Abandoned Movie - Kitty's South (The Webber Theater) - Denver, CO

When I first started this blog, with the intent of writing stories about abandoned buildings I’d photographed, Kitty’s South was one of the stories I most wanted to write. For whatever reasons, it took me nearly seven years to get around to it.

Looking back at my early stuff from 2017 and 2018, I’m glad I let this story marinate for an additional six and half years.


Kitty's South - March 22, 2015.

Located at 119 S Broadway, Denver, Colorado. I drove past that building hundreds of times in my near 20 years of living around Denver. Any time I drove home from downtown, I had to pass by Kitty's. So it was rather shocking in the summer of 2016, when Kitty's stopped looking like Kitty's. 


The Webber Theater - April 29, 2018.

After a year and a half of work, inside and out, Kitty's South was brought back to a similar look of its days as The Webber Theater. The interior of the former theater was opened up with some of the space used by the Archetype Distillery. Archetype closed in 2023, but that space in the former theater will still be available for event rentals. Now named The Dahlia, with a smaller space for live music, called the UMS House. In this case, UMS stands for Underground Music Showcase. 


Before I start this story, I have to give a massive thanks to the Westword. The numerous stories about Kitty's that were printed over the years, helped jog my memory against the stuff I'd forgotten to write down. I do miss living in an area with free weekly newspapers. Minneapolis used to have the City Pages, but they were far inferior to the Westword, and then they went away. Individual advertisement for discreet prostitutes must have not brought in the revenue as it used to. Hope they're still printing the Westword though. And I hope it hasn't gotten to be just 90% advertisements for marijuana dispensaries. 

This particular Westword Box was located where I usually parked my car while taking my Webber Theater photos. It was placed against the former Security Service Federal Credit Union, and I parked on Bayaud Street. Typically I'd grab a copy after I was done with my photo taking, before moving to my next spot. 

I had no idea until I started this story that the Security Service Federal Credit Union was demolished, shortly after Laura I moved out of Colorado. It was replaced with a massive three level apartment building that covers an entire city block. The first floor facing Broadway is lined with new retail stores. Guess that's a bit more practical than the credit union, with its single level and land wasting large parking lot. Some old houses also lost their lives along Acoma Street. But that's just a write off for the developer. 

Progress!


Kitty’s South - September 29, 2003

Lights on the marquee are flashing! Days before I left Colorado for the first time, I drove around town and took pictures of places I wanted to remember. Which was only about 20 or so places around Englewood and Denver. Bear in mind, I did this with a faulty 35mm camera, not a digital one. I had no idea until it was too late, just how bad my photos turned out. When I left, I had no idea if I'd ever be back. In case I wasn't, Kitty's was one of the places I wanted to remember. 

I had no idea that those “leaving Denver” photos of 2003, would play a key role in developing this blog. When I took them, I didn’t even plan on using them in Wasted Quarter.


The Webber Theater opened on February 1, 1917, with 1,000 seats in the auditorium. 


I wasn’t able to find too many photos of the Webber Theater during its heyday online. This shot from 1948, promoting the movie Canon City, was the most common photo I found. The movie is based on a prison break that occurred in Canon City, Colorado, in December 1947. The movie itself was filmed almost entirely in the Canon City state penitentiary, with some scenes shot at Royal Gorge. I’ve been to both places, so it was kind of cool to see them in 1948.

If you want to pretend you’re at The Webber Theater in 1948, watch Canon City right now in 2024!


Eventually, the Webber Theater fell out of favor as people migrated to the suburbs. Its usefulness outdated by the new cinematic multiplexes, making a single screen theater obsolete. The Webber Theater closed in the mid-1960’s, and sat empty for a few years.

Until 1974…


Kitty's South - December 18, 1974.

Denver Police arrest Kitty's South manager on obscenity charges. (Photo from the Denver Post.) The city was unsuccessful in shutting Kitty's down. The adult theater/video store, finally did close in 2007. Of natural causes. The changing business climate could no longer support this business, in this location. Dwindling business traffic combined with a building too expensive to maintain.


Kitty’s South - June 1, 2014.

I moved to Colorado in October 1996, when I was 21 years old. I saw the infamous Kitty's South just days after arriving in town. I lived in a very small and very crappy apartment in Englewood, an older suburb that bordered Denver to the south. In order to get from my tiny, crappy, apartment both to and from downtown Denver, you'd take Broadway. However, it was southbound only after I-25 crossed over. So you'd have to take Lincoln Avenue in order to drive north, into downtown. 

