Ellwest Stereo Theater

723 7th Avenue,
New York, NY 10036

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Ellwest Stereo Theater, New York City, NY

I found this XXX porn theater mentioned in a pair of NY Times articles about the City’s efforts to “clean up” the mid-town area of sex-oriented businesses. Apparently, there was also a sister theater that shared the same name located at 155 W. 47th Street. I presume that both were among the many storefront and office space conversions to mini-cinemas that occurred in the area from 1969-73.

In one of the Times articles, an Ellwest employee describes both theaters as exhibiting only “soft, soft-core pornography”, while another boasted of their cleanliness and decor of “wall to wall carpeting and red drapes”. NYPD officers were not impressed with either theater’s appointments and confiscated film from the projection booths that a judge deemed to be unquestionably hard-core.

According to one Times article, the 7th Avenue theater was to have been evicted from its premises (as was Chelly Wilson’s Eros 2 on 8th Avenue) by March 28th, 1973. An article from July of that same year, however, notes that the State Supreme Court had ruled favorably for the Ellwest and issued a restraining order against the police sergeant who had been spearheading the campaign against the Ellwest and other local adult establishments.

Contributed by Ed Solero

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 9, 2006 at 8:46 pm

Yes, I believe so, Lost. Actually, thanks. At the very least, it is the same space – whose to say if proprietorship changed over the years? The other Ellwest Stereo on West 47th had 35 seats, so they would have been roughly the same size.

This building is the corner property on the northeast corner of Seventh and 48th Street. The main store-front on this site has been a deli for many years – currently Maxie’s Delicatessen. Adjacent to this is 725 Seventh, home of the infamous Metropole Cafe – which started as a jazz club in the 1920’s or ‘30’s and continued as such until the 1960’s when topless go-go girls were added to the entertainment fare. Interestingly, in the building that housed the Ellwest, it seems that a “film vault” was located on the top floor (the 13th I believe) according to C/O’s dating back as far as 1921.

Also a note about Ellwest that I posted in the other listing; it seems they ran a number of porn houses in cities across the country (Seattle, Dallas, Phoenix, Memphis) during the ‘70’s and '80’s. A search on the internet returns a number of legal decisions stemming from tried cases in various State circuit courts. I imagine the partners involved in Ellwest Stereo Theaters devoted a great deal of their revenue towards legal fees. Not sure if this led to their demise. I find no other theaters listed on CT with this name – not to say they aren’t listed under other names.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on November 15, 2006 at 11:55 am

Not sure the theater closed in ‘73, Lost. While an eviction date was set for March 28th of that year, a Times article from July of '73 indicates that both theaters were still in operation when a State Supreme Court Judge issued an restraining order in favor of Ellwest Stereo Theaters against the police sergeant that had been aggressively conducting raids on adult establishments in the area. Perhaps this was still the Ellwest in '74 when the C/O was issued.

Vaughn on January 30, 2007 at 11:04 am

Jacskonville,Florida had an Ellwest Stereo Theater back in the 70’s.It featured a single screen as well as multiple peepshow screens and later they added live shows,where a patron put in quarters or tokens and watched a woman perform nude behind a glass screen.The theater was closed down in 1981 following pressure from anti porn groups and later demolished after it was accidently set on fire by some homeless people.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 31, 2007 at 6:44 pm

Thanks for that Vaughn. It seems – as I found when using Google to get info on Ellwest – that they had a number of locations around the country and were subject to their fair share of legal entanglements. I did not know, however, that their empire extended to Jacksonville.

Bwayniteowl on March 15, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Please don’t ask how I know this but the Ellwest places weren’t actually theatres but rather storefronts with booths. Each booth had it’s own .25 cent, 8-mm projector with the film on a loop. As far as Times Square is concerned, they were never theatres in any sense of the word and probably should not be included on this website.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on March 30, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Fair point, Bwayniteowl. Thanks for the clarification. I’ll leave it to the webmasters to decide if this listing should remain or not.

rivest266 on October 27, 2020 at 12:27 am

There was also an Ellwest in Kansas City.

glennylou on May 16, 2023 at 10:55 pm

Birmingham, Ala., also had an Ellwest Stereo Theater. The venue was raided in July 1973, with detectives from the Birmingham Vice Squad removing either 17 projectors or 17 films — different news articles list different stats on that.

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