Adonis Theatre

839 8th Avenue,
New York, NY 10019

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Showing 1 - 25 of 130 comments

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on January 31, 2021 at 12:35 pm

Hello-

does anyone know how long this theater was closed so they
could shoot the scene for the film Times Square?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 14, 2020 at 7:25 pm

Jesus Christ…! (And I mean that as a prayer.)

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on June 14, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Hello-

in the approx. 15 years the Adonis and the 55th St. Playhouse were in a tie for the leading gay porn house in Manhattan the 55th St. often had the star or stars of a new film do personal appearances the opening weekend. now I don’t remember the Adonis doing so but did they?

grindhouse
grindhouse on May 11, 2020 at 2:55 pm

Hey bigjoe59 from everything I have heard, Wakefield Poole’s “Boys in the Sand” was indeed the first feature length picture, opening at the 55th. Even HBO’s “The Deuce” had an episode devoted to it.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 11, 2020 at 10:45 am

Hello-

to grindhouse thanks for the info. the 55th St. playhouse was showing hard-core gay porn a good three years before the Adonis started doing so. now the film that made people take note of gay porn was Boys in the Sand which opened at the 55th St. Playhouse Dec.‘71. but that was not the first hard-core gay porn film to open in Manhattan just the first people took note of. since you seem quite knowledgeable would you happen to know the first hard-core gay porn film to open in Manhattan before Boys……..?

grindhouse
grindhouse on May 9, 2020 at 3:19 pm

18 months before “Deep Throat” took the world by storm, The Tivoli made history in NY by playing “Mona” the first sexually explicit “feature” film with actors and plot and not a movie disguised as a pseudo documentary or marriage manual. Opening ads in photo section.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 6, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Hello-

to Mike(saps) thanks of the info. so it seems the theater played regular films of whatever genre till the early 60s. the first time I remember seeing an ad for the theater when till called the Tivoli was in say 1969/1970 when it was showing soft-core straight exploitation films.

just out of curiosity. in the approx. 15? years it was tied with the 55th St. Playhouse as the leading gay porn house in Manhattan the box office was always in the upper left hand corner of a rather large lobby. is that where the box-office was when it a regular movie theater?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 5, 2020 at 7:33 am

While we’re at it, two ads posted in photos, one as the Tivoli from February 1975 and one as the Adonis from March 1975

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 3, 2020 at 5:51 pm

Found this website on the internet. Excerpt:

The Adonis was built in 1921 on a lot at 839 Eighth Avenue, between 50th and 51st streets, and dubbed The Tivoli. It had an impressive Renaissance façade, and its large marquee became a distinctive fixture on the west border of the Theater District neighbourhood. It came complete with a grand lobby and a balcony flanked by solid two-story Ionic columns. With a seating capacity of 1,433 and an open-air “roof garden theatre” of 951 seats (which probably fell into disuse when the talkie era began), it was, as period advertising boasted, ideally suited for the presentation of “films, orchestra and grand opera soloists.” It also came equipped with a Kimball organ. Like most theatres, it changed ownership and booking policy through the decades, including a stint in the early ‘60s as a showcase for Spanish-language films.

Chelly Wilson took over the place in the early/mid ‘60s and ran it as a grindhouse. On March 4, 1975 she rechristened it The Adonis and began exclusively programming gay porn, winning praise from the trade publication Variety, which pegged it as the largest and most lavish gay porn theatre in NYC.

Wilson was one of the more colourful characters of Times Square, but she was also an ace businesswoman, and in 1968/69 added to her stable of smut cinemas by building The Capri and The Eros 1 from the ground up in what had been apartment buildings. These two classic mini-theaters, together with The Eros 2, which was later renamed The Venus, were clustered in the vicinity of Eighth Ave and 45th street. Titles like Virgin Flesh and Sex Deal adorned their marquees.

The Eros was a gay venue and had the honor of screening Heavy Equipment, a 3-D homo classic featuring Jack Wrangler and The Christy Twins, while The Capri and The Venus were for straights, or at least played hetero porn. As for the latter venue, it was, as Landis reported in Sleazoid Express, “so pitch black you couldn’t see your watch on your wrist” and “smelled of lavender mothballs.”

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 3, 2020 at 3:33 pm

Hello-

this theater opened in 1921 as a combined vaudeville/movie theater. now when I was the leading gay porn house in the city it seemed to have the same 1.33.1 aspect ratio screen that a silent picture house would have had. so by the mid 50s it wouldn’t have been able to show a film shot in Cinemascope or Vista-Vision. so my question is when did it stop showing regular films?

grindhouse
grindhouse on May 2, 2020 at 4:54 pm

“Manhold” in 3D opened December 26, 1977 and played for seven weeks.

