Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Blast From The Past" by JaxBchBum: Dallas' New Fine Arts Theater

Doc here with a Blast From The Past from Senior Journal Scribe, JaxBchBum.  It's been awhile since I ran a BFTP, and this one is terrific.  Regular readers of the Journal know I travel to Dallas on a pretty regular basis, so this one is interesting to me. 

So let's jump in the way back machine and head to Dallas and the New Fine Arts.


New Fine Arts was located in a strip shopping center about a block from its current location on Mockingbird down the street from a large hotel.  Had a retail store with the usual assortment of "toys and novelties", movie rentals, etc. but the anchor was the theatre.  You would go down a hallway (which evidently had been access to video booths in the past) and then turn left and go into the short tunnel that opened into the theatre.  It was a tunnel as the theatre had stadium seating and the tunnel went underneath the seating.  One side was about 8 seats wide and the larger side was 20 - 25 seats wide.  All in all I am guessing the theatre held about 200 - 225 people.  In my many visits there, rarely would there be less than 25 - 30 people there and usually at least one couple with weekends seeing several.  One guy told me once there was a swinger's club down the street but I was never able to verify that.  Seating was great in that if you were seated behind a couple, you got a great bird's eye view and if you were right in front, you were looking right at their crotch if you turned around in your seat.


Anyway, there was about a year's interruption in my trips to Dallas and I go back and the shopping center has been renovated and theatre is no longer there, replaced by a paper goods store (this was about year 2000).  Drive down towards the Lido and I see marque for the New Fine Arts (Guess it would really be the NEW, New Fine Arts).  Pull a U-turn on Mockingbird park out front and go inside. 

Totally new, bright ultra modern looking mega-adult store.  Look around a bit to get my bearings and see where they have a theatre and then looks like they have arcade as well as gay theatre down a hallway on the opposite side of the store.  Go up to the circular clerk booth and tell them I want a theatre admission.  Get a ticket and go inside. 

Much smaller theatre, maybe seating 50 people but with plush seats that actually rock back and forth a bit (now if they only would swivel).  Only about 5 rows with 5 seats on each side of the middle aisle.  Watching the high quality projection flick and in walks a young (early 20s) couple and she is knockdown dead gorgeous wearing a red dress.  They go sit on the back row on the opposite side back in the corner.  They are not there more than 5 minutes when she stands up and he helps her remove her dress and she is completely nude underneath.  A magnificent body with small perky breasts and a well trimmed bush. 

Well, within a minute, one of the clerks comes busting through the door looks directly at them (she is still standing with her guys hands all over her) and yells "get dressed and get out of here."  After my initial sense of disappointment of a great show being lost, I start to wonder how in the hell did the clerk know what was going on.  I start looking around and move up towards the screen and I notice they have a camera mounted above the screen that is pointed back at the theatre seating.  The MF's have the theatre under video surveillance.  Sure enough, I go out to the the theatre and I hang around the clerk's booth looking at some merchandise and I see the monitor tucked away that is showing the theatre.  I looked at theatre entrance again and there were no signs saying theatre was under video surveillance, although there was the obligatory no sexual activity permitted sign. 

First time I had ever seen such a set-up.  Someone later told me that this was all at a time when City activists were trying to shut down all the bookstores/theatres with frequent raids, etc. and I guess the owners felt they had to go to great extremes to protect their million dollar plus investment.  Never have been back there.
Now an interesting twist to this set-up was a multi-theatre in Denver.  They had a small video monitor where the people in the theatre could see people coming in the entrance at the ticket booth as an early warning to vice raids since they would usually come in as a group and rush all 3 theatres at once so they could easily be spotted.

Oh, the stories to be told!


Doc here again... The "New" New Fine Arts is a nice enough ABS, but it's got the sterile vibe of corporate owned ABS.  I never saw a sign for the theater during my one time visit there last year. 

Thanks to JaxBchBum for his stellar report.