A curtain is falling on the era of X-rated movie theaters in Baltimore with the city's last adult movie house up for auction next week.
The Apex, which has shown pornographic films in a squat two-story brick building in Upper Fells Point for more than four decades, might go cheaply and will likely be redeveloped.
Andy Billig, of A.J. Billig and Co. Auctioneers, said the building "is in need of renovation" and that its owners are intent on letting it go.
The theater achieved a kind of landmark status with the help of its best-known cheerleader, Baltimore filmmaker John Waters. Waters, who used the Apex in his 2000 movie "Cecil B. DeMented," said he would be sad to see it go.
"I think the Apex lived in peace with its community for decades, which I think is amazing," he said Wednesday.
The cinema, at 108 S. Broadway, opened in 1942 with a showing of "Remember Pearl Harbor." It began screening adult films in 1972.
"It was always a mixed crowd, from homeless people to exhibitionists to movie cinema lovers," Waters said. "I think it's a wonderful place."
Billig said there is a "very low" minimum price for the 672-seat theater, but declined to release it. The auction is set for Oct. 11. The current tenant is on a month-to-month lease, he said.
So far, Billig said, he's had interest from churches, but says the building could also work as a regular movie theater or even housing. He described the cinema as "worn out" but said it was ripe for redevelopment.
The Apex had been drawing sparse crowds. Billig said it may have fallen victim to changing technologies.
"In this day and age, people have computers," he said.
Waters said he has been asked if he would buy the theater, but he's not interested. If he needs to remember the place, he said, he has a miniature model of the building that he received as a Christmas gift.
The "Hairspray" creator lamented the loss of other adult movie theaters in Baltimore, including the Rex Theater and the Earle Theatre. Both of those cinemas have been converted into churches, he said.
"I think it's a landmark that I'll miss," Waters said. "Every time I drove past it I felt a little bit better."