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balcony commented about Fine Arts Theater on Mar 29, 2011 at 8:53 pm

It is hard to believe that Snider Plaza—quaint, leafy, and congenial—was once the location for a first-class porn theater. But that was exactly what the Fine Arts Theater was for several years. Beginning in the rollicking, wife-swapping, bipolar 1970s, the theater was part of the nationwide “porno chic' circuit, showing XXX films produced in New York and San Francisco. Nevertheless, the Fine Arts Theater maintained a genteel facade. It advertised its double features proudly in the Dallas Morning News ("free parking and coffee”) and its manager boasted about its sophisticated, diverse (adult) audience. One can only imagine the headaches this theater gave the City Fathers of University Park. The posters alone were surreal in the context of this neighborhood. Anyway: one got up the nerve to buy a ticket at the detached booth and entered the impeccable, if rather lived-in, lobby. You took your seat. Then you were made aware of a wild juxtaposition possible only in this era: you were surrounded by the plush “Spanish village” decor, while at the same time the most shameless 35mm pornography unspooled onscreen. Adding to the cognitive dissonance were the large, realistic, gold-framed oil portraits, still hanging throughout the interior. They had been painted by well-known Dallas artist Dimitri Vail and had been put on display perhaps a generation earlier. The dignified-looking businessmen and heiresses depicted in these paintings seemed to look upon the theater’s proceedings with glum disapproval. One other memory: it was quite easy to sneak into the auditorium through the alarmless back door. T