200 W. 48th Street,
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“So this is gay Paree
Come on along with me,
We’re stepping out to see
The Latin Quarter"
The building was originally the Palais Royal, a legitimate theatre and concert hall, later housing the Broadway location of the Harlem-based nightclub, Connie’s Inn. At various other times, it became a Chinese restaurant, and then George White’s Gay White Way nightclub. In 1935, it became the Club Ubangi, featuring live African-American entertainers and showgirls. In 1936, it became the second location of the famed Cotton Club, originally in Harlem. This Cotton Club lasted until 1940. In 1942, the Latin Quarter nightclub opened in this space.
By July 1969 the Latin Quarter chorus girls had gone on strike and Morton Minsky acknowledged that the historic site had seen its best years. New Yorkers were already into ‘porn chic’ years before the New York Times coined the phrase when “Deep Throat” hit the scene in 1973.
Nick Justin’s Arista Theatres were in the market to capture the trend of fashionable upscale sexually-liberated Manhattanites, willing to shell out top dollar for the classy, soft core, beautifully filmed works from the likes of Radley Metzger, director of “Camille 2000”, “Therese and Isabelle” and “The Lickerish Quartet”.
From 1969 to 1978 the upstairs room supper club of the historic Latin Quarter became the a 15,000 square foot, $100,000 red and black remodel known as the Cine Lido.
Opening with the aforementioned “Camille 2000”, the theatre, and its sister location the Cine Malibu on the east side (it eventually sprang the Lido East as well), the theatres were an immediate success with the film getting rave reviews and the X-factor theme an instantly acceptable concept.
An original plan for burlesque style stage shows was quickly abandoned when the ‘art’ film concept worked.
By 1973 the porn business had become a cause celebre thanks to “Deep Throat” and the films were getting more explicit. Politicians jumped on the band wagon to clean up ‘smut’ and started harassing theatre owners.
A major raid of eleven New York film houses in July 1975 lead to the closing of the Cine Lido and confiscation of a print of the “The Newcomers”, a symbolic act to satisfy the puritans since the movie opened again the next day. Several other theatres were closed in the raid when they turned out to be showing bootleg prints of their films but content censorship remained elusive. The sole proprietor arrested was World Theatre owner Robert Sumner with his hit film “High Rise” confiscated. The arrest was considered payback for bringing “Deep Throat” to New York the previous year.
By 1977, even the New York Times yielded to pressure and stopped accepting ads for X-rated fare. This signalled the end of the Cine Lido’s ability to reach its target audience and by May 1978 the location was being advertised for lease.
It went on to operate as the 22 Steps disco and the legitimate Princess Theatre before being demolished in 1989 for a high rise.
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