I’ve had the Capri Show World Research Marmosets 1 heavily focused and a super-secret project recently, so to give them a breather I allowed them to relax a bit by turning their sites back to one of their favorite subjects to deep-dive into–our Beloved Dora Dildo/Bat Pussy Herself! And what do you know, they turned up GOLD!
Two years ago we first covered the twelve then-known or suspected theaters that may have screened BP during its initial run in the 1970s. One was a near 100% certainty. And another one, the Sun Theatre in Austin, being an absolute certainty 2. And that was about all we thought we’d find…until now:
We’ve turned up not one, but TWO near-certain screenings, both in Texas (of course), both in mid-1973, making them also two of the earliest known screenings (and the two earliest with such a high-degree of certainty).
CAPRI ADULT THEATRE – 1430 N Main Street, San Antonio, TX
The first newly uncovered sighting was at the Capri Adult Theatre 3 in San Antonio, TX the week of June 28, 1973. This time around the published title was THE ADVENTURES OF BAT GIRL, and played along with an LA-shot one-day-wonder THE ELEVATOR 4. The Austin screening notwithstanding, it would of course have been well over the line of a newspaper like the SA Evening News to have allowed such a word as “PUSSY”, so the replacement of that with “GIRL” does not diminish out certainty that this was in fact BP, and we’ve already seen this exact title at the LYRIC Theater in Odessa, TX (…more on that in a bit…).
The Capri, at 1430 N Main Street, was in a plaza called the Evergreen Center, and began life as a storefront theatre in 1967 called the Art Cinema Theater. It seems the original intent was for this to be an actual art-house originally, hoping to “specialize in pictures of artistic quality, new and old…“. As you can see from the interior picture it was a decently sized house, with “200 widely spaced seats..that are pitched steeply enough to give the entire audience an unobstructed view of the screen.” A perfect joint for Dora to go hippity-hopping at!
But within two year the Art had fallen to depths of “art”, and they were showing exactly what you’d expect for a late-60s/early-70s theater with “art” in its name to be showing: Smut. In 1969 the theater was bought by Southland Theatres INC and renamed the Capri Adult Theatre. It seems for a time in early 1973 it and other Southland Theaters in SA (more on them in a bit) attempted to go mainstream again, showing Spanish language films, but that did not last long, and back to the gutter they all quickly descended. It looks like the Capri lasted until around 1974, probably when Southland Theatres pulled out of SA, and by late 1977 it appears to have been converted in a gay disco. Aside from that one reference I’ve found nothing on what happened at that location from 1974 until good-old Google Maps starts registering street level data in 2007, and by then it’s clearly boarded up and empty. But by 2014 it had come back to life and a discount textbook store had moved in. By 2016 the space had been subdivided with OUCH Apparel being the first tenant, then Culture Hair Studio and probably one of the more appropriately named joints, Hardcore Leather, filling out the other two spots by 2016. The building is still there, on the corner of Evergreen and North Main.
KING ARTS THEATRE – 234 Broadway, San Antonio, TX
The second screening, again in San Antonio, was just two weeks later, July 11-17, at the King Arts Theatre at 234 Broadway. The King Arts Theatre was next door to another adult theater, the Joy, at 232 Broadway, both of which were also owned by Southland Theatres, INC (seeing a pattern?). This time the published title was THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF A BAT GIRL (a bit more daring!), and it was coupled with COUNTY JAIL (we’ll come back to this…)
The King opened in July 1973, and in August for several weeks they ran an ad in the San Antonio newspapers The Light announcing their opening, and bravely declaring,
Well OK then! I’m not sure what that bit about “regardless of what names other people my give them…” is supposed to mean, but the next part about the films being “exclusively made for our theatre…” is potentially bomb-shell material given we could be talking about BP…but that’s only if we believe that someone was actually shooting films specifically for this theatre, and to be honest I feel a tagline like that, which we see in other cities across the country around this time as well, is actually highly suspect…but still…
The King changed names to the Broadway Cinema in 1974, again probably at the same time the Southland Theatres left San Antonio. The building The King/Broadway was in, along with its neighbor and also a former Southland Sister Sinema The Joy, housed in the same building, lasted until 2012 when it was demolished to expand a parking lot for The Alamo itself!
