Porn Theater Expanding. Apparently People Still Do This In Public.

Mr. Fox


Do people actually go to porn theaters anymore? More specifically, do people actually go anywhere on the 22nd block of Market Street? The answer is yes, a profitable yes.

Anthony Trombetta's Forum Theater on 2209 Market Street is the last old-fashioned, dry porno houses in Philly ("Save The Forum!"), and although we thought (based on no facts at all) its next headline would also mention the words "For Sale" or "Failed Kitchen Inspection," it seems the Forum is very much alive and stripping (congratulations to Nico M., the Forum's reigning Mayor on Foursquare). The Zoning Board of Adjustments has approved an expansion project to add live nude dancers (as oppose to the lifeless ones so common these days), private booths and a second-floor mezzanine area that the Forum's 19-foot ceilings allow for. The "expansion" in question actually is just a joining of X-rated forces. Trombetta also owns Les Gals one block east on Market (also not permitted to sell alcohol) and wants to relocate those operations into the Forum space (anyone in the market for 2132 Market Street?); the Zoning Board simply hopes to consolidate these businesses' presence on Market Street by approving the internal expansion. Don't take out your bank roll just yet; the Center City Residents Association wasn't about to let this one strip through the cracks--the CCRA has appealed. Combining these businesses won't be all too bad. Trombetta's attorney Ron Patterson tells us that "the idea is to move Les Girls into the Forum so that the block could be assembled for a large development." That actually seems beneficial to the block. But with Trombetta's marred clout, he is getting some opposition.

Three years ago, Philadelphia Magazine's Victor Fiorillo gave a great first-person account of his visit to Les Gals, explaining how the "private booths" advertised are used more for sex propositions between male clientele than anything else. Feeding the crowds with only Kit Kats and Sierra Mists from vending machines doesn't seem to be affecting business for Trombetta, whose name is most well-known among some Philadelphians as the "Porn Kingping," the man who "was convicted in 1975 on federal charges of transporting women across state lines for prostitution." Trombetta, a Mister Miyagi meets Michael McDonald type, has proved Fiorillo wrong; the Forum seems to be quite profitable.

The CCRA's appeal in February means we won't know if the Forum will get the go ahead on the project for a few more weeks. We can understand where the CCRA's concerns are coming from, but since the Forum (which has been around since 1975) predates the zoning code that was put into place for that area, nearby neighbors have little to no fodder on their side. However, if the project is approved, neighbors will be happy to know that Trombetta, according to Patterson, "would cease operations at Les Girls and abandon that permit so that an adult-use [business] could no longer operate there under their old zoning permit." Sounds fair.

It's unfortunate that with the money being put into this area (Murano, 2121 Market) and close neighboring businesses like Trader Joe's, that these new residents have to deal with the dubious goings-on that Trombetta's two establishment brings, but, on the positive side, at least he's helping the GDP.

UPDATE: Denied!! STB (the company that owns the Forum Theater) has failed to meet the requirements for a variance. The Commonwealth Court admitted that "approving the variance without the existence of unnecessary hardship was the error on the part of the Board, and it was similarly error for common please to affirm."