Quito's last porn cinemas draws faithful crowd

Quito's last porn cinemas draws faithful crowd
The last two surviving porn cinemas still draw a steady trickle of faithful customers to their screenings despite the dominance of pornography on the Internet.

QUITO - 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 theatres 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 theatres 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 theatre, where space abounds and women were banned five years ago after neighbours 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."

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