On the Road – to Detroit! Sexy Roadshow Ads from the Classic Years of Sexploitation – Part One

3-11-59, Detroit – Elysia, the Land of the Sun Worshippers (or originally The Valley of the Nude) was a 1933 film that had a lot of life (and skin!) to it. In trying to show the benefits of the Nudist Lifestyle, this succeeded in…well, showing off attractive naked bodies. Presented by Bryan Foy, this was one of the controversial highlights of this genre filled with cute women and plenty of title changes. The Colonial was a full on 24/7 house that closed up in early 1975 to little notice. Elysia was shown first run at the Adams.

Back in the classic days of Sin-ema the only way to “Discover” the wild ways people lived or to find out about the latest problems concerning life on the other side of the tracks that was “corrupting our youth” was to see what is now called a Roadshow film. The magic to these movies was that they focused on a topic that Hollywood films hardly ever touched and turned it into an event through presenting a great campaign and a wonderful promotional layout outside even before you saw a frame of film. This post focuses on the more sexy side of the street with films that only the more daring theaters and quite a few Skid Row houses in need for an audience showed with showmanship.


10-9-57 – Kroger Babb’s classic Mom and Dad had an excellent promotion when it was paired with She Shoulda Said No! starring Lila Leeds. In person was someone playing Elliot Forbes to sell the pamphlets (‘books”) that usually showed a few daring pictures and told some basic facts about sex in simple terms which are now collectible with Exploitation fans – Producer David F. Friedman was among those who played him, on stage. As you can tell, a lot of that “Teenage Delinquency” was happening in the audience at the Drive Ins that would be long standing  until the big shut-down in the Fall of 1986.


11-16-39 – The infamous Lash of the Penitents appeared at the Roxy, Detroit’s other Grindhouse which closed in 1973 again without any news or mourning. Although this was supposed to be an Dramatic Expose, it was a way for early BDSM fetishists who really had to hide their love away back in the day to check out some then-spicy footage. Today, whose scenes would have a very dark sleazy feeling.


11-17-39 – These ads would usually be small, but it was enough to bring ’em in! Sadly the Columbia got the Demo after closing in 1956.


12-1-39 – The Fine Arts showed one of the films still hanging around in video and streaming form as Mad Youth. Open All Night! The Fine Arts stuck around for a while, and had a short spell as an Adult house before spending it’s final years as a small revival house that closed some time in 1980.


5-20-37 – A very dramatic and sexy ad for JD Kendis’ Slaves in Bondage directed by Elmer Clifton that would hit Detroit. Sadly, only the guys 16 and over could attend for the first week. Later, there would be shows for the ladies in true Roadshow style.



6-11-37 – While the Downtown was doing brisk business with Slaves in Bondage, it would see closure in 1950. The ads were more thrilling than the film, as usual, but the supporting short would prove to be controversial – the Dramatic Roadshow classic Child Bride would be possibly the only film around today to show that there was a short-lived genre centering on it, and in real life many of these unions would not last. There was a speech by an “Eminent Commentator” as well.

The theater faced it’s own sadder controversy by getting into trouble by enforcing the “Whites-Only” main floor policy which was not popular in the area and closed by 1950.



11-8-53 – The Roxy showed Violated, a Sex Psycho film that toured the circuit to small success. William Mishkin, the often-remembered distributor who would be best known for releasing most of Andy Milligan’s movies along with other sex shocker films of the Late 50’s to the 70’s, has a part as  the owner of a strip club. I’m sure when those who seen this heard The Cowsills sing “Gimme a head of hair!” in ’69, they must have had a short shock at first!

4-7-43 – Devil’s Harvest was starring June Doyle and Directed by Ray Test. JD Kendis, one of the “40 Thieves” of Exploitation presented this wild film about Marijuana that was supposed to be against it, but then you see something like this…


4-16-43 – Located near the Fox, this was possibly a theater that turned into the Gem.


