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The Uptown, in my opinion, was San Francisco’s first luxurious dirty movie theater. The center curved section of the marquee had a painted glass overlay that read “movies for mature swinging adults”. Winterland next door was thriving with great rock bands, with the Uptown getting many customers after the concerts. It was said that a undercover check revealed “leud conduct” in the balcony and they raided the place. The operators lost their appeals on obsenity charges and the City shut the Uptown down. I don’t remember if it reopened after that.
I finally found my photo of the interior of the Palm, and posted it. Enjoy!
Just downloaded a photo of the Hayward, taken in august 1976, the day right after the fire.
Added a photo of the Powell that I took, I believe, in 1975. I also found a flyer when the Powell showed all male porn films. It was a great theater.
The picture of the interior was found on www.cowellhistoricalsociety.org, and there are other pictures of the Enean as well. I have a old 8mm movie of us coming out of the Enean from a birthday party, at dusk with the original marquee lit up (looks fantastic) I will post stills of the movie once I get it properly duplicated.
Great News! The grand reopening of the Bal will be on 4/23/10. According to the website calendar, renovations are being done, including the installation of a new curtain. Classic films are scheduled to play, starting with His Girl Friday on the 24th.
The El Rey did not exist in the 70’s and did not show hard porn. It was torn down in the late fifties to allow the MacArthur Freeway to be built. My father was a projectionist there. When he was there, it was a burlesque house only, with cutie movies, no hardcore, but at the time, was considered very X! It was always getting raided for stupid stuff dad said. The owner of the El Rey, also operated the Gayety Theatre on Turk Street in San Francisco. Behind the Gayety snack bar were pictures of the El Rey on the back wall tons of photos of the El Rey, with pictures of all the strippers. My dad said that even though the T&D, Moulin Rouge, 16th Street Follies continued on after, the El Rey was the king theater of burlesque! cool!
The El Rey, located on Ocean avenue, was a beautiful theatre. The mitchell brothers rented it out and showed their premiere screening of “Autobiography of a Flea” complete with champagne and blotter acid. Before it became the Church of the Pentecost, Margo St. James of Coyote, had a week long film festival about prostitution worldwide. Magnificent films were shown there. Patronage was terrible. The interior layout of the theatre is exactly the same as the Alameda Theatre, as both were built by Timothy Pfluger, but the artwork was entirely different. If you are ever in the area, the congregation is very friendly and will let you walk around. Still a beautiful theatre!
I have very fond memories of the Embassy. In 1975, I won the 4th & 10th double win spin, Royal Blue #25. I won $520.00, walked on the stage, and Dan McClean wrote out the check! Yes, I remember you Mary! Dan would always call out the number and you would verify from the box office that the ticket was in the house, it was wonderful. For a extra 50 cents, you were able to sit in the loge, which had beautiful red upholstered seats, you just sank in the cushions. Beautiful murals of vikings on ships on the walls. Before it closed, the loge entrance, which was a ramp and not stairs, was closed off with a iron gate. It was popular with the homeless and the restrooms were filthy. One time during the movie, everyone was coughing for some wierd reason, and a woman yelled out “WHAT IS THIS A F****** COUGHING CONTEST?” What was interesting was that the ramp had beautiful gold guilded iron on the sides, and you could look down to the floor below.
i also forgot, that I did make a super 8 movie of the interior of the theatre, walking up the ramp to the balcony, the lobby and excellent views of the main auditorium. I also got great shots of the marquee lit up at night with the vertical T&D flashing.
The T&D was a hangout for me in the early seventies. Had a great chinese restaurant called “nan king” next door. The lobby had a enormous ramp to the right that was sealed off half way with plywood with a door carved in. When you went up the ramp and went to your left, there was a lobby that housed a radio station at one time. Outside the entrance to the womens restroom was a huge lobby area with windows that when you looked out you could see 11th street.n! The mens room was massive with white marble. Two ramps on each side of the floor, led into the loge and balcony sections. The walls had paintings of trees and landscape with a huge round light fixture in
the center of the ceiling. In the center of the arch was a head of a woman. The projector booth was on the main floor, very similar to the New Mission in San Francisco. The right side of the auditorium had about 20 rows sealed off, and a separate cinema was there with a ramp way. It quit porn for about a year, tried to go legit with a triple bill policy like the Roxie, but several shootings there, led it back to porn, where it remained porn until its final closure.
