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The Ugly Grey Theater ("Where All The World Is Science Fiction") was a proposal by The Cryptic Corporation for a "heavily fantasy oriented" theater at 1501 Howard Street, San Francisco. The Residents, as well as the Cryptics' friends and collaborators Ant Farm, assisted with architectural and interior designs for the proposed theater. It would have opened in Summer 1977, and would have been host to science fiction and horror film festivals and a live performance by The Residents.[1]

Despite the Cryptics' graphic design arm Porno Graphics developing a detailed promotional campaign (including leaflets, business cards and balloons) to get the "predominately industrial" neighborhood to support the concept,[1] the idea was abandoned entirely when the neighborhood instead "revolted against the idea"[2], under the assumption that the group intended to open a gay porn theater in the space.

History

The Ugly Grey Theater was conceived by The Cryptic Corporation in early 1977, following the abandonment of their feature film project Vileness Fats, as another way for the company to expand into the film industry (and make money, since The Residents had not gained much notice at this point, and as a result Ralph Records was not making any significant profit).

By February 1977 the Cryptics had purchased a small movie house on "predominantly industrial" Howard Street,[1] with the intention that it would primarily screen science fiction and fantasy films, as well as "what is now the Marvel and DC worlds, animation, Lords of Rings, Harry Potters, horror, the surreal, etc."[2] The Ugly Grey Theater's motto was "Where All The World Is Science Fiction".

The Cryptic Corporation got as far as creating a campaign of leaflets, balloons and business cards to promote the idea among the locals, and hired The Residents and art collective Ant Farm to supply architectural and interior designs. The Corporation intended to open the theater in Summer 1977, