Playpen Theatre

693 Eighth Avenue,
New York, NY 10036

Unfavorite 8 people favorited this theater

Playpen Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Ideal Theatre was opened in early-1916. It had many owners and name changes over the years. In the 1960’s it was owned by Chelly Wilson, who owned a handful of similar theaters in the area. According to Sleazoid Express, this place was famous for the “Olga” movies.

The Playpen Theatre was demolished in December 2007.

Contributed by Gena

Recent comments (view all 118 comments)

Bway
Bway on April 16, 2009 at 9:41 am

I always felt “sorry” for this theater when I would walk by and see it’s marquee with porn on it. The actual building had a lot of character on the outside, and it seemed a shame it was used for porn. Although now even worse, it’s a pile of rubble.

woody
woody on May 7, 2009 at 6:08 am

here is a new high res scan of a previous photo i posted, taken in 1992 when the theatre was the Adonis
View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 19, 2009 at 11:34 pm

The Ideal Theatre was built for Consolidated Amusements Enterprises, one of the largest of the early movie theater circuits in the east. The trade journal The Music Trade Review of November 6, 1915, published an encomium penned by Consolidated’s head, Lawrence Bolognino, in praise of the instruments of the American Photo Player Co., which had been installed in a number of the circuit’s houses.

The Ideal was then under construction, and a $5,000 Fotoplayer had been ordered for it. Other theaters being operated by Consolidated (each with a Fotoplayer among its accouterments) included the Drury Lane Theatre, the Regent Theatre, the Seventy-Second Street Playhouse, and the Morningside Theatre.

MNmn
MNmn on December 24, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Photo from private archive shows RKO CAMEO THEATRE in May of 1930 –
View link
Reference – Sergei M Eisenstein. Biography by Marie Seton, NY 1960, page 160

Bway
Bway on December 25, 2009 at 8:29 am

Wow, that is a great photo, from the theater in “happier” days.

woody
woody on October 13, 2010 at 2:14 am

photo from 2005ish which ive played around with using shift tilt thing on photoshop, a whole new look at the Playpen
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/5076785224/

MNmn
MNmn on October 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

This is a new link to the photo of Cameo Theater, located on West 42nd Street: /theaters/6499/, as pointed out by “Tinseltoes” on December 10, 2010 at 1:54 pm
https://picasaweb.google.com/michaeln2007/MonoszonLI?authkey=Gv1sRgCK6ij4CBjtyA5QE#5655625053327811218

jedidiah
jedidiah on December 14, 2011 at 1:20 am

Before it was the Playpen it was the Adonis (a different Adonis from the more famous one of the same name farther up 8th Avenue) and before it was the Adonis it was, of course, the Cameo, and I’m surprised that this theater doesn’t have a separate listing under that name because it was the “Cameo” for decades. Bill Landis (or, I should say, the late Bill Landis because he recently passed away) and his wife Michelle Clifford in their essential book on Deuce movie theaters, “Sleazoid Express,” devote a whole chapter to the Cameo and its owner, the infamous Chelly Wilson, the doyenne of Times Square smut palaces. Ms. Wilson deserves some sort of immortalization on the Deuce Walk of Infamy and if you can find Landis' excellent article on her that used to be posted on the Alpha Blue site, it is essential (and truly jawdropping) reading.

If I recall the book correctly, the Cameo is where the notorious roughie “Olga” movies played, but, more importantly, the Cameo played an important part in the history of Times Square pornography when in May of 1970 the film, “Sexual Freedom in Denmark,” premiered there. It was the first X-rated film to truly show “penetration” shots as compared to tamer less graphic adult flicks like “I am Curious (Yellow).” “Sexual Freedom in Denmark” was part of the wave of instructional adult films that were supposed to be documentaries or “how to” flicks, which is how they got away with the “redeeming social value” obscenity issue. Nowadays, they are known as “white coaters” because they usually had scenes of a sham doctor lecturing about the importance of sexual openness interspersed with the action shots. “Screw” magazine gave it the highest rating it ever bestowed on an X-rated film up to that point, and because of its explicitness it opened the floodgates of truly hardcore pornography that eventually overwhelmed Times Square.

“Sexual Freedom” played the Cameo for months. I saw the next film there in the fall of 1970 when I was a college freshman, “The Postgraduate Course in Sexual Love.” It was the first “adults only” film I ever saw. There was also a trailer for the next feature, “The Kama Sutra,” that, if my memory serves me correctly, featured an unknown (at that time) actor named John Holmes. I remember the theatre well: at that time it was still a comfortable, well-appointed, well-heated little theatre with a respectful, quiet audience. Years later (actually a decade later) I went back to the Cameo out of a combination of curiosity and nostalgia and it was a pure hellhole and indicative of how porn just totally trashed those Times Square theatres. The Cameo had been stripped of all of its prior interior comforts (carpeting, an ornamental urn in a niche as you entered the theatre), reeked of urine, and had tranny hookers patrolling the aisles for quickie tricks. It undoubtedly continued its inexorable decline down the sewer as it finally morphed into the Playpen and total decrepitude. But back then in the long ago time of 1970 it was still a lovely little theatre unkowingly about to succumb to venereal rot.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on May 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I am working on a project to document the history of adult theatres in the US. If anyone has any person memories of the Playpen/ Adonis they would be willing to share, please contact me at mjprigge at uwm dot edu

biff33
biff33 on November 17, 2012 at 5:30 am

Another picture of the interior, when new, is here:

https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=pCznAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&authuser=0&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA5

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater