Studs at the Pussycat theater is closing at 7734 Santa Monica Boulevard–possibly for good–after alleged rent increases and rise in crime in the area. Its final day of operations will be this Saturday, October 29, 2022, a little before midnight. The adult multiplex theater is the only and last of its kind in the city of West Hollywood featuring gay, straight and transgender adult movies. The space has operated as the Studs Theater since 2006 (prior to that, it was the Tomkat theater).
Omar Fiori Cassing, who owns the theater with his husband Max Cassing, had no comment on its closure. An employee confirms that everything must be cleared out of the space before the end of the month. Items like benches and other furnishings have already been moved to storage.
The owners did not renew their lease, which was up at the end of the year. A For Lease sign went up in August. Omar said the rent had been raised too high and that they were looking to move to a new location. “It is time to find another location,” said Omar back in August. “We are hoping to stay in West Hollywood, we just don’t know where right now. It’s no secret that we are leaving, but we plan on re-opening. We are not closing, just moving to a new place.”
However, according to a soon-to-be former employee, there has been no word about a re-opening. He says he believes the Studs is closing for good and has been told to find a new job.
“This theater caters to men of a certain age who don’t know how to navigate through Grindr and Scruff for a sexual outlet,” said an anonymous patron. “This is all some of these men have. Where will they go after it closes down when nobody wants them at the bars or online?”
According to the same source the hike from $25 to $28 was a deterrent for a lot of its loyal customers who found it was too expensive. “I remember when it cost $10.00 to get in back in the 90s,” he said. “it was $18.00 for the longest time, which seemed like a lot for this kind of theater, but $28.00 was just too much.”
The theater had its challenges during the COVID-19 shutdown. There was the uncertainty brought by the rise in monkey pox cases over the summer–not to mention the hike in rent, and according to Omar, crime has been on the rise in the area as well. He alleges he was a assaulted for the first time in the sixteen years that he’s been running the theater.
“In all the years that I worked here, I have never been assaulted and then one guy wanted to force himself inside,” he said. “I told him he had to leave and he started punching me. I did not hit him back. I had cameras that caught the whole thing. It’s getting pretty bad around here. It is time to move somewhere else, maybe something smaller. This space is way too big.”
Cassing has owned the theater since 2006.
The Studs Theater opened in 1940 as the Monica Theatre. It showed 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 then became known as Studs at the Pussycat. Cassing brought back the Pussycat name and repainted the historical dancing Pussycat on the marquee.
The Studs at The Pussycat Theater 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 closure of the Studs at the Pussycat Adult Theater in West Hollywood, is yet another end of an era.
For more history on the Studs Theater in West Hollywood, visit this fascinating theater blog: https://losangelestheatres.blogspot.com/2017/03/monica-theatre.html.