SOUTHLAND THEATRES, INC
But let’s go back to the owner of both of these Bat Caves, Southland Theatres INC. We’ve actually already encountered a Southland Theatres INC house in our earlier article: The Lyric in Odessa, TX. And for those of you keeping score, not only was The Lyric a Southland theatre, when BP played there the title used was also THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF A BAT GIRL, just like The King! But wait, there’s more! The film showing with BP in both cases was a coupling which we’ve seen already in our early article in December 1973 at the Lyric in Odessa, TX, where the two films were listed again as THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF A BAT GIRL and this time WILD WEEK IN A COUNTRY JAIL 5. This was almost certainly the same as COUNTY JAIL which played at the King.
So now we have three theaters which almost certainly screened BAT PUSSY, all owned by Southland Theatres, which means they were all owned by Carl R. Carter, and headquartered in…wait for it…Memphis, TN. Which of course is where the first known print of BAT PUSSY was discovered! So it’s probably not too far of a stretch to assume the same print of BP screened in all three of these Texas theaters. It’s a bit further of a stretch then also assume the original SWV was this exact print (I’ve found no evidence that Carter or Southland had anything to do with The Paris Theatre in Memphis), but at worst this is a pretty interesting coincidence!
Of course the next, and perhaps more interesting question given Carter’s involvement in it’s screening, is of course was Carter perhaps behind the PRODUCTION of BAT PUSSY? He did produce several adult films 6, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Plus there was that ad actually flat out saying they were making films specifically to be shown in The King…
But on the other hand Carter’s theaters did screen a ton of films he had nothing to with producing 7, so unless and until we uncover harder evidence (sorry Buddy, no pun intended) we’ll just classify this as The Southland Theatres Theory8, and leave this one for the Research Marmosets to devour another day.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
Until now we’ve never been able to identify anyone who actually saw (THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF A) BAT PUSSY in a theater during it’s initial run…until now! At pretty much the same time as BAT PUSSY was floating around San Antonio the Capri was raided and the ticket taker, Antonia Irene Ray, and the projectionist, Ralph A Salvin, were arrested. Given that Mr Salvin was the projectionist there’s a very high likelihood that he not only projected, but probably watched Our Beloved BAT PUSSY, at least once! I wasn’t able to track down Ms Ray, but I did find Mr Salvin. However he unfortunately passed away in 2006. Thus we find ourselves at a dead end, so to speak, on actually talking to a First Era BPer.
Notes and other info
- CSWRM, TM pending
- For the ads at the Sun they actually used the full name, EROTIC ADVENTURES OF A BAT PUSSY!
- This Capri is no relation to the Capri Show World Center, although we are tickled to death at the coincidence!
- THE ELEVATOR starred a Capri Show World favorite Sandy Carey!
- WILD WEEK IN A COUNTRY JAIL was (probably) also known as, IN A LITTLE COUNTRY JAIL. According to Vinegar Syndrome’s Joe Rubin all that remains of this one is a trailer.
- A few of us did a very successful deep dive into Carter’s Memphis based films, hopefully we’ll get something posted on that soon…
- For example, he was deeply involved in the Memphis DEEP THROAT court cases yet had nothing to do with DT’s production
- The CSW Research Marmosets did uncover some rather violent bits on a few of the San Antonio Southland Theaters. There’s actually a LOT more to Southland and Carter in San Antonio, but we’ll come back to that in another post down the road, but for now here’s a few tidbits to wet your appetite:
– In Sept 1973 James William Erwin, identified as a Vice President of Southland Theatres, was arrested in a raid in which a bomb and a sawed-off .410 gauge gun were found in his possession. In November Erwin was also part of a set of indictments related to conspiring to distribute and exhibit pornographic material. This was part of a Bexar County investigation of mafia links to local pornographic establishment. I’m guessing this was probably a contributing factor for Southland exit from the San Antonio market in 1974.
– In September 1974 (after Southland had sold off their SA holdings) the Joy Theatre was bombed and a hole was ripped in its ceiling.
– The next month in November 1974 a fire broke out in the Fiesta Theatre, and NINE(!) containers of gasoline were found spread throughout the theatre. Fortunately the fire had not yet reached any of them.