End of an Erotic Era: Lights Go Out for Last Porn Cinema in Paris

In the early 1980s, the City of Lights—Paris, France—was home to at least 50 cinemas showing nothing but adult films. But as of last Saturday night, there will be none remaining, as the last pornographic movie theater in Paris, Le Beverley on Rue Saint-Denis in the city’s Right Bank district, shut off its lights for the final time.

The cinema was founded in 1960 as Le Bikini, but in 1970 the small theater changed its name to the Beverley and began continuously screening erotic films—and never stopped until February 23, when 75-year-old owner Maurice LaRoche shut the show down. He now aims to retire to the seaside resort town of Royan, according to a report by the French press agency AFP

But La Roche is not departing for the coast just yet. He remains on site in the theater as the Beverley sells off any piece of memorabilia it can—posters, theater seats, and even the films themselves. The cinema has simply ignored the last three decades of porn, screening nothing but 35mm prints of porn films from the 1970s and 1980s.

“Everything is for sale, except me,” La Roche told the AFP. 

In the fast-gentrifying neighborhood that serves as home to the adult cinema, the building housing the Beverley was recently purchased by a property developer keen to convert the space into some sort of business “more in line with the designer hotel and tapas bar up the street,” according to AFP.

But, perhaps not surprisingly, the clock was running out on adult cinema in Paris anyway. Where in the 1990s, the small theater sold about 1,500 admission tickets every week, that number had dropped to 500 recently, at a price of €12, or about $14, apiece, according to a report by Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper

While the decline of adult cinema is often—and certainly correctly—attributed to the sudden rise of online porn, La Roche does not fully blame the internet revolution for his theater’s decline and, ultimately, demise.

“We didn’t lose all of our customers to online videos,” he told the online magazine Vice. “There’s a difference between watching porn at home and here, in a dark room full of mystery.”

In 1975, there were about 900 adult cinemas in France, French film journalist Jacques Zimmer told AFP. By the dawn of the home-video era, in 1981, all but 90 had shut down. In 2019, with the closing of Le Beverley in Paris, France has only one venue left to watch porn on the big screen—the Vox, located in Grenoble, at the foot of the French Alps.

But when the Daily Mail tried calling the Vox on Monday, no one picked up the phone.

Photo by Celette / Wikimedia Commons 

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