Kimo Theatre

3319 Main Street,
Kansas City, MO 64111

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 22, 2018 at 10:38 pm

David and Noelle’s list of known Boller theaters has the Alamo listed only as a 1944 remodeling project. It doesn’t list Boller Brothers as the original architects in 1910.

Stranger_In_A_Strange_Land on April 5, 2017 at 10:27 pm

I lived in Kansas City for three years in the late 1980s while attending grad school. Some of what little spare spending money I had was spent going to the Dove once or twice a month. Until I moved to Kansas City in my mid-20s I’d never seen a go-go dancer, much less a totally nude dancer, live on stage. I was mesmerized the most by the cute girl-next-door types that seemed to be from the Kansas City area.

When I left town in late 1989, the Dove was still alternating adult videos/films for about 90 minutes with a live feature dancer who would go on stage for a little less than half an hour.

Some of the live dancers were well known adult film starlets who would tour around the country. I remember Hyapatia Lee coming through the Dove for a week when she was supposed to be one of the top names in the business. She didn’t impress me much. Half the time for her dance sets was taken up by her husband/manager standing on stage blathering on and on and on about the highlights of her illustrious porn career before she finally started performing.

I seem to remember the postage stamp sized ad for the Dove appearing each Wednesday near the end of the sports section In the Kansas City Star. It would tell who the featured (and normally only) dancer would be for the following Friday-Thursday. Or maybe the ad ran in the Sunday paper for a Tuesday-Saturday engagement. The dancer would do three sets a night. Something like 7:15, 9:00, and 10:35.

The two names I remember very fondly are Trixie Vaughan and (Sybil?) Rush. Any time I saw either name in the ad I would be sure to catch all three sets one night that week. They both did a classy yet sensual set that always left me wanting more. At least one time they appeared together for a week. That might have been the only time I ever went twice in the same week!

aeast on July 10, 2016 at 4:24 am

Bardot’s “And God Created Woman” played at the Kimo for a solid year back in the late 1950s.

OKCdoorman on October 3, 2015 at 7:51 pm

I’ve posted some on this theater and was finally able to view its presence in the local newspapers of the time.

In searching through the Kimo’s ads during the 1980s in the Kansas City Star, you can see the evaporation not only of adult theaters themselves but also any individually owned single screen houses. KCS movie ad pages of the late 1970s can not only take over 3 entire pages (on an average non-premiere weekday with dozens of films) but there’s perhaps only 1 chain in control of 15-20 total screens out of perhaps 80 to 90 total theaters and a couple mini-chains taking another 10-15 screens combined of their own, dozens of individual businesses and their film product wrestling for attention. At the bottom of barrel by then was of course the Kimo.

But starting in 1981 the picture changes drastically. Not only did the Star itself shrink for several years but the 500-lb gorillas literally take over the page —Dickinson, AMC, Commonwealth—the effect is ominously startling. By the mid 80s on a weekday the entire Kansas City range of movie marquees has dropped to a martially-designed, corporate-banner-controlled single page, with plenty of room at the top for some page filler. (There’s some recovery later in the decade.)

I write this to explain what happened to the Kimo’s advertising. The latest I can see this theater still labeled the Kimo was October 1972 when they were showing Bill Diehl’s THE SECRETARY, then they stop advertising for at least two months. I’m guessing this is when they take a rest break before becoming an X-rated operation called the Dove but wasn’t able to get to the next issues advertising it.

The Dove alternated porn with live shows through 1990. Originally in the early 1980s they advertised every day, and their ads include pictures and graphics . Then as the Star began losing pages the adult theater ads become simple tiny squarish paid blurbs each, scrunched into the bottom of the movie page, banished by themselves a couple pages away from the conventional ads around 1984, and by 1985 relegated to the sports section or a Friday entertainment supplement. By the late 80s the remaining three adult theaters including the Dove advertise only on weekends—you had to buy the paper four separate times to catch any of them—and somewhere around 1990 the Dove admits surrender to the VHS/home-video revolution and ceases even mentioning movies, only live porn vixen performances.

It would literally take at least a week poring through the Star’s archives to get a much better idea about the Kimo’s final years—including about its reported raid by authorities—but wanted to try to get a better idea of what happened to it.

OKCdoorman on September 29, 2015 at 5:21 pm

There’s been so much redevelopment in the area of the Kimo that hardly any very old businesses from that time operate there now. But I’m hearing from locals the Kimo is where the Verizon Wireless is in the street view, that it was a pretty big theater taking up most of the block, couldn’t have been open later than 1981, and it was raided for pornography immediately before demolishing.

OKCdoorman on September 29, 2015 at 3:26 pm

It appears the newly-released DEEP THROAT was the opening feature when this theater went hard-core as the Dove around 1972, and Kansas City press were invited to the premiere.

