Shea's 710 Theatre
710 Main Street,
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Shea's 710 Theatre (Official)
Architects: Theodore A. Biggie Jr.
Functions: Performing Arts
Previous Names: Palace Theatre, Studio Arena Theater
Dewey Michaels had been with the downtown Palace Theatres for more than 50 years. The original Palace Theatre four blocks away was targeted for demolition for the Church Street Extension project (aka the Elm-Oak Arterial Highway) in the mid-1960’s. That demolition and payout in 1967 led to a lawsuit between the Mayflower Theatre Company and the City of Buffalo. The original Palace Theatre that had opened in 1915 subsequently closed at the end of lease on April 6, 1967 with Tempest Storm in “Mundo Depravados” and Karen Drake in “The House of Cats” and a live burley show starring Miss Naja and her $100,000 wardrobe along with six comics and five exotics. (It has its own page on Cinema Treasures)
Michaels decided to take his $375,000 settlement and build the first dedicated burley house built in the United States since 1940 with the new Palace Theatre at 710 Main Street. A red-carpet grand reopening with a sell-out crowd of 700 patrons showed up on December 28, 1967 with Denise Darcel as the headliner supported by a series of comics and many “exotics” led by Honeysuckle Rose, June Long, Cricket Vance, Lady Mark, Bobbye Mack and possibly an unbilled Tempest Storm on the stage. Dewey Michaels even sang, “Happy Days are Here Again” to christen the venue.
Following the Supreme Court’s landmark Miller v. California case that restricted the First Amendment rights of adult film makers, happy days in adult film exhibition were ending in many municipalities. Michaels was charged with showing obscene content by booking “Kitty’s Pleasure Palace” when Buffalo went after a handful of adult theatre operators. That case was finally closed when Matthews plead guilty in 1977 to the smut charge.
Matthews made it to the end of what appears to have been a ten-year leasing period with the city in the new venue. And he capped a 50-plus run at the two Buffalo Palace theatres with a double feature of Aurora Lee in “Ride to Ecstasy” and Gisela Dali “The Wild Pussycat” along with a live burley stage show on September 27, 1977.
A black-tie audience had shown up for the final show at the old Palace Theatre and a sell-out audience greeted him for his first show here. Unfortunately, 24 scattered male audience members were on hand for the grand finale. Dewey said he had lost 100 percent of his investment. But the good news came that final night when Studio Arena Theatre moved in with legitimate plays by year’s end. Advertisements for the City to take bids for the new theatre were in place soon and the refurbishing was underway soon thereafter. And today, it is a vibrant PAC house called Shea’s 710 - a Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
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