Adult movie theater  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

An adult theater is a movie theater where pornographic films are shown to an adult audience.



Most commonly, an adult movie theater shows heterosexual pornographic films but attracts straight, bi and gay male patrons, most of whom are not there for the film but are instead looking for casual and anonymous sex with other patrons. Although women do go to adult theaters, their presence generally remains a rare occurrence. The overwhelming majority of attendees tend to be male.


For the patrons, rules are generally less strict regarding partial- or full-nudity and public masturbation or sex, and such behavior may be condoned explicitly or otherwise by the management. Such behavior may also be overlooked by local law enforcement. Certain theaters may also include a strip- or sex-show between films, or other sex industry services.

Before the VCR and, later, the Internet, a movie theater or cinema house was often the only location where the average person could see a hardcore adult film. The primary activity within adult theaters is the viewing of pornographic films. Some patrons may engage in sex with other movie-goers, possibly in the seats, balcony, aisles, behind the screen or in the men's rooms.

As a protection against prostitution being plied on premises, most adult movie theaters do not permit women to enter if unaccompanied by a man. Women are usually allowed to enter only with a male escort.

By region

United States

In the United States, restrictions on adult theaters vary by region, and may be restricted by state, county or city regulations. Local governments commonly prohibit adult theaters from operating within a certain distance of residential areas, parks, churches and/or schools. Renton, Washington was involved in a 1986 Supreme Court case regarding this issue. In its decision on City of Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc., the Court upheld Renton's statute that no adult theater be located within 1,000 feet of a school, park, church, or residential zone; the Court rejected the theater owners' argument that the statute violated the First Amendment.

The O'Farrell Theatre in San Francisco, one of America's oldest and most notorious adult-entertainment establishments, opened as an adult movie theater in 1969.


Adult theaters usually show films rated R-18 (a motion picture rating in Japan and the Philippines).

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Adult movie theater" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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