Last June, I wrote a post about old-school adult film cinemas in Brussels and Singapore.

While this has not been outwardly one of my most popular posts (22 ‘likes’ at the time of writing), it is amongst the most frequently viewed articles on my blog. According to the statistics provided by WordPress, this post receives around 8-10 views daily.

Interesting, eh? I never delved into it until a recent comment by a fellow blogger prompted me to do some investigating.

If you type “Brussels adult cinema”, “Singapore adult cinema” or “Brussels porn film” into the Google search engine, this post will be the first result to appear. Talk about search engine optimisation…

Cinema ABC01P160NC

So, why am I writing about ABC Cinema again?

Someone commented on the post today that the cinema closed its doors last year. There is an ongoing crowdfunding project to secure the premises lest it ends up becoming yet another unremarkable kebab stall.

The goal is to collect at least 60,000€ in two weeks, by 23 April, in order to take over the nine-year lease. The money will be used to pay the first year’s of rent (4,000€/month), taxes and renovation. Following which, the initial plans are to transform the space into a cultural gathering space for film, music, and other arts.

This effort is led by CinéAct Foundation – an entity specifically created for this project by three film/cinema-related organizations in Brussels:

  • Cinéma Nova: A non-profit organization managed a group of volunteers that is dedicated to independently produced films
  • Offscreen: Annual film festival started by vzw Marcel to provide an alternative platform for independent audio-visual creations
  • La Rétine de Plateau: Manages and organises information on cinemas in Brussels

Quick facts about ABC Cinema (gleaned from different news articles):

  • Situated in an old house in Brussels (147-149 Boulevard Aldophe Max), the cinema opened in 1971 and seats 96 people across two levels
  • The audience was treated to live striptease performances on the stage during intermissions edit: hourly! Julian Marsh, founder of the Erotic Film Society, shared that the projector was stopped every hour for these performances regardless of what was showing on the screen
  • The interiors are reminiscent of the 1970s while the ceiling on the mezzanine features a fresco-like collage (according to an article in De Standaard, it comprises mostly of boobs!)
  • The curtains came down in June 2013 following the retirement of the cinema’s 96-year-old manager
  • Prior to its closure, this was one of the last few remaining cinemas in the world that continued to screen adult films using 35mm film; this was done via a made-in-Italy Cinemaccanica projector
  • The cinema’s collection of some 600 erotic and pornographic films, mostly produced between the 1960s and 1980s, have been sent to the archives at the Cinémathèque Royale

The initiative, which is supported by the King Baudouin Foundation, has been covered extensively by the French and Dutch press in Belgium.

For a look inside ABC Cinema, click here or here for video interviews in French and Dutch respectively. De Morgen has some good photos of the place; I would love to get access to photograph ABC Cinema!

As I write, the clock is counting down. According to the Offscreen Facebook page, they have reached the halfway mark, so there’s another 30,000€ to go.

For the next six days, the “Top Posts & Pages” section at the bottom of my blog will show the posts/pages that have received the highest number of views – which means that the post will be featured (since it’s in the number 2 spot). I don’t know if this will help drive any awareness, but every little bit counts!

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11 replies on “New life for ABC, a former adult film cinema? // Une nouvelle vie pour l’ancien cinéma porno ABC à Bruxelles?

  1. Very interesting indeed! It must have been some experience to watch a film in ABC; plus I’d have loved a live striptease performance during intermission! I do hope it is saved – thank you for raising awareness, I didn’t know about it.

    1. Me too! I can only imagine what it must have been like. There’s some info about it in the comment below from Julian 🙂 Yup, hope that the appeal for 60k€ will be successful.

  2. Hi Angelina – Thanks again for highlighting this campaign, with your great words and photographs.

    Yes, the ABC was an experience. I am writing about it today for the Erotic Film Society site. Just one point though – striptease was not during the intermissions. They stopped the projector every hour, on the hour – sometimes even in mid-shot! You might almost think that the audience was not really interested in the stories of the films they showed… 🙂

    The ABC is a great, compact cinema, with so much potential. I would like to see it become a home for film societies and festivals from all over Europe, so that they could bring their own, specialist programming to the heart of Europe. Brussels has such a great film culture – I was here for Offscreen this year and it blew me away – that I am sure they would be given a warm welcome.

    And maybe there would still be occasional late shows of the ABC’s old films – after all, 600 of them have been preserved. But maybe not a stripper ever hour! (It’s okay for THE PIZZA DELIVERY BOY AND THE HOUSEWIFE but not so good for THE SEVENTH SEAL.)

    1. Hi Julian, thanks for sharing your experience at ABC! I’ve edited the information regarding the hourly striptease (love your comment at the end!) I’ve been in Brussels for more than two years and it’s about time I discover the city’s film culture!

  3. I love these fascinating old “sin palaces”. Compared to today’s Vegas style sports bar outposts, there is something quaint and honest about these kinds of places. I really hope they are able to continue

    1. If the crowdfunding project is successful, the place would be revived as a cultural performance space but perhaps they might screen some of the adult films from time to time!

    1. I thought of the latter when I first read a news article that mentioned this. But it was a regular ‘retirement’ and he wanted to enjoy what remained of his old age. Dedication indeed!

  4. Tragic news the Cine ABC has really gone. The California peepshow/videokabins next door to it closed down a few years ago and has stood derelict and dark ever since; I understand the Brussels council rather deliberately drove them out of business by raising the rents, but for what? Just to leave an empty dead shell? It has been so sad to see the Cine ABC dark and locked up as well. These sinful places at least had some “life” in them. Thank you for your informative post. Hopefully the Cine Paris is still going.

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