Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Embassy 1

Another reason to visit the Times Square Visitor Center, other than to see the Peep-O-Rama sign and the sad display of neutered sex booths, is to enjoy the interior of the Embassy Theater in which it is housed.

NY State Museum

Opened in 1925 and closed in 1997, the Embassy is a landmark designed by Thomas Lamb, who also designed the nearby Mayfair. It began life as a newsreel theater in 1929, running a continuous 25-cent show, but was originally planned as a small "theaterette," a salon-like destination for the city's elite.


Says the website for the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (the Embassy had an organ): "the ornate French-inspired interior featured elaborate plasterwork and murals by Arthur Crisp. Furthering its salon-like appeal, the Embassy was the first movie house on Broadway to employ a woman manager, the heiress Gloria Gould, and it had the distinction of being operated almost exclusively by women."

I believe women are more reliable, and I shall employ only women in the Embassy Theater,” said Gloria Gould. According to this account, "The ushers were planned to be young ladies in ballet costumes." But then Gloria bailed on the project in 1925, hopping on a steamer bound for France. Said the heiress, “I could not afford to live in New York any more even if I wanted to.”

MGM was paying her $250 a week to manage the Embassy.

The main floor of the Visitor Center is actually the auditorium, with all the seats removed. It's surrounded by Arthur Crisp's painted murals. His work adorns theaters, hotels, and other sites across the city, the country, and Canada.

Where movie posters used to line the entryway, now are video clips from Times Square's history. (Tourists, sensing a romantic setting, make out under the chandeliers.)

There's a bunch of other stuff inside--a New Year's Eve ball, a confetti "wishing wall"--along with this little treasure, an old Mutoscope with a one-cent movie called Jungle Queen.

A few tidbits about Mutoscope: "The company was founded in 1895 to make peep shows of girls going to bed, the cook kissing the policeman and little Johnny getting a spanking. One of the firm's early artists was Mary Pickford, hired to pose at $5 per day when the weather was good."

Mary Pickford, to my knowledge, does not play the Jungle Queen. You can't view Jungle Queen, either, but if you could, you might see something like this.


mk said...

Thanks for this, and for reminding me of The Embassy—now can you bring back The Rivoli?

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

There used to be a newsreel theater in the upper 40s on Broadway, I don't remember what's it's name was. Watching news films was weird, I thought. But one day me and a friend cut out of school and were able to sneak in. That's the first time I ever saw so many men feeling each other up, which had nothing to do with the newsreel. I never went back, I was able to get my pawing and feeling on 42nd Street.

John Farley said...

On my visit to the Vistor Center yesterday, I used the Photobooth. It's a real Photobooth, albeit not vintage. It costs $5 for four pix - in grid, not a strip. You can pick black and white or color, contemporary color New Years Eve or vintage black and white shots of Times Square as your backdrop, and there is a selection of old hats you can wear in your photos - I selected a sailors cap, and used the VJ Day picture of the kissing sailor and nurse, for example, for one of my shots. I was surprisingly pleased with the results and recommend it. Also, the gift selection at the Visitor Center isn't abhorrent like the neighborhood "Going Out Of Business" shops, and I can see myself bringing friends from out of town, were we to find ourselves on Times Square.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

But is you want to show your friends what life was 'really' like on 42st Street see my Sizzler Editions e-book Stallers, Tales of Times Square Cuties, that will certainly perk you up with your friends, too

Melanie said...

As I go and photograph around the City I occasionally find grafitti porn--no not just penises but nudes done rather well. It's a great City.