Immediately after seeing Kitty's South for the first time, I was fascinated with the building. The fact that it was a full on adult theater, instead of the typical adult "book store" that I'd been familiar with. My semi-naïve suburban young mind was blown. Adult theaters were absent from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, since the late 1980's. After both cities took a very conservative approach to the pornographic business industry. Shutting everything down, with small fragments of it stretching the outer ring of suburbs, with city ordinances that still allowed it. 

Good example being the first “adult” store I ever visited in 1994, “The Shack With the XXX’s” in Ramsey, Minnesota. It was one of the first stories I posted on this blog, but it’s not one I’m overly fond of. That place is also long gone, closed and demolished in 2015. 

Speaking of Minnesota, there used to be a seedy adult bath house, not far from the suburban home I grew up in. While writing an unrelated story about a closed up convenience store on that street, I found a fascinating PDF, detailing the county's efforts to have "Vapors", closed down.  

These are just small examples of how the American sex industry has changed with the times. People have gotten wiser and safer, and new technologies phased out what was a dirty, seedy, side of this country. No one wants to admit to it, but it's still an industry that rakes in billions of dollars every year. They just had to figure out the market had shifted from in-house chicken chokers, to something more clean and sanitary. A place women, especially suburban housewives, wouldn't be intimidated to patronize.  

In order to clean up its act, "bookstores" stopped including theaters and Video Arcades. You can watch your VHS tape at home, and be responsible for your own cruising and clean-up. Most of these places relied on tape rentals, and they did big business with that plan. After all, Blockbuster wasn't renting very many copies of Edward Penishands. Soon they weren't bookstores at all. 

And Blockbuster was gone entirely.

Representing your merchandise inventory with the letter X wasn't fashionable anymore either. For marketing purposes, the adult industry needed to come up with "polite and socially acceptable terms” for what Kitty's sold. For the non-video and non-magazine inventory, now included such thinly veiled safe-words like: Adult Novelties, Adult Toys, Sex Aids, Marital Aids, Intimate Products, and my favorite, Pleasure Devices.

Then the internet showed up and blew the entire retail model to pieces.

But you gotta love those Pleasure Devices!

One of the hundreds of Sensual Adult Lifestyle Products sold at Kitty’s, was the hilariously named Dr. Love's Magical Vaginium... Like a Gymnasium made out of vaginas? That’s the first thought that popped into my head.


Now, I’m not saying that I personally bought the Artificial Nethers attached to this card...


Only that in the spring of 1997, Kitty's South was selling them for $14.95.


Kitty's South - January 22, 2017.

Work had been going under inside Kitty's for a while, but I hadn't stopped for pictures until today. When I'd driven by over the past few months, the building was covered or looked normal from the outside. Today I found that it didn't even have a roof anymore.


Kitty's marquee had been ripped down, exposing the original Webber Theater marquee underneath.  


In 2016, the entire two story building was gutted and the roof removed. Leaving only the four outer brick walls standing. That's one way to ensure any of the Kitty's ick that survived the fire and water damage inside the theater, is completely eradicated from site. Only then, can you truly build new.


Old Webber Theater windows, in various states of being blocked off. 

If you really want to dig into this story, you can find out about that door shaped hole about 10 feet off ground level. (Hint, it was a door!) Welded closed while the building next door was still standing, then bricked over, once it was demolished (in either 1989 or 1990).


North side of the Webber Theater.

After reading about what used to be here, it's a sad loss. Near the end of this story, there will be a link provided where you can read about what used to be here. It’s a good story. But for right now, the long vacant lot next door to the theater had to be a huge help in this massive renovation project. 


Temporary covering on this door. 

I'm sure a lot of trash was hauled out of it while the building was being scraped of everything inside. 

Kitty’s litter, if you will...


Back entrance to the Webber Theater, in the alley between Broadway and Acoma Street.


Kitty's South was once part of 4 other stores under the Kitty's Pleasure Palace umbrella. I found an old Kitty’s matchbook on ebay, that listed the addresses of each store. I'll get to Kitty's East in a moment, and this whole story is about Kitty's South. But I did a tiny bit of research, looking at Google Maps, for an update on the other two addresses. 

ENHANCE!


Kitty's Central used to operate in a building that was demolished years ago. Most of that block is now a multi-story condominium. I know nothing else about this location.


Kitty's Cine Art, was located in the old Ritz (Jewell) Theater, before closing in the mid-1980's. After major renovations, it reopened as Thrillseekers Climbing Gym, in 1992. After about a 25 year run, Thrillseekers closed in March 2018. From what I've read, the building is, or has been, restored to its original theater look inside.

With two Kitty's both operating in old Broadway movie theaters, in addition to the stretch of time the Gothic Theater, 11 blocks south in Englewood, was an Adult Theater, south Broadway had a ridiculous amount of Adult Theaters.

Good thing marijuana was legalized. South Denverites apparently needed something productive to do with their hands!


Tag line of the right side of the Kitty’s East sign reads: "We Never Close!"

Oh Kitty, you'll close after an undercover drug bust in April 2014, and you'll like it!

According to a story published in the Denver Post, In January 2014, undercover police entered Kitty's East arcade area and bought $20 worth of crack cocaine. The seller was arrested, and a nice pile of crack cocaine was found on the floor. In April, the Denver Police Department notified the building's owners, who leased the store to Kitty’s, that the property is now considered a public nuisance. The owners of the building immediately canceled their lease, and they were ordered to vacate the premises. Kitty's East closed within hours of the public nuisance notice being filed.

I was never inside the old Kitty's East location, at Colfax and Clarkson, across the street from The Fillmore Auditorium (where I saw two Ween shows in 2008!). Thought about checking Kitty’s East out, every time I drove down Colfax. I just never followed through on it. 


The 1up Video Arcade Bar opened their second location (briefly called the 2up Bar) in the space previously used by Pete's Monkey Bar. After Kitty's East closed, the up expanded into Kitty's space. They now use it for live bands and more pinball and video games. 


The newest sensation is this? Really?

Well, that's a let down.


January 29, 2017.

North side of the Webber, taken from the alley behind. Construction equipment stored alongside the theater.


Smaller door next to the shipping container, on the north side of the Webber Theater.


Sure hope whomever wrote on this sign, and Anny Kautzky, are still together. You don't go and proclaim your love for just anyone, on a Danger Construction Area Keep Out sign, without absolutely meaning it!


Though if you REALLY meant it, you would have climbed up the wooden barrier covering the entire front of the theater at street level, and put your message up there. I mean if you REALLY want Anny to know...


The original Webber Theater marquee, north side.


The original Webber Theater marquee, south side.


Some stickers on the temporary wall.


This poster on the temporary wall caught my eye.

A fundraiser for the Letterpress Depot...


Oh man...

(Photo dated May 5, 2014.) Letterpress Depot is the "new" name for the former Englewood Train Depot, which is over 110 years old. The old Santa Fe Railroad Depot had been moved from its previous location, to the top of a hill on Dartmouth and Galapago Street, in the early 1990’s. The city of Englewood sold the building to a collector of old Letterpress equipment, for the absolute steal of a price, $30,000, in 2013. Conditions of the sale was the building would be restored. Plans were announced that would see the depot restored and used as a Letterpress Museum. 

I distinctly remember this idea not going over well with public opinion at all… 

Writing this made me want to check out what became of the old Englewood Depot. After all, when I moved out of Englewood in 2018, it still looked pretty much like it did in 2014. And yup, by 2024, not a whole lot had changed.

To the point where the City of Englewood sued the owners for not finishing the promised work. The lawsuit was settled before going before a judge, but it was plain to see the new owners weren't prepared to take on the task of building this former depot into a museum. Such a shame, because that depot is such a cool building.

They are still taking donations on their website, hoping to make it happen.

Over 10 years after buying it.

Going from south of The Webber, to north of it. Just by a few blocks. When I was stopping by regularly for photos, I had to take a 3 block U-Turn in order to get to the Webber. When Broadway split at I-25, you continue driving north on Lincoln Avenue. Three blocks east of Broadway, which becomes a southbound one way. My typical route would see me taking Lincoln to 3rd Avenue, turn left onto 3rd, then another left back onto to Broadway.


While waiting for the light, I can watch people washing their cars at Waterworks Car Wash!


Although I sometimes crossed Broadway for the 7 Eleven, if I needed driving around supplies. Smokes, drinks, a Skor Bar, emergency AA camera batteries, restroom, gas, whatever...

