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The Monica as the Pussycat with its big hit "Deep Throat," which ran eight years. It's a Jim Stephenson photo from April 1974 that he posted on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.
Phone: 323-656-6392 Website: www.studswesthollywood.com
Opened: 1940. This theatre four blocks west of Fairfax opened as the Monica. Initially it was a typical neighborhood house and then shifted toward a good career running foreign films.
In the late 50s, the theatre was calling itself the Monica International. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for this January 1958 ad.
The theatre kept the Monica name at least into 1965, by which time there was dabbling with soft core bookings. By 1969 it was called the Left Bank Theatre and running serious porno. This 1969 photo appears on the Cinema Treasures page for the theatre. Thanks to the site's contributor Mr. Comfortably Cool for the post.
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.
Seating: 638 originally, with no balcony.
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.
The Monica in the Movies:
The Monica is 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 Theatres in Movies post for more theatre shots from the film.
We get lots of shots of the Monica 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 Theatres In Movies post for shots of those theatres from the film.
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."
A November 2013 item on the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance's Facebook page noted that the City of West Hollywood was discussing the purchase of several properties including the Monica Theatre and the Coast Playhouse / Pan Andreas Theatre, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd. Evidently no action was taken. You can check for the latest news, if any, on the WHPA Facebook page or the WHPA website.
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 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.
The amazing Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection includes this 1975 photo looking east toward the theatre when it was the Pussycat.
The theatre in 1983, a photo from American Classic Images.
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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