Still screening movies on 35 mm film, tucked away in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris is a 1960s cinematic time warp with a loyal appreciation for the forgotten vintage paragons of French erotica. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I’ll admit, and you might be thinking that I’m really scraping the barrel here but hear me out.
Operated and owned by a Monsieur Laroche, Le Beverley is the last-standing establishment from a golden era of clandestine movie theaters that began to emerge around the same time the brothels of Paris were outlawed. Before the maisons closes were shut down, erotic cinema was originally screened in their lush waiting rooms and lounges. Adult movie theaters like the Beverley soon became a discreet and popular alternative. When it opened its doors in 1960, Le Beverley was first known as Le Bikini, but other than its name, the picture house has mostly gone unchanged. With it’s kitschy neon sign, old school ticket booth and 90s leather seats in the evocative retro viewing room, ironically there’s a quirky charm about it.
Still with me?!
Open everyday, Monsieur Laroche offers two vintage 35 mm films a week, screened back to back. Twice a week he holds a special couples nights– screenings reserved for couples looking to inject a little excitement in their relationship for the evening. “It’s become an institution,” says Laroche, “You’d be surprised to see how many American tourists stop by here the minute they arrive, every before going to see the Eiffel Tower”. Erotic poetry readings for women have also become a regular addition to the cinema’s monthly events.
But for Monsieur Laroche’s, the threat of the cinema’s closure is never far from his mind. “The government taxes us more than any other cinema. That is why all my colleagues have closed down their spaces.” Out of a €12 ticket, which will buy his patrons a entire day’s pass at the cinema (all you can watch), Monsieur Laroche only gets to keep €1.50.
But ofcourse it’s not just the government threatening the independent cinema, the internet, with its 40-50% p0rnographic content, isn’t doing Le Beverley any favors. “Men are men, and they need visual excitement. That’s not going to change. The difference is that now you have seven year-olds who know about what doing a **** means, because they’ve seen it on a smartphone.”
Le Beverley has become an unlikely sanctuary that welcomes elderly members of the community looking to pass their time in a less conventional way.
“Most of my clients are at least 70 and are retired and lonely, so they hang out here the whole week. It’s like a second home to them,” says Laroche, “I often worry about what is going to happen to all these men once this place closes.”
I for one hope that Le Beverley has a chance of becoming a protected cultural landmark that continues to serve Paris’ connoisseurs of vintage French p0rn! Although I have a feeling I might have trouble rallying any support trying to save it…
Beverley Cinema website here.