Gay History Flashback – The Infamous Adonis Movie Theater NYC, NY (1975 – 1988) NSWF

The 1,433-seat Adonis Theater, was originally built as the Tivoli Theater in 1921 by Billy Rose for Fanny Brice of all people and it was one of a kind.  But as time went by the grandly opulent vaudeville house turned movie theater on Eighth Avenue and 51st Street in its declining years became famous for anonymous stud romping, porn and SEX SEX SEX. 

Adonis Theatre in New York, NY - Cinema Treasures

It was a cinema palace that survived by giving Doris Day and Rock Hudson (oh the irony of it all) the pink slip and bringing in and out and in again Jack Wrangler, Kip Knoll, Richard Locke and the infamous Falcon Video-Pac guys to survive and became one of New York’s most popular ALL-GAY adult theater in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Not much history remains of the Adonis in books or on the internet just a few fading memories of those who who wandered its dark interior in days and nights of an era long gone by.

The Adonis came complete with a grand lobby and a balcony flanked by solid two-story Ionic columns.  Even as men prowled the aisles looking for sex the vast if not somewhat faded grandness of the theater could not be overlooked. Even Variety went so far to peg it as the largest and most lavish gay porn theaters in New York City.

In the late 70’s the Adonis was a sexual amusement part.  While the images of Jack Wrangler and Movies by Joe Gage flickered on the screen men in the aisles, the seats, the balcony, the bathrooms and anywhere they could find would act out their own sexual fantasies.  Sundays were so crowded that it was hard to find a seat in Adonis but that was all that was hard to find. Patrons would literally avoid the seats under the balcony’s edge at busy times for fear of being showered with semen from high above.

The Adonis was crowded at most times of the day, and night. Sleazy, and dark, it attracted a fun, fast crowd. Instead of popcorn you could buy small tubs of lube, cock rings and poppers at the concession stand. And for “boys on a budget” If one didn’t have the $7 admission you could easily meet someone in front of the theater to pay your entrance fee.

The Adonis’ house manager had a stake in the career of iconic  porn star Jack Wrangler.  So in 1977 a  film called A Night at the Adonis  was shot in the theater.  Theater employees such as Bertha the cashier acted in bit roles, and as soon as a print was readied it was on the screen at The Adonis.

A net posting by Oliver Penn recalls the movie.  . . “it was rather odd to be in the exact theater that was being depicted on the screen, sort of a movie coming to life all around you. What was happening on the screen was also happening in real life as you were watching the film.”

But the theaters size, age, and the outbreak of AIDS epidemic took its toll.  There were also some serious structural problems because of its age and lack of upkeep.  In the mid-’80’s the balcony collapsed. Luckily no one was hurt

Real estate developers that had a stake in the neighborhood  and deeply closeted Mayor Ed Koch who was using the AIDS epidemic to clean up Times Square was trying to get the theater closed down to tidy it up for the building of the monolith Worldwide Plaza, soon to be built on the next block. One prospective tenant, a a homophobic law firm law firm Cravath, Swain & Moore, stipulated that the theater had to close before Worldwide Plaza was built. The plaza’s developer, William Zeckendorf, subsequently bought up the site, and that was the beginning of the end of the Adonis.

Later a little known bizarre postscript to this story surfaced when a partner in said law firm David Schwartz—instrumental in shuttering the Adonis—was murdered by an 18-year-old male prostitute whom he’d spent the day with at his Connecticut summer home and then took to a sleazy Bronx motel. Schwartz had been stabbed 27 times.  It turned out that this moral pillar of the community who had a wife and three children liked rough street trade and had been living a double life for years.

But The Adonis did live on for a bit longer and transferred its name to another theater owned by  further south on Eighth Avenue, at 44th Street which was quickly outfitted with campy Greek statues and roman columns but it wasn’t the same.  Not long after the city of New York was doing its best close down every gay sex establishment in NYC and “new” Adonis was eventually closed in 1994 by the City’s Health Department after a raid revealed high-risk sexual activities taking place among patrons.

The grand old Adonis Theatre would stand like a grey ghost until the spring of 1995 on its corner of 8th Avenue and 51st Street until it was demolished. Now its memory is a ghostly reminder of the heyday of gay sexual freedom in a now scared and scary post-AIDs world.

