot (or less) up from the auditorium floor? Sometimed the memory plays tricks!

LauraHFC on April 20, 2007 at 1:10 am

Sorry, I don’t remember that pizzeria.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 19, 2007 at 7:18 pm

There’s nothing moot about sharing good stories about a long lost theater, Laura of 8th St…. Welcome and thanks for the unique perspective! Do you remember the name of the pizzeria that was across the street and down at cellar level a few steps below 8th Street?

LauraHFC on April 18, 2007 at 1:40 pm

I worked for the 8th Street Playhouse, part of the Cinema 5 chain, while I was at NYU, 1976-78. My friend used to call me the mayor of 8th Street because after working there so long I knew every shoe salesman and pizza chef on the block. There were some great movies there at the time, including “Network” and “Carrie.” After my ticket-selling shift ended I would go in and catch the last hour. I even remember John Waters making a personal appearance with “Desperate Living” in 1977. Ah the good old days!

And what a cast of characters I worked with! There was the theater manager, Miss King, a chain-smoking astrologist who did my chart for free. She hung out in the lobby during the busy periods, then dragged herself upstairs after the movie began. (She had to move slowly because she was old and her lungs were shot.) There was Guy, another NYU student who wrote a wistful poem about her, imagining her solitary life on Charles Street; he went on to work in theater. There was Anthony, a Little Italy throwback who filled in as ticket-taker and generally cleaned up. Jerome worked the concession stand, and was always sneaking into the theater to grab popcorn and soda cups off the floor—he only had to account for missing cups, so if he could refill them, he could pocket the second (or third…) sale. Try not to think about that as you reminisce about your time there! I especially liked the ticket-taker, whose name I think was James. When he and Jerome weren’t in the closet getting high, we had great conversations.

There was an attempt to unionize Cinema 5 while I worked there and Rugoff, who owned the chain, called meetings and told us how much he cared about all of us—as long as we voted against the union. There was tons of politicking but in the end the union was rejected. By the way, RKO Century Warner acquired Cinema 5 from Pacific Theatres in 1985, and in 1986 RKO Century Warner was bought out by Cineplex Odeon. I guess it’s all moot now since the theater is sadly deceased.

Troy Martin
Troy Martin on April 18, 2007 at 12:13 am

I saw “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” here.

checkerphil on April 11, 2007 at 8:03 pm

All the co owners of the Playhouse sold it to Steve Hirsch and he reigned until his passing (AIDS) in the early 90’s.

chefjoseph on April 9, 2007 at 5:05 pm

Does anyone know what happened to the Owner/Managers … I believe their names were Mark & Steve ?

dave-bronx™ on February 20, 2007 at 9:38 am

The art was further east on 8th St. near University Place. It was later renamed Movieland 8th St. when operated by B.S.Moss/UA – it is now serving some function for NYU, I believe.

PKoch on February 20, 2007 at 9:20 am

Didn’t the 8th Street Playhouse become the Art Cinema, or were they two separate theaters ?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 13, 2006 at 10:20 am

I like that logo, which I think was developed when they had their 3-D festival.