Theater Location: 8532 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA
Theater Open Date: November 2, 1966
Theater Status: Demolished August 30, 2013
The Tiffany Theater was the legendary Rocky Horror destination located on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CA. Built in 1966, the theater opened to new management in March of 1977 as a specialty revival house. On June 10, 1977, The Rocky Horror Picture Show began playing Friday and Saturday at Midnight, running through March 13, 1983 when the theater ceased to be a cinema.
One of The First 30 US Theaters to show Rocky Horror as a weekly midnight attraction (#13, for those keeping score), the Tiffany was located at 8532 Sunset Boulevard, next to Dean Martin's landmark restaurant, Dino's Lodge (which became the swanky Chez Denis in 1978). The originally 1920s Tudor style building itself was home of the Mary Webb Davis Modeling School before it was converted into a theater by adding a modern, nondescript frontage. The building had become famous as 77 Sunset Strip, when its original facade appeared as the front door to the fictional TV detective agency from 1958 to 1964. Located less than a mile up the road from The Roxy Theatre where The Rocky Horror Show had first played in the U.S., The Tiffany Theater rapidly became a sought-out destination by Rocky Horror enthusiasts all over the world, and the theater itself gained a well-earned reputation early on as one of the most boisterous venues for Rocky Horror screenings. At its peak, the line began forming before 10 PM, as it was generally sold out long before the doors opened for the Midnight show, creating a need for 2 AM screenings on both Friday and Saturday (and Thursday at Midnight during the summer months).
During the height of it's popularity, an average of 1500 people saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Tiffany every single weekend.
The Tiffany Troupe was the cast for the theater. The Tiffany was the first (and then only) venue to screen a restored Super Heroes Cut of Rocky Horror as part of an exclusive, limited engagement in the summer of 1979. In the Summer of 1982, Shock Treatment was added at Midnight on Thursdays and Fridays at 2 AM in place of Rocky Horror, with the by-then more structured cast doing double-duty.
The party atmosphere at the Tiffany's Rocky Horror screenings began out on the street, as early arrival was the only way to guarantee a ticket. At some point, there were even people scalping the sold-out $3.50 tickets for as much as $10 each. The wait to get in was often longer than the movie, though the crowd always found ways of entertaining themselves, and being right on the famed Sunset Strip created a lot of excitement in itself. Do-it-yourself merchants walked up and down the line selling badges, t-shirts and bags of rice in addition to other illegal contraband, including pretty much every mind-altering substance available. "Rocky Rice, 25, Rocky Matches 10" was one of many chants adapted by the crowd, mimicking the enthusiastic sales pitches of an early entrepreneur named Stan, who sold items now found in most current pre-show kits (bags of rice, printed matchbooks, newspapers). By 1979, there were several "audience callbacks" going on outside the theater, one of the longest-lived being "it's the 91 S, my favorite bus," chanted each time the Sunset Strip public transport passed the theater. Sunset Strip traffic moved slowly on the weekends and upon occasion, the cars and buses were pelted with rice.
The Hollywood location made the Tiffany ground-zero for LA's huge Rocky Horror following, and there were visitors from other theater's fans and casts from all over the world. One of the unique attributes of the theater was a low screen with an aisle mid-way through the theater, that made a perfect platform for making shadow-figures on the screen. The crowd would erupt in gales of laughter and cheers when giant letters "J-A-N-E-T" magically appeared on the screen during "Dammit Janet", or when giant hands caressed Janet's breasts during "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me". The cast hosted many theme nights, including Toga Night (where everyone wore their costumes under a Toga), Rocky On Wheels night (where the floor show was performed entirely on roller skates) and the epic Xmas night, where most cast members made special red floor show outfits with green sequins and garland (highlighted by a cast member that "borrowed" holiday lighting from a Sunset Strip median display creating literally an electric Brad, to a huge ovation from the audience.) Circus Magazine covered the growing insanity in October of 1977, including photographing the wedding of Cheryl Mathison and Brian Spears after a midnight screening, dressed as Columbia and Eddie, respectively. Michael Wolfson of the The Rocky Horror Revue served as best man. Possibly the most memorable antics inside the theater involved a real motorcycle riding around the theater during "Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul" which was amazing to see, but rather hard on the lungs, and not so easy to pull off as there were generally huge packs of un-ticketed performers seated on the floor and in the aisles. Mountains of rice and other debris was left behind after every screening, not limited to hot dogs, packs of mustard, rolls of toilet paper, toast, empty booze bottles and used condoms. Public sex in the theater was not necessarily common, but was witnessed on several occasions.