Do you have stories about The Adonis or other forgotten NYC gay places?  If so leave them in the comments.

Bijou Blog - AT THE ADONIS
Adonis Theatre in New York, NY - Cinema Treasures
Inside The  Adonis Theater, December 1994
Lost Adult Theaters of New York: Then and Now - The Rialto Report

WATCH: A Night At The Adonis – Directed by Jack Deveau. With Jack Wrangler and Jayson MacBride – NWSF – Adults Only – RATED X

*Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research.

#FlashbackFriday - WATCH: Pan Am Training Video: "This is MY Galley" (1980's)

#FlashbackFriday – WATCH: Pan Am Training Video: “This is MY Galley” (1980’s)

Filmed inside the aircraft mockup training classroom at the Pan Am Flight Academy in Miami, Florida. This video was played during purser training on how to handle difficult situations and diffusing workplace conflict. Starring Pan Am’s own Cheri Leonhart, Linda Reynolds, and Joan Nell Bernstein.

Whatever you do. Don’t mess with Linda!

Elon Musk Paid Off Sexual Misconduct Accuser But Calls Accusations Untrue

Elon Musk Paid Off Sexual Misconduct Accuser But Calls Accusations Untrue

Just like a REAL Republican!

Via The Insider:

SpaceX, the aerospace firm founded by Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest man, paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Musk in 2018, Insider has learned. The attendant worked as a member of the cabin crew on a contract basis for SpaceX’s corporate jet fleet. She accused Musk of exposing his erect penis to her, rubbing her leg without consent, and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage, according to interviews and documents obtained by Insider.

Musk of course called the sexual misconduct allegation “untrue” but interestingly Musk recently announced that he could no longer support the Democratic party because, in his words, “they have become the party of division & hate.” In the same message, he he “predicted” that “Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold …”

Foreshadowing as he knew the details would come out?

Via Mediate:

Some [TRUMPERS] will see the report of sexual misconduct as evidence that Musk’s predictions came true. However, more media-savvy individuals will see that it is just as likely that Musk had learned of the looming report of his alleged horse-trading for erect penis exposure, and got ahead of the story framing the salacious report as a “dirty tricks” campaign.

Elon Musk’s accuser was smart to take the cash instead of stock options. Tesla is tanking.

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Gay History – May 14, 1883: Julian Eltinge The World’s Greatest Forgotten Female Impersonator – RARE 1929 Video

May 14, 1883 – On this day of America’s foremost female impersonator is born in Newtonville, Massachusetts. Julian Eltinge was a stage and silent film star who few actually realized was a man. So popular was he that during the Korean War a troop ship was named in his, or rather, her honor.

After appearing in the Boston Cadets Revue at the age of ten in feminine garb, Eltinge garnered notice from other producers and made his first appearance on Broadway in 1904. As his star began to rise, he appeared in vaudeville and toured Europe and the United States, even giving a command performance before King Edward VII. Eltinge appeared in a series of musical comedies written specifically for his talents starting in 1910 with The Fascinating Widow, returning to vaudeville in 1918. His popularity soon earned him the title of “Mr. Lillian Russell” for the equally popular beauty and musical comedy star.

Hollywood beckoned Eltinge and in 1917 he appeared in his first feature film, The Countess Charming. This would lead to other films including 1918s The Isle of Love with Rudolph Valentino and Virginia Rappe. By the time Eltinge arrived in Hollywood, he was considered one of the highest paid actors on the American stage,

Eltinge was an intimate of the top Hollywood stars and a wealthy man, worth over $250,000. He built Villa Capistrano, one of the most lavish villa’s in the Hollywood area, where he lived with his mother and entertained lavishly. He also built a ‘dude ranch’ for men in Alpine, CA near San Diego But times were changing. The outrageous performances of female impersonators Francis Renault and Bert Savoy, and the drag balls and gay speakeasies of the 20’s “pansy craze” in New York made Eltinge’s style appear old-fashioned. He began to drink heavily and in 1923 was caught smuggling liquor from Canada. Despite a sensational trial and bad press, he managed to get an acquittal.

