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Adult movie theater

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Title: Adult movie theater  
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Subject: Sex industry, Movie theater, Garden Theater, Taxi Driver, Internet pornography
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Adult movie theater

Nob Hill adult theater and arcade

An adult movie theater is a movie theater where pornographic films are shown to an adult audience. There are usually continuous showings. The movie posters in front of the theaters normally feature no nudity.

Films and patrons

Adult movie theaters show pornographic films primarily for either a respectively heterosexual or homosexual audience. For the patrons, rules are generally less strict regarding partial- or full-nudity and public masturbation or sex, and such behavior may be condoned explicitly or otherwise by the management.[1] Such behavior may or may not be legal, and if not, may or may not be overlooked by local law enforcement.[1][2] Certain theaters may also include a strip- or sex-show between films, or other sex industry services.

Before the VCR and, later, the Internet, a movie theater or cinema house was often the only location where people could see hardcore adult films. The spread of home videos has led to a drastic reduction in the number of adult theaters.[3]

By region

Adult movie theaters and peep shows on Montreal's St. Laurent Street.

United States

The earliest adult theaters in the U.S. were in California, and showed 35mm low production quality independently produced films . In 1960 there existed about 20 theaters in the USA that showed adult movies exclusively . In the late 1960s and early 1970s they spread to the rest of the country . Small "storefront" theaters with only a few dozen seats sprang up, and by 1970, 750 porn theaters existed in the U.S.[4] In the 1970s, theaters shifted from showing 35mm sexploitation films to more explicit 16mm "beaver" films.[5] In the 1980s some theater owners began forming chains to cut their costs,[6] and by 1989 the number of U.S porn theaters had fallen below 250.[7]

Restrictions on adult theaters vary by region, and may be restricted by local and state regulations. Local governments commonly prohibit adult theaters from operating within a certain distance of residential areas, parks, churches and/or schools. Often adult theaters have been forced to move to the outskirts of cities in order to protect real estate prices in city centers.[8] Renton, Washington was involved in a 1986 Supreme Court case regarding this issue. In its decision on City of Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc., the Court upheld Renton's statute that no adult theater be located within 1,000 feet of a school, park, church, or residential zone; the Court rejected the theater owners' argument that the statute violated the First Amendment, because the statute did not seek to ban the existence of adult theaters outright.[9]

Hollywood's Sunset Strip was home to many of Los Angeles' over 400 "adult" establishments and the largest such district in its state.

The O'Farrell Theatre in San Francisco, one of America's oldest and best known adult-entertainment establishments, opened as an adult movie theater in 1969.

Before Rudolph Giuliani became mayor, Times Square was New York City's largest district of its "adult" businesses.[10]

The Bijou Theater in Chicago is the longest running gay adult theater and sex club in the United States.[11]

The Pussycat Theater chain operated 47 porn theaters at its height.

Something Weird videos sells DVDs of many of the movies that were previously played at porn theaters in the 1970s in the U.S.


There are approximately 60 adult movie theaters in the Netherlands.[12]

In 2010 a law on sex companies was under consideration. In addition to municipal rules a national rule is introduced requiring adult movie theaters to have a pornography display license. An advertisement of the company should contain its license number. The theater must have a sign outside showing that the company is licensed, while inside a copy of the license has to be displayed.

Non-commercial sexual activities by and among clients do not require an additional license, but prostitution on the premises requires an additional prostitution company license.

See also


  1. ^ a b Phillip Brian Harper (1999). Private affairs: critical ventures in the culture of social relations.  
  2. ^ Steinberg, David (September 8, 2004). "Lap Victory".  
  3. ^ Slade, p.1067
  4. ^
  5. ^  
  6. ^ Slade, p.1097
  7. ^ Slade, p.1098
  8. ^ Slade, p.752
  9. ^ Thomas C. Mackey (2002). Pornography on trial: a handbook with cases, laws, and documents.  
  10. ^  
  11. ^ U.S. v. Toushin, 714 F.Supp. 1452 at 1454 (M.D.Tenn. April 21, 1989).
  12. ^ See Seksbioscoop in Tabel 1 in [1]. This number includes adult movie theaters with a TV-sized screen, see e.g. [2].


  • Slade, Joseph W. (2001). Pornography and sexual representation: a reference guide.  

External links

  • The General Laws of the State of Massachusetts from adult theatersLegal definitions for , United States
  • Missouri Porn Theater Bust Targets Gays
  • A view inside of an adult theater catering to men which is also a membership "private" sex club
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