Trust Arts Education Center

805-807 Liberty Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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Trust Arts Education Center (Official)

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Functions: Live Performances

Previous Names: Liberty Adult Movie Theatre, Casino Royale, Follies

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Trust Arts Education Center

In the porno chic era of film exhibition, Pittsubrgh had two types of adult venues in its central business district. One was the former movie palace turned adult house and the other was a return to the store show era in which a retail shop was converted to a porn house. 807 Liberty represents the latter and formed the basis of downtown Pittsburgh’s nicknamed, “Lady Liberty” adult cinema era, along Liberty Avenue.

Fort Pitt Hardware had been at the 807 address since 1911 closing in 1971 at the end of leasing agreement. It was replaced by the Liberty Adult Theatre (which has absolutely, positively no connection to the 1910’s Liberty Theatre elsewhere in Pittsburgh). Opening on May 11, 1971, the Liberty Adult Movie Theatre had a double-feature of Dalana Bissonnette in “Bare Country” and “Participation” on a continuous grind policy from 10am to 2am on the weekends and 10am to midnight on other nights. For those who wanted other adult offerings, they simply had to go next door where the 1930’s Art Deco style movie palace, the Harris Theatre, that had turned from the Harris Theatre to the Art Cinema showing traditional independent art films to a porno chic venue – retaining its Art Cinema moniker - in the 1960’s and getting its first raid and film removal as early as 1963. Impressive! (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures).

The Liberty Adult Movie Theatre (and neighboring Art Cinema) were a lightning rod of controversy as local officials constantly targeted the venues likely for equal parts of objectionable content and because the were bringing the wrong type of clientele to the central business district. Constantly robbed and raided, the Liberty Adult Movie Theatre continued until November of 1978 when it exited with “Hired Hand” supported by two “co-hits".

The venue was given a facelift and relaunched as Casino Royale, a burlesque venue with two adult films and a live stage show on June 11, 1979. It was advertised as the updating of the Casino Burlesk house that had closed in 1975. But the C.B. was clearly at another location. Certainly it was questionable marketing but history was not really what the clientele cared about. A 1978 crackdown on adult entertainment and a major 1985 transition – perhaps not quite in the league of Times Square’s rejuvenation in New York City but very successful, nonetheless – changed the course of downtown Pittsburgh for decades to come when the adult businesses were targeted for elimination.

During the crackdown period, Casino Royale diversified on March 31, 1980 housing The Follies, a male adult house launching with Yvon Saunders in “And God Created Man” supported by a male burlesk show (assuming on a second level). Both venues were closed on January 30, 1982. The Follies ended permanently with Tanner Reeves in “Bad, Bad Boys” and live burlesk which was said to have violated Pittsburgh’s anti-pornography laws. Casino Royale also was closed but reopened before closing November 10, 1982 with “Taming of Rebecca” and a toned-down live stage show.

Casino Royale appealed and won its legal battle as it reopened one last time in a period from January 10, 1983 to end of lease on July 30, 1983 ending with two “super hot” X-rated films and a live stage show. The neighboring and enduring Art Cinema became the Metro Theatre grinding out double features of Hollywood hits just four months later. The 807 Liberty Avenue location was converted to Video Adventures, a local chain of video rental stores. It was then a sport memorabilia retail shop.

But the biggest change was announced in 2009 when the former porn house became the James E. Rohr building housing the Trust Arts Education Center on July 18, 2009 with well dressed VIPs in the house. It was a transformation that marked another stage in Pittsburgh’s revitalization and probably left former adult film fans shocked. Sporadic screenings occurred in the new venue but clearly did not honor the building’s legacy of adult fare.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters
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