9-10-58 – Kroger Babb may have Americanized Bergman’s Summer With Monika, but this version was the one many in the heartland wanted to see. While the original is a classic, what I heard from those describing it sounded like that it connected to the Rock and roll age perfectly – a time when many had a Monika in their lives. Sadly, the let down of this show was Mixed Up Women, a re-title of one of Babb’s lesser films, One Too Many.


4-8-59 – The Grand was located in Highland Park, soon to be the go-to area to see Adult films, although it would sadly close up soon after this performance. The Side Streets of Hollywood was originally A Virgin in Hollywood, a Dan Sonney presentation.


1-20-65 – While Mated was released in 1952, it still had what it took to show up at the art houses in the Early 60’s. This was AKA Mis-Mated and I Want a Baby, but it’s better known as an example of showing full frontal “for educational reasons”…yeah, right! This also had Birth of a Baby footage as was common in these films and the regular co-feature was planted in there for the guys that were a major part of the audience possibly to prove to the law that it was not just a Sex flick hideout. The Melody was reportedly a place where films got the chop from the local board and Mated possibly got away with being a hygiene picture without “those scenes” of people together in (SHOCK) bed.


10-15-58 – A Roadshow Up-Chuck Classic, Because of Eve was the film where they showed you the sick stuff within it’s first half hour – there was a reason for the long slow opening crawl. I don’t think that “Some may faint” was a silly hype as some of the VD footage was seriously in your face. See It! Discuss It! Throw Up Together! Wreck Your Seats!

The B was originally Three Bad Sisters, originally unleashed in 1956 – so bad they’re hot!


9-21-60, The Mating Urge hit two Drive Ins in the area – The Holiday in Trenton and the Van Dyke in Warren. Both would close up in the giant line-up of DI Death in 1986.


9-10-58 – The Case of Dr. Lauent was one of the first to modernize the Roadshow Experience. by presenting a sophisticated film made in France that promoted Natural Childbirth which had good reviews while still containing many roadshow elements in it’s campaign. The Trans Lux-Krim was one of the leading Art Theaters that slowly turned into a Sexploitation place then a Porno House by 1972.


9-20-61 – Wasted Lives was originally a film by Leonide Moguy picked up by K. Gordon that was also known as Children of Love. Together with The Birth of Twins, this was a runaway success. The added show was talked about a lot that Claude Alexander went one better with The Birth of Triplets in the 60’s. The Drive In closed in 1984.


10-9-68 – Helga was AIP’s successful attempt to take the Birth of a Baby format into the Swinging 60’s. In Detroit, this interestingly played at the Telenews when it was updating it’s image, but it will quickly change it’s name to the Palms until 1987, when it changed one last time tot the Tele Arts.

8-19-70 – Stretching the definition while still in the White Coat realm (Art Division), Freedom to Love was one of the final hits for Grove Press, best known in the cinema world for the I Am Curious films, the Muhammad Ali Documentary Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee,  and Quiet Days in Clichy. Eberhardt and Phyllis Kronhausen made a Sex Ed film that was perfect for the times and played quite a bit through the era where everything was wither Danish or “Educational” while actually being honest in it’s aims to educate and entertain.

As an Art Movie company, Grove was a very short lived operation with many titles to it’s name but without much success to fully make up for what it lost in trying to defend the Curious films that consistently got into trouble (for hardly any real reason at all…but that’s censors for you!) – it closed shop circa 1974. As an Adult Movie house, the Summit’s change from being one of Downtown Detroit’s strongest mainstream theaters complete with Cinerama screen (2001 showed there, for an example) to what it became in it’s last years was a rough one – after the Riots, very few wanted to venture into Detroit when cinemas were being built all over the suburbs and the failure of Goodbye Mr. Chips (a hit when played in Birmingham) was the thing to change course. The Summit died around 1971 after mixed success to bring in the long-standing regular customers of the Adult theaters at the same time as the UA’s conversion to X–Rateds (which was slightly more successful – it changed name to the Downtown and closed in ’73-4).



10-27-53 – more small ad to wrap things up…

DETROIT-9-12-58-monika - Copy

…then again, you can say that the Devil controls this Blog by radar!


~ by screen13 on July 15, 2017.

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