Adonis Theatre

839 Eighth Avenue,
New York, NY 10019

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Adonis Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This theater started life in September 1921 as the Tivoli Theatre.

In 1975 it became one on New York’s most popular adult all male film theaters, the Adonis Theatre, which operated successfully until it was closed in 1989, and business transferred to the Cameo Art Cinema on 44th Street. The Adonis Theatre was demolished in 1995.

Contributed by RobertR

Recent comments (view all 137 comments)

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on May 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm

what about between 47th and 50th streets?

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on May 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm

by the Ramada I mean the hotel at 790 Eighth Avenue between 48th and 49th (currently it is now a Hilton Garden Inn)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on May 26, 2013 at 6:48 pm

I remember that Ramada Inn from back in the ‘80’s… I think it was a Days Inn for a while before Hilton Garden took over. I used to imagine that the Ramada was likely booked by tourists, coming to New York for the first time and familiar with the hotel chain’s name – not imagining for a second the tawdry nature of its location. What they must have thought upon arrival! Eighth Avenue was rife with flea-bag SRO hotels in those days, but wasn’t there also another, smaller legitimate hotel, on the west side of the avenue, that was a national chain? Like maybe Holiday Inn? Can’t pinpoint the location in my mind’s eye, but I could swear there was.

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on May 26, 2013 at 7:00 pm

yes it was a Days Hotel from 1994 to 2005 until it became a Hilton Garden. and from what i read it was a Ramada for quite a long time like back to 1973 at least. the hotel you mention was most likely the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge on 8th between 51st and 52nd on the west side of the avenue. Now it’s a Hampton

do you know what was in that row of boarded up buildings attached to the firehouse? back in 79 when i had that scare there was a bunch of scary looking people who looked drunk or high sitting on the stoop of the brownstone next to the Haymarket. probably an SRO maybe or a typical Hell’s kitchen boarded up tenement with squatters maybe?

so was 8th between 47th and 50th as wild and dangerous as further down? or was it a little tamer? would you see aggressive prostitutes and pimps or was it maybe a little better because you were reaching the end and you were also more into the theater district? did people going to matinees walk on 8th Avenue like you see today or did most theatergoers avoid it?

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on May 26, 2013 at 7:25 pm

the Sherman Hotel (now an Econolodge) at 302 W 47th street was a notorious fleabag as was the Cort Hotel at 301 W 48th. I remember a Fulton Hotel at 46th and 8th.

how was W 48th between 8th and 9th back in those days? like where the Belvedere Hotel is.

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on May 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm

back in 77 when i was 15 i went to the city a few times on my own. i asked my mom what was so bad/dangerous about the Times Square area/theater district, after all id been on 7th Ave and Broadway and tho i noticed a lot of porn/XXX places especially around the upper 40’s, it didn’t seem particularly dangerous tho not the nicest place either

my mom said it wasn’t 7th/Broadway that was the problem, it was the ‘sidestreets"

so then, was the area by the Adonis considered the “sidestreets”?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 1, 2013 at 9:55 pm

The Holiday Inn is what I was remembering, thanks rlrl2010.

I don’t recall Seventh Ave or Broadway being so dangerous back in those days, either. It was definitely more tawdry, and, in my opinion, a lot more interesting, but I wouldn’t call it dangerous. Aside from the porno theaters and adult book and video shops, there were also the noisy (and more dangerous than the street) pinball and Fascination arcades, the dance-hall barkers, strip joints, greasy-spoon holes in the wall, tourist-trap gift and electronic shops, street drummers, street dancers, street corner preachers, three card monte rip-off artists, and the pose-for-a-portrait artists – the last of these may be the ONLY group that seems to have survived the transformation to “Family Destination.”

There was a period in the late ‘80’s, before the area had “bounced back,” where I found certain stretches along those two thoroughfares to get a bit more intimidating. I remember once going to a play at the Virginia Theatre on W. 52nd, just off Seventh – this is maybe 1988. After the show, I wanted to walk with my date down to Times Square proper and take a poke around my “old stomping grounds.” As we crossed into the upper 40’s, the pedestrian traffic along Seventh really thinned out, and it was quite eerily dark and quiet for a block or two. The site of the old Rivoli Theatre was a vacant and fenced in lot, and the sounds of the usual city hustle and bustle just sort of fell away behind us, so that all we really could hear were our footsteps. I remember finding myself nervously looking over my shoulder until we got to 47th and the crowd thickened again by Duffy Square.

As for the side streets between Seventh and Eighth Avenues – well, this is where the overwhelming majority of legitimate theaters were located. I don’t know that they were ever all that dangerous, really, except for maybe the darker streets, like 41st and 43rd. I seem to recall a lot of dope dealing went on down those quieter side streets. Forty Second was anything but dark, but was certainly notorious as a rather threatening strip. It never stopped me from going to see a double feature there, but I was certainly sure to have my wits about me and tended to be even more cautious about approaching the western edge of the block near Eighth Ave. Things definitely got more dicey down by the Harem, the Empire and Anco theaters.

Eighth Avenue, where the Adonis was located, while not technically a side street, was definitely more peripheral to the theater district – and decidedly more dangerous and foreboding a place. There was (and still is) but one, lone, legitimate theater located on the west side of Eighth Avenue, the former Martin Beck at W. 45th Street. Aside from that theater, the strip was mostly porn palaces, adult shops, old bars, crappy diners, flop houses, strip clubs and hookers. Lots and lots of hookers. From the dirty 30’s, past the Port Authority, and right up through the ‘40’s and lower 50’s. I rarely found myself on Eighth Avenue, except to catch some flicks at the Hollywood Twin, when it was a revival house for a few years. And aside from a family dinner on Joe Allen’s once or twice when I was a young child, I don’t remember ever venturing west of Eighth in that part of town, until maybe 10 or 12 years ago.

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on June 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm

yes i was thinking the Martin Beck was located in one of the worst locations—45th street just west of 8th Avenue back in those days. and Ed you answered my question about those characters that were hanging around the firehouse (now the Biltmore condo)—it was a flophouse thats what it was, that boarded up structure

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on June 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Ed I remember the Hollywood it was just across the curb from the flophouse hotel the Sherman (which is now an Econolodge). When you went to the Hollywood did you feel uneasy with the outside atmosphere? I don’t know why but i found 46th, 47th street north and 8th do be even creepier than further down toward the Port Authority.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on June 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm

I sorta did, rlr2010. I usually planned my viewings at the Hollywood during daylight hours. Particularly, since the majority of the time, I went there alone. When I used to go catch movies at the 42nd Street grind houses, it was typically with friends, so I wasn’t quite as concerned about the hours – although, even there, we always tried to get an early start! Particularly after our first couple of visits.

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