Polk Theater

93-09 37th Avenue,
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

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Showing 101 - 125 of 139 comments

Alto on February 20, 2006 at 2:56 pm

The Fair’s original single-screen main auditorium is basically intact, including its balcony (which, by all appearances, has been declared “off-limits” for quite some time), with only minor aesthetic modifications. Expansion of the facilities to include additional smaller XXX theatres and private viewing booths was achieved by acquiring space from adjoining box stores on the west side of the building (if you look carefully, you can figure out where the walls used to exist).

The two Greek brothers who manage the theatre also run the adjacent Stella D’Argento Italian Restaurant located on the east side of the theatre (a convenient “walk-through” entry provides direct access to its “bar lounge” by theatre customers). The lounge menu offering “specials for theatre customers only” has proven popular and provides additional income for the restaurant.

The owners have provided amenities and reasonable levels of comfort and cleanliness that are unexpected in an establishment of this type. The décor, although somewhat tacky, sets a pleasant and inviting tone. The fish tanks bubbling away in the lobby are particularly unique. The relaxed, non-intimidating (even social) atmosphere will surprise adult theatre “veterans” and “novices” alike.

Ironically, the same block-long building housing the theatre and restaurant also provides storefront space to a black “church” (I use the term loosely) on its northwest corner! These are same wonderful people who have repeatedly tried (thankfully without success) to curtail or close down the theatre’s operations.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on February 20, 2006 at 10:46 am

Alto… Are you a building inspector? Or just one of those “curious” young men? As dilapidated as the Polk and Fair may well be, they may also be two of the very few neighborhood theaters in NYC to remain more or less intact from their days of legitimate operation. The former Mayfair and Earle Theaters (both having survived their XXX porno days and now showing Bollywood fare) are the only others that come to mind.

How are the interior configurations of the Polk and Fair, beyond their advanced states of disrepair? Does the Polk operate like the Fair with video projected action films on the main screen and adult fare in private viewing booths? Where are the booths located?

Jeffrey1955 on February 20, 2006 at 10:39 am

My interest is purely historical, so the theater, definitely. Unless the iniquity is of historic proportions. !–))

Alto on February 20, 2006 at 7:40 am

Which pictures would you prefer: the theatre or the “iniquity”? ;–)

Jeffrey1955 on February 20, 2006 at 6:35 am

Judging from your comments on this and the Fair Theater, Alto, you have sacrificed a considerable amount of time, money, and personal safety to investigate these dens of iniquity — presumably so we don’t have to. I applaud your initiative. (Next time, take pictures!)

Alto on February 20, 2006 at 6:13 am

Believe me, you don’t want to visit, especially if you have respiratory or other health issues. The films aren’t the only things “filthy” here â€" this place is downright unhygienic (you’ll want to scrub yourself down after leaving). This place is a biology experiment gone bad.

The lobby ceilings leak (from the lavatory plumbing upstairs) and the roof is no match for a heavy rain shower. The moment you enter, you are met with the stale, lingering musty odor of mildew, mold and even possibly urine. The dampness and heat get worse in warmer weather due to weak, almost non-existent air-conditioning. The carpets are old and dusty. The lavatories look as if they haven’t seen a janitor’s touch in years, plus the fixtures and tile work all look original. There are signs of decay and neglect throughout, and the owner has no intention of doing anything with this place. It will crumble to the ground before he puts another dime into it.

The manager, a little 80+ year-old man who lives on Long Island, has owned a share in this theater for longer than I have been alive, and he is absolutely clueless about what to do with it or how to operate it. His business partners are probably waiting for him to sell out (or croak) so they can unload it to some developer for demolition or conversion to retail space. With virtually no customers left (except a few drunk Mexicans, some tired old men and the occasional curious young man), I can’t imagine how it stays in business (perhaps there is rental income generated from box stores surrounding the theatre that covers its operating costs).

I don’t think the owners are in any financial position to renovate, and the changes required to modernize and bring it up to code would be unfeasible from a cost and investment standpoint. This theatre’s days are numbered.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 16, 2006 at 4:29 am

Always wanted to visit this theater.

bradyc on February 16, 2006 at 3:29 am

Edebohls. I was able to find a little information about the one in Sunnyside (apparently the original, which I didn’t even know existed) and the Edebohls family but nothing about the Junction Blvd. location.

Jeffrey1955 on February 15, 2006 at 7:05 pm

Hey, Christopher — I grew up on Junction Blvd in the 60s-70s, went to P.S. 13, I.S. 61 and Newtown HS. What ice cream parlor are you talking about?

bradyc on February 15, 2006 at 6:17 pm

I happened upon this site while doing some research about a long gone ice cream parlor on Junction Blvd. I grew up on 94th St. in the ‘60’s/'70’s and remember the Polk very well. I always thought that marquee was the original and am intrigued by the idea that the original (as EdSalero suggests) is hidden beneath the metal flashing.

mkl on January 4, 2006 at 3:43 pm

Thanks for all the replies. I had read the history Warren posted and the old picture was great to see. Such a contrast to the way it is now, although it’s amazing to me how much is still intact. But I was hoping to find out where that information and the picture came from. It sounded, from Warren’s post, like it wasn’t in the Long Island Star-Journal.

