Friday, May 7, 2010

House Call with The Good Doctor: 15th Avenue Books (aka Melrose Playhouse), Melrose Park, IL

Doc here with the melodrama that is 15th Avenue Books and News, also known as The Melrose Playhouse.  I have been working on this report for awhile, since the situation there has been pretty fluid for the past few months.

There is no other adult theater I am aware of that went from being a brand new business, a metoric climb to being one of the top 3 adult theaters in the country in the span of 2 years, and now to what it is... I won't spoil the ending yet.  (OK...Norman Bates is his own mother...Sorry, wrong spoiler ending).

If memory serves me correct, 15th Avenue opened in 2005 in Melrose Park, IL, a western suburb of Chicago.  The original manager was one of the former managers of The Admiral Theater, a former adult theater and now gentelmen's club in downtown Chicago.  Located in a light industrial section of the town, it is in a discreet location with parking directly behind the business in a large lot. 

15th Ave Adult Books
1525 North 15th Ave
Melrose Park, IL

Several things made/make 15th Avenue unique.  Being brand new, the theater was perfect...65 brand new plastic stadium seats, just the right amount of ambient lighting for those who like to watch, and a large area in front of the main screen that had a few couches, an exam table, and initially, a sex swing.  The facility also had a large adult book store, and a video arcade area of 16 to 18 booths of various sizes/configurations.  Within a year of opening, the crown jewel of the facility opened...A spa consisting of: a locker room, 6 small private rooms, shower room, a wet sauna, and a "bleecher" seating area.  From that area, there was attached a huge private party room.

The word started to get out about the Melrose Playhouse.  Locally at first, and then via the internet, The Playhouse started to get out of town visitors on a semi-regular basis.  There was a very active Yahoo Group at the time that did a good job of getting the message out.  Within 16-18 months of opening, the place was hopping.  Friday and Saturday nights saw the theater packed with anywhere from 6 to 15 couples an evening, not to mention the crowd of single guys.  Parking overflowed to the street.  If one is diligent enough, by looking through various Yahoo groups concerning adult theaters and ABSs, you will see plenty of "action" pics from The Melrose Playhouse. 

There were regular couples and single women that would be regular attractions on weekends (and some week days): The names Femcar, Nancy B, Avida, and  Honey (just to name a few) were on every red blooded guy's tongue at The Playhouse.  The activity there at times even rivaled the scene in Portland from time to time.  There were theme parties at The Playhouse...4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day. It was the perfect place for "this thing of our's".  It was the best of times.

In the fall of 2008, the first in a series of events took place that stopped the rise in popularity of 15th avenue Books, and eventually threw it in reverse.

I will not get into the gossip of who and why, but The Good Doctor will just say that it only takes one person with a axe to grind to damage what hundreds or maybe thousands discreetly enjoyed. 

Let's fast forward to April of 2010...

The Good Doctor made a House Call to 15th Avenue for the first time in almost a year.  A Friday night would normally be the 2nd best night of the week at The Playhouse.  I knew things were different when the parking lot at 9pm was only half full.

When the facility opened, the mangement erected an awning/covered area outside the main door for smokers, and also as a cooling off area for people who *may* have expended some energy inside.  There were tables, chairs...A nice social environment.  On that Friday night, it was almost gone.  The awning remained...The chairs and tables were gone.  Also missing were doors on the video booths (I had read they were removed back earlier in the spring for reasons I will not say...).

The following report on the Fox News in Chicago (fair and balanced?) broadcast this "piece" early this year that certainly didn't help business:

The admission prices had not changed, however.  $20 for a single guy, $30 for access to the spa and theater.  By far, the most expensive entrance fees in the country.

In the 2 1/2 hours spent there, I saw 3 couples enter the theater, of which two left within 10 minutes.  The third may have been there half an hour.  The energy, the excitement, that once permeated 15th Avenue was not present.  Not to be completely negative, a regular patron told The Good Doctor that 2 weeks prior (on a Saturday), the place was hopping.  I hope that is true.

15th Avenue Books (aka The Melrose Playhouse)
Arguably the best facility in the country, but a recent turn of bad luck (news report, LE presence from time to time), makes 15th a hit or miss proposition that is more miss of late.

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