Porn to be mild! Come for the smut, but stay for the classics

The Brooklyn Paper
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At the last adult movie theater in Brooklyn, you’ll come for the porn, but you’ll stay for the classics.

Sure, Midwood’s Cinema Kings Highway makes its bones as the borough’s last smut house, but insiders know that if they head upstairs, they’ll broaden their choices from merely “gay” or “straight” to include some of the 20th century’s finest films.

The other night, the classics room at the moviehouse between E. Seventh and E. Eighth streets was showing “Papillon,” the Oscar-nominated Steve McQueen classic from 1973. Another time, customers taking a break from “Shaving Ryan’s Privates” got a chance to watch the porn version’s Steven Spielberg-directed inspiration.

The man working the ticket booth, who did not wish to be named, said the place draws a good mix of both pornophiles and old-fashioned cinema-freaks.

“Everybody has a different choice. Some like the porno and some like the regular movies,” he said.

The Triple-X Cinema Kings was built as the Jewel Theater in 1937, and was once a beautiful building with Art Deco features. Local legend holds that the Jewel was where a young Woody Allen nourished his talent on a steady diet of foreign films. But a fire ravaged the joint in the 1960s and the owners changed it into the type of theater where you were more likely to see “Muffy the Vampire Layer” than “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Said another way, the Cinema Kings would sooner show “Good Will Humping” than “Good Will Hunting.”

But now the moviehouse shows the pornography in two 15-seat theaters downstairs, while real cinemaphiles head to the 200-seat theater upstairs to watch the classics.

And that’s the key to keeping this operation running in a residential area, as Giuliani-era rules don’t classify businesses as adult establishments if at least 60 percent of the space is set aside for “legitimate” offerings.

Such rules helped speed the decline of porno theaters, which of course, were once a staple of the New York streetscape. The ubiquity of free pornography on the Internet also helped.

At Cinema Kings, tickets are $12 and theater-hopping is permitted: patrons are free to roam from one screen to the next or to one of the dozens of private viewing booths, where the theater shows even more pornography on small, 1980s television sets. There is no popcorn nor concessions, but there is free coffee.

There is even a woman’s bathroom — though it is unclear if it has, or ever will be, used by a woman. The theater is typically filled entirely by men, most of whom appeared to be past retirement age.

The place is also a gay cruising spot, according to many websites — though not necessarily a top-notch one.

“The theater itself is gorgeous,” wrote a commentator on the cruising site, ListingsForSex. “Too bad the patrons aren’t.”

Despite the variety of offerings available at the historic theater, residents and workers of the mostly Orthodox Jewish area around the theater said they resented its presence in the neighborhood.

“For more than 35 years, nobody can do anything [about the theater],” said Mike Cohen, the manager of the Rose Bakery down the street. “You don’t know the disgusting things they do in there.”

Whatever they’re doing, they are doing it early: the joint opens at 10 am, seven days a week.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at
Updated 5:28 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Carl Rich from Midwood says:
Interesting.... I used to often visit the Jewel during its heyday as one of the three or four theaters in Brooklyn showing foreign films. Lovely jewel box of a theater. Haven't been in there for years, but it is nice to know several things...that it does show classic films, and I would like to know which ones and when; and that there is place for men to go too see porno together. The theater appears to be quiet and non-intrusive to the neighborhood. I often visit the adjacent diner. Everything at the next-door theater is always unobtrusive. Can't see why there should be any thought of shutting it - what happens inside need not concern anyone outside. It shows no XXX sign on its marquee... or signage on the front.. Leave it alone for those who rely on it.
Dec. 8, 2011, 9:44 am
Ben from Bay Ridge says:
...And another porn story from the Brooklyn Papers...

Could you maybe just go and get some professional help already?
Dec. 8, 2011, 11:31 am
ty from pps says:
“You don’t know the disgusting things they do in there.”

That's right. You don't... well, unless you've been inside. You don't know the disgusting things the tenants are doing in their apartments above you bakery either. Such self-righteous douche bags. Really?

When you walk down that part of the road you barely even notice the building, never mind have a sense that they are destroying the fabric of space and time with their dirty picture shows.
Dec. 8, 2011, 12:11 pm
paul from Greenpoint says:
^ Destroying the fabric with their fluids. lol
Dec. 8, 2011, 2:50 pm
Editor from Journalismville says:
Exclamation Point! Then a Story That Focuses on the Most Negative Aspects of Our Neighborhoods.
Dec. 8, 2011, 9:03 pm
BonTon from WT says:
@Ben from BR, you were expecting what -- real news? -- from the BP? I guess Babeland must not have had a new sex-toy promotion this week, requiring ed. to dispatch reporter all the way to Kings Hwy for a smutty story.
Dec. 10, 2011, 11:02 am
June from Ditmas Park says:
Most of the people I know appreciate both porn (the smuttier the better) and the classics.
Dec. 12, 2011, 9:52 am
Patron of a past time from All of NYC says:
I was delighted and excited when I discovered this place not so long ago. It brought back very pleasant memories of a old Times Square.
I miss the old New York and yes it was filthy and obscene but it was my New York.
This place does not interfere with any ones lives or morals. It should be left alone and forgotten about because it does serve a purpose for some unfortunate lonely people. There are far more obscene, dirty and dangerous places that should be reviewed. If you destroy the last place that has so much nostalgic remembrance and value to the hearts of simple men that are not bothering anyone then you are truly the sad and lonely individual.
Forget this place let it live out its final time like a little old man sitting in the park and watching the pretty women walk by. He is harmless and frail. Even if he wanted to chase the pretty lady his legs would not allow him.
Go write about other venues with far more dangerous and toxic dangers then this place.
Aug. 7, 2017, 11:52 am

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