It's curtains for city's last sex cinema, a refuge for the old and hen-pecked
with Alex Lo
Hong Kong's last porn cinema is throwing in the towel.
Kwun Chung Theatre is closing its doors for the last time at the end of this month.
For many years a refuge for the elderly in the Yau Ma Tei neighbourhood, the cinema has been suffering since the onset of pirated porn VCDs in the 1990s. Free internet porn nearly made it obsolete, but in the end it was defeated by a whopping 80 per cent rise in rent.
A long-time customer told LoDown the place lasted so long because it performed a valuable 'social service'. 'Old people come here, young people come here,' he said. 'There are not enough public facilities for residents in this poor area.'
For a HK$40 ticket, a customer could sit in the air-conditioned cinema all day, and, as a bonus, it offered a buy-one-get-one-free deal for its elderly customers. 'An old person could bring along a buddy,' the cinema's operator said. 'It was a good deal during the hot summer months and they have nothing else to do.'
The cinema opened in 1987, the year when the three-category classification was introduced. Business was brisk in the old days. 'Six to seven shows a day. And every show was full,' the operator said.
Despite its decline, the Kwun Chung Theatre has now become a cultural icon. Scholars of postmodernism studied it and twenty-something radicals visit it as a city landmark.
To keep costs low, the operator has been re-running old sex movies made for VHS and VCD.
'I don't come here for the movies. It's all re-runs anyway,' said Woo, another faithful customer. 'Sometimes I just need to get away from the wife. Where can I go now?'