Screen 13 Dateline – March 23, 1966 – Detroit
It’s about time The Scene focuses on Detroit, being someone from the Southeast MI area who loves the fact that Detroit was a prime center for the Psychotronic world, films that were Something Weird, and one of the first areas in The US to catch onto one of the greatest bands of all time. Although 1965 was a hotbed of action, a lot of the research I have connecting the sights and sound starts in 1966, a year when the music went Mod and went into the future or in the garage with bands starting to break through the sound barriers (one already did, the Motor City Five) and the movies that our parents told us we were not supposed to see were starting to get move visible enough to spark our curiosity. By October, The Grande Ballroom turned into the youth center for Rock and Roll action and the ads in the paper were starting to get a little more spicy after years of the occasional visual and plenty of word-only mentions on the back pages with some struggling B theaters joining the ranks of the Art, the Guild, and the Gem with a hint at the future happening when the Surf, once a serious arthouse usually in connection with the just-closed Cornet, turned into the more sinful Variety.
May 23, 1966 fell on a Wednesday in a time when films opened on that day, so of course the leading image is of the first day’s showing of the Mondo flick Paris Secret at the Fox back in the days when it was a movie house with cool flicks and plenty of Motown, Soul, and just cool shows on a regular basis. While I salute their success after the turn-around of 1981 that led to the Fox being the legendary slick showplace it is now, the Fox that’s connected to The Scene is the one that showed the crazy movies and had the cool sounds.
Speaking of cool sounds, the hot radio station was WKNR-AM which had a great chart that would sometimes show some classic records which were not national hits at least had a lot of fans in the Metro Detroit area. After a Flint station (WTAC?) unleashed the sounds of The Who in a time when most of The US had to catch up, “My Generation” turned into an anthem which was in the Keener Top 10 at #9 on their 3-26-66 chart.
At #3 (soon to be a Metro Area #1!) was this solid smash which had garage bands taking note…
I could go on with the music, but it’s time to go to the movies!
Around the Wayne State area was the Midtown, a theater that turned Adult around 1964, and one of the few in the area that played White Slaves of Chinatown. Here, Doris Wishman’s Sex Perils of Paulette was having it’s first Detroit showing after some showings through 1965. Back in the day, a film would tour the Adult film circuit, picking up sub-distributors in different areas and play here and there on a regular basis, while I sadly don’t have access to New York City papers of the day The Scene has recorded some 1965 showings in different areas of The US before it’s Metro Detroit stop. The B was a popular “Anthropolgy Sex Ed” style flick that has played with many notable Exploitation films through the years, including some of HG Lewis’ films.
The Guild was originally showing serious flicks usually in connection the Variety and was located just south of McNichols in the East Detroit area. Showing that day were two lighthearted Nudies, the best known being the Costume Time Trip Cutie Not Tonight Henry from 1960 which was in Color and had a burlesque appeal with it’s starlets that led to years of showings.
Then again, why see a wanna-be when you have the real deal in town? Russ Meyer’s legendary breakthrough Nudie Cutie, The Immoral Mr. Teas gets another showing in the Detroit area at the Gem Art, another Nudie hot spot that’s among the first of it’s kind in the area. Sadly, by the Mid 70’s it would turn into one of the lesser theaters, but in The 60’s it was showing Adult hits sometimes in connection with the other theaters.
In contrast to what the Studio Cinemas were by the Late 70’s until their closure in 1982 as Porno theaters, they were the leading Arthouses of the day. The Studio 4 and the New Studio Center existed through The 70’s, but were not part of their final days.
Back to the Sleaze and Tease, the Paris was once called the Hi-Land, a name that it would return to later in the decade while the Melody was located in Ecorse. Turing Adult by 1963 (The Paris) and ’64 (Melody), they would show film in connection with each other for years. They will turn into Porno theaters by The 70’s with the Melody lasting the longest, with a very infamous shut down. Confessions of a Bad Girl was a Barry Mahon film starring Judy Alder. this Detroit Free Press ad was the slightly censored version.