Bijou Cinema

82 E. 4th Street,
New York, NY 10003

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Bijou Cinema

Located in the basement of the building on the southwest corner of 2nd Avenue and E. 4th Street in the East Village, entrance is via a non-descript ‘discreet’ doorway (on E. 4th Street) which during the daytime when closed has a roller shutter over it. Descending a flight of stairs down to the cinema, there are movie posters in frames (although these are not usually the movie being screened inside!).

The basement was first given a Certificate of Occupancy on October 22, 1927:Cellar-Persons Accommodated 150-Restaurant, cabaret & storage. Originally named Rainbow Inn. In 1954 it became a gay ‘drag’ and dance bar named ‘Club 82’. The drag shows moved out and Club 82 became a rock music venue from 1972. It featured bands such as Another Pretty Face and The New York Dolls. In 1978 it became the Film Forum, screening independent movies. It later became an all-male strip club. In 1990 it became a live music venue named Woody’s, operated by Ron Wood, but this failed and closed within months. It reopened as the Bijou Cinema in around 1992, operated by the owners of the (now closed/demolished Bijou Cinema ex-Jewel/Comet, etc, at 100 3rd Avenue).

The Bijou Cinema re-opened in January 2006 after it had closed in 2005 for a complete re-fit and renovation, with new decor, seating and lounge areas. It operated daily from early in the evening until around 5:00 AM in the mornings. Seating in the main auditorium is in comfortable new theatre style seats and the movies screened (via DVD digital projection) tended to be a mix of art house and fairly new ‘mainstream’ releases, with occasional ‘fill-ins’ of camp TV comedy shows such as ‘Little Britain’ or pop promo videos. I saw a couple of Japanese sub-titled movies and the latest “Star Wars” movie on recent visits.

A passageway located to the right of the auditorium and behind the main screen contains booths which screen gay porn movies on tv screens in each booth. The old bar from years ago is still there but not in use, but other facilities included a pool table and TV lounge.

Taking all aspects into consideration, this was a clean and well run establishment catering to a gay male clientele. It was closed in late-December 2007 due to flooding, but this was only temporary. It had re-opened by July 2008 and continued in 2013. The operating hours are 9pm until 4am. It had closed in April 2019 and when I visited the cinema in July 2019 I saw it was being gutted.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 12, 2006 at 1:45 pm

Thanks for that great link Lost Memory: It sure has had a colourful history. So it all started here with Errol Flynn playing piano with his d**k! and so it continues…..

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on July 12, 2006 at 2:04 pm

Well if nothing else, I’m glad my question started some digging around on this theater’s history. Funny… I just recently watched a very entertaining TMC documentary about Erroll Flynn. No mention of his pre-Tommy Lee antics with the 82 Club piano!

mark700
mark700 on March 1, 2007 at 4:55 am

Does anyone know if this theater is still around?

pmullinsj
pmullinsj on January 12, 2008 at 6:14 pm

It was in November of this year, I went there, and it was indeed a nice space. I’ve heard that it has been recently closed due to flooding (it’s a basement). Would like to know more, as I had thought it would become a hangout for me.

pmullinsj
pmullinsj on January 12, 2008 at 6:16 pm

Opening post is confusing, indicating this ‘Bijou’ was open at this location at the same time the Bijou which was on 3rd Avenue for a good many years between 12th and 13th (I believe). Says owned by same people, but I knew about the 3rd Avenue one during the 80s and 90s, not about this one. Thanks

Drizz
Drizz on February 7, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Does anyone have the phone number for this place and also are they still open?

pmullinsj
pmullinsj on February 7, 2008 at 2:29 pm

No phone number and it is still closed.

MagnumForce
MagnumForce on July 10, 2008 at 10:33 pm

For sure, it is open at this date (July 11, 2008)
I have been there a couple and now is looking more neat and cleaner after certain renovations.

ziggycrone
ziggycrone on August 13, 2009 at 6:48 pm

has any body bin by latly

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on March 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm

The First Film Forum was at 256 west 88th Street. I am not sure when they had screenings here although I do not doubt they probably did.

http://www.filmforum.org/mission.html

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