KCB3Player on April 24, 2015 at 1:15 pm

I remember my Dad and I going to the KIMO to see the movie – A Raisin in the Sun. It had an exclusive run at the KIMO and did very well. Ruby Dee and her husband Ozzie Davis were there for opening night along with a sky Light. It was a pretty big deal for Kansas City and it all happened at The Kimo.

KCB3Player on April 18, 2015 at 12:38 pm

The name change for the Kimo was The Festival Theater – it was both a live performance venue and some of the better art films that competed with the Fine Arts Theater. It was really beautiful and the vintage Marquee was repaired with fresh neon and when lit up looked fantastic. I was able to get two of the side wall light fixtures that were identical to the ones that were in the Aladdin Theater. I got parts of those but the pieces were pretty usless without the rest of the fixture. The rug cleaning company that took over the Aladdin Theater building took off those faces to just have the lights showing. I ended up giving my pieces to Rick’s Mom of Rick’s Rock and Roll Club when he was doing reserve duty. Not sure if they were re-installed or now. As for the Kimo – it was completely destroyed when it became a XXX house with live nude performances. Sad loss for Midtown.

MovieSnob on June 28, 2013 at 12:32 am

If I recall correctly, Dickinson closed The Kimo around 1972 or ‘73. From 1967 through the end, the theater operated as a first-run house, however with a steady stream of Russ Meyer films, and Swedish/Danish adult product, with most features running for at least four weeks.

The notable exception to that rule was, “I am Curious(yellow)” which only ran for about ten days, before the theater was raided, despite a 21-and over age policy for that feature. With no print, The Kimo closed for two or three days. That “Curious” engagement may have outlasted the film’s run at The Kimo South, which also ran afoul of the law in showing the Swedish import (though with an 18 and over policy). BTW, the Kimo South alternated French and British M/GP films with European X-rated flicks.

After The Kimo closed, it reopened a short time later, however the name escapes me. The new theater ran hard-core films, though, as I recall, it tried to pass it off as higher-quality couples fare. I don’t remember if the old marquee survived that owner, but that incarnation didn’t last long. By the time the name changed to The Dove, and catered to the trench coat crowd, the marquee was gone, as was the neon and any traces of its former grandeur—replaced with dark wood around a flush marquee and cheap stucco.

I wish someone had decent pics of The Kimo and The Kimo South. It seems nothing exists anymore, though since both theaters were raided, you would think there would be a newspaper photo somewhere.

WTKFLHN on December 30, 2012 at 6:46 pm

I can remember the KIMO in the 1950’s as an art house. I can recall them Playing the “RED SHOES” for something like 5 or 6 months. It was at that time operated by the Dickinson Theater chain.

Hubinger on December 11, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Not sure if this is useful information but after high school my friends and I would visit the Dove theater so this was in 1991-1992. The theater inside was large but I would have trouble guessing the capacity. A wall had been built dividing the theater in half with movies on one side and stage show on the other. The stage was large and the full width of the theater. Entering from the street the lobby was probably 20-30' deep before the theater. The theater was on the East side of main as the picture shows.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 18, 2009 at 6:17 pm

If The Alamo was open in 1929 but closed by 1930, it might have been the cost of making the switch to talking pictures that killed it, and was probably the economic downturn that nailed its coffin shut. That happened to a lot of theaters during that period.

So the time-line would be Alamo Theatre from 1910 to 1929, rebuilt as the Kimo and reopened in 1944, operating (except for the temporary closure in 1952) under that name until at least 1969 (the last time I can find it mentioned in Boxoffice), and then probably becoming the Dove sometime in the 1970s and operating as a porn house under that name at least as late as 1984, and finally demolished prior to 2006.

kcfan on June 18, 2009 at 4:59 pm

I searched Polk’s City Directories, which listed the Alamo Theater at 3319 Main through 1929, disappearing in the 1930 directory. The Rialto Club, which was a popular nite club appears in the 1936 directory (could have been 1935—I’ll double check. Bars and nite clubs would have only started being listed again in the 1934 edition after prohibition) To the best of my knowledge, there never was a theater at 3406 Main by any name.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 29, 2009 at 6:59 pm

3319 Main and 3406 Main are on opposite sides of the street, of course. I think 3406 can be ruled out as a current address for the theater’s location. It might have been a former address, but it would have been extremely strange for a city to have flipped its odd and even numbers from one side of the street to the other.

Current Google Street View shows a bar called Davey’s Uptown at 3402 Main, and a business called Nick Carter and Company at 3410 Main, and the building in between where 3406 would be is certainly not the theater. It looks old enough that it could have held a storefront theater in the 1910s or 1920s though.

