Arab Today, arab today quitos last porn cinemas hang on in internet age
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Quito's last porn cinemas hang on in Internet age

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Quito's last porn cinemas hang on in Internet age

Man watches an XXX rated movie at the Hollywood cinema in Quito
Quito - AFP

For a genre built on frenzied promiscuity, pornography draws a remarkably faithful crowd in the Ecuadoran capital, whose last two porn cinemas are just surviving the Internet age thanks to a trickle of steadfast patrons.
The Hollywood and the America, the last movie theaters of their kind in Quito, used to get more than 1,000 clients a day in the late 1980s, screening international porn stars' latest escapades around the clock.
The two cinemas are both located in central Quito, a neighborhood more known for Catholic churches than porn in this traditionally conservative city of 2.5 million people.
Their last competitor, the Granada, closed its doors several years ago.
Today, the theaters each sell about 120 tickets a day to a dying breed of customers, usually 40 to 70 years old, who ignore the abundance of online porn and the social stigma to continue watching explicit sex scenes on the big screen.
The moviegoers are almost always the same, says Patricio Veloz, 63, who has worked as a projectionist at the Hollywood for nearly four decades.
Veloz, a slight man with wire-rimmed spectacles, saw his first erotic film before he finished high school and ended up landing a job at the ticket window, eventually working his way up to the projection booth, where he now has pictures of his grandchildren and Catholic icons hanging on the walls.
The customers, he says, continue sliding their $2 through the slot in the ticket window, avoiding the gaze of Vilma, the woman who has worked there for the past 28 years.
Keeping to themselves, they sit far apart in the theater, where space abounds and women were banned five years ago after neighbors repeatedly complained of suspected prostitution.
"Before, couples would come to watch porn together," said Vilma.
"There are little old couples who stop in front of the ticket window and say, 'Remember when you brought me here?' Today they can't come in together."
- Size does matter -
The ban on women only deepened the decline the theaters have been in since the arrival of the Internet, which brings would-be porn watchers a bounty of erotic videos for free.
"New technology changed the way people consume porn, but there's a group of people who don't adopt new technology," said Ecuadoran writer Christian Leon, author of the book "The Cinema of Marginality."
"The dark movie theater continues to be a more intimate place of refuge."
Fabian is one example. The 55-year-old Quito resident has Internet access at home but prefers to watch his porn on the big screen.
"There's a big difference between the movies, video and television. When you watch on a small screen, it hurts your eyes. It's better on the big screen," he said.
Patrons tend to arrive wearing caps to hide their faces from disapproving glares.
"Some people... come here and shout insults. They say, 'How is this possible? The devil lives here!'" said Vilma.
The two theaters have had numerous run-ins with the authorities.
Gone are the days when they would hang large, racy posters outside. Today they use small signs announcing their films in simple block letters: "Little Dolls" and "Unsatisfied Wife," at the moment.
Despite declining sales, the Hollywood plans to keep opening every day of the year, with one exception: Good Friday.

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