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Monica / Pussycat Theatre

7734 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90046 | map |



Opened: 1940 as the Monica Theatre. It's on the south side of the street four blocks east of Fairfax. Thanks to Eric Lynxwiler for sharing this c.1965 photo from his collection. It's on Flickr. Note "International" added in neon under the theatre's name. 

Phone: 323-656-6392    Website: www.studswesthollywood.com

Architect: Unknown

Seating: 638 originally, with no balcony.

Initially it was a typical neighborhood house and then shifted toward a good career running foreign films. Beginning in the late 50s, the theatre was calling itself the Monica International.


 A January 1958 ad. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding it.



By 1960 the theatre had started a slide toward soft-core porno. This Times ad from that year was located by Ken McIntyre for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. A story appearing in May 1960 noted that the film was then celebrating its 15th week. Portions of "Mr. Teas" were shot near the Follies Theatre on Main St. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several screenshots. 

The theatre kept the Monica name at least into 1965. By 1969 it was called the Left Bank Theatre and running serious porno. In 1970 it became the Pussycat and for a long period was one of the flagship houses for Vincent Miranda's chain. Long runs and lines around the block were the rule for films such as "Deep Throat" and "Devil in Miss Jones" as porno chic became the rage. Later as a gay porno venue it got rebranded as the Tomkat. In 2006 it got the name Studs and now it's Studs at the Pussycat.

Status: It's still running as a gay porno house, converted into a four screen operation in 2011. There's also a small lounge area running straight porn.

There's occasionally been some agitation to revamp the theatre into something more respectable. There were stories in local papers in 2009 encouraging the City of West Hollywood (or someone) to buy the property and return the theatre to Hollywood programming. Curbed L.A. ran an August 2009 story "After the Porn: What to do With the Studs Theatre."

In 2013 the City of West Hollywood was discussing the purchase of several theatre properties including the Monica Theatre and the Coast Playhouse, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd. The city ended up buying the Coast Playhouse but not the Monica.


The Monica in the movies: 
 

It's one of many Los Angeles area theatres (including the Campus and the Esquire) that we get a quick look at in the nine minute short "Let's Go To The Movies," available on Internet Archive. It was produced by RKO in 1948 for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more theatre shots from the film.



About 20 minutes into "Three Husbands" (United Artists, 1950), ostensibly set in San Francisco, we get this shot. The film, directed by Irving Reis, involves a recently dead playboy who is granted one wish in heaven. That he'll be able to see the faces of three friends when they each read a letter he's sent saying he had a fling with their wives. Eve Arden, Ruth Warrick and Vanessa Brown are the wives. The Monica is where two of the couples attend a French film. Not together. And several of the participants try to avoid being seen by the others. Thanks to Jack Tillmany for spotting the shot in the film. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for two views of the studio setup they use for the interior shots. 

The Monica is seen in "Hot Rod Gang," (American International, 1958). Thanks to Bret Mannon for spotting it. He notes: "It can be seen as the racers zip up and down Santa Monica Blvd. The marquee is only plainly visible for a second or two, but it’s there." The film, directed by Lew Landers, is about a kid who joins a rock band to earn money to support his drag racing habit. It stars John Ashley, Jody Fair and Gene Vincent.


More exterior views:


A 1969 photo of the theatre as the Left Bank. It appears on the Cinema Treasures page for the theatre. Thanks to the site's contributor Mr. Comfortably Cool for the post.



In a bid for immortality, the stars' hand and footprints are preserved in front of the Monica. Instead of Gable and Monroe, the stars here are from the theatre's Pussycat days and include performers such as Linda Lovelace and John Holmes. See "A Shrine To The Other Hollywood," Christopher Crouch's 2013 Cinelog article for more details. He says these won't be included on any Starline tour you take.



Here the theatre is named the Pussycat and showing its big hit "Deep Throat," which ran eight years. It's a 1970 photo from Chapter 3 of Jay Allen Sanford's history of the Pussycat chain, a book length epic originally appearing in the San Diego Reader. It's on Blogspot: "Pussycat Theaters: The Inside Story Chapter 1" and "Pussycat Theaters: The Inside Story Chapters 2-15."



A March 1973 look at the Monica during the run of "Deep Throat," which opened November 17, 1972. Thanks to Jay Allen Sanford for the photo, appearing with his history of the chain. The shot is also in the American Classic Images collection.



Thanks to American Classic Images for this wider view, also taken in March 1973.



An April 1974 photo by Jim Stephenson. It was a post on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.



The amazing Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection includes this 1975 photo looking east toward the theatre when it was the Pussycat.



The Monica in the Movies: We get lots of shots of the theatre as the Pussycat in the documentary "Inside Deep Throat (Universal, 2005). Here, the jurors in the "Deep Throat" obscenity trial are visiting the theatre to see the film in its natural surroundings. The documentary explores the making of "Deep Throat" and its aftereffects. We also get views of the Optic, the Art Theatre and the Sunset Theatre. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for shots of those theatres from the film.



A 1979 view of the opening of "The Ecstasy Girls," a film directed by Gary Graver. Graver later worked as a cinematographer for Orson Welles. Thanks to Lindsay Lilith Von Chartreuse‎ for finding the photo for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.



The Cinema Tour page about the Studs Theatre includes this night view by Ken Roe taken when the theatre was the Tomkat. Thanks, Ken!



A 2010 marquee detail. Thanks to Bud Care on Flickr for the photo. And also to Ken McIntyre for spotting it for a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



A daytime view by Mr. Roe on Cinema Tour.



The Monica Theatre in its current incarnation as Studs at the Pussycat. Photo: Google Maps - 2011



Thanks to Christopher Crouch for this photo of the theatre as the Studs. It's with "A Shrine To The Other Hollywood," his 2013 Cinelog article about the stars' hand and footprints in the concrete outside the theatre.

More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Studs at the Pussycat for over 100 comments. Cinema Tour also has a page on the theatre. Joshua Barash has a nice night Studs marquee view on the WeHo City album on Flickr.

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3 comments:

  1. In the 1958 movie “Hot Rod Gang”, the Monica Theater can be seen as the racers zip up and down Santa Monica Blvd. The marquee is only plainly visible for a second or two, but it’s there.
    And...small correction. The theater is EAST of Fairfax not west.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Bret -- Thanks for spotting my directional goof. I fixed it. And also thanks for the information about "Hot Rod Gang." I added a mention of it up in the text. Your contribution is much appreciated.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for sharing this information about monica theatre

    ReplyDelete