On Google Street View, the odd-numbered side of the 3300 block of Main is seen to be of quite recent construction, so the theater must have been demolished. The address 3319 does not appear to be in use currently.

I think the theater must have been about where the parking lot is in front of the Verizon Wireless store now seen in Street View, though the address of that store is 3385 Main Street. What must be the theater building can be seen in a 1969 aerial view available at Historic Aerials. Their 2006 aerial shows the modern building that has the Verizon store in it, but Google Maps' satellite view shows the site vacant, so the theater must have been demolished before 2006. I don’t know how old the Google satellite view is, but it has to be pre-2006.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 29, 2009 at 12:57 am

A July 14, 1969, Boxoffice item does give the location of Dickinson’s Kimo South Theatre as Overland Park, so the Rio must be the one.

I’ve found both the Kimo and the Kimo South mentioned in Boxoffice’s columns about weekly grosses in Kansas City theaters as late as April, 1972, but in the 1973 issues I’ve seen only the Kimo South is listed.

The recent opening of the Kimo Theatre was reported in the June 17, 1944, issue of Boxoffice. However, the article contradicts some of Chuck Van Bibber’s original intro to this page. It states that the Kimo was the result of an extensive remodeling of the Alamo Theatre, while Chuck’s intro says that the Alamo Theatre was a block away from the Kimo.

Chuck also submitted Cinema Treasures' Alamo Theatre page which, if this Boxoffice article and another Boxoffice item from March 19, 1944, are correct is a duplicate listing.

In Google searches I thought I’d found contemporary mentions of the Alamo in Boxoffice from after 1944, but they all turned out to be items in the magazines “From the Boxoffice Files: Twenty Years Ago” feature. I think we can be pretty sure the Kimo was indeed the Alamo rebuilt, but it would be good to get confirmation from other sources.

The Boxoffice article said that the Alamo had been closed for several years at the time it was rebuilt into the Kimo, so it might not be listed in FDYs from the early 1940s. The Alamo might be listed at the Kimo’s address in earlier issues, though (unless KC did a block renumbering about that time.)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 28, 2009 at 6:54 pm

In the last paragraph it should read “I don’t know if the Kimo South….”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 28, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Here’s additional information about the Kimo. Its art house period began long before the 1960s. An item in the February 2, 1959, issue of Boxoffice says that “And God Created Woman” had been running at the Kimo for a full year. A later paragraph in the item says:

“The engagement is the outstanding one in the theatre during the tenure of the Dickinson operation which began in 1944. The Kimo then became the first art film theatre in Kansas City and one of the first in the midwest. Other ‘milestone’ engagements have been ‘The Red Shoes,’ ‘Lili,’ ‘Henry V,’ and ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets,’ each of which ran about six months.”
By 1968, various issues of Boxoffice are mentioning a Kimo South Theatre, also an art house operated by Dickinson. I’ve found the Kimo itself mentioned as late as the issue of March 10, 1969. I don’t know of the Kimo South was at a different location, or if Dickinson twinned the Kimo. The 1984 photo of the Dove does show an attraction board typical of 1960s twin theaters.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 28, 2009 at 6:18 pm

The closing of the Kimo in 1952 had indeed been temporary. The March 3, 1956, Boxoffice says a new air conditioning system had been installed in the Kimo Theatre at Kansas City, resulting in a considerable increase in patronage during the summer of 1955.

This was a two-page article about the air conditioning systems in the Kimo and in the new Sierra Theatre in Alamogordo, N.M., then under construction. There are a couple of interior photos of the Kimo, and the article says that the house had 515 seats, and that the auditorium was 40x70 feet.

The Kimo name remained during the theater’s art house era, at least until 1967, when Boxoffice reported in its January 23 edition that “A Man and a Woman” was still doing good business in its eighth week at the Kimo.

I think the 1984 photo must depict the Kimo. The setbacks of the inner pair of display boxes is the same as the earlier photo of the Deco facade, and the lobby is the same width and has the same configuration. That remarkably ugly fake mansard with its cheap shingles was a common feature on buildings remodeled in the 1960s. I wonder if the remodeling took place before the house began showing porn? If so, I’d consider it an architectural premonition of the theater’s future screen fare.

RobbKCity on April 12, 2008 at 7:36 pm

This photo would have probably been after the 1943 remodel.

RobbKCity on April 12, 2008 at 7:34 pm

Here’s a photograph of the Kimo Theater.

View link

JimS on August 31, 2005 at 8:50 am

The KIMO probably did close in 1952, BUT it reopened, and was an art house movie theatre during the 1960’s, showing mosly foreign flix. Then it became a porno theatre called the Dove. It was then torn down in the 1990’s to make room for a COSTCO complex.