“I remember when we would get to that area of Calle de la Rosa on the bus, we would laugh a lot. We were just girls, but, of course, you saw the titles of the movies. ” Laura is one of the girls who, in the mid-1980s, was a student at the school Home School, one of the most recognized educational centers in Santa Cruz of Tenerife. At number 48 Calle de la Rosa it so happens that, wall by wall, next to its chapel, it was installed the first room x in the Canary Islands. What can be a curious anecdote is the story of the attempt to save one of the most remembered cinemas in the capital.
The Toscal Cinema, also known for Real cinema, It was located in the place where there is now a residential building, next to the Hogar Escuela school, which continues with its teaching work. In front wasto José Alberto Benítez, an entrepreneur who, according to those who knew him, was extremely methodical and meticulous in his work, as he remembers Carlos Baudet, a member of one of the families that owns several cinemas in the capital: “I remember going to visit him at his office, which was on García y Morato street, also in Toscal. José Alberto was, in addition to being an owner, a distributor of films and he knew the business perfectly ”.
Being blind was never a problem for José Alberto, who had a special nose for this business. For this reason, in the middle of the Transition, it undertook an important reform in the establishment to, later, turn it into room X. This type of business not only projected films with pornographic content, but also could show those films with more explicit violent content than most. Of course, the tax burden they bore was very high, so it was not an easy business to make viable. In addition, in those years, ultra-rightist groups and Catholic fundamentalists had carried out attacks on some of these rooms throughout Spain. They were years of openness and change, but also full of upheaval and political violence.
The reason for the conversion was simple: the boom of cinemas it was beginning to be a memory and it was necessary to maintain the company, safeguarding jobs. “We do not want to leave employees on the street,” he declared in his day to DIARIO DE AVISOS. The stalls were renovated, with 200 seats, the exit cooling system and a new projection optic was fitted to it. At first, it worked: “They were queuing to see the movies. It was the time of the famous uncovering cinema and José Alberto knew how to take advantage of that wave ”.
Titles such as Rabbits in hot sauce, Carnal Olympics or Phutallo Bill were advertised as premieres screened in Technicolor and always in original version with subtitles, since they were generally American and French films. “Theater x did not last long because there was a new crisis in movie theaters,” says Carlos Baudet. A crisis that ended many Santa Cruz cinemas, practically all of them: “In the 50s and 60s there was a first crisis and, later, with the generalization of television in homes, it definitively declined. People no longer saw premieres, it’s true, but they watched movies from the comfort of their home, without having to travel to the venue. “
Thus ended the adventure of a projection room that came out, in full Transition, from the mind of a businessman who, together with a religious college, wanted to save his business in a building that saw how, in 1993, its roof was collapsing, being demolished and turned into a block of flats.