B is for Building!


One morning I found that Studio Lites, across the parking lot from 7 Eleven had closed up shop. Since I liked the Skull Crushing Teal paint job on the hair store, I snapped this picture. Glad I did, because it was painted a muted tan, shortly after this.


Just down Broadway from 7 Eleven, is Johnson Moving. With their sweet painted sign on the wall, and that great multi-story neon sign, hanging off the front of the building.


And on your left, you will see the Mayan Theater. Which dates back to 1930. The theater closed in 1984, but reopened in 1986 after a remodel that added 2 screens, but sealed off the balcony and cut it in half. The City of Denver has designated the Mayan as a Historical Landmark, and is one of only three Mayan Revival Art Deco theaters left standing in America.

I saw Being John Malkovich here in 1999. It was pretty cool.

Westword on the Mayan Theater: "Some old-timers preferred the Webber over the Mayan, just up the street at 110 Broadway, because it was one of the first theaters in the city with an effective air-conditioning system."

Maybe it was just the glory holes?


Kitty's South - March 22, 2015.

From April 1997 to February 1999, I attended Overpriced Art School, in Aurora, Colorado. Soon, I found myself amongst a fairly large and diverse group of friends. Most of us would typically celebrate the end of the week with alcohol. Either some, or a lot. Our last class got out at noon on Fridays, which meant drinking started at noon 01. Beginning in Aurora, usually at Hooters for beer and food, which was just blocks away from Overpriced Art School. Our group shrank as the hours passed and the party migrated west, into downtown Denver and Capital Hill specifically.


I became pretty good friends with G (sticking with his first initial only, just in case he doesn't want any notoriety for his inclusion in my Kitty's story). Neither of us had much to do on Friday's after class, so it was usually G and myself, plus a few others, drinking cheap beer downtown, until later in the night. Sometimes as late as 2 or 3 in the morning.

Cafe Netherworld says hi...


On occasions where it was early when everyone else had gone their separate ways, G and myself would end up at my tiny, crappy, Englewood apartment. Not drinking as much cheap beer there, because we'd switch to smoking a bunch of cheap weed. Laughing at whatever the TV had to offer. Dumb movies on cable or that we rented, or my personal recorded VHS tapes of better shows.


Typically, G would ride with me, since he didn't often have a car. Someone would end up coming to give him a ride home from my place, later in the night. Sometimes at 5pm, sometimes at 3am. It didn't matter to me. I was in my early 20's, highly intoxicated, sleep deprived and feeling indestructible. (I’m almost 50 now and there's no way I could live that life again...) 


G had friends that worked at Kitty's South, so we'd occasionally stop by there on our way from downtown Denver to Englewood. Sometimes I'd buy something. Usually I didn't. Just wandered around the store while G socialized. I don't socialize, so it was somewhat awkward playing the real life Silent Bob to an exuberant G, playing the role of Jay, bouncing around the Adult Bookstore. But I enjoy the atmosphere and entertainment provided.

And Friday nights were pretty entertaining there.


G ditched me for a bit one afternoon, in favor of the booths, without telling me he was going in. I asked his friend at the register if he left. She told me he was in the arcade. (She let him go back without paying the cover charge) If I wanted, she said I could go back there too. Still trying to deal with my semi-naïve, paranoid, suburban mindset, I declined. "That's okay, I'll just wait for him out here." She smiled and went back to what she was doing. 


G was also smiling when he came out, about 10 minutes later.

One night, we heard a commotion coming from behind the retail walls. Lots of swearing and banging sounds going on. Which really weren’t all that out of place, given the setting. Shortly after that, a very angry man came out of the Video Arcade, and told everyone in the room: “It happened again!” G's friend at the counter just rolled her eyes. G asked him what happened. “Someone took a (dump) in booth 9!” 

Now, his language was far more colorful than this, but I need to keep this abandoned adult theater story nice and family friendly! Think of the children! I also don’t remember if it was indeed booth 9, or a different one. But that is insignificant. The important part of the story is that someone deficated in a semi-public tiny room, and he had to clean it up. He continued swearing and muttering under his breath as he got a mop bucket and other cleaning supplies out of a closet, in the back of the retail floor.


You know, there were many days where I really hated giving rides to pizza, in order to pay my rent. But never once did that job involve cleaning up someone else’s bodily fluids and/or excrement. 

