Harem Theatre

249 W. 42nd Street,
New York, NY 10036

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Harem Theatre exterior

The Harem Theatre was carved from existing retail space, opening on November 18, 1970, and featured XXX porn films on a double-bill grind for the better part of a quarter century. NYC records indicate that an eating establishment had previously occupied the site since 1964 and before that tenants included an Adler Shoe shop as far back as the 1940’s (Adler specialized in discreet “elevator shoes” for vertically challenged men).

The final C of O for the Harem Theatre shows 199 seats on the first floor plus a 60-seat balcony and projection booth on the mezzanine level. The marquee of the theatre faced directly across W. 42nd Street toward the time-ravaged fa├žade of the old Anco Theatre at what was certainly the most dangerous end of the increasingly rough and tumble Deuce. By the 1980’s, the Anco Theatre would itself make the switch from double-bill action and horror films to XXX porn. By this time the Harem Theatre had become a haven for crack addicts and other malfeasants.

The Harem Theatre was closed sometime in 1995-96, when just about the entire north side of W. 42nd Street from 8th Avenue to the Selwyn Building was condemned and taken by the City through eminent domain for redevelopment. In 1997 the theatre and adjacent buildings were demolished to make way for a high-rise Westin Hotel and the 13-screen Loews 42nd Street E-Walk that opened in 1999 and is now run by the Regal Entertainment Group.

Contributed by Ed Solero

Recent comments (view all 30 comments)

boboberg on May 25, 2008 at 3:58 am

Thank You for the EXCELLENT pics of the Harem Theater. During the summer of 1984 I was homeless in Manhattan and I used to pay $5.00 in the afternoon at the Harem to get in and I would stay all night until they kicked us out at 6:00 am. I have fond memories of the place and I miss the old Times Square area.
Mark Montgomery .com

revblake on June 15, 2008 at 11:59 pm

Matt Weber Rules….

boboberg on November 25, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Hey thanks for the 1996 pic, it was a bit of a chore to copy it but I got it. Mark Montgomery

kencmcintyre on May 19, 2009 at 10:38 pm

This was another Harem in the early seventies. Address was 723 Eighth Avenue.

DavidZornig on May 20, 2009 at 4:58 am

I am not sure how appetizing “Flame Steaks” would have been, wedged between two XXX buildings. It looks like it even has it’s own mini-marquee.
Not to mention the next door Grocery, Candy, Cold Beer & Cigarettes.
Seems like every hedonistic base was covered, in those four stores.

kencmcintyre on June 17, 2009 at 9:39 am

Here is a June 1971 photo from the NY Daily News:

AnnetteHeinz on November 10, 2009 at 8:06 am

Hello fellas. Thanks for putting together these memories. Wish some more of the girls woul find their way here. Love to all, Annette

formerprojectionist on December 28, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Ok, here’s some live footage of the Harem and some of the other theaters on 42nd St that my friend and I shot back in September 1980. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbRVzD71Cno this is part of a longer film, my friend did the music. By the way, my partner and I are currently doing a documentary on the Deuce, and we are very, very interested in interviewing anyone who worked on that street, in particular projectionist, but really anyone who was there in the golden days. We’ve already interviewed Jamie Gillis (male porn star who did live sex shows on the deuce), Joel M. Reed (who directed Bloodsucking Freaks aka Incredible Torture Show) and in January we are interviewing Carter Stevens (Adult Film director) Contact me if you have a story to tell.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on December 28, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Good stuff, formerprojectionist.

rivest266 on October 7, 2020 at 11:24 am

The Harem opened November 18th, 1970. Grand opening ad posted.

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