Free shipping over $99 | Interest Free *no credit check* financing is available!

Is The Era Of The Gay ‘Adult Theater’ Gone And Forgotten?

by matt baume May 19, 2016


Say goodbye to yet another institution: the Tea Room Theater, one of San Francisco’s oldest gay porn theaters, is calling it quits.

Blame goes to the usual suspects: the internet, hookup apps, and a more open culture that no longer forces queer people to hide. These days, porn is practically something you can find out in the open — especially in San Francisco.

There was a time when porn theaters like these were one of the primary ways that men hooked up. You’d spend a few bucks to slip into a grubby theater, or loiter in a hallway, or watch a live dancer. If theaters weren’t your thing, you could also poke your head into certain bathrooms; or hide in the bushes down by the ocean. Half a century ago, for a lot of men, there simply weren’t any good clean wholesome ways to meet each other — and for some people, that was just fine.

Time have changed, though, and the guys still going to porn theaters are the real devotees from a bygone era. You’d have to be intensely devoted to such an establishment to keep coming back, especially at a time when it’s far easier to meet people online. They remain important internationally, though, in countries where oppressive regimes still make it difficult for LGBTs to congregate.

Related: Bathhouses And Beyond: A Brief History Of Gay Cruising

Most of the Tea Room’s clientele is elderly, reflecting the slow waning of interest in going to a store for sexual gratification. It’s tucked away in the Tenderloin, which was once the epicenter of SF’s queer culture but is now mostly the epicenter of crime and poverty — especially as the rest of the city is converted into corporate housing for Silicon Valley.

A few other options remain for naughty gay men: There’s the Nob Hill Theater, which is unfortunately quite a schlep up the hill from Union Square. And there are also a smattering of porn shops and leather establishments sprinkled around SOMA, though their days are probably numbered as well.

So now what’s to become of the Tea Room? A few bits will probably be sold off, and then it’ll likely become home to a fancy coffee shop, or maybe a place to buy sofas that cost more than most people make in a year. Every now and then, someone will find out what it once was, and giggle about it.

matt baume
matt baume


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Think

Watch A Rainbow Flag Drift Through Outer Space And Spread Homosexuality Across The Universe

by Graham Gremore September 28, 2016

Prepare to be absolutely mesmerized. Because space is gay, ya’ll. The good folks over at Planting Peace, the same group who created the rainbow-colored Equality House directly across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church, attached a rainbow flag to a high-altitude balloon and sent it way, way up into the atmosphere. Related: Antarctica Officially Declared The World’s [...]

Continue Reading →

Jonathan Groff Is Virtually Indistinguishable From His Character On HBO’s “Looking”

by Dan Tracer September 28, 2016

  This job has changed my life in so many ways. I’ve never played a character that hit so close to the bone. It felt like an extension of myself taking place in the present. Trying to figure out what it means to be gay. Patrick and I are from the same generation of gay [...]

Continue Reading →

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Winner Tyra Sanchez Releases Hot New Track, Serious Iggy Azalea Vibes

by Tim Winfred September 28, 2016

Yeah, we know most people aren’t the biggest fan of RuPaul‘s Drag Race season 2 winner Tyra Sanchez – she was controversial during her time on the show, and her post-show career hasn’t been a smooth ride either. Nevertheless, her new track Vogue is seriously hot, and worth a listen. The song’s beat is reminiscent of [...]

Continue Reading →