Saturday, February 11, 2006

Biograph's 34th Anniverary

There was a time when February 11 meant a party was probably brewing, maybe a few surprises, too, at 814 West Grace Street. That was before the Biograph Theatre closed over 18 years ago. Well, today happens to be the 34th anniversary of the opening of the Biograph in 1972. Accordingly, here's an excerpt of "Thanks Aimee," written for Richmond.com (in 2000):

"...For me, the gig lasted nearly 12 years, including five years of Rocky Horror midnight shows. Four years after my departure, seven years after the arrival of cable TV in Richmond, the Biograph's screen went dark in December '87. Times had changed and the theater could no longer pay its way. But in that little independent cinema's heyday, Feb. 11 meant something to those familiar with the nightlife in the VCU area. The Biograph's second anniversary was the party that established the occasion of the theater's birthday as a date to mark on the calendar. That was the year of The Devil Prank."

A few Biograph Theatre anniversaries have been celebrated since it closed. The ones I know about were parties I organized/hosted. In 1989 I had a part-time gig as a bartender at The Attic in Northside, so it went down there. This one happened by word-of-mouth. We showed some videos and looked at old photos.

In 1992, for the 20th, I booked two acts, lined up a room -- Twisters (it was the Back Door in the 1970s, now it's Nanci Raygun), promoted the event and even made up some T-shirts. We had the Useless Playboys as the headliner; Rebby Sharp did an opening set. I remember the late Carole Kass (perhaps the best friend the Biograph ever had) was there. The reunion aspect of it was nice.

For the 30th, in 2002, working with the Richmond Moving Image Coop, we showed several films and presented three bands at Poe's Pub. Colleen Curran at Richmond.com wrote a piece about the occasion. That party -- featuring Page Wilson with Reckless Abandon; Burnt Taters (now The Taters); Used Carlotta -- packed the house and raised a little money for RMIC. A good time was had by all, as far as I could tell.

Click here to visit the Biograph Archives.

6 comments:

Brad Tucker said...

Great story - especially since I'm digging Aimee on iTunes just as I come across it.

Brad Tucker said...

.....oh, and Happy Anniversary - perhaps I'll watch TAXI DRIVER tonight and groove on memories of many an evening seated in the dark.......

F.T. Rea said...

Brad: Thanks.

You reminded me of another Biograph anniversary, so I hope you see I've added more to the story since you last saw it.

Brad Tucker said...

Ah, yes. That was a good time indeed. I remember Colleen's piece, too - Craig and I got a kick out of the "warm milk" bit. If memory serves, I was drinking Bailey's and coffee that night.

Rapunzel said...

I have many fond memories of the biograph as well. One year in the late 80's, while still in high school, I bought a year pass off a channel 23 auction. I was in the biograph all the time... lots of great films, and all those midnight rocky horror picture shows.

Every 7th Day said...

Ah, the Biograph... insert misty sighs here. When people ask me how long I've been tall, I always tell them about when I was able to get all my friends into Rocky Horror at the Biograph as their chaperone.I was... 12. Great times!