Jeffrey1955 on January 4, 2006 at 3:35 pm

The Long Island Press also covered those areas — and later was combined with the Star-Journal — but not sure if it was published as early as 1938. Ditto on the collection in the main Queensboro Public Library noted by Warren.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 3, 2006 at 11:16 am

mkl… Your last question has been posed on this page as well as on the page for the Fair Theater wihtout any definitive resolution. I know of these two theaters for sure, and there is the Playpen (former Adonis/Cameo) in Manhattan. Beyond that, I’m not sure what exists anymore. I’m also not sure if there is ANY theater in NY that still exhibits adult films via projection onto the big screen.

dave-bronx™ on January 3, 2006 at 10:37 am

‘LostMemory’, who posts on this site somehow finds original C of O’s for a lot of these NYC theatres – if you contact him he may be able to help you.

mkl on January 3, 2006 at 10:26 am

I’ve been writing a story about the Polk and I’m trying to figure out some of the place’s history. Does anyone have any ideas how I could verify the year it was built and the architect? What I really wanted to find out was what was playing opening night, but when I looked in the local paper for all the years around 1938 I didn’t find any mention of it. Also, is there any way to find out how many adult movie theaters are left in nyc? I’d appreciate any help anyone could give.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 12, 2005 at 4:21 am

It would actually be quite fitting to do so, Jeffrey…

Jeffrey1955 on December 12, 2005 at 4:12 am

I see on the last shot, it’s the “Po” theater. Would it be inappropriate to wonder if a lot of “ho’s” frequent the “Po”?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 12, 2005 at 3:48 am

Comparing these two the vintage shots Warren posted back on July 15th, I wonder if the original “Polk Ave” neon is still there, concealed under the metal flashing that now bands the marquee behind the new and larger “POLK” lettering?

And my mistake, Warren… I don’t think I had read your September 7th post carefully and did not realize you were talking about the blonde cashier in the red tank top you had photographed incidentally! The cashier I saw at the theater the last two times I visited was a much older woman with blonde hair who sat almost motionless in the booth stirring only to take long drags on her cigarette.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 12, 2005 at 3:37 am

Was in the area the other night with my camera in hand and snapped these photos of the illuminated marquee:

View link
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As with so many “surviving” marquees, the light fixtures under the canopy have been concealed and placed out of commission. Sorry for that blurry last shot, but it was the only image I captured on that side of the marquee.

That cashier is still on duty, Warren. She sat behind that glass window, enjoying her smokes and completely unfazed as I snapped these shots. Also grabbed a few pics of the Fair Theater on Astoria Blvd this same night.

genahy on November 3, 2005 at 7:34 pm

for cinema kings highway: the b or q to kings highway, then the 82 bus.

Greenpoint on October 23, 2005 at 8:14 pm

According to RobertR’s Jan'68 “Carmen,Baby” article,The Sunnyside Center (then called Rugoff’s Center) was showing porn? Can anyone tell me what kind of porno was “Carmen,Baby”– was it softcore, hardcore, bondage, fetish…I am amazed that porn was showing up the block from the Sunnyside Jewish Center.

faberfranz on October 8, 2005 at 4:52 pm

Thanks, KenRoe! That was quick!

Now, what about subway directions for Fair theater and for Cinema Kings Highway?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on October 8, 2005 at 2:37 pm

Well I took the #7 Line to 74th & Broadway and caught a bus. You could also take the #7 Line to Junction Blvd, then walk back 4 blocks and across.

I did it on my own, and I am from the UK, but then I can sniff out a theatre if I am pointed in the right direction! lol

faberfranz on October 8, 2005 at 1:52 pm

I have all these same questions, plus one more:

“Hi Warren. In the main auditorium they show ‘legit’ movies…In the back of the theater is where they show the gay and straight porn. They also have small booths where you can, well you get the picture. I think they change the program every Sunday and Wednesday. But that might be for the porn movies…"
[posted by cypress on Nov 18, 2004 at 5:24pm]

“Cypress….I’m confused. In your 3:42 entry yesterday, you said that the Polk did not have a balcony and that the theater needs a good cleaning. Yet at 5:42 you claim that there is a balcony, which is closed off…"
[posted by ErwinM on Nov 19, 2004 at 1:53pm]

“We are an English couple visiting New York in October and are looking to find an adult cinema where we can “play” and be watched. Would this be possible in this movie theater and is it clean and safe?
Can anyone recommend any adult movie theaters in Manhattan? Our email is "
[posted by Shirley&Mark on Aug 24, 2005 at 6:01am]]

One more question: how may one reach it by subway from Manhattan?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on September 7, 2005 at 11:09 am

There was someone there behind the counter when I was poking around, definitely a woman, but I didn’t take too long of a peak (and the glass in the booth was a bit, shall we say, opaque). Nice to see the old booth was actually still in operation, however… cluttered as it appeared to be. And did you notice that (as with the Fair) there were faded posters in the display cases with the current feature attractions advertised only by a handwritten piece of looseleaf paper scotch-taped on the glass? At least the posters here at the Polk were for porn flicks. Over at the Fair, the poster is for a mid-70’s Lee Marvin action flick – of the variety you’d find playing at one of the 42nd Street grind houses!