Now some neighbors are wondering whether Kitty's could rise again in its previous incarnation -- as a theater that folks didn't have to wear a raincoat to enter.
The building originally housed the Webber, one of Denver's earliest and most beloved movie palaces, where 1927's Wings played around the time the aerobatic adventure film won the first Best Picture Oscar. Like many venues of its vintage, the Webber went into decline decades ago, changing names and becoming a different kind of crowd-pleaser. During Kitty's heyday, XXX screenings and live sex shows attracted plenty of seedy types with booty on their minds and pup tents in their pants. With the rise of Internet porn, however, traffic at Kitty's diminished, despite a video library featuring the likes of Grand Theft Anal, unique marital aids such as the Impulse Gyrating Bearded Dolphin (don't ask), and private viewing chambers whose entryway bore an oft-ignored sign reading "No individual occupying a booth shall at any time engage in sexual activity, bodily discharge or littering."
Turning a jism repository into a more legitimate operation isn't impossible, as Chris Swank knows. He faced the same challenge over a decade ago, when he helped renovate East Colfax Avenue's Bluebird Theater, once another favorite of public masturbators. The place had been shuttered for eleven years when Swank got involved, and parts of it had practically been frozen in time. "There was still popcorn in the popper and a handful of 35mm porn films in the projection house," he recalls.
In other ways, though, the Bluebird seemed beyond hope. "The roof was basically open, so a lot of rain had gotten in," Swank says. "And who knows what other substances were in there?" Instead of trying to solve this mystery, he and his partners ripped out all the seats and thoroughly refurbished the interior. The Bluebird reopened as a setting for live music in 1994, and it's been flying high ever since.
Could Kitty's be similarly transformed? Swank's not sure. "There are so many theaters doing music now," he says. "But it's in such a great part of town. It'd be nice to have something in there."
Besides Grand Theft Anal, that is.
Heavy petting: Defying all odds that long ago had the Englewood property developing into pricey residences and retail outlets, the Cinderella Twin Drive-In is back for yet another season, the 34th since the facility off West Hampden Avenue first opened for business in 1973. Jim Goble and Scott Zimmerman, who'd both worked at drive-ins as teenagers, acquired the property more than two decades later in defiance of sad realities that saw drive-ins closing up across the country.
And late last month, the Cinderella returned for the 2007 spring/summer season (weekends only right now), with two first-run double features on its screens at $12 per carload ($9 for a single adult shepherding kids under twelve). But there's a change at this princess of a movie palace. "We have a new policy," the theater's recording announces. "Please do not bring any pets except service animals."
Heavy petting is apparently still allowed. Here, kitty, kitty.