Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pieta Woolley

Vancouver's last porn theatre could be forced to close

The Fox Theatre, Vancouver's last porn cinema, may have its business licence revoked on Tuesday (March 24).

That's when the owner, Fox Enterprises Ltd., goes before a panel of three Vancouver city councillors: chair Suzanne Anton, Kerry Jang, and Heather Deal.

The councillors will hear from lawyers for the company and the city, and decide whether the cinema is in breach of its licence, and whether that licence should be suspended or revoked.

The cinema sits at 2321 Main Street, near the corner of 7th Avenue. According to Craigslist's "casual encounters" section, it is a popular location for men seeking women, men seeking men, couples seeking same, and other combos to hook up for anonymous loving.

It's a favourite of local "porn archeologist" Dimitrios Otis, whose Web site is an ode to old-time public hardcore film in this city.

"Stepping into the Fox Cinema was like entering a time capsule that slides you back to an earlier time," Otis wrote on his site. "There was a certain quaintness to the sleazy, shady atmosphere of the place. It was a unique zone outside of common society, where movie-going is a whole different experience than going to your mega-mall-cinema. An experience, I would add, that this sanitized society sorely misses. We need at least a few genuine cultural slums where one can get the sense, 'Hey, this is real.'"

The Straight found a regular user of the theatre on Craigslist. While he refused to disclose his name for publication, he did offer this insight by e-mail: "Rules do not change the existential behaviour, they just push them into another direction. Closing the Fox will open other venues at a different location with a different name and code of paint on the front door, which will open wide to the necessities, desires and fantasies of many. It is always better to let individuals live out their fantasies in a relatively controlled environment rather than on the street and parks, where unsuspecting citizens, particularly women, may get hurt."

The president of Fox Enterprises is Xiaohua "Lisa" Huang, according to the agenda for Tuesday's hearing.

When the Straight called the cinema today (March 19), a woman who wouldn't identify herself answered and said, "We've changed owners."

When asked if anyone else could speak about the hearing, the woman said, "Okay, thank you," and hung up.

Is the sex the reason the city is thinking of shutting down the cinema?

Reached by cellphone on vacation, Coun. Anton said she couldn't comment on that.

It's a quasi-judicial hearing, she told the Straight, and involves lawyers for both the city and the company. Therefore, the content of the allegations will not be made public until the hearing, which will start at 9:30 a.m.

The city's chief licence inspector, Barb Windsor, told the Straight that she can't comment, either. She was the one who sent the business licence to city council for a hearing.

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Created: March 25, 2009
Last modified: June 20, 2009
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