Back in February, longtime strip joint Market Street Cinema (1077 Market Street) known for its ever-changing marquee messaging, Thanksgiving turkey drives, military discounts, and deals for conventioneers shut its doors. Was it just for financial reasons, or was it because of ongoing tales of a "malevolent" spirit or several spirits haunting the place?
The 101-year-old movie house, originally opened as Grauman's Imperial in 1912 and later rechristened the United Artists Cinema, was one of the last remaining vestiges of the seedy, red-light district of Mid-Market. The nearby Strand Theater (soon to become an outpost of A.C.T.) and the former L.A. Gals both served up similar adult entertainment through the 90s and early 2000s, and multiple old movie theaters in the area became adult cinemas in the 1970s, as Market Street Cinema did. Crazy Horse, the strip club next door to the Warfield between 5th and 6th, now stands alone.
As the Appeal points out today, following on a mention by Beyond Chron about this major piece of real estate languishing on the market, Market Street Cinema was recently featured on Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel (how did we miss this??). As some former employees explain, more than one ghost seems to inhabit the place, and at least one employee, doorman Glen Chisolm, claims he was pushed dow a flight of stairs by one of these ghosts.
Filmmaker Charles Webb shot a low-budget horror movie at Market Street Cinema called G-String Horror, which is getting a DVD release on June 18 and the former MSC website now redirects to the film's homepage. Webb was interviewed for Ghost Adventures and tells the story of a former janitor named Gary who lived in the basement and died there, only to have his body covered with raw sewage during a flood before anyone found him.
A self-described neighborhood "eccentric" tells another story about meeting a former MSC DJ named Chocolate in Stevenson Alley behind the movie house, who may or may not have been a ghost himself, and who told the story of another man named James who lived in the basement and invited homeless people to crash there. James also figures into the Ghost Adventures episode.
In any event, pending an exorcism, the huge theater could be a prime piece of real estate in the gentrifying neighborhood. Much like the long vacant New Mission Theater, which will become Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in 2014, this old theater could be preserved and reused by a visionary with a lot of money behind them. Just watch out for invisible beings who grab at shirts and push people down stairs.
Watch a recap of the Ghost Adventures investigation below.