So that's a win.


Kitty’s South, the Adult Entertainment Center. 

It was definitely entertaining, even in my limited exposure.


Hmmmm.... Sorta... Kinda... Maybe... Not really?


Pleasures - June 1, 2014.

Kitty's didn't have a very large retail selection. Majority of their business came from the theater and video arcade. Even that business was getting smaller every year. High speed internet kept most of the fist-kebobbers at home (or the office), and out of Kitty's. If you wanted to look for Marital Aids without getting any of it on you, a Pleasures location was right next door. If you look closely, Pleasures is also billing themselves as Adult Entertainment Centers. 

Just like Kitty's!

In addition to a wider selection of Intimate Products and thousands of additional VHS and DVD titles available, Pleasures also has a video arcade for the needy dolphin floggers, but I don't know if you can take a dump in their booths.

Maybe Sally can, but she’s an F***ing Slut!


Pleasures - December 10, 2017.

Around the time the massive renovation project at the Webber Theater was wrapping up, Pleasures changed their logo. They forgot to order new window awnings for the second floor, but the "Parking in Rear (in back alley)" sign was upgraded. Kind of bummed out they didn't take advantage of the double innuendo sitting right there, that those phrases really are. 


As far as the "Keep Calm and Pleasures on" sign goes, one of my biggest pet peeves in marketing is the fairly new trend of using nouns as verbs. That really annoys me. 


Nearly as much as these guys.


Here is the Pleasures rear that you are supposed to park in.

No innuendo here at all.


They even hung a Pleasures parking sign on Kitty's back end.


Which looked like this on May 13,  2017. The old doors still sealed and not fixed, off colored graffiti masking paint covering the old brick.


And that one strange window on the north side of the theater still open to and open air theater. 

Which should be getting a new roof soon.


After all the years of watching Kitty's fading away at this location, the reconstruction is amazing. Certainly would have been easier to tear it down and start over. So all the credit in the world goes to those who didn't.


Because there certainly wasn't much left after clearing out the Webber shell.


Kitty’s South - August 2007.

Photo from a passing Googlesmobile, a few months after Kitty's South permanently closed.

Looking virtually no different than it did when it was still open.

No chance the City of Denver approves any permits to re-open. 

This will never be an Adult Theater again.

******

When I was a kid growing up in the Minneapolis suburbs, the adult theaters would advertise in the daily newspapers. With adult movie theaters and listings mixed in with the regular movies shown around town. Only that I was never going to see a movie at The Rialto, any of The Franklins, The Faust or The Flick.

I also didn’t understand until later that these Video Arcades weren’t the home of Pac Man and Mario. 

And I certainly couldn’t go there until I was 18.

But they were all closed and mostly demolished by then!


I still have a hand-written receipt from a purchase made at Kitty's South, dated June 4, 1998. It was for $45.98, and I paid cash. The receipt implies that I purchased a VHS tape (1998 pre-dating the far superior DVD format). I glanced through the dusty box of Marital Aids, tucked away in the basement closet, and didn't find any of the few surviving VHS tapes with a label of R17170 on the spine. So no clue as to what movie I bought.

Being June of 1998, I could almost guarantee that I was here, loitering with G, after an afternoon of after Overpriced Art School drinks and smokes. Whatever videocassette I bought, cost $24.95. As far as the other $20 on the receipt? I don't know... Probably blew it on crotch whistles and nipple candy.

I really wanted to find some photos of the interior of Kitty's South. Pre-gutting preferably. When it was open would have been ideal. Don't think I was inside the building more than 10 times, but I still remember it vividly. I looked online for over an hour and the next series of pictures was the best I could come up with.


In 2012, the Westword ran a story about Kitty's South's rotting corpse. Some clean up inside the theater caused a small fire. A crew was trying to prep the building for sale, as The City of Denver was threatening condemnation of the building. The article posted this photo of what would have been the theater lobby, with the auditorium behind it.

A wall has been removed that separated Kitty's retail floor, from a maze of black plywood that made up the video arcade, peep show and theater behind. The difference in color on the floor shows where the wall stood. When Kitty's was open, the wall was lined with movies, magazines and Pleasure Devices. Adult Novelties lined the walls to the right up front by the doors, with Sex Aids and Intimate Products lining a couple of rows of shelves in the middle of the store. The sales counter would have been on your immediate left from where this photo was taken. VHS and (later) DVD's were sold and rented from a smaller room on the left side of the lobby.

