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Deteriorated theaters by 1989


IronTiger

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I'm back with another 1989 advertisement from the Post advertising smut. This time it's from three theaters. I immediately figured that all three were once real legitimate theaters at the time, but had eventually deteriorated to the point of showing X-rated movies (and Karate Kid III for some odd reason).

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I couldn't find much on Cinema West. It appears to be in the same building as "Tarab Café" is in now.

The second, "Star Theatre" still came up as "Adult Video" in Googling the address, but it was the Santa Rosa Theater, which was opened in 1946 but torn down in 2007 (closure unknown). It's now a small shopping center (link).

The third has the address for Family Dollar, but it's not there anymore. It seems that it was where Capital One Bank is in what I presume was a Deauville Shopping Center at the NE corner of I-45 and Greens. (The fact that an adult movie theater was already cropping up just north of Greenspoint Mall in 1989 suggests that Greenspoint has been in decline for a while now)

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If I recall correctly, Cinema West was kind of a unicorn: a purpose-built building originally designed as an X-rated theatre.  It remained an adult video store for quite some time and there was a good bit about its controversial construction and opening in David Welling's _Cinema Houston_ book.  For the past few years, it has been the office for Sunshine Car Wash.

 

Edited by marmer
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Deauville Center is south of 525, and about a mile south of Greenspoint between 525 and West.  It also had a Furr's, Randall's, and Bobbie MGee's.  The movies were converted to adult by about 1980-81, just after Greenspoint opened.  I don't think it was so much evidence of Greenspoint's decline as it was that Greenspoint was built in an area that was already showing signs of stress and probably should have been put somewhere else.

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It's odd to me that one is showing Karate Kid 3. Family Films on one screen and porn on the other.

 

The Deauville twin theater's lobby was bisected by the concession counter - if you were entering the part serving screen one, you'd be on one side of the counter, and if entering the part serving screen two, you'd be on the other side (I use "side" loosely here - in reality, it was two separate, parallel counters, with the staff stationed between them and serving customers from both screens). IOW, customers waiting to be served on one side were facing customers waiting to be served on the other. This could get interesting after they started showing porn exclusively on one screen. 

 

Pretty sure this theater has been discussed here previously. 

Edited by mkultra25
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  • 4 years later...

Here's a reposting of something I posted here in 2006 about the Cinema West and its owner Joe Spiegel.

 

The original Cinema West was in a strip center on West Alabama, out where it merges with Westheimer. The guy who owned it was an interesting guy. Joe Spiegel graduated from the University of Houston with a business degree in the mid 60s, and his father gave him a hundred thousand dollars to start up his first business. Softcore porn was common at that time, but Spiegel could see that hardcore porn was slipping into the mainstream. He thought it could be profitable, so he took advantage of the public's relaxing attitudes and opened Houston's first hardcore porn house.

 

It made so much money that Spiegel was able to build a free-standing adult theatre on Richmond, and open another adult movie house in the Rice Village off Kirby - Cinema West II. His long range plan was to use his adult theater profits to buy legitimate family movie houses and ultimately get out of porn altogether, which is exactly what he did. At one time in the 70s and 80s, Spiegel owned several neighborhood houses around the city.

 

In his spare time, Spiegel was a big softball fan and player. He organized and sponsored teams in the city softball leagues and tournaments for a long time, and they were good. He had their trophies on display in the Cinema West lobby. I always liked Joe Spiegel. He wasn't a porn-meister, and he never got involved in producing adult films. He was, and probably still is, a smart businessman who used the growing popularity of adult movies to launch his business career. 

 

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On 1/31/2020 at 1:56 PM, handcrew said:

Hey IronTiger, thanks for posting the 1989 ad from the newspaper.  I am on the hunt for Houston newspaper movie ads from the 1960s-1980s (grew up and lived in Houston from 1971-1989).  Where did you find this?

Here is one from a July 24, 1969 Houston Chronicle...

1042283846_MovieAdsHouChron7-24-69.thumb.JPG.f0cb29c92eaa59e9522be3412629ac23.JPG

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19 hours ago, 57Tbird said:

Here is one from a July 24, 1969 Houston Chronicle...

1042283846_MovieAdsHouChron7-24-69.thumb.JPG.f0cb29c92eaa59e9522be3412629ac23.JPG

 

Nice. I saw Ice Station Zebra at the General Cinema Northline during this engagement. Despite the ridicule that's been heaped on it over the years, it made a powerful impression on me, as it was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. Apparently it made a powerful impression on Howard Hughes, too, as he became mildly obsessed with it and was said to have screened it over and over again in his home screening room. 

 

It must have taken a while to make it to the Houston market, as it premiered in October 1968. 

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On 1/31/2020 at 1:56 PM, handcrew said:

Hey IronTiger, thanks for posting the 1989 ad from the newspaper.  I am on the hunt for Houston newspaper movie ads from the 1960s-1980s (grew up and lived in Houston from 1971-1989).  Where did you find this?

Found 'em from newspaper microfilm. Luckily, the Houston Chronicle (but not the Post, sadly) has been fully digitized (ads and all) on the Houston Library website, all you need is a Houston library card.

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