Metropolitan Theatre

241 E. 14th Street,
New York, NY 10003

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Metropolitan Theatre exterior

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At its closing in 1988, the Metropolitan Theatre was perhaps the most notorious porno theatre in New York City, but it first opened in 1914 as the New 14th Street Theatre. Prolific architect Lorenz F.J. Welher’s design was one of his first for a full-fledged movie theatre rather than nickelodeon.

Around 1940, the theatre was re-named the Arrow Theatre, which stuck until the 1960’s, when it turned XXX as the Metropolitan Theatre (known to regulars as the Met).

Through the decades, the interior was never changed or even re-painted. The original screen still hung against the back wall, with a newer, larger screen placed some feet in front. The sliding glass skylight remained affixed to the ceiling, and soiled red damask covered the walls.

The theatre has since been razed and replaced by an apartment building.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 40 comments)

RobertEndres
RobertEndres on June 13, 2017 at 5:33 am

During the ‘70’s I was on a Local #306 Projectionist’s union team picketing a porno house around the corner from the Metropolitan. Our picket signs were stored in the Metropolitan booth. When our shift ended I volunteered with another member to take the picket signs back up to the booth. We got as far in the balcony as perhaps 30’ from the booth door when the stench got to me and I left the signs with my partner and headed for the exit. It was the only time in my life that I got that close to seeing a new booth and didn’t go in. “Sleazy” — I’d say!

Bronxboy
Bronxboy on February 4, 2018 at 1:40 pm

The theater showed straight pornographic films but was very popular with gays and straight men looking for “down low” sex. The theater was crawling with sexual activity in the seats. in the dimly lit passageways on both sides of the theater that led to a large, dark space behind the screen where anonymous sex was always going on, and of course in the restrooms. It was sleaze personified.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 5, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Hello-

does anyone know the last regular film to play this theater? I doubt it was playing a 3rd run neighborhood engagement of a big studio film one week than playing adult films the next week.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on February 5, 2018 at 6:29 pm

The usual progression was from mainstream to art/foreign movies, to early nudies and then to hard-core porn by the early 70s.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 5, 2018 at 7:01 pm

Define “regular” in the early 1970’s.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 6, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Hello-

in terms of Al A.’s question. by “regular” film I mean a studio film having a 3rd run neighborhood engagement. or possibly a low budget American indie. also a foreign language film. in fact I should have just asked what was the last non-porn film to play the theater.

NYer
NYer on February 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

According to the January 2, 1969 Village Voice, it was already a grindhouse and called The Met Adult Cinema and showing “Orgy Girls” and “Hot Skin And Cold Cash”.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on February 6, 2018 at 5:05 pm

The question bigjoe is asking may not have an answer. Sexploitation films of the seventies often issued a soft core version for the drive-in trade. How would anyone know when The Met switched to hard core versions for good unless they were regular customers or worked there.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on February 7, 2018 at 1:19 pm

Hello-

I thank Al A. and NYer for their replies. I’m guessing the two films mentioned in the ½/69 VV ad were soft core or exploitation films and not actual porn but still I suppose they were considered the “porn” of their day.

so I’m guessing that the theater went “adult” per se around the mid60s after being closed up even for a relatively short period of time. I say this because I can’t believe it was showing a 3rd run neighborhood engagement of a studio film that played say the Loew’s State or Criterion a few months before one week then
the next week was showing “adult” films.

markp
markp on February 7, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Al Alvarez, when they were filming porn movies in the 70s and 80s they would film two versions. The hard version would show the close up of the private areas, and the sex act, the soft would only show from the waist up on both men and women.

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