Eric Carlson, 1998

Burbank Menu  

 Page 2

552 S. Bascom Ave.

It seems you never actually see anyone going into a pornographic movie theatre. I was hanging about here for quite some time and didn't. Just grey shadows in the corners.

Dave Hickey offers the following:
"The Burbank Theater is a San Jose landmark providing old-fashioned pornographic movie pleasure to lonely gentlemen of all ages. It is landlocked in a lower, middleclass family neighborhood where the strolling presence of lonely, single men is piety-provoking and throat-clearing."

"It started as a neighborhood, double-feature theater only to close down in the mid-fifties, reopening as an art theater in 1964. In the seventies it evolved into an old, classic movie theater, then changing to a porn motif in the porno-heydays of 1976 (See Boogie Nights). It shared a similar history with the Gay (which was Straight) Theater downtown and the Towne Theater on the Alameda (which was never in town)."

"In 1991, the Burbank Neighborhood Association banded together to shut down the Burbank and 'take back the neighborhood,' as the crusade leader so expressed it. I was the lone voice to keep it open and pornographic, if necessary. The theater management saw me as a farmer might see a praying mantis: great for eating the aphids but just as repulsive. The close-down crusade leader still does not speak to or acknowlege me in public for which I am grateful. I now have the ambivalence of a saved Christian to that earlier view, though I still carry compassion for those men who are ugly, lonely, or diffident (or all three) and must receive their psycho-sexual sustenance in their heads, so as not to pose a nuisance to unwilling prospective partners. Through changing times and modes, the Burbank Theater still carries on as a neighborhood porn theater, enjoying enough business to stay open."

Demographics for patrons reveal downcast, greying, bedroom-slippered men of fifty-plus, and fleet-footed, shifty young men, very casually but not as badly dressed; whites and Asians both. All drive battered vehicles.
Dave Hickey


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