Libido Adult Theatre: A History


written by Zeke

The Building in Its Early Years, Occupied by Hansel & Gretel Clothing Store

The Building in Its Early Years, Occupied by Hansel & Gretel Clothing Store

The adult theater as we know it today has a history that is surprisingly colorful (or unsurprisingly? After all, it’s the adult industry). Adult film has been around since moving pictures were invented, shown occasionally to small audiences in the 1920s and 30s; but Adult Theaters got their start primarily in California in the early 1960s, playing erotic films that would more likely than not be deemed softcore by today’s standards. A sudden boom in the industry in the mid-late 1960s paved the way for hundreds of theaters in the U.S, and ushered in the Golden Age of Porn. The famous O’Farrell theater in San Francisco opened in 1969 and produced cult classics such as Behind the Green Door, setting a precedent for businesses to follow.

Not far behind, in Reno, Nevada, our simply named Adult Bookstore & Theater opened in 1976. Located in the historic Solari building, what was once a children’s clothing department store grew up and became one of downtown Reno’s most iconic storefronts, offering erotic novels and a movie theater. Soon after, a Cabaret was in the works to be opened in addition to the store and theater. However, the possibility of alcoholic beverages served with a side of live dancing was a dream unrealized, and an impressively sized Video Arcade filled the void.

c. 1980s

c. 1980s

The nation’s growing sex-positive counter-culture ensured that the adult industry would keep growing, as well. An increased demand for hardcore media coupled with a growing affection for sex toys meant that the Virginia Street Adult Bookstore would carry not only books, but also the largest collection of DVD’s available in the region, and a selection of sex toys and accessories to go along with. Even so, despite the demand for what the little Bookstore was supplying, officials invented one problem after another. Conquering closed-minded 1980s era legalities was a battle not limited to Reno; all over California, theaters and stores were facing the wrath of the government.

While the number of Adult Theaters in the nation has dropped to around 200 or less, the survival of these remaining theaters and a plethora of adult stores is a testament to the demand and appreciation for the adult industry’s services. The staying power of Reno’s Adult Theatre has now proven itself for 41 years, having celebrated it’s birthday in January 2017. Reno’s historic Adult Theatre has survived throughout many local and national downfalls, and also many great events; it has remained in the family for all of it's years; it has seen numerous renovations, and countless customers have passed through it’s turnstile to enjoy what is perhaps the most lasting of all industries, the adult film.

Today, the Theatre provides a certain amount of nostalgia to many of Reno’s residents, past, present and future. Employees get to enjoy the occasional story of a person’s memorable first visit, their eyes often wide in amazement at the store’s changes since their last visit some 20-odd years ago. Still offering thousands of DVDs and hundreds of products and accessories, the renamed Libido Adult Store and Theatre is a beacon of Reno’s seminal reputation for adultery and fun. When asked whether or not people realize they could watch porn on the internet, Libido can proudly say that yes, they do realize - and the theater is better.   

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Pay Libido Adult Store & Theatre a visit! We'd love to see you.

Our theater is open 23 hours a day (closing only for cleaning!), and couples enter at a special price of only $20.