8-10 Brewer Street,
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Opened as the Oscar 1 Cinema on 28th September 1972 with Barbra Streisand in “What’s Up Doc?”, it was a project of the Brent Walker Group. The architect was Dennis Birch who created the cinema out of the basement of a former restaurant. Seating was on one level and the space had curtained walls which were fashionable in cinema design at that time.
It was called Oscar 1 Cinema because there were already plans to convert premises across the street into Oscar 2 & 3. Cinemas. This stirred the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, USA to object to the name Oscar being used and the cinemas' names were changed to Focus. This one became the Focus 1 Cinema from 11th April 1974. Gradually the programming became a mix of soft core sex films and kung fu films.
As the cinema was located in London’s red light and sex district, the cinema took on a new name from 4th March 1976 when it became the Soho Cinema and went over to screening long runs of films such as “Emmanuelle” and “Linda Lovelace For President”, etc. Eventually it became a members only cinema and screened hard core sex movies until closing in 1983 due to changes in licensing laws.
Due to the area loosing its red light and sex label in favour of becoming London’s gay village in recent years, the former cinema has for several years been in use as a ‘drag’ cabaret bar named Madame Jo Jo’s, attracting a varied audience of women’s hen parties and gay men. Madam Jo Jo’s and the adjacent Escape (gay bar) were both closed in November 2014, when Westminster Council revoked their licences due to problems with aggressive ‘bouncers’ (security) on the doors.
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