Vancouver’s last remaining porn theatre could evolve into a live music venue thanks to the entrepreneurs behind the Rickshaw Theatre and Waldorf Productions.
David Duprey of the Rickshaw, The Narrow Lounge and Rumpus Room signed a five-year lease on the Fox Cinema on Main Street with a five-year option to renew, March 12.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to bring anything [to Mount Pleasant.] It can be a live music venue and it can be a club and it can be a comedy stage. It’s just in such an amazing location,” said Duprey of the spot on Main near Broadway. “The Waldorf, they really bring a lot of culture. They’ve got experience with a lot of up-and-coming local artists and a lot of local acts because they did everything at their space. They had such diversity there that I really loved and so I’m really hoping they can help me capture some of that at the space here.”
Duprey said friends alerted him to a “for lease” sign at the Fox at least two months ago.
It became clear during negotiations with the realtor that he was competing against another party. He called around and learned he was competing against Waldorf Productions’ Thomas Anselmi and Ernesto Gomez. After speaking to them, Duprey and his partner Rachel Zottenberg and three members of the Waldorf Productions team decided to join forces.
The team takes possession of the porn theatre in the 37-year-old building that’s owned by Siddoo Kashmir Holdings Ltd., Aug. 1.
“It’s disgusting inside,” Duprey said. “It’s been a porno theatre for 20 years… It needs a serious cleaning. All those seats are destroyed and it stinks and so there’s a lot of physical work that’s got to go in, a lot of elbow grease.”
The team hopes to open the new venue in the fall.
Duprey said the city is supportive of the project, but the nature of the new nightspot depends on what type of liquor licence Duprey can secure. An events-based licence would mean the venue could only host live acts.
“At the Rickshaw, right now, I can’t show movies because we got a cabaret licence,” he said.
But Duprey said he doesn’t want to compete with his friend Corrine Lea who runs the Rio Theatre. He imagines the space at 2321 Main St. as mainly a venue for live music and DJs.
“The liquor licence at the Rickshaw, it took me a year and three months to get,” Duprey said. “If we have to pay rent there for nine months while we’re waiting for the liquor licence to come through, that could be a big deal”
Waldorf Productions vacated the Waldorf Hotel on East Hastings Street in January after Solterra Group bought the property and offered its operators a week-to-week lease.
City staff are slated to report to city council on the historical and cultural significance of the Waldorf Hotel by May 15.