Five hundred and forty-one

An update on the Metro Theatre – one of the few remaining old-time adult cinemas in Canada

Going to the Metro Theatre is one of the most popular things I did and also one of the most referenced in my blog.  It was an experience I will never forget and not necessarily in a good way.  I would almost go so far as to say it haunts me.  I can remember the cashier’s words of caution, the smell, the feeling of being a complete outsider in a world I sometimes wish I never entered.  Here’s an excerpt from my blog post of my experience there:

We entered the grand theatre to the image of a black leather corseted woman in white makeup and a top hat on the big screen (this I later found out from my date, as I was too petrified to even pay attention to what was on the screen).  The vinyl seats are peeling and sticky.  The musty smell is strong.  I am creeped out.  It’s dark, but I can see about four men scattered around the theatre.  All is still when we enter and we take a seat on the side.  My date sits like a coiled spring ready to defend me.  Then there’s movement.  The men are moving towards us.  We hear belt buckles clink.  It’s been five seconds.  I tell my date we have to leave – NOW.

I also went back and took some more photos of the outside of the building for photography month, which are posted here.   Everyone loves to ask me about it.  I guess as humans we are curious of what goes on behind the red door with the “POSITIVELY NO ONE UNDER 18 ADMITTED” sign under a picture of a woman holding a snake.  It’s a view into a world foreign to many of us.  And hey, everyone has their own things that make them happy.  I try to keep an open mind and not judge.

The Metro Theatre has recently appeared in the news because two entrepreneurs have plans to turn it into an indie, art house, foreign film hub four nights a week.  There will still be porn shown during the day, but after a bit of a makeover and a “really detailed sterilization process” (quoted from one of the entrepreneurs on the cbc website), starting August 24th you can go see one of four screenings per night in the two cinema rooms.  They will also be holding special events on the weekends.

It’s an interesting sell, considering there will still be the porn on during the day.  I would not want to be the cleaners for that place.  And as one woman commented on blogTO’s article about the changes at the Metro, “just beware all you ladies in spiked denim cut offs – it might be wise to bring your own seat cover to avoid accidentally impregnating your butt.”  It’s a little extreme, but I can imagine a lot of people feeling that way.  I admit to bringing a plastic bag just in case I needed to cover the seat when I went.

In defence of the building itself, it is a beautiful old cinema from the late 1930s, and with a makeover could look quite spiffy.  I also go back to my original point of why so many people want to hear about my experience there: curiosity.  I have a feeling there will be a large group of people curious about the building with the posters of old porn stars on the front.  If they are suitably impressed and can get over the idea that someone was possibly touching themselves in the seat a few hours earlier, maybe they will go back.  I might have to go, if only to get over my traumatizing experience and associate a historic building with beauty and art instead of the creeps.

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Three hundred and fifty-six

“Metro Theatre”

My most notorious post and the one experience that shook me to the core.  I can still remember the feeling of the men moving towards me in the theatre with the giant black leather corseted woman having sex on the huge screen.  I remember the words of caution from the cashier, the peeling and sticky vinyl seats, the sound of the belt buckles… shiver.

The one of few remaining old-time adult cinema’s in Canada will always give me the creeps. But it’s an encounter I will never forget!

One hundred and sixty-eight

Metro Theatre – a trip to one of the few remaining old-time adult cinema’s in Canada

I have said over and over again this month that the anticipation and thought of doing something out of your comfort zone is worse than the reality.  This is an exception to that rule – my experience at the adult cinema was so much worse than my wildest imaginings I still have the hebejebes.

“Don’t slip,” the cashier (a gentle older man who genuinely seemed to be looking out for me and my gentleman friend) says as he walks us to the general admittance theatre – ewwww.  There are two theatres at the Metro, a historic movie theatre on Bloor between Manning and Clinton, that offer continuous play of three porn films from 11:30am to 10pm, 7 days a week.

It was 8:30pm on a Sunday when we arrived through the red door with the “POSITIVELY NO ONE UNDER 18 ADMITTED” sign under a picture of a woman holding a snake.  I had paced back and forth outside the cinema with my male accompaniment saying that I might not be able to do it.  I wasn’t sure I was brave enough.  Did I really want to see that part of society?  And did I really want anyone to see me going in there?

I clung to my date and made him do all the talking.  Twenty dollars for two got us admittance to both cinemas – the general admittance larger theatre and the smaller one that you need a code to enter (an extra that I think the cashier gave us to be kind).  We entered the coded cinema first and besides the musty smell in the air and the giant screen of two women and one man getting it off, it wasn’t so bad.  No one else was there.  The porn was fairly tasteful.  The theatre wasn’t too dirty.  I was relieved.  I was all worried for nothing.

The decision to check out the larger cinema will haunt me forever.  “If anyone comes up to you just give them the bum rush and tell them to go away.”  More words of advice from the cashier.  “You know how it is.  A girl comes into a place like this they get brave.”  There should have been horror music as he led us to the door.  “If they want a girl, they should just go to a club.”  I had a really bad feeling and clung to my gentleman friend’s hang so tightly I was afraid he would lose circulation.  “Just go in and take a seat right away.” My date later told me that he thinks if you stand at the back of the theatre that means you’re inviting other people to check you out.  We definitely did not want that.

We entered the grand theatre to the image of a black leather corseted woman in white makeup and a top hat on the big screen (this I later found out from my date, as I was too petrified to even pay attention to what was on the screen).  The vinyl seats are peeling and sticky.  The musty smell is strong.  I am creeped out.  It’s dark, but I can see about four men scattered around the theatre.  All is still when we enter and we take a seat on the side.  My date sits like a coiled spring ready to defend me.  Then there’s movement.  The men are moving towards us.  We hear belt buckles clink.  It’s been five seconds.  I tell my date we have to leave – NOW.  I couldn’t even look at the men.  My friend said he didn’t want to.  Who are these men?  Why are they there?  Are they lonely?  Do they just enjoy the films, as this article about the Metro from the Toronto SUN suggests?

This is a world in which women are outsiders, only to be watched on the big screen as objects of lust.  This is not a place where I was welcomed.  I stood out, in a very bad way.  And I was so happy I had not tried to do this alone.  It’s not the porn that shocked me, but the experience itself.

The minute we left we went to wash our hands.  I didn’t touch my clothes.  My date and I were both overwhelmed.  Neither of us had ever felt such an intense energy before as in that second cinema.  Every instinct in my body said run.

Some men enjoy this and I am glad there is a place for them to go.  The cashier was lovely and the historic cinema beautiful. I would recommend if women want to go, to stick to the VIP room, though.  Or just watch porn at home on the internet.

Click here for another woman’s take on her trip to the Metro Theatre on blogTO.