VIP Luxury Cinema

311 Westminster Street,
Providence, RI 02903

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Functions: Bar, Restaurant

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VIP Luxury Cinema

This short-lived porno theatre was incorporated into an already standing building in the early-1980’s. It served as a replacement, it seems, for the Paris Cinema, over a block on Weybosset Street, after that one had been demolished.

There was a ‘straight screen’ and a ‘gay screen’ and video projection was employed. Programs were continuous daily from 12 noon to 11 P.M., Sunday from 1:30 until 11 P.M. It was closed in July 1986.

By 2019 it was the Backstage Kitchen & Bar.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on November 30, 2004 at 3:58 pm

Titles of films weren’t given in newspaper ads. I guess they just changed stuff once a week.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 20, 2005 at 3:35 pm

The VIP closed in July, 1986. A Providence Journal article reported on July 24:
Neighbors perplexed by closing of VIP Cinema.
“…downtown’s only adult movie theater has been closed for nearly three weeks….The theater’s most recent entertainment license expired July 7.”

The article goes on to say that neighboring merchants couldn’t understand it, that the VIP seemed to be doing good business, people from all walks of life were always coming and going…including people dressed in $300 suits who would meekishly sneak in the theater. City Hall had no record of a building permit and licensing clerks said they hadn’t heard from the VIP since they had paid for a license to show Tongue Twisters, Mouthful, Foxy, Bathhouse, Caught, Airlines, Corporation, and F-Stop. The VIP had previously made news when Mayor. Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. had returned the VIP’s $250 campaign contribution. VIP officials were mum on the events, but the theater never reopened.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 27, 2005 at 7:59 pm

This video/porno theatre was located in a building that is now part of the new posh Providence Hotel, whose entrance is on Mathewson Street. At the corner of Mathewson and Westminster is a pleasant little “boutique park” with benches. Behind it, in the hotel, is the fabulous gourmet Italian restaurant, L'Epicureo. In the same general spot, in 1907, was the short-lived movie house, the Lyric Theatre.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 16, 2005 at 10:10 am

from the Providence Journal, July 13, 1984:

Providence group decries site of sex-film theater

Journal-Bulletin Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE – About 25 people gathered in Grace Church yesterday to discuss what the church’s rector called an issue of “downtown development and planning” – a sex-film theater just across Westminster Mall.

“The significant issue is to determine if this is a bellwether for the way this community is going to go,” the Rev. Daniel Warren of the Episcopal church said later. “We’re not going to shut down theaters of this type. We’re just saying it’s in the wrong place.”

REPRESENTED at the meeting were the Providence Chamber of Commerce, Women Against Violence Against Women, the Westminster Senior Center, Rhode Island Council of Churches, Johnson & Wales College and the Downtown Providence Improvement Association.

Mr. Warren said the VIP Luxury Cinema at 311 Westminster Mall poses a greater threat than the former Paris Cinema or other such businesses in the city, because it’s “10 or 12 steps across the mall from the church,” in the center of the business district and in the immediate vicinity if Johnson & Wales dormitories.

“It will inhibit our ability to carry on programs associated with the church,” he said.

He added that his “ire” is not with the patrons of the theater, but with “the managers and owners who manipulate that kind of exploitation for profit.”

He said, “I have nothing but compassion for the lonely clientele and I invite them here. One minute in Grace Church might be more inspirational.”

A spokesman for Johnson & Wales said the location of the theater next door to a dormitory, with only one wall separating them, was “beyond coincidence.” He said the site was picked to “pander to students.”

ALTHOUGH no concrete plans were made, Mr. Warren said it was “conceivable” that the group would consider picketing the theater.

For now, Mr. warren said, a committee headed by James Fairchild of the Chamber of Commerce will attempt to meeet with the theater’s owners.

The theater is owned by Elmgrove Associates, a limited partnership that is represented by Cranston lawyer George F. McDonald and managed by William Ikenberry, Mr. Warren said. Ikenberry also managed the former Paris Cinema on Weybosset Street, which showed erotic films.

Corporation papers filed with the secretary of satate list Pauline Streeter, 86 Fashion Drive, Warwick, as treasurer of VIP Cinema, Inc. and McDonald as the corporation’s attorney.

“I have no interest, no concern and no reaction,” McDonald said from his Cranston law office Tuesday.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on August 16, 2005 at 8:22 pm

A friend who remembers visiting the VIP reported, “As I recall, it was at ground level—there were never many people in the gay section. Dark and uncomfortable…”

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