It’s a lost film with an interesting history. Directed by David E. Durston who directed the horror cult classic “I Drink Your Blood”. Village Voice ad and screenshot in photo section.

https://lostmediaarchive.fandom.com/wiki/Manhole_(Lost_3-D_Gay_Porn_Film)

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 2, 2020 at 2:02 pm

Hello-

Our memory plays tricks on us doesn’t it? I could swear the 3-D film I alluded to played the Adonis. now one thing I am 99.99% certain of is that for the longest time a poster for an “upcoming” 3-D film was in a display case right above the box office window.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 2, 2020 at 9:45 am

PS, Joe, according to the inter-webs, that 3-D movie played at the Eros, not at the Adonis.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 2, 2020 at 9:32 am

Ah, another silver screen classic brought to memory by the plucky and knowledgeable gurus of CinemaTreasures…

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 2, 2020 at 9:16 am

That seventies 3D process did not require any equipment. It used a silver screen and blue and red tinted glasses that cleared the overlapped images that were blurry when viewed without them.

bflonyguy
bflonyguy on May 2, 2020 at 9:00 am

It seems unlikely the Adonis would have had 3D projection equipment.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez on May 2, 2020 at 6:34 am

I found this book link that refers to a 3D gay-porn film called “HEAVY EQUIPMENT” playing at the Eros. https://books.google.com/books?id=VKhqh3HFH8AC&pg=PA143&lpg=PA143&dq=3d+gay+film+heavy+equipment&source=bl&ots=h8c4jeLlNJ&sig=ACfU3U1ECbQDbcTFKv0hWgy1mX-HxLR1TA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjqxe2gpZXpAhX-mHIEHZVHD9wQ6AEwB3oECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=3d%20gay%20film%20heavy%20equipment&f=false

Mikeoaklandpark
Mikeoaklandpark on May 2, 2020 at 6:26 am

I lived in NY from 75-83 they never had any 3-d movies

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on May 1, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Hello-

I believe this theater showed the only 3-D gay porn film I am aware of. it was in the days when gay porn was still shot on film and shown in theaters like regular films. I can’t remember the title but it starred Jack Wrangler and the Christy twins.

SingleScreen
SingleScreen on November 11, 2019 at 5:49 pm

I went there with a friend on the very last night it was open in 1989. There was a crowd there, but not nearly as crowded as I thought it would be. Closing nights were something of a right of passage in NYC. I had gone there maybe once or twice before it closed. Fascinating place.

inourwords
inourwords on August 20, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Hello all. I am currently looking for people to submit stories/memories from their days at the Adonis. Please take a look at this link and if you are so compelled, share your story/memory with us. We want to preserve this important queer history. Submit Story Here: http://www.inourwords.org/#!adonismemories/c1g38

curmudgeon
curmudgeon on May 9, 2015 at 8:02 am

Adonis, couldn’t agree more. Not restricted to NY however. Here in Melbourne Australia, EVERY single screen cinema (Downtown) has been demolished and only 2 multiplexes serve a city of over 4 million! Of course, multiplex complexes (sterile viewing rooms (sans screen tabs, and mostly with no masking) abound in the suburbs. Without our beautiful and brilliantly lit cinemas of old that attracted audiences from near and far with their outstanding Front Of House (marquee) enticements, exclusive runs and advance bookings, this city, at night,lacks the excitement and buzz that late night trading cannot compensate.

Adonis
Adonis on May 9, 2015 at 12:00 am

@rigleemv..I don’t remember them well..Perhaps if I saw them.. Anything else from the Adonis? Statues? Signs?..It was a beautiful theater, one of the top 10 in the City back in the day (size)..Juliani and Bloomberg who destroyed all the cultural centers, and true diversity of the City, should be run out of town on a rail. They were controlled by real estate moguls, developers and contractors. The same groups that sit in the MTA board To benefit their empires. They made NYC like Ohio or Kansas..no offense..But they killed and destroyed what made NY,NY..Now they can’t wait for the Chinese to take over..I guess..and they want it to look like China, w/ all these bicycles and lanes, that benefit few…Such a theater should have been saved..It was one of the jewels of NYas was the stage Deli…They destroyed many of the cities old historical theaters that many people could go in, experience their beauty and enjoy them..and they gave us office towers and stores that give nothing back to the people. The idea of giving the people things they can enjoy especially aestheticaly has been replaced with how much money can we make from this…and lets please these small but very vocal militant groups like bicycle riders (mostly non New Yorkers)…

robboehm
robboehm on April 18, 2014 at 6:57 am

Wow that’s something. There were four? So many lost treasures.

rigleemv
rigleemv on April 18, 2014 at 5:34 am

i have one of the 4 hanging chandeliers (eight feet with etched glass “wings”) from original Tivoli…for sale