The Studs Theater, located at 7734 Santa Monica Boulevard, opened last week, on Thursday, March 25th. The gay porn multiplex theater, which also plays straight and transgender x-rated movies, is easing its way back to a new normal and is currently only showing mainstream non-pornographic movies, until further notice.
The owner is taking precautions as the Los Angeles County prepares to move towards lifting restrictions under the orange tier this coming Monday April 5th. The new Health Officer Order and modified directives for businesses will allow movie theaters to increase capacity to 50% or 200 people, whichever is less.
The adult movie theater is currently playing mainstream films on the main theater towards the very back. The three smaller theaters to the front are currently black and sealed off. An employee behind the counter says that although the movies are mainstream, the venue is still offering the Studs Theater “experience,” just don’t forget to wear your mask.
The parking lot west of the building was crowded with cars this past Tuesday afternoon. A Batman movie was playing on the main screen, but that didn’t deter regular patrons from paying s $23.00 entrance fee for that unique Studs experience. The price may seem like a lot, but the movies play on loop, so patrons can stay as long as they like during business hours, which are currently from 12 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
A conversation with the theater’s owner, Max Cassing, this past February, revealed that he is considering making some changes to the historical theater as we move towards a post pandemic society. He mentioned he is thinking about turning the historical theater back to its origins when it was an art movie house known as the Monica Theater. He shared his vision of renting the space for special screenings showing art films, cult classics, and hosting film festivals.
Cassing has owned the theater since 2006. He also brought back the Pussycat name and repainted the historical dancing Pussycat on the marquee.
“The theater was doing very well before the pandemic,” he told WEHO TIMES earlier this year. “There wasn’t a day when we just broke even, we always made a profit. Then they shut us down unexpectedly right before St. Patrick’s Day, and we’ve shut down ever since. It’s been a tough year. Because of the adult nature of our business, we don’t qualify for a government loan, so I have to cover the rent. All we can do is come here to pick up mail, water the plants and wait.”
The employee working this past Tuesday said the theater has been filled to its allowable capacity since it opened. “It’s been busy,” he said. “In fact, I worked on the day we opened and there were six people waiting in line to get inside.”
The employe also echoed some of the changes mentioned by his boss. “They’re thinking about doing a lot of changes, but they can’t do anything right now,” he said. “It all depends on the city. As we move to a different color and we open more, we’ll see what changes they have in mind. Right now we’re showing mainstream movies, and then we will move to some art films, and probably show gay porn again as the city gets back to normal.”
The Studs Theater opened in 1940 as the Monica Theatre. It started showing foreign films as the Monica International in the 1950s. By the mid-1960s, the Monica started showing soft-core porn. It moved to hardcore porn by 1969 under the Left Bank Theatre. It became the Pussycat in 1970 and goes down in history as one of the first theaters to show porn classics like “Deep Throat” and “Devil in Miss Jones.” The front of the theater still has the hand and foot prints of porn legends like Linda Lovelace (1973) and John Holmes (1985).
The Pussycat went gay for pay and became the Tomkat Theater in the 90s. It was rebranded as the as Studs in 2006 and is now also known as Studs at the Pussycat.
The Studs is the only Pussycat theater left standing. It is one of two porn theaters that remain in Southern California. The Tiki Theater, a much smaller venue, is located at the opposite end of Santa Monica Boulevard near the 101 Freeway.
The area where The Studs theater stands has changed dramatically to a more family friendly neighborhood. Where men once cruised each other for sex in the back alley, you now see straight couples walking a stroller to take a shortcut home just south of Santa Monica Boulevard. The houses in the area are also being redeveloped to more upscale townhouses and two-story McMansions.
It could very well be the end of an era for Studs as the COVID-19 dust settles and the numbers of infections and deaths continue to plummet. With gay bars closing all over the country, it won’t be the first gay space to go more mainstream as a result of the pandemic.
For more history on the Studs Theater in West Hollywood, visit this fascinating theater blog: https://losangelestheatres.blogspot.com/2017/03/monica-theatre.html.