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Your comments regarding the swimming pool are indeed fact. It was cleaned out after the Y was X’d.
I am very happy the Ioka is still open. I had heard that she had been closed for some time, but have not been nearby to verify that statement. It broke my heart when I heard about it.
It should be noted that the Ioka is also perhaps the oldest original Vaudeville theatre in the nation that is run as a theatre, and also one of the oldest single-screen theatres- one of few left with silver screens.
When the theatre was built, no Roxy or Royale was good enough, so a theatre-naming contest was launched. The name “Ioka”– a Native American word that means “peaceful place or playground”– was selected; the winner- an eight year old girl.
In case anyone is curious, the large screen in the main theatre is an original silver screen, capable of showing 3-D films in their proper form. Underneath it is a full Vaudeville stage, flanked by tiny but worthy dressing rooms that were later used to store popcorn cups and napkins. Underneath that is a spooky little storage area, with a lock on the inside.
The lights at the foot of the stairs, stage right, would often flick off when someone was alone up in the high dressing room.
The two 35 mm projectors are original (and were pristine), with 1938 Art Deco carbon-arc lit Brinkert picture heads (God help me I can’t spell Brinkart just now), paired with equally original RCA soundheads. Beautiful machines. The carbon rods (no one manufactures these anymore) were usually acquired after a two or four hour drive to some sad little broken down theatre… or bartered for… sent away for…prayed for. The 35mm reels were run individually, as the gods intended, and the foot pedals- a satisfying way to change mastership on a pair of machines- were retained. Films that came to the theatre were restored to every possible degree… they often had to be, since running them through other theatres in first run on a platter system often damaged the film.
The shows were run with painstaking attention to details- like proper aspect ratio (dimensions of the projected image on the screen)and scrupulous masking (the black felt covered frame around the silver screen that precisely met the edge of the projected image). One might recall dozens of hours moving the masking legs.. “more to the left.. no, right.. a little more… no, back…dammit..move it ahead.. right…”
The theatre downstairs would doubtless have the 1940 something 16 millimeter carbon arc projector (nicknamed “Sparky”, because it did…). I don’t know what he used for a screen down there.
Yes- that photo would be post-1994. The Marquee was painted in 1991 or 92, and the Chrysler (it was original, and ran like the wind) was purchased around 1993 if one remembers correctly. The picture works, though, doesn’t it?
The candy counter is a fully functional soda fountain, purchased, as I remember, in 1992. A creatively themed lunch menu was served for awhile during the 90’s, and that fountain made a mean Black & White. The entire lobby was rennovated to Art Deco at that time.
Speaking of black and white, it’s a shame he took the Fotoplayer- it was nice, worked well, and suited the theatre. But, yes, he did buy it himself. It really was the only Fotoplayer available to the public, unless something has changed since that time. It took a dual trip across the U.S. and back to locate one, and it was a dream come true for him. I am unable to recall where he found that one- Maryland perhaps.
As far as sex with the projectionist goes, I will say that interesting things certainly went on there (mostly, I understand, before my time), but as far as I know, there was only one female projectionist working independently there between the Ioka’s reopening in 1976(*) and 1994, when the aforementioned pool was capped… and I myself would never have agreed to sex on the balcony during a film… it would make it somewhat difficult to maintain frame and focus, and it would probably distract the patrons.
Perhaps other women have, er, projected since my work there, but I imagine this- like many Iokaisms- is wishful thinking of the part of the young local. No matter. The real legends of the Ioka will stay with its ghosts.
I am glad the basement is serving a better purpose.
The Jazz sounds good, too. Whomever Roger Detzler is, I offer him my warmest welcome and congratulations, and my hopes that he will endeavor to preserve the integrity of the Ioka Theatre for the generations to come. I imagine that business is better these days-it looks like the previous owner bid on first run and won, but in case I am mistaken, I want to say this: I know that furniture stores and bowling alleys are monetarily tempting in the face of ancient cinema, but keep the faith, Mr. Detzler- you captain a wonderful little ship. The Ioka is a national treasure, and a part of my heart will forever remain one its carbonless spirits.
WB11, What kind of theatre are you interested in?
I worked as a projectionist/asst. manager of an original single screen theatre and Vaudeville house in New England, and if any of my experience is helpful to you, you are welcome to it. I like seeing small theatres thrive.
My experience was with inspection and projection of 35 millimeter films on a 1938 carbon-arc dual-projector system, theatre prep, live show planning, promotion and production (more of that with my present line of work) marquee and ads, box office, concession, soda fountain, maintenance, personnel and daily accounting. I did not have experience with bidding, as we were second/sub run during my time there, and I did not do the booking or the ‘books’. My heart and soul is in live performance and production, and I am an excellent editor/adcopy writer. I would love to know that my education there could be used somewhere else, since such arts are nearing extinction. Feel free to contact me at