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I would love to see the interior of this theater.
Here’s an ad for THe Newberry during the gay porn days:
If you look inside the lobby of the theater now, it looks like they are prepping it for something new. They have stripped the walls, exposing one of the original doorframes which used to lead into the auditorium before they cut it into 4.
I would love to see a lobby shot of this theater.
It’s an incredible place to explore, and surprisingly the theater is very clean. If you ever have the time or money I would strongly suggest exploring it. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and realize it probably won’t be around for much longer!
All of you probably know this already, but The Image Theater was definitely not The Newberry Theater. The building which housed The Image Theater (or L'Image when it played art films and tried to shed it’s gay porn image), is still on the corner of Clark and Chicago as a Liquor Store.
I was just helping a good friend of mine organize all of the Admiral Theater’s 35mm film prints in their projection booth (yep, the booth and projectors are still there…as are the 70+ 35mm porno films ranging from 1969 through 1983). It was a blast! There are about twenty balcony rows still there before a wall begins (which is where the balcony video booths are). Beyond that, down below, is the showroom with the strippers, which takes up a large portion of the auditorium. It’s amazing for me to write this, but when looking out of the windows in the projection booth, over the ceilings of the video booths and showrooms, at the very end of the theater in darkness is the curtains and presumabely the movie screen…completely intact! I’m going back soon to snap a few pictures which I will gladly post for anyone who is interested to see!
Maybe I missed it somewhere on these postings, but what was ‘Reflections Theater’ when it inhabited the Calo? Was it an adult theater at some point?
It’s already on youtube! Search for the movie title: ‘Last Exit on Dead End Highway’. We shot all over the theater including in the offices and projection booths after hours.
It would be amazing to see any pictures of the interior of this theater. Jerry supposedly had stacks of pictures, but unfortunately I never had a chance to see them. Does anyone have any pics of this place inside?
I worked as a manager at the Burnham for the Village Theater company on and off between 2002 – 2004. The theater was so enormous and creepy. After hours a bunch of us employees filmed a horror movie there, so as a result I have a bunch of dv footage of every room in that building. The theater had two projection booths on two seperate floors, and the quickest way to get to them in a hurry was to take the really creepy fire exit staircase. Incidentally, that was the same staircase the homeless would always break into to sneak and sleep in the theaters overnight. The place was gloomy, and Ron Rooding at one point had his goons begin work on a ticket booth on the floor above the escalators. It was never completed. The place was in fact, falling apart. I can see from experience what can happen to these old theaters when a company doesn’t put any money into repairing them right away. I can only imagine how those old loop theaters must have been run by Plitt in the 1980’s. It seems to me Plitt treated those majestic theaters with the same kind of “I don’t give a crap” attitude that the Village did with places like The Burnham, Water Tower, Village, and Biograph in the 2000’s.
Here’s something humorous and kind of cool: My former projectionist/friend has been projecting movies all over Chicago for decades and still does. He told me when the Roosevelt was torn down in 1979 his friend walked over to the rubble and grabbed a chunk of the building and kept it. He has it to this day!
This is one of the most tragic theater demolitions next to the Woods being demolished downtown. At least The Woods had the dignity of becoming The Goodman Theater (if that’s anything at all). The United Artist could have remained in that spot until at least 2005. Perhaps if it would’ve been spared, it would have made a lovely play theater. But then again, who really knows? I’d love to see more pictures of that theatre inside. Especially some color photos of the lobby before it closed.
When I worked at the Village, many men would come in asking where the Bijou was located. I’ve visited recently and find it an amazing gay time capsule. They certainly don’t make places like that anymore. I’d urge anyone interested in seeing the place to go there soon. I can’t imagine it remaining open for another decade…but then again it has lasted this long. The theater is very clean compared to most, and it is surprisingly bright and tiny. There is a stage up front. Gloryholes, slings, mazes or rooms, and a wooded back alley/garden are beyond the theater. It’s fascinating.
I would LOVE to see any interior shots of this theater. I have never seen any and heard it was very nice.
Is that true about the ceiling collapsing at this theater? I never heard anything about this. Does anyone have anymore info about this?
I’ll also mention this: I was very fortunate to have met and worked with Jerry Usher and Bob Taylor. They were true legends in Chicago, and they had no idea how much I valued them both. Taylor kept his distance from the staff and was pretty much a prick, but I could understand why. When I met him he was very ill and had to work for Ron Rooding, which was never a good time. Taylor was demanding about how things should be handled at the Village, and with good reason considering how it used to be his. Jerry praised having Bob Taylor as a boss before Bob sold the theater to Ron in 1991. Jerry explained that Bob would always pay him a nice bonus yearly for him to take a vacation-something that the Village definitely never did for him. Jerry would use the money to fly to Puerto Rico for a week. When Bob fell ill, he still came back a year later and gave Jerry his bonus – something Jerry found to be very touching. Another story I will never forget is how Bob Taylor would drive to the nearby Caprini Green apartment complex in the late 1970’s and recruit a few children to spread lime throughout the rat infested Village basement to curb the rodent problems! Honest to goodness this was a story Jerry told me, and he honestly had no reason to lie about it.
Here’s a little piece of trivia I don’t think anyone has mentioned on here yet: Did you all know the Village was a gay porno house for a short time just before Bob Taylor purchased it? Yep, it’s the truth and I heard it from Bob Taylor personally when I managed the theater. He said they literally closed the theater and changed it completely in ONE WEEK! He told me this in 2005 when he (sadly) began working for Village Entertainment. I always found it depressing that he was this ill man who had to work for Ron Rooding; a guy who Bob Taylor originally hired as an usher at the Village North when he was a teenager in the 1980’s. Anyway, Bob (or Taylor,as we always called him) mentioned that behind the walls in the lobby are beautiful green marble poster cases. He wanted to keep them at the time but they were in pretty rough shape so he decided to wall over them. Also interesting is the original screen made out of horsehair behind the screens in the back of theaters 3 & 4. Taylor told me the screen was the original from way back when it was a silent theater. Interesting also is the organ that was still in the theater when Taylor purchased the theater. Although long gone he claimed to still have the pipes, which were cleaned and are hanging in his condo.
I worked and trained as a manager for years with Jerry Usher (RIP), one time manager of Cinema Theater & Loop Theater from 1966-1978. He told me all sorts of stories about movie theater life in Chicago at that time and I’d like to share some stories with you. About the Loop Theater: Jerry mentioned how lines of people wrapped around and down the alley between the Chicago and Loop and across the back of the building every day for months and months when Russ Meyer’s Vixen premiered. He said he had never seen anything like it. He spoke how one day when he was in the lobby Russ Meyer himself dropped in with two envelopes; one with $1000 cash for him and another with $500 to be split amongst the workers who helped make Vixen such a success in Chicago. Jerry said Russ Meyer paid for his trip to Puerto Rico that year! He spoke of Ilsa being the nastiest movie the theater played and how furious the owner was with it when he finally saw it. He also mentioned that he would walk around outside the theater dressed in a tux holding a mic and a small amplifier and announce what movies were playing (true showmanship!). He used ‘Harry Cherry & Raquel’ in his example. He said the theater was on a year to year lease and they never knew when it would be up. He said it lasted much longer than he thought it would. When it did finally close in 1978 he was recruited by then owner Bob Taylor and longtime associate to run The Village Theater. And he did until his death in 2004.