The Roxie was great and the Queen of B Triple Bills during the early seventies. It had a lobby with the snack bar in the center, stairs on both sides that went up to the balcony (it didn’t have a loge) ) where everyone did pot and drank nite train. There were no murals or paintings, as the walls and the sides of the screen were curtained over. Fights were always going down in there. All of a sudden the screen would go blank, the lights would come on, and about 20 uniformed Oakland police would come in, snatch some guy sitting in the front for no reason an drag him out. the lights would go out and the movie would come back on, and everyone would be catcalling out loud and kackling, it was great fun.
I loved the Fairfax. We mostly went to the Fruitvale though. Had a beautiful rooftop sign that when it was lit up, you could see for miles! If you are ever on a BART train and look over, the Fairfax is the biggest building in the area. The rooftop sign blew off one year when we had a really bad windstorm in Oakland. Fremont High School, was just town down and they tried to preserve the bell tower, but that blew down too! The Fairfax showed spanish films for a brief period, and it also showed mild porno as well, but the porno did not live long as St. Bernard’s and St. Lawrence O Tools churches protested loudly. Those churches did the same to the Cine 7. I recently went in for services, and it is preserved and absolutely beautiful. The congregation were absolutely wonderful to us and the services were wonderful! I gladly donated to help them not only with their faith in God, but to preserve their wonderful building.
Wow, I was actually in the Foothill theatre once when I was about 8 years old (1963)! It was a single floor theatre, and when you walked in, the candy counter was to your right. What I remember was that they had hardly anything to buy at the counter! When my mom and I went in to the auditorium we were the only ones there, and I don’t remember what was playing. Just a couple of black and whites. It had a small lobby and a pretty good sized auditorium with a nice sized screen. I don’t recall any drawings or anything. There was a curtain but it wasn’t used. When the movie ended, the next one started up right afterwards, no intermission. It was closed most of the time back then.
The Bal is a beautiful theatre. I wonder what happened to the beautiful blue curtain that graced the stage. The interior is a little water damaged, but the murals are intact and beautiful. I remember as a kid, there was a supermarket called LoRays that gave free passes for movies on Sat and Sun afternoons and the place was packed. The interior is a long wide auditorium, single floor, but starts to slope up in the back slightly for about 15 rows. The screen is big and the sound system is terrific. I wish I could win the lottery and just run the Bal. It had a beautiful neon sign that would flash in red and blues, you could see it all the way down East 14th Street. Only drawback was parking. There used to be a little coffee shop right next to the Bal, that made great hamburgers and back then you had to be 18 to play pinball, but the lady would let you play the one she had as long as you put money in the juke box. Ah, the memories!
I have great memories of the Del Mar. Have great pics of the exterior. The theatre had the stadium style balcony in the back, with main seating towards the front. Had a beautiful light fixture in the center of the ceiling, beautiful yellow curtains that closed. They were really strict in there. You had to pay extra to sit in the balcony and if you were caught, they made you move down to the front! Got caught many times. Saw the movie “Black Sabbath” there and had hamburgers at the chuckburgers down the street. brucec was right! The Marquee you could see all the way down East 14th Street. those were the days
The Chabot is a hidden treasure! Has stadium style seating, with a big screen with a great sound system. The Chabot building, the glass display cases, and location of the box office and the looks of the marquee remind me very much of the Plaza Theatre on East 12th at 7th Avenue in East Oakland. I wonder if it was the same architect. The plaza had regular seating but about the same size! Restrooms and stairs to the projection booth are the same!
I passed by the Plaza the other day. It is sealed with a steel slide down door. marquee is still there with the Teatro vertical. I went there once when The Godfather was playing there, with spanish subtitles. Very plain inside, with no drawings or murals, however the side wall lights were in red white and blue and were pretty. Just a screen, no drapes or anything. The soundproofing of the projection booth was poor, you could hear the projectors run, and the loud ding ding ding of the changeover! The marquee was beautiful lit up with yellow and blue alternating flashing neon PLAZA being in white neon. The vertical teatro sign was yellow, with light bulbs on the outside and flashed like it looked like a bar. You could see it all the way down East 12th Street. Got movies of it lit up really cool.
