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Back in the ‘80s, when I arrived in TS from the West Coast, the Deuce was always hiring. I went into the employment office and the lady said, “Go apply at the porn theatres. Better still, apply at Show World Center. They’re open 24/365 and they always need mop men. It’s disgusting work, but it pays a little bit of the rent.”
I moved to SF in 1984 from Vancouver and immediately applied to every movie house in “The City.” I ended up working at the Regency III, and the manger laughed when I told him I’d applied to the St. Francis. He said that Market Street had the St. Francis, a Jack in the Box and a video arcade all within two minutes of each other, and all three businesses depended on the “tough guys and bad dudes” as their best customers.
I left SF in 1993 and haven’t been back, but I’ve seen pictures of Mid-Market’s decline and didn’t think such a thing would ever happen to it.
Blumenfeld owned the Regency 1, 2 and 3, plus the Royal, Castro and Alhambra. The R3 was the smallest but had the best location (plus the management team of Jim MacMillan, Aaron Betts and Tseghazeab “Steven” Estisanos)l the R1 had the best movies (as noted above) and the bossiest, crankiest manager; the R2 had a succession of managers and the Royal had great managers but a bad location. When I was a Blumenfeld manager years ago, they often moved managers between theatres (many managers got fed up with their low salaries and lack of candy commissions and quit). The R3 closed years ago, reopened as a playhouse and currently is Ruby Skye, the city’s premier nightclub.
The Royal Theatre became a Blumenfeld property in the mid-1980s. The new operator refurbished the theatre at a cost of about $250K, and the place looked and smelled great, especially its huge lobby. Ed Lowelling (who reportedly died some time ago), who ran the Royal, was one of the best movie theatre managers in the Bay Area; the sad thing was the Royal’s location in the seediest stretch of Polk Street. Blumenfeld was unwilling to book the best movies into the Royal because so many moviegoers avoided that neighborhood due to its abundance of litter, homeless people and prostitutes (the Regency 1 got the Blumenfeld blockbusters). Due its unpopular status, the Royal mostly sat nearly empty and therefore always looked brand new.
Vaughan…Charlie fired me because he disliked me, and fired you because you did everything except what you were supposed to do. You knew you were golden as long as Artie was there; when you learned of his death, did you know Charlie would fire you? I suppose you know that Jim, Vince, Shelby and many of the dancers from that era are now dead. I’m sure Charlie has retired; is he still alive? Lonnie and Bill moved back to CT, I believe. Tom, 25, 300 lbs. (assistant manager), grew to 400 lbs. and quit to study computers. (A lot of good his Stanford degree did him! Wonder if he’s still celibate.)
My last visit to the Capitol 6 was a few months before Famous Players closed the cinema. The place was a pigsty; it reeked of cigarette smoke, the seats and carpets were filthy and many of the seats were broken. A manager stood near the candy counter, so I asked him about the squalor. He said, “I apologize for this, but we’re closing the place soon, so we have discontinued all cleaning and maintenance.” I noticed, however, that their ticket/confection prices were as high as ever despite refusing to spend any $ on providing a comfortable viewing experience for their guests. I used to manage a movie house in a major US city and we would never have pulled a stunt like that on our customers. Canadians don’t understand (or care about) the concept of customer service.