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I loved the Palace. The marqueee had “two big hits” with chinese pictures playing there. In 1985, I believe, we went there and saw the film Picnic with Kim Novak, and she appeared onstage for a interview. But the best times was in the early 70’s with the midnight shows on the weekends. It was funny when the theatre emptied out from the chinese customers on friday nights, they were met by crowds of people waiting for midnight show, all dressed in drag and other costumes. Big celebrities showed there for those screenings, like Peter Max, Truman Capote, and Tony Curtis. I wish i would have been there when Bette Midler showed up, I understand she did quite a few times in those days. The one time I will never forget was when Janis Joplin came in there stoned higher than a kite, sang on stage with a band called the 13th floor elevators. She stumbled down the stairs and her friends carried her out. Went there for many a movie, big screen, great sound, and comfortable seating.
A girlfriend of mine, who had a fortune telling business on 8th street, and I went there and to see the Pit and the Pendulum. We sat down and the statues up front scared her, she said the place had a entity in it, got up, and walked out in fright. I was in there for a whole 20 minutes. Haven’t been in it since.
I would drive my grandmother, all the way from San francisco, to the New Fruitvale. In the early 60’s the Fruitvale was the only theatre to show Portuguese Movies, and they showed them on Wednesday nights. We sat in the loge section, and had to pay extra to sit there. I remember how cold it was in there, I don’t think they turned on the heat. While you were sitting, when the usher walked new customers to their seats, the loge would shake a bit. Saw “The Tingler” in there, and the scene where the Tingler was in the movie theatre when Vincent Price yelled to scream your guts out, they turned all the lights out in the auditorium, it was pitch black and everyone screamed it was great.
The Fairfax for a very short period, showed adult movies (of course I had the cashiering job). It is a beautiful theater. The first thing you smelt was the popcorn, and next to the snack bar, was a vending machine that you could buy popsicles, and fudge bars from. Had a great womens lounge with leather couches. It went from adult movies to showing spanish movies, to compete with the Plaza on East 12th Street. Lousy patronage caused the spanish films to stop and the Fairfax was closed for good. When the adult movies moved to the Cine 7, I travelled along with the job. I passed by it and saw that one of the plywood slabs was missing and walked in. They were just converting it to a church, adding fresh white paint. The stage was in the process of being converted, I noticed that the asbestos fire curtain was halfway down(nice red tapestry looking thing) and the main curtain was gone, the box office was converted into a planter. The neighborhood was rough then, a very nice lady I spoke with said that they asked for extra patrol if they could. Haven’t been by it since, always wondered how it looked inside.
I was a cashier at this theatre, under the management of porn director Alex De Renzy. We got raided one night, the SFPD loaded us in the van, there was nothing to hold on to, and they were turning corners about 30 miles per hour slamming all of us around, they then raided the OFarrell, that’s how i met Jim Mitchell. Then they raided the Roxie (Roxie was porn then) on 16th street, but they left the follies theatre on the same block alone. We were all released the next day. Feinstein was Mayor, and when i saw her walking down market street with her beastly friends, she waved at me and I flipped her off. Feinstein authorized those raids to try to get San Francisco “rid” of porn, but failed.
I got my car stolen, parked right across the street from this Theatre. Dingbat box office girl saw me cross the street and buy my ticket, when i walked out and the car was gone, she was asleep! The marquee then looked like the one at the Fairfax. It was a dump then. But very nice now! I went there when it was a single screen. I remember how they used to kick patrons out for smoking on the main floor, it was only allowed in the loge and balcony, but you had to pay another 50 cents to sit up there. The sun dials were pretty, lightly lit when the movie was on. When they closed the loge to make another theatre, I didn’t go as much. Food there now is good.
Of all my box office cashering days, I enjoyed working at the T&D. For a whole week in 1973. It was the T&D Follies “showing the best in burlesque” with dirty movies (not X but pretty close). Beautiful theatre, the description from robertgippy was very good! At the time, for $5.00, you got all you can eat hot dogs, hamburgers, cokes, candy. I met Jane Fonda that week when they were filming steelyard blues, you can see a good nighttime exterior shot of the T&D. She went inside for a few minutes (movies were on) and she came out laughing, but said what a beautiful place it was. When Deep Throat opened there, I got a call from Harold, the manager, needing a cashier. First night, we got raided by the Oakland Police. There were over 750 people in attendance, I had to give them all their money back, the police told me to go home. I was back at work there for 2 more days. The girls would bring me food from the Original BBQ on the corner, the french fries with the bbq sauce over them was fantastic! I remember how musty it smelt inside, they repainted the underside of the balcony brown paint. The light dome on the ceiling was turned on and it lit in soft blue, the loge was open at that time and the isles to the balcony were boarded up with plywood to prevent access. The loge was closed when vice saw people drinking alcohol and pot, (the night of the raid). After hours, there were parties and private screenings of some hard core porn, rented out by big shots who wanted to be discreet. Fun job