The Hayward theatre was a great porn theatre during the early seventies competing with the Ritz down the street. The last movie to be shown there was the “50 thousand dollar climax” before it was destroyed by fire. It had a stadium style seating and a green interior with no murals, I assume they were all painted over. The lobby was small, but very long. I took pics of the marquee. Funny how the theatres were either becoming churches or porno, and the Hayward was one of them. Torn down, but not forgotten!
I loved the Oakland Drive In! I liked it better than the Stadium. The Stadium in the last 60’s was showing goody two shoes first run while the Oakland showed triple bills of the best late 50’s 60’s horror movies. The one triple bill I will never forget was “The Screaming Skull” “Kronos” and “Kon Tiki The Immortal Monster”. The screen on the Oakland was even bigger than the stadium and had big trees bouncing behind it. During the intermission the screen had three huge light bulbs when lit up, would blind your eyes out! They had a timeclock, and played supremes music! It went mild porn for awhile in 1969, playing the same films that were shown at the Fox Oakland! Movies like “all the loving couples” and “carmen baby” It was sad when it was torn down. I can still see the Green Neon Sign saying “drive in theatre”. oh those memories
oh, the Stadium drive in, with the Oakland Drive in right next to it! Cruising the strip in the early 70’s was the best. We would turn around in front of the Bal Theatre, then go as far as 157th then turn around again. The Stadium always showed good stuff like Mary Poppins while the Oakland was showing triple bills of old 50’s and 60’s horror films. During the intermission the stadium screen had two light bulbs on top that would light up, and show a timeclock. We would all pile in and before we went, we would go to the pinecone chicken hut. Such fun
I remember the Cine 7 when it was called the Laurel. Saw “town without pity” there. When it was changed to the Cine 7, in the beginning showed runs that just left Downtown Oakland, then went to porn for about a year, then to a b movie house. You were able to buy membership cards, and get in for 50 cents. Candy counter was on main floor and stairs on both sides took you up to the restrooms and entrances to the balcony. The balcony was full of marijuana and lovemaking. It didn’t have any murals in it that i can remember. The marquee was cool, the vertical on the top was a black and white shaped reel of film, and when lit, would flash and look like it was rotating. You could see it all the way down MacArthur Blvd. When it first became the love center church, the marquee was removed. Crawfords coffee shop across the street had the best shakes!
I went to the Alvarado theatre just once when i was little. It had a green neon sign that said Alvarado and that was it. To know the movies you had to read the plasterboards outside. It was showing a mixture of mexican and american films. It had a aisle going down the center and seats on both sides. I just stared at the clock in the corner alongside the screen, as the movie was in spanish and i didn’t understand what they were saying! No snack bar, just machines. It was filthy inside and had cockroaches. Lots of laborers in there sleeping and mamas breasfeading their kids. Place was always packed.
i remember as a kid walking by the moulin rouge. It was called “the red mill” and had a delapidated looking mill, which did not turn but was barely lit in blue and white. Passing by you could smell the odor or urine and at that time there were a lot of low budget hotels, the theatre was in the skid row section off of Washington and 8th. Lots of hobos and drunks. My dad said when he was a sailor he would go there and to the El Rey.
The Palm Theatre is still open and still the only X rated movie theatre on the Peninsula. I used to work at the Palm and I enjoyed it very much. It was a one man operation, the movies were on videotape and shown on the big screen (pic quality actually was good). You sold tickets, did snack bar, and worked the videos. The Palm has an opera style curtain. Chuck Mello, the manager and I tried to work it one time and dust started flying everywhere and the motor wouldn’t turn well. Too expensive to fix. We used to hit a switch and the stage lights would come on to give a intermission effect for a few seconds and when lit, you saw murals on the sides which depicts sort of picasso style drawings. The lobby has beautiful cut glass etchings behind the candy counter and at the drinking fountain. Great loyal patrons went there. I have a great pic of the interior of the auditorium and will post it here when the site allows it.