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Monica / Pussycat / Studs 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.
 

The initial film was "The Old Maid," starring Bette Davis. This big ad appeared opening day, March 15, 1940. Thanks to Mike Rivest for locating it. Visit his site: Movie-Theatre.org

Initially it was a typical neighborhood house and then shifted toward a good career running foreign films. Michael Kilgore found this item in the January 5, 1952 issue of Motion Picture Herald:

"Leo Hershon and Saul Fruchtman have sold the Monica theatre to Bob Schwartz and Jack Hendricks."

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 until August 30, 1968 when it became the Left Bank Theatre and began running serious porno. The first film under this name was "That Woman," starring Eva Renzi. 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 later it was branded as Studs at the Pussycat
 
There had 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."
 
It was converted into a four screen operation in 2011. It was still primarily a gay porno operation but there was also a small lounge area running straight porn.
 
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.
 
Closing: October 29, 2022. Thanks to the WeHo Times for the news. Paulo Murillo covered the closing of the venue in "X Rated Studs at the Pussycat Theatre in West Hollywood Is Closing October 29." Thanks to Christopher Crouch for spotting the story. Omar Fiori Cassing and Max Cassing had been the operators since 2006. They cited a rent increase, erratic business, and rising crime as the reasons for the closing. They're looking for a new location.

Status: Vacant and for lease as of mid-2022. Want it? Call illi Commercial Real Estate at 818-501-2212.  
 

Interior photos:

The main auditorium. It's a WeHo Times photo by Paulo Murillo, one of many views with his article  "X Rated Studs at the Pussycat Theatre in West Hollywood Is Closing October 29." 
 
 

A look to house right. Photo: Paulo Murillo - Weho Times - October 2022 
 
 

The rear of the auditorium. Photo: Paulo Murillo - Weho Times - October 2022. Thanks, Paulo! 


More exterior views:


1969 - A view 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.



1970 - Here the theatre has been renamed the Pussycat and was showing "Sexual Freedom in Denmark." It's a 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."



1973 - A look at the Monica in March, during the run of the big hit "Deep Throat," which opened November 17, 1972. Thanks to Jay Allen Sanford for the photo, one appearing with his history of the chain. It also made an appearance on the now-vanished American Classic Images website.



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



1974 - A photo taken in April by Jim Stephenson. It was a post on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.


 
1975 - The amazing Bruce Torrence Historic Hollywood Photographs collection includes this view looking east toward the theatre. It's their #MP-042. 
 

1975 - Thanks to Ken McIntyre for locating this photo for a post on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.


1979 - The opening of "The Ecstasy Girls," a film directed by Gary Graver. Graver later worked as a cinematographer for Orson Welles. It's a photo taken by Thomas Kelsey for the L.A. Times. It makes an appearance with Carolina A. Miranda's 2017 Times article "The last (porn) picture shows: Once dotted with dozens of adult cinemas, L.A. now has only two." Thanks to Lindsay Lilith Von Chartreuse‎ for posting this sharper version on the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page.



2004 - The Cinema Tour page about the Studs Theatre includes this view by Ken Roe taken when the theatre was the Tomkat. Thanks, Ken!



2004 - A daytime by Mr. Roe appearing on the site Cinema Tour.
 


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



2011 - The Monica Theatre as Studs at the Pussycat. Photo: Google Maps



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


c.2013 - 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. Thanks to Christopher Crouch for the photo. He says tkis stop won't be included on any Starline tour you take.
 
 
 
2017 - A shot by Carolina A. Miranda taken to accompany her L.A. Times article "The last (porn) picture shows: Once dotted with dozens of adult cinemas, L.A. now has only two."
 
 

2017 - A marquee detail taken by Ms. Miranda for her Times article. She also pays a visit to the Tiki Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. near Western. It's a venue profiled on our Storefront Porno page.  
 
 

2022 - It's a WeHo Times photo by Paulo Murillo, one of many views with his article  "X Rated Studs at the Pussycat Theatre in West Hollywood Is Closing October 29." 
 
 

2022 - Sitting vacant on a rainy day in early November. Thanks to F Hudson Miller for getting the shot and sharing it on the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Facebook page. 
 

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.
 


We get lots of 1970s 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.  
 

We get a quick drive by the Pussycat early in "Hollywood Boulevard." (New World Pictures, 1976). An aspiring starlet played by Candice Rialson thinks she's landed her first film job. She's really just been recruited to be the getaway driver for a bank robbery. The film about "the street where starlets are made" also features Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel and Jonathan Kaplan. Direction was by Joe Dante and Allan Arkush. Jamie Anderson did the cinematography. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the Chinese Theatre and the Gilmore Drive-In from the film.

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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4 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
  3. I have a buyer looking for a theater and Weho or Noho under $7M. Is this theater for sale? Call or text me if you know someone willing to sell in these areas.
    Thank you.
    Abbey
    (619) 316-5156
    Douglas Elliman of Beverly Hills

    ReplyDelete