The Westword story referenced a Kitty’s story on the Baker Now website. Which was set up to represent the Baker Neighborhood of south Denver. The Webber Theater was right in the middle of that. My online searches brought multiple mentions of that Baker Now site, and the series of 2012 interior photos hosted within. But the site was a dead link. I exhausted every effort I could pursue, but I could not find those photos. 

Although I did find a series of photos of the Webber Theater auditorium, on a website for Showcase Reality, dated 2014. 


The small fire wasn't too destructive, but it did leave some smoke damage to the walls and roof.

That roof was already damaged and leaking, so it would have to go.


When Kitty's took over the Webber Theater in 1974, they did whatever they needed to the interior, with little regard to the original look of the building. When the renovations of the building began in 2016, there was very little left to restore. Kitty's and/or later day vandals left little to save.


Even though work had begun on clearing the place out, it was still undoubtedly a theater. The sloped floor and stage give it away. I can't imagine what this looked like in 1979. 


Piles of old movie theater seat cushions sit against the wall.

Those should have probably been burned.


Funny, I don't see a hole...

If it were 20 years ago, I'm sure I'd see several. 

You can see a staircase leading to the back entrance, on the right side of the stage.


Noted in one of the old Westword Kitty's stories: "A sign once hung outside the entrance to the video arcade: 'No individual occupying a booth shall at any time engage in sexual activity, bodily discharge or littering.'"

I'm absolutely positive none of that sort of thing ever happened right where the photographer was standing, when this shot towards the back of the theater was taken.


Wonder what happened to all that burned up adult material left behind? Filling dumpsters like this?

Or stored inside a 75 pound bag, and dropped off at my Doktor's Office.

"Tell Honkass he's a gross creep!"


Webber Theater - June 11, 2017.

Work is moving at a quick pace now.

The roof is now complete, so the structure is covered and more stable.


Additional framing is going up on the two front "towers". When finished, this will resemble the look of the Webber Theater in the 1948 photo promoting Canon City.


Thanks to that story I haven't yet linked to I finally know something about that door.

Bothered me for years!


Webber Theater - August 20, 2017.

In two months, a lot has happened to the Webber. New windows have been installed over the marquee, as well as punched into the brick on the front of the building, while several windows on the north side have been bricked over.


Work is now being done to restore the Webber's marquee. The center piece has been removed, and its weight is being supported by a wooden beam, reaching up from the sidewalk.


The whole entrance is blocked by a chain link fence, which has been in place for several months. while work on the entrance and under the sidewalk has been going on. The sidewalk is restored now, but a month earlier, there was a deep hole contained to six sidewalk squares. None of my pictures of it turned out.


New doors going in at the back of the theater.

Also new are the four windows on the second floor. In a part of the the theater that previously had no second floor.


That tag on the left reminds me of an Ed Emberley drawing.


Another door that looks drastically different than the back door of Kitty's.


Geez, with a sales pitch like that...

You'd be a fool to NOT buy this product!


June 1, 2014.

Damn sun is ruining the Kitty’s South pictures I wanted. With all of the times I drove past this building on a cloudy day, why didn't I ever stop for pictures then? Choosing today, to stand across Broadway, with the sun bleaching the top half of the the theater. Stupid.


Soon after snapping my disappointing photo, I moved to my right a little for a shot of graffiti truck. Parked for who knows how long, directly across Broadway from Kitty's. This little section of Broadway was visited a few times in the late 1990's, for its variety of cool used bookstores spread over a few blocks. This specific area was a planned destination when my friends Jen & Trav from Minnesota, visited in December 1997.


The Werner Building and the other building next to it, with a Laundromat and Famous Pizza inside. This sits on the northeast corner of Broadway and Bayaud. Kitty's South sat on the southwest corner of this intersection. Only with the vacant lot between the theater and the corner. You saw the pictures. You get it. 

I have no specific memories of the Werner Building, Jen & Trav and I ate at Famous Pizza. They sold big slices cheap. It was good too. We may or may not have played video games at the Laundromat (which closed in 2016) next door. I seem to remember doing that, but I'm not certain. Famous Pizza is gone now too. While they were still open in this 2017 picture, I'm pretty sure they had closed before Laura and I moved back to Minnesota, in 2018.

Trav is also gone today. Really miss him and wish he was still around.

He would have liked this story.


Mutiny Comics (Mutiny Information Cafe)

Located on the southeast corner of Broadway and Ellsworth. This was a differently named used book store back in December 1997. Possibly Ichabod's Books? Either way, it’s still open as a comic book shop today. With a coffee shop and other similar stuff inside. So that’s cool.


Unfortunately, the Broadway Book Mall, on the southeast corner of Broadway and Cedar, is no longer open. According to the Googles, it closed between late 2021 and early 2022. Back in December 1997, Jen & Trav and I spent at least an hour here, looking at books in this packed and cramped bookstore. It had a really nice atmosphere for reading. Old, but not too old. Independent without it becoming a gimmick.


When the three of us were leaving the store, I decided that I needed the Onion 3 book box set, for $20.

Miss the weekly printed form of the Onion. Great bathroom reading material, in an easy to digest format.

From time to time, I wonder what ever happened to Anchower...


Hola, Amigos...


Just down the street from the Broadway Book Mall, is Fahrenheit Books down the street. I'm pretty sure we checked this bookstore out in 1997 as well. No clue if it was still named Fahrenheit Books, back then or not. The Googles told me that it closed between late 2021 and early 2022, just like the Broadway Book Mall. 

Next door, is Adrift. A bar that is still open today. 

Wonder if they're connected? A mystery!


Guitars on Broadway or Music Gear Guys, operated next door to Adrift. Not sure when they closed, but the colorful appearance of the building was always captivating to watch. In the last few years I drove this route, it would become more and more tagged. No indication the store was still open, other than sales promotions listed above the windows. Pretty sure by 2017 (October 8, 2017, when this picture was taken), they were closed for good. Unless they really were unloading $99 guitars behind all that graffiti.

My apologies for the poor quality photo. I really never got a decent shot of this building. There was always too low of light, too much traffic or parked cars blocking it. Or just blurry out of focus crap like this. I should have made a better effort on capturing this building's decay.


December 10, 2017

Music Gear Guys, and the two building next to it, have been cleared of tenants.

Big fan of that green monster painted on the 2 story structure in the middle.


May 13, 2018

Minor renovations took place over the last few months, and all three looked ready for new businesses to occupy the space. Guitars on Broadway appears to be a rock and gem/jewelry store today. And it hasn't been tagged.


Webber Theater - September 2, 2017.

The plywood covering the theater's entire entrance has been removed. Even though it wasn't much, you could see pretty what the final results would be. Just not with much detail. 

One detail from the Webber Theater that I'd really like to see carried over, would be this...


Between the sidewalk and both sets of doors, “The Webber” was spelled out in colored tile. It's not very ornate, but something kind of significant to the building's history. Almost certainly this version of the tile would not be salvageable. Nor should it be.


Between the sidewalk and future front doors, there is an arch of missing cement.


Maybe the idea of some sort of Webber Theater tile salute is in the works?

Even if it's not that specifically...


Webber Theater - October 8, 2017.

A month and change later, the new doors are in place.

There's still an opening in the sidewalk, fronting both sets of doors...


The marquee is close to finished and looks great. 


Rounding out the photos with a walk to the back of the theater. New doors are in place, facing the alley. But the old graffiti masking paint is still up.


Front of the building is wrapped in front of scaffolding, while the exterior surface is finished. The Webber Theater's life saving makeover is near completion. 

Three years ago, it still looked like this...


Kitty’s South - June 1, 2014.

When I returned to Denver in May 2005, I had thought that Kitty’s South had already permanently closed, and I never stopped in. Even when they were open, they didn’t look open. Obviously there were no open windows facing Broadway, and the whole place looked like it was quite done with being what it was. They just hadn’t taken the signs down yet. 

On the occasions where I wanted to go to an adult store for whatever it was I needed to get there, I had a variety of Pleasures and Romantix franchises scattered around Denver to choose from. There was also the handy nearby Santa Fe Books, less than 2 miles from my apartment. In a "nicer" part of town... Heheheheh... Englewood.

Most of these places had their own Video Arcades, but none of them were the full blown theater experience, like Kitty’s had been. Circus Cinemas, off North Federal and I-76, did have both a theater and video arcade. But I never patronized that place before it closed and then was set on fire, some years after I moved back to Minnesota. I wrote about Circus Cinemas a couple years ago.

I never tried an actual sit-down-amongst-the-assembled-public-and-watch-that-kind-of-thing-in-a-theater form of adult entertainment. That sort of thing just doesn't go well with being extremely introverted. Although I discovered after living in a small house with 4 other adult roommates, that sometimes you just need to take a few minutes for yourself, in the privacy of a 4’ by 3’ room. With only a plastic chair and a closed-circuit television inside.

Worth the $4 for 20 minutes.


Well, a different former roommate of mine, discovered that you can clean them in the dishwasher.

Not sure of the thought process one would go through in testing that theory. 

On that note...

It's beginning to look a lot like X-Mess!


December 10, 2017.

With major theater construction complete, and only finishing touches on the interior going on, the vacant lot next to the Webber Theater is now home to a pop-up X-Mess tree lot! While researching this story, I discovered this vacant lot used to be home to The Ballpark. For about 10 years, it operated as a gay bath house. Pairing with Kitty's to form a major irritant to a part of Denver desperate to improve its image.

More wholesomeness needed! 


X-Mess trees are a great start!

A Westword story about Kitty's South, dated April 17, 2013, quotes nearby realtor Ron Tarver: "Many neighbors were upset by the sort of people drawn to the area by Kitty's and The Ballpark, an elaborate gay bathhouse that occupied the basement of the now-leveled building next door." Tarver goes on to describe an attempt by a group of "Broadway business leaders", who planned on organizing together with then intent of getting a bank loan, to buy both Kitty's and the Ballpark. Both structures would then be demolished, with something more socially acceptable built in their place. But something went wrong and that plan never developed.

So judgey...

The DJ who worked the night The Ballpark closed, in June 1986, wrote this fascinating story about the history of the bath house. More important, how the people involved with The Ballpark played a key role in advancing LGBTQ rights and raising AIDS awareness. You should absolutely check it out.

And tell Ron Tarver to read it as well.


Front entrances are nearly complete, and the marquee looks ready to light up again. 

However, the gap between the sidewalk and front doors was filled in with plan, regular cement. Nothing creative went into that space. I was so let down, I forgot to take a picture of it.


Between the doors was a poster of the 1948 Webber Theater Canon City photo, as a backdrop announcing an upcoming Holiday Party. Which would be hosted by the soon to open, Archetype Distillery, inside.


Not a copy of the 1940's era Webber Theater, but a nice renovation of it. 


Webber Theater - May 13, 2018.

The last photo I took of the Webber Theater was a quick snap of the camera as I drove through the Broadway and Bayaud intersection. Timed near perfectly, as to get as much of that Star Wars mural on the north wall, as I could. The last time the Googlesmobile drove by the Webber Theater in 2023, a bright and colorful new Star Wars themed mural was painted over the entire north side of the building. Ground to roof, front to back. I'm not a fan of Star Wars at all, but that's some impressive work.

Nothing still has been built where The Ballpark used to be.


Kitty’s South - January 24, 2016.

While it's not a subject matter most people are going to give a third thought to (I'm allowing their first and second thoughts to be: "What?" then "Ewwww..."), there's something lost when places like Kitty's disappear. What's lost is something most people are happy to never think of again. But looking back at the history of Kitty's, you can't help but notice how prominent a place that seedy sex businesses once had in America.

For the most part, that dinosaur is extinct. The business model of selling a public place, where people (typically men) can go and do what they're going to do, seems kind of outrageous today. But 50 years ago, business was thriving. No one would admit to it, but porn was and is a multi-billion dollar industry. It's never going away, but it will continue to evolve. Technology killed places like Kitty's. First with the VCR, then with the internet. As time rolled on, few of those places survive today. The pornography business just evolved with the times, and went right past full blown theaters to land on the phones in your pocket.

Since it's a subject matter that no one really wants to talk about, the idea of adult theaters is something that will remain one of those subjects that no one wants to talk about. Forever that blemish on our history that we're too embarrassed to admit happened. 

In my pursuit of wanting to read stuff that no one wants to write, I hope I was able to add my own take on the mostly dead Adult Theater business. I don't have much I could add, but I'm sure someone reading this has had their own experiences and opinions of Kitty's (or one of the thousands of now gone places like Kitty's), and maybe this was something they can nod at in silent approval.

Someone wants to remember Kitty's.

Not just trash the whole idea because it's all icky and stuff.



Now go wash your hands.






******

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