The Apex, at the corner of Broadway and Lombard in Fell’s Point, was the last X-rated movie house in Baltimore.
It opened in the 1940s as a traditional cinema, but has been showing adult films since 1972. It gained some notoriety when it was featured in John Waters’ film, Cecil B. Demented. But it goes on the auction block today.
Frank Thiac, who has worked there for the last four years, said he and the customers don’t want to see it go. "We've been around for 40 years, and a lot of our customers are asking, since this is the last theater of its type, where are they going to go?" he said.
Apex owner Isa Mufareh declined to comment. But the Apex outlived all of the other adult theaters in Baltimore, as well VHS, DVD, and until now, the Internet. Last night may have been the last screening. The movie was Men in Uniform.
"Every Thursday is gay day, so we're showing gay movies on Thursday, and this will probably be our last showing,” Thiac said, arguing that the theater is “a landmark.” “I just wish that whoever does buy it, if it sells, that they keep it open,” he said.
Lindsey Davis, a Baltimore native, said she views the Apex as just one more memory of the Baltimore scene that will go the way of the bottle on top of the Bromo-Seltzer tower. "It's a piece of this history; it's part of the landscape that I grew up with," she said.
But Culann Kramer, a stay-at-home dad who lives three blocks away, said the theater is an eyesore. "Those times have passed; it doesn’t really fit in with the community that has kind of developed on Broadway," Kramer said.
He said he doesn’t truly believe that people will be sad to see it go. "People are going to talk about it like it was some great historic landmark that we miss terribly, but once it’s gone, and if it's replaced with something even a little bit better, let it go. I don’t think anyone will miss a porno theater.”
Auctioneer Andy Billig said 10-15 parties have expressed an interest in the space so far, including a church group, apartment developers, and a group that is interested in turning it into a live theater. He said there doesn’t seem to be a need for adult theaters anymore.
Taki Basil, the chef at the soon to open Daily Grind Café and Grill on Lombard Street, just two blocks from the Apex, agreed. “I mean if you want to watch something like that, you just go online and do it,” he said. He believes change will be welcome for a community that’s growing. "I think it's going to be good for the neighborhood because it was kind of a nuisance to this area. Hopefully, some good businessmen are going to buy it and do something great for the neighborhood," he said.
The auction is scheduled at 11 a.m. today at the Apex, with an inspection for interested parties at 10.