It was the beginning of his decline and with the arrival of the Great Depression and the death of vaudeville, Eltinge’s star began to fade..  Eltinge resorted to performing in nightclubs. Crackdowns on cross-dressing in public, a misguided attempt to curb homosexual activity, prevented Eltinge from performing in costume. At one appearance in a Los Angeles club, Eltinge stood next to displays of his gowns while describing his old characters.

On May 7, 1941, Eltinge fell ill while performing at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe nightclub. He was taken home and died in his apartment ten days later. His death certificate lists the cause of death as a cerebral hemorrhage.

Julian Eltinge leaves a legacy as one of the greatest and most forgotten female impersonators of the 20th.century.

Raise a glass and remember Julian/Vestta!

“My heart is simply melting at the thought of Julian Eltinge;
His alter ego,
Vesta Tilley, too.
Since our language is so dexterous, let us call them ambi-sexterous –
Why hasn’t this occurred before to you?”

Dorothy Parker, “A Musical Comedy Thought” – Vanity Fair, June 1916

 
Madison Crawthorn Threatens Republicans and Americans. "It’s time for Dark MAGA to truly take command."

Madison Crawthorn Threatens Republicans and Americans. “It’s time for Dark MAGA to truly take command.”

Make America Dark Again” Hmm… Maybe not the best choice….

Posted today to Maddy Cawthorn’s Instagram page:

“When the establishment turned their guns on me, when the Uni-party coalesced to defeat an America First member very few people had my back. This list includes the lion share of figures that came to my defense when it was not politically profitable. These are honorable men and women who are the type of friends anyone yearns to have. “At the beginning of a change the patriot is a rare and hated man.” These are those rare and hated men/women. There are other National figures who I believe are patriots, but I am on a mission now to expose those who say and promise one thing yet legislate and work towards another, self-profiteering, globalist goal. The time for gentile politics as usual has come to an end. It’s time for the rise of the new right, it’s time for Dark MAGA to truly take command. We have an enemy to defeat, but we will never be able to defeat them until we defeat the cowardly and weak members of our own party. Their days are numbered. We are coming.

Bitch please.

“What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin’ at her rear end”. Birdie Cooan – All About Eve

Disgusting GOP/Q House Rep Thomas Massie Votes Against Antisemitism Resolution

Disgusting GOP/Q House Rep Thomas Massie Votes Against Antisemitism Resolution

Oberführer Republican House representative from Kentucky Thomas Massie (who claims to be a Libertarian) cast the ONLY vote against a House resolution honoring Jewish Americans’ heritage and denouncing a rise in violence motivated by antisemitism.

Via Newsweek:

Representative Thomas Massie was the sole vote against the resolution, which passed the House with 420 votes. Although the resolution passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support, eight Republicans abstained from voting. The reasons for Massie’s vote are unclear. As of Wednesday evening, he has not issued any statements nor made any social media posts explaining his vote.

This is NOT the first time Massie has used anti-semantic rhetoric. In 2021 Massie took to Twitter to post to compare COVID 19 vaccination cards to Holocaust victim’s tattoos. Which he quickly deleted. And just last January, Massie quoted a Nazi pedophile in an attack on Dr. Faucci.

Massie who hangs with Gang Greene in the GOP House; Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Bobert, and Matt Gaetz laid another bombshell since last nights NO VOTE on the House Resolution on Anti-Semitism. Today Massie was one of NINE Republicans voted against a bill in Congress that would help lower-income women secure baby formula for their children. It’s no shock who the other 8 were.

WATCH: Killing Patient Zero (2019) - The Demonization of Gaeten Dugas

WATCH: Killing Patient Zero (2019) – The Demonization of Gaeten Dugas [Full Documentary]

Gaetan Dugas,  a French-Canadian flight attendant became notorious as the alleged patient zero for AIDS.  A study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 1984 traced many of New York City’s early HIV infections to an unnamed infected homosexual male flight attendant. Epidemiologists hypothesized that Dugas had carried the virus out of Africa and introduced it into the North Western gay community.

Dugas was also featured prominently in Randy Shilts’s book And the Band Played On, which documented the outbreak of AIDS in the United States. Shilts portrayed Gaëtan Dugas as having almost sociopathic behavior, by allegedly intentionally infecting, or at least recklessly endangering, others with the virus. 

For the next 40 year he would be vilified as Patient Zero, the man who gave us AIDS.

