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Avon Theaters, New York (1960s - 1983)
Related: 42nd Street - exploitation film - grindhouse theatre
Avon specialized in high frequency adult films that premiered at their string of theaters pocketed throughout Times Square.
Avon Theaters first gained a widespread reputation when they gave Andy Warhol films including My Hustler (1965), Vinyl (1965) and Flesh (1968) their first big commercial runs when they were still considered racy in the mid 1960s.
The homosexual elements of underground films proved to be a boxoffice draw, so Stella and Murray opened New York's first all-male theater, the Park Miller, on 43rd Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway. The Park Miller cut a striking figure in the gay lib Mattachine Society era of the late 1960s, with its three balconies and heavy sexual activity. It premiered Pat Rocco's softcore Hollywood shorts, and also presented packages of Kenneth Anger films for the cruise minded audience. --Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford, http://www.alphabluearchives.com/avon.html [Jan 2005]
Avon Theaters took a cue from Oh! Calcutta!'s nudity on the Broadway stage and integrated it with Murray's grainy memories of pre-Castro Havana live sex shows. Avon struck Deuce gold when they presented New York's first live exhibition of male-female sexual activity. Early porno chic superstars Jamie Gillis, Marc ("Mr 10-1/2") Stevens and Tina and Jason Russell initiated their careers with hardcore loops and these simulated shows. You cold drop a quarter in a peep booth and then walk down 42nd Street to see the same people live on stage. Absurd socially redeeming interludes like Jamie Gillis naked, reciting Shakespeare, were used as a shield against vice raids.
By 1973 the live shows turned hardcore. --Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford, http://www.alphabluearchives.com/avon.html [Jan 2005]
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