27th August 2014: Here are four significant doors I’ve walked past today in Soho…
Number 4 Tisbury Court. This dilapidated six-panelled oak door is at the rear of the old Astral sex cinema, which closed in 2004. The main entrance was around the corner at 5-7 Brewer Street and Mary’s 1975 film Erotic Inferno enjoyed a lengthy run here. Interestingly, this very same door (then painted black) is also one of the ‘stars’ of 1981 movie Emmanuelle in Soho. Islington-born model Mandy Miller and spindle-shanked actor Keith Fraser can be seen popping through this doorway several times during the movie.
Number 1 Archer Street. This unprepossessing doorway is actually the old stage door to the legendary Windmill Theatre. The building has stood here since 1909, but didn’t adopt the Windmill name until 1931. It staged the infamous ‘Revudeville’ nude variety shows until 1964, after which it was taken over by the Compton Group and converted into a cinema. The very last ‘Revudeville’ show was filmed by Stanley Long for his 1965 film Secrets of a Windmill Girl. Coincidentally, Stanley’s offices were, at one time, located a few doors down on Archer Street.
Numbers 42-44 Great Windmill Street. This very contemporary-looking entrance used to be the side door to the box office at the Cameo Moulin Cinema. Famously, of course, Mary’s 1977 movie Come Play with Me played here for a record-breaking 201 continuous weeks. The old cinema frontage was once a dazzling blaze of bright neon and garish cinema posters, and used to be one of the unmissable ‘sights’ of Soho. The cinema closed suddenly in April 1990, and since 2009 the building has been home to a wine bar called Grace.
Number 6 Peter Street. This doorway – now blocked up – was, until very recently, the entrance to one of the most notorious brothels in Soho. Just 30 seconds walk from the old Raymond Revuebar, the red door to 6 Peter Street was always ajar, opening onto a vivid yellow-painted stairwell with a sign boldly proclaiming ‘Models 1st and 2nd Floor. Please Walk Up’. I filmed here one chilly evening in April 2011 and the brothel Madam politely told me to “fuck off”. The building now forms part of an extensive redevelopment by Soho Estates.
All words and original photos strictly © Simon Sheridan 2014-2015