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Porn theater faces growth challenge

Within a half-hour yesterday afternoon, one middle-aged man entered through the turnstile at the Forum Theater on Market Street near 22nd Street and another departed, not bothering to glance at the posters of scantily clad women on the building.

Within a half-hour yesterday afternoon, one middle-aged man entered through the turnstile at the Forum Theater on Market Street near 22nd Street and another departed, not bothering to glance at the posters of scantily clad women on the building.

The small theater, however, is in line for an expansion after owner Tony Trombetta was granted the right to add a strip club with private booths.

Opposition to Trombetta’s plan remains, though, and a court battle has not ended. A suit brought by the Center City Residents Association to halt any development awaits a November date in Commonwealth Court since a Common Pleas judge already sided with the Zoning Board approval for the Forum’s space to expand.

CCRA zoning committeeman Tim Carter said there’s no constant friction between the neighborhood and the theater today. They’re just worried an expanded business draws more crowds, traffic and attention to a strip club near a school, a Trader Joe’s and the high-end Murano condominiums. The opposition hasn’t relented even after Trombetta vowed to close his bookstore/strip-club on the next block once the theater grew. Trombetta could not be reached for comment.

“It’s just not something that we want to allow to expand,” Carter said. “If it stays the way it is, one of the two would likely close anyway.”

A business owner on the same block of Market Street said the city’s approval of the expansion confounds him. “This city should have more long-term goals,” he said.

Dissenting opinion

Porn actress and model Stoya, who lived near Broad and Tasker streets until last year, said in a phone interview Friday that less demand for adult theaters doesn’t mean the end of the sex industry.

“If the Forum closes, or doesn’t expand, the customers will just go to other strip clubs, or to hookers. That’s what would be really bad for the city. The taxes that let them fix roads and such would just go to prostitution.”

 
 
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