Bijou Cinema

100 Third Avenue,
New York, NY 10003

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Showing 1 - 25 of 45 comments

biguns
biguns on July 9, 2014 at 6:43 am

I moved to NYC in January ‘96. Ended up living at 12th and 3rd. I can confirm that at least by that time, and I believe well into 1997, this theater was running as a gay movie house. It was not exceptionally blatant but there were blacked out glass doors, no marquee, and I believe sandwich board sized promo pictures of gay adult film stars. I can’t remember if the boards were outside or you could see them when people opened the doors. But this place was very definitely operational in '96 and '97. Definitely hung on a lot longer than most of the other theaters in the area. What seems insane now is that even as late as May '97, 12th street between 3rd and 2nd was still a prostitution block. I remember the day when the cops did a huge undercover sting on all of the johns and that was the end of that.

Anyway, my two cents.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Joe, I suggest you read the Box Office article from 1947 that Tinseltoes posted on July 1, 2012. It is chock full of information about this theater, including its history, capacity and seating arrangemnts.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on April 30, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Hello-

well i was in the area again this past weekend and decided to see exactly what was at 100 3rd Ave.

in my post on the other page i noted there was a fairly tall new structure in the middle of the block which i had viewed from the other side of the street. well guess what? that new structure which is either 6 or 7 stories is in fact 100 3rd Avenue. its now a fancy upscale bar. the door was open and i noticed a doorman/bouncer. its possible he knew nothing about the history of the building but it didn’t hurt to ask. so i asked him if the new structure was in fact a completely new building. well he did in fact know of the Lyric Theater. i hope i correctly understood him in that the trendy upscale bar and the additional floors are built within and upon the original building and not is not completely new.

the famous photo with the Chaplin cut out next to the box office always made the theater look bigger than it actually was. it was viable as a theater in that it was quite long as opposed to wide so a decent number of seats could have been accomodated.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 23, 2013 at 11:11 pm

The intro for this historic house really needs to be corrected and expanded.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on March 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

Great stuff, Lloyd38. Thanks!

llloyd38
llloyd38 on March 4, 2013 at 9:19 am

An error in the above. The box office magazine articles noted above by tinseltoes refer to the Ansons.

llloyd38
llloyd38 on March 4, 2013 at 9:18 am

I can clarify some of this. I built and owned the Pocket Theatre at 100 Third Avenue, an Off Broadway house. Our company, Sans Souci Theatre Corp took over the old Comet Theatre. At the time, 1962, the Comet occupied the space on Third Avenue, AND the space behind it, now the Classic Stage Co. at 136 East 13th Street. The projectors were in the Third Avenue space and the screen was on the far west wall of the 13th Street space. We put the wall back up between the two spaces, intending to have 2 Off Broadway Theatres, one on Third Avenue and one on 13th Street. We didn’t enough money to do both so we ran the Pocket Theatre at 100 Third Avenue and rented out the big space in back to some scenery builders who used the space for a workshop and storage. The Pocket Theatre had a variety of shows in it over the ten or so years we ran it. “America Hurrah” was the hit that ran there for over two years. John Cage and I produced the first performance of Erik Satie’s “Vexations” there in 1962. You can read about it in Wikipedia.

The history of the two spaces is this. Back before the turn of the last century this area was the German community in New York City. The space in back of 13th Street was an open beer garden, accessed through a bar at 100 Third Avenue. When nickelodeons became popular the owner walled off the beer garden and opened a nickelodeon at 100 Third Avenue. Later as films became more and more popular he took the wall down, roofed over the beer garden and created the odd T shaped movie house. When we took it over it was showing a western and a feature every day, for 25 cents admission. These owners, the Ansons, from whom we bought the Comet, also owned the Star at 15th Street and Third Avenue. They ran both theatres with the same program. While the Comet showed the western, the Star showed the feature. A “reel boy” ran between the theatres at the break, carrying the western uptown to the Star then bringing the feature down to the Comet. Mrs. Anson, who was living at 100 Third Avenue when we bought the place, told me this history. Her husband is mentioned in the news articles logged on to the EVGrieve website. We sold the Pocket Theatre in the early 70s to some shady lads from 42nd street. They, Arista Theaters Inc., closed the Pocket, I took our sign down, they put up theirs, The Jewel.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm

We always called them ‘hawkers’. I had never heard the term ‘candy butcher’ before.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on July 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm

A candy butcher?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Only trouble with that supposition, Al, is that the Theatre Unique was on the block bounded by East 13th and East 14th Streets between 3rd and 4th Avenues. An address of 136 East 13th Street would be on the south side of the street in the next block down, bounded by East 13th and East 12th Streets. Since this is the block on which the Bijou was located, it’s possible that the space accessed through that East 13th Street entrance by MarkieS was indeed a part of the old Bijou. Lyric is one of the former names listed above.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on March 1, 2012 at 10:53 am

MarkieS, sounds like it could have been part of the Theatre Unique but I haven’t seen any sign it was ever called the Lyric.

MarkieS
MarkieS on March 1, 2012 at 9:31 am

I was at a playhouse last night, address is 136 E.13th Street. It’s between 3rd and 4th avenues. In the lobby was a placard detailing the history of the place. It dates from the 1850’s when it was a livery stable. It then became the Lyric Theatre, first a Vaudeville then a movie theatre. I cannot find this theatre on this site. Can anyone help? Thanks in advance.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on December 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm

In March 1964 this was shut down (along with the Gramercy) for showing ‘unlicensed avant-garde films’.

It was then known as the Sans Souci Pocket Theatre

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on February 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm

The city was still trying to close this down in 1995 and may have succeeded then.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 15, 2009 at 6:19 pm

This from the book THE TRANSFORMATION OF CINEMA (Eileen Bowser).

“In September 1910 a WORLD reporter visiting the Comet at Third Avenue near Twelfth Street in New York’s Lower East Side tenement district approved the lighting conditions there. He wrote there was enough diffused light to read by, yet the screen was bright. Men, women and children filled the hall. He also approved the ventilating system and reported that an usher wandered the aisles spraying a sweet-smelling liquid. Unfortunately, he added, they ran ‘junk’ films- a Vitagraph and a Selig missing their titles, recognized by their trademarks on the sets and believed to be a year old.”

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on May 1, 2008 at 3:12 pm

This location was advertising as the Star-Comet in 1923.

AdoraKiaOra
AdoraKiaOra on April 3, 2008 at 5:36 pm

…and to think that sweet little ‘Annie Warbucks’ went to the Variety in the mid 1990s!!!

Bway
Bway on November 6, 2007 at 7:09 pm

Brooklyn Jim asked me to post this photo here….
I originally posted it under the wrong Lyric….sorry Jim! So here it is…

Click here for photo

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 20, 2007 at 2:59 pm

Sorry for the double post! (And I should have said WHICH the New York Times has for sale…)

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 20, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Here’s a shot from 1910 when it was known as the Comet, that the New York Times has for sale: View link

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 13, 2007 at 10:16 pm

I believe back on April 15th, 2005, Lost Memory linked to this 1910 photo when the theater had re-opened as the Comet. Anyway, Lost’s link is now broken, so thought I’d add it again.

RobertR
RobertR on October 4, 2006 at 6:33 am

A 1971 ad from the Jewel days.
View link

RobertR
RobertR on November 6, 2005 at 8:30 am

Here is a 1992 ad from a time is was being called Cinema Village 3rd Avenue
View link