Remember When Bangor Had an Adult Movie Theater?
The afternoon I worked at the Westgate Cinema in Bangor is one I’ll never forget.
Before the days of internet porn, and even before video stores offered secret rooms, hidden at the back of the store, people actually had to go out in public to satisfy their craving for adult entertainment.
In Bangor, that destination was the Westgate Cinema, on Union Street. Located where the Northern Light Healthcare Mall is now, it was part of a unique strip mall. The Westgate Mall had a King’s Department store on one end, and Economy IGA Foodliner on the other end, with many smaller stores in a strip mall fashion, accessible from a glassed-in hallway.
I remember the delicious sandwiches from the Italian Village, going to Radio Shack with my Dad, and eating dinner at the Checkmate Restaurant. (one of my favorites!) Above the mall, was a weird globe-like sign for the Norge laundromat.
In my early 20s, I worked for the movie theater circuit in Bangor. My job was at the old Brewer Cinema that sat in what is now the Hannaford parking lot. I sold concessions, tickets, and cleaned theaters, in between the shows. Every once in a while, I’d be "loaned out" to one of the other theaters in town.
One day, my manager told me they needed me at Westgate. I wasn't sure I wanted to work there, but the manager was a friend, so I agreed. I could sell tickets. I could scoop up popcorn. No problem. So what if it’s an adult film? It would be fine.
I was confident....until the first man rushed through the door, threw his money at me (I had to pick it up off the floor), waved off the ticket I offered, and disappeared into the theater. Several other men repeated this process, until the manager was laughing at the bewildered look on my face. See, no one had warned me that this is the way people entered the Westgate Cinema, especially if the cashier was not the one they were accustomed to seeing. All in all it was a hilarious experience. Oh...and I didn’t sell a single box of popcorn or package of Raisinets.
My favorite story about the Westgate Cinema came from an ex-boyfriend, who once told me that when he turned 18, he couldn’t wait to see what all the fuss was about at the town's porn theater. As he was walking through the glass doors to pay his money, he met his Dad coming out of the theater. They took a moment to stare at each other before his Dad said, “I won’t tell your mother if you don’t.” “Deal,” my friend replied. Yep, there was an ironclad code of silence that went with the old Westgate Theater.