Living Museums

Inside Madrid’s last porn cinema: then and now

4 December 2017

Curiosity often gets the better of me, but I like to think I’m prepared for what lurks behind the curtain. In 2015, however, I was forbidden to look. The moustached man inside the tiny ticket window told me:

Sorry love, this isn’t for you.”

As I tried my best to negotiate my way in, a few older gentlemen glided past me hollering casual greetings like longtime regulars. I won’t give up, I thought to myself. I’ll come back another time when there’s a different person at the ticket window. So I took this photo and left, more determined than ever to get inside.

Cine X

About a month later, Cine X closed. But fast-forward two and a half years and this stunning building has been brought back to life as Sala Equis. I finally got to see inside Madrid’s last porn cinema – and even better, they’ve barely changed a thing since the day it closed.

BEFORE…

Retro fonts and hand-made posters, coloured in with felt-tip pen…

Mannequins dressed in 1920’s outfits – a nod to the more classic films that were played here…

Oh look, white plastic chairs and tables. How no-frills…

The cinema downstairs is now the main bar area, which still plays old films, just like they used to (in addition to porn films)…

Old film reels for the vintage films…

Closing up for one of the last times before the porn cinema was turned into what it is today…

All photos are screen grabs from the short film, La Ultima Sala X en Madrid.

TODAY…

Inside the mezzanine bar

The mezzanine bar with its original tiled floor

The white plastic chairs are gone…

A cosy corner opposite the bar

The upstairs cinema is almost exactly the same…

Upstairs inside the cinema

The original entrance, once glad with hand-drawn film posters, is now a seating area…

The new entrance to Sala Equis

The new ticket window/bar

Where the downstairs rows of red chairs used to be…

Downstairs in the old larger cinema

Original features from the earliest owners of the building…

Clues of the building's former owners (pre-porn cinema): a wealthy Arab family

The large bar area projecting vintage films

Beautiful features from the building's era as Sala X

The ghost ticket booth, where I once tried to negotiate my way in…

The old ticket window, no longer used

Cine X has been converted into Sala Equis with respect for the building’s original art deco features and seedy heritage. Despite the soulless self-service system and severe inequality on the bathroom front (perhaps some things about this place will never change), Sala Equis has put this stunning living museum back on the Madrid No Frills map.

INFO

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2 Comments

Ross Kirkman 13 March 2018 at 7:47 pm

Hey There!

I had considered starting a similar blog to you but then once I’d discovered yours I realised that it’s so much better than I could ever make mine.

So, I just thought I’d let you know that there is a lot of photo ops for your style of photography out in my neighbourhood of Canillejas/Torre Arias. There a lot of businesses out here with 1950’s interiors that surviving on that one daily visit from an old age pensioner.

Calle Discobolo and Calle Santa Tecla are my suggestions.
You should check it out. Enjoy.

Reply
Madrid No Frills 14 March 2018 at 9:26 am

Thank you so much Ross! Your neighbourhood is on our list to explore, so thank you for your suggestions! And you should absolutely start your own blog, the more blogs that want to help preserve a disappearing Madrid, the better!

Reply

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