You can watch the full documentary Killing Patient Zero below:

*Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. 

Creator of "The Fantastiks" Tom Jones Rewrites Classic Musical as Gay Love Story

Creator of “The Fantastiks” Tom Jones Rewrites Classic Musical as Gay Love Story

 Tom Jones the librettist and lyricist of the beloved show The Fantastiks has penned a new version of his classic musical.

As a gay love story.

Via Playbill:

Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s The Fantasticks tells an allegorical story loosely based on Edmund Rostand’s 1894 play The Romancers (Les Romanesques), concerning two neighboring parents who trick their children into falling in love by pretending to feud. The LGBTQIA+ focused rewrite features two young gay men, Matt and Lewis, at the center of the story, instead of a young man and woman (the original characters were Matt and Luisa). Transforming the boy and the girl into two boys (Matt and Lewis) is an idea I’ve had for a long time,” says Lluberes. “Rethinking the show through the lens of two young gay men reveals so much about first love, identity, and self-discovery.”

The new version of his classic musical—in collaboration with Flint Repertory Producing Artistic Director Michael Lluberes—that will premiere June 3–19 at the not-for-profit professional theatre company in Michigan.

During its original run at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, The Fantasticks logged a record-breaking 17,162 performances.

For more information and to buy tickets click here.

Gay History – May 18, 1981: Dr. Lawrence Mass Becomes The First Person To Report About AIDS

Many believe that the New York Times article of July 3, 1981 was the date of the first newspaper published report about the deadly disease which would later be called AIDS by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Actually the first published report that mention the mysterious and deadly disease appeared in  New York City’s own independent gay newspaper The New York Native three weeks earlier by Dr, Lawrence Mass.

Mass, who wrote a regular health column for the small weekly had heard rumors of a new disease striking down gay men in New York City. Some were coming down with a rare kind of a skin cancer that had previously only affected the elderly living in the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, and Middle Eastern regions called Kaposi’s Sarcoma. Others victims were stricken with a rare form of pneumonia which typically only appeared in people with severely suppressed immune systems such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and transplant recipients. There were also a host of other odd diseases that gay men were coming down with, but so far nobody had figured out that there might be a single cause to link them all together.

Later Dr, Mass was assured by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta that there was no evidence of an emerging “gay cancer,” Mass wrote an article titled, “Disease Rumors Largely Unfounded,” which began:

Last week there were rumors that an exotic new disease had hit the gay community in New York. Here are the facts. From the New York City Department of Health, Dr. Steve Phillips explained that the rumors are for the most part unfounded. Each year, approximately 12 to 24 cases of infection with a protozoa-like organism, pneumocystis carinii, are reported in the New York City area. The organism is not exotic; in fact, it’s ubiquitous. But most of us have a natural or easily acquired immunity.

“What’s unusual about the cases reported this year, is that eleven of them were not obviously compromised hosts. The possibility there exists that a new, more virulent strain of the organism may have been ‘community acquired.’” But Mass reported that there was not enough evidence (yet) to make a clear connection between the new disease and the gay community

But the CDC was wrong and it wouldn’t be long before they realized that and  a link was made.  

Mass followed up on his original article in July 1981 with a piece called, “Cancer in the Gay Community,” on the then-new HIV/AIDS epidemic. Chroniclers of the AIDS crisis now recognize Dr. Lawrence Mass as being the first to write about the emerging epidemic in print.

In 1982, Mass joined Larry KramerEdmund WhitePaul Rapoport, Paul Popham and Nathan Fain in co-founding Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the world’s first and still largest AIDS information and service organization. For 10 years, through four revisions, Mass authored GMHC’s guide, Medical Answers About AIDS, which usually concluded with an appeal for civil liberties for sexual minority persons and the sanctioning of same sex relationships as “essential considerations in the preventive medicine of AIDS.

Beginning in the late 1990’s, Mass extended his public health interests to the bear subculture of the gay community. He has addressed in a regular column a range of health topics of interest to this subculture, initially consisting of middle-aged overweight men, first for American Bear Magazine and later for A Bear’s Life magazine.

Dr. Lawrence Mass still works as a internist physician in New York City, where he resides with his life partner, writer and activist Arnie Kantrowitz.