Playpen Theatre

693 8th Avenue,
New York, NY 10036

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Showing 101 - 120 of 120 comments

Scholes188 on December 24, 2004 at 6:06 am

When the Adonis was forced out of the old Tivoli it ended up a few blocks down from 50th street. It was not alone as there was about 3 small theaters that were showing gay porn. These theaters are now restaurants.

Scholes188 on December 24, 2004 at 5:48 am

I made a mistake in my post. It wasn’t the Public Theater that is now located on the site of the old Selwyn but the Roundabout as br91975 pointed out.

br91975 on December 23, 2004 at 8:30 pm

That’s what I imagined; thanks for the confirmation, saps.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 23, 2004 at 6:35 pm

The lobby of the Selwyn collaped, but the auditorium, currently known as American Airlines Theater, was unharmed.

br91975 on December 23, 2004 at 5:11 pm

What new theatre did the Public get after the collapse of the Selwyn? The present operator and, if I’m not mistaken, owner of the American Airlines Theater built on the site of the Selwyn is the Roundabout Theater Company. Also, did at least part of the Selwyn’s interior survive the collapse? Seeing a play there a couple of years ago, I spotted at least a few architectural elements within the auditorium which seemed something less than modern. Were those merely removed, preserved, and reinstalled in the rebuild/new construction or was every original element lost?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 23, 2004 at 2:35 pm

The Film Daily Yearbook, 1930 gives a seating capacity for the Ideal Theatre as 598.

The Function of this theatre (now the Playpen) should be ‘Adult fare’

Scholes188 on December 23, 2004 at 2:26 pm

I actually miss the sleaze that was Times Square. However, I am glad to see that many of the old theaters, or at least some, survived. Anyone remember the Selwyn? That theater ‘mysteriously’ collapsed while Times Square was undergoing redevelopment.
I wanted so much to jump the velvet rope that stood between me and the auditorium. Before the theater ‘collapsed’ the lobby was opened for people to see. It was very small. I believe that the Public Theater was going to take over old theater but after the ‘collapse’ a new building went up in its place. The Public Theater got a new home out of the deal.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 13, 2004 at 9:27 am

You are correct in your statement that the Cameo Theater first opened as the Ideal Theater. This was in 1916 and it was designed by the Architectural Firm; Eisendrath and Horwitz.

RobertR on July 10, 2004 at 11:17 am

Chelly also owned The Eros besides a few others that I cant recall the names of in the same area. I worked for someone a long time ago who was partners with her in some of these places. I worked on the legitimate end managing a few double bill neighborhood houses that gave the company a respectable front. I have not seen anyone mention The Metropolitan porno house that used to be on 14th Street. I never was inside but have enough stories about that place that would make us realize why the 70’s was the most sordid decade ever.

Bway on July 2, 2004 at 4:24 am

Oh, that is the Playpen. I walked by there so many times wondering what the history was behind that theater. I looked so sad on the exterior with the marquee with the blinking porn “XXX”, etc on it.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 1, 2004 at 9:06 pm

This is now a porno emporium called the Playpen, but there is a lot of theatrical detail left, both downstairs and upstairs, it you look toward the ceiling and not on the floor!

Bway on July 1, 2004 at 6:56 pm

Yeah, me too.
Although it’s even worse than my “dirty mind” even thought it meant! Poor theater!
What is in the building now? I know that since ex-mayor Guiliani expelled all the port out of Times Square and the 42nd St area, much of it moved to 8th Ave (although even that’s cleaned up now). There is still a theater or two on 8th Ave that has porn in them, although I don’t know what their original names were to be able to look them up for history on the site (although maybe one of them may be the Cameo). What was the cross-street for the Cameo?
Does anyone know the names of the other theaters on 8th that are somewhere between 34th St and 42nd St?

EMarkisch on July 1, 2004 at 2:17 pm

Thanks “scottfavarelle” for the detailed explanation of the “Olga” movies. Now, I don’t feel clueless anymore.

scottfavareille on July 1, 2004 at 11:48 am

The “Olga” movies were one of the first series of films called “roughies”, which basically were films that focused on deviate sexual activities such as bondage. (When the first Olga movie called “White Slaves in Chinatown” came out in 1963, many “adults only” movies of the period were either “nudist camp” films or light comedies with nudity in them (ex: The Immoral Mr Teas, Not Tonite Henry, Tonight For Sure)) Audiences for “adults only” fare in the period were clamoring for bolder product. (And this was pre-hardcore porn).

The book “The Ghastly Ones” by Jimmy McDonough has a couple of good chapters dealing with NYC “adults only” movie producers and owners like the Brandts, Chelly Wilson, and Lew Miskin.

Bway on July 1, 2004 at 9:22 am

I thought I was just being “clueless”. Although since it sounds like it was near 42nd St, my first thought was that it meant “porn” movies in a polite way (although maybe I just have a dirt mind….)

Zummo on June 30, 2004 at 10:22 pm

The Cameo was the Squire in the 1950’s.

EMarkisch on June 30, 2004 at 2:00 pm

After 1990 the Squire/Cameo went under the name of the Adonis and showed all male XXX films. The name change and programming was a moveover when the Adonis/Tivoli further up 8th Avenue at 50th Street was closed and then demolished.

I may be totally clueless, but what are “Olga” movies???

scottfavareille on June 30, 2004 at 11:24 am

In the 1970’s, it went from “adults only” fare to XXX fare.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 30, 2004 at 8:33 am

For many years this theater was a showcase for Russian-language films imported by the Russian distribution service, Artkino.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 30, 2004 at 7:37 am

I was in there just the other day, looking around. Despite its present use as an adult bookstore and peepshow, there is still plenty to see of the old theatre.