Possibly because of its reputation for mayhem, and likely because of its Hollywood address, The Tiffany was featured in many news programs and articles all over the world. The CBS News program Two On The Town (hosted by Connie Chung) did a feature in 1979, as did the nationally syndicated That's Hollywood - "Cult Classics" (narrated by Tom Bosley) in 1981. Circus magazine ran a feature article in 1978, and Time magazine sent reporters in 1979 for a feature on the cult. Film crews from as far as Italy and Japan made visits in the late '70s as well. Before the doors shuttered for the last time, the theater and The Tiffany Troupe were filmed for a scene in the 1983 feature film Valley Girl. Closing night of the theater was covered by local luminary Huell Howser for Entertainment Tonight.
A variety of famous faces turned up in in the audience as well, including various cast members from the movie and play. One Saturday night, TV's Kung Fu, David Carradine came to a screening, blazing on acid, and another time, Jane Fonda came in with her daughter and a friend, carrying a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (which she shared with the management). Ann Robinson (star of the original War of the Worlds) attended regularly with her son, Estefan Bravo. One of the oddest celebrity sightings was that of Bob Keeshan, famous to the world as Captain Kangaroo. Kristy McNichol showed up one night, but left in terror as the line outside began chanting "Kristy's a virgin, Kristy's a virgin...". Rod Stewart got pelted with rice as he drove by one night, and magician David Copperfield appeared on at least one occasion. Guitarist Steve Vai attended several times. One night, Demi Moore showed up with the entire cast of General Hospital in tow. Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, and Lou Adler all made visits to the Tiffany at the height of Rocky's popularity, as did The Rocky Horror Picture Show Official Fan Club President Sal Piro and others from the 8th Street Playhouse, including Dori Hartley. The Tiffany is featured in Piro's book, Creatures Of The Night: The Rocky Horror Picture Show Experience, where he refers to the Tiffany Theater as the "8th Street Playhouse Of The West". The Tiffany is also featured in The Rocky Horror Picture Show Book by Bill Henkin.
The Tiffany Theater closed it's doors on March 13, 1983 after its final screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Artifacts from the lobby were auctioned off that night, including a lobby poster signed by Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick, and Brad's Shorts (really!), a pair of Tightie-Whities, autographed and given to the Tiffany by Barry Bostwick in 1981 on the 4th anniversary of the Midnight run.
After a period of refurbishing, The Tiffany became a live theater, where many nationally known stars appeared in intimate, live productions on one of two small stages. Most notably, the 1999 Los Angeles Revival of The Rocky Horror Show (starring David Arquette as Dr. Frank-N-Furter) ran in 1999 (and was attended by Richard O'Brien). The Tiffany remained a live theater through 2002. In 2004, it briefly became the home of national organization The Actors Studio, though it closed at the end of that year, and The Tiffany remained closed and available for lease until 2013.
On March 9, 2013, thirty years after the theater closed, a group of approximately 30 alumni of the group met up for the I Survived the Tiffany Reunion. They convened for a group photo on the site where the abandoned theater stood on the Sunset Strip. The group then met for several hours of reminiscing at famed Canter's Deli, where many late-night/early-morning, post-Rocky gatherings were had from 1977-1983. Later that night, the group headed to the Nuart Theater for a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which was preceded by a special video culled from archival footage of the group.
Less than 6 months after the reunion, the theater was gone. The Tiffany Theater was demolished on August 30, 2013 to make way for a block-long multi-purpose high-rise. Two giant glass structures appeared on the block in 2016, though there is a corridor between the two buildings where the Tiffany once stood. A marker placed on the sidewalk commemorating the TV show 77 Sunset Strip temporarily survived the razing, and a small group of Tiffany alumni helped to save the theater's flashy marquee, which is on display at the Valley Relics Museum in Van Nuys, CA. In 2020, two photos of the Tiffany from the private collection of Garrett Gafford were featured in The Rocky Horror Picture Show - 45th Anniversary Limited Edition Vinyl Picture Disc celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the release of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
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