Tag Archives: the past

The Kings Theatre

Forty-six days before the infamous stock market crash of 1929, the Loew’s Kings Theatre on Flatbush Avenue first opened its doors.  An architectural triumph, the building was vast and palatial, extending diagonally over a series of lots.  A grand carpeted staircase led to the curiously designed mezzanine, which overlooked the extended rows of seating on the orchestra level. No expense was spared on the interior, which was showy and meticulously detailed: red velvet curtains draped in front of the screen, matching the plush red seats; chandeliers of etched glass hung over a mahogany-paneled lobby; richly embroidered draperies set off the elaborate wallpaper; even the ceilings were decorated with ornate molding. In the decades that followed, young unknown performers like Sylvester Stallone and Barbra Streisand would work in Kings Theatre as ushers.  The theater enjoyed almost forty good years of films and live revues, but eventually attendance began to decline and, in 1977, they shut their doors for good.

When Jon Kane stepped into the theater lobby on a grey spring morning in 2011, it was damp and black and desolate, colder indoors than it was out.  Folding tables of packaged snack foods and industrial facemasks sat forlornly against one wall.  An angry watchman approached him and said “Hey! Hey, you can’t come in here.”

Jon said, “I’m the director of the movie that’s shooting here and I’m late.” The watchman considered this before allowing him to pass.  “I met you yesterday! I can’t believe you don’t remember me,” said Jon, writing his name on a clipboard.

“Hey man,” went the watchman, “I’m not ambidextrous.”

Who is, these days?

The interior of the theater is crumbling by now, of course.  When they closed the building thirty-two years ago they locked it up just as it was.  Today the velvet curtains hang in shreds over the blank grey screen, and the damp carpets are peeling off the floors, leaving man-sized patches of bare concrete throughout the building.  In the mezzanine an empty filing cabinet rests, upside down, across the middle of three rows of seats.  One member of the opticnerve™ staff found yellowed workers’ permits from 1976 scattered across a backroom. In some places, the ceiling is falling down. The dusty concrete water fountain has been dry for over thirty years, but DRINK AND BE REFRESHED is still etched into its empty basin. The refreshment stand in the inner lobby still advertises TASTY POPCORN.

Think, and be impressed.

“My mother grew up in this neighborhood,” Jon said, standing in the middle of the theater.

"She used to go to movies here when she was a girl."

Cold, he sent his assistant for a space heater and some warmer clothing.  She returned with a plastic package of boys’ XL thermal underwear and a plaid hat from the dollar store. “I think these should fit,” she said,  “Twenty-eight waist, right?”  There was a picture of a small boy giving a thumbs-up on the package. They fit.

Jon liked the hat.  He put it on and was ready to start.

He doesnt like this picture because he says his face looks like a lamb chop.

A hundred extras filed in, wearing their coats and protective masks.

A scene which might seem familiar to you.

By some accounts, the theater seats 3,676.  The extras sat close together in the intact chairs in the front right corner, the little crowd dwarfed by the ruined splendor of the building. Still, on camera it looked like a packed house. They faced a green screen on which nothing played and pretended to watch a movie.

The crew turned on the fog machines.

And waited for them to warm up.

Then the fog rolled in.

“Masks off, coats off!” shouted the producer,

and Jon called "Action!"

(He faced a captive audience indeed.)

Spills worked on his laptop, editing footage as it came in

(He sat in the cubicle of the future)

while Jon’s photography teacher from college took stills on the mezzanine.

(Can you spot him?)

Members of the opticnerve™ post-production staff stopped by to check on the shoot’s progress.



while friends of opticnerve™ watched the shoot from a distance.

Interns sent text messages in the hallway and

more than one person swears they saw a ghost.

Eventually, after eight hours of shooting

it was time to wind down and go home.

The nail on Jon’s left thumb was painted blue, the other was painted pink. He hitched his bags over his shoulder with a flourish and got into his car, a Checker Marathon built the year before the Kings Theatre closed.

A light rain fell as the crew stood outside with their facemasks around their necks. Passing them on the sidewalk, an elderly woman covered in burn scars stopped and asked if they were renovating the old theater.  They responded, “Sorry, just shooting a movie.”

“Oh,” she said wistfully, “That’s too bad.  It was such a beautiful theater.” She asked if it was still beautiful and they told her it was.


We Know What Boys Like

International Playboy and Devoted Father of Two

Sixty percent of our Facebook friends are male. They like things like Playboy and Tabasco Sauce and Tequila and opticnerve™.   They like opticnerve™ because here there are girls and hot sauce… and more than you can imagine of both, though perhaps in a different capacity. Jon Kane has strong feelings about employee health and morale; accordingly, the men of the opticnerve™ studios skateboard between their workspaces, sip custom drinks from our fully stocked bar and, sometimes, make use of a steam shower recently installed in the back room of Studio 4B.  Jon Kane knows what boys like.

When Spike TV began a rebranding campaign in 2006, they changed their slogan to “Get More Action” and sensibly gave international playboy and devoted father of two Jon Kane a call.  Soon, Jon’s production-assistant-cumproducer, “Matt” was out at strip clubs night after night, scouting for talent, accompanied by a female friend and carrying fistfuls of bills.  After a long and arduous fortnight of lap-dances and interstate travel, “Matt” finally had enough interested young ladies to hold a two-day casting call.

opticnerve™ held the call in the basement of their old studios in Manhattan. The floor was concrete and all the dancers were slipping in clear plastic heels.  The girls took off the tops of their string bikinis and jumped up and down as slowly as possible.  They danced sensuously and jogged in place while undressing.

But when the girls needed to kiss each other, they refused to kiss each other.

Like this

Kissing was not optional; Jon needed to film it for the screen test.  He didn’t want to make the girls feel uncomfortable, so he suggested that they demonstrate on his production-assistant-cum-producer, “Matt,” instead.  The young Hollywood hopefuls all felt okay about that.  One after another, for the rest of the day, they did. Somewhere, raw footage may still exist of “Matt” in the studio basement, engaging in kiss after open-mouthed kiss with girl after girl.

In the end, this is the commercial that aired on Spike TV instead of the kissing spot (though, rest assured, the girls did kiss).

When the auditions were over, Jon and “Matt” thought about who they should cast as the dancer for a second Spike TV spot, but decided that none of the girls who showed up for the casting call were quite right.  Instead, they recruited the receptionist of their company, who was nervous.  She said she had never done anything like that before.

Something Has to Happen

Jon Kane is out of the office today and the woodshop stands empty.  Outside the opticnerve™ studio windows, the ocean is a swampy green. The hatchlings in the walls were noisy last week; today they have fallen silent. The cold may have put them to sleep.

Here it is happy hour (the woman at the liquor store calls us The Bulleit Boys).

What kind of adventure would you like us to take you on next?  We have an excellent firsthand account of a fatal 1977 plane crash stored in the backroom.  Alternately, Rang Rang has suggested we lighten things up a little and begin an opticnerve™ dating game.

Remember: while the grim past is illuminated by memory’s lantern, the future remains obscured by the darkness of the unknown.

Today the pictured door is closed.

If you have any comments for Jon, rest assured his door is sometimes open.  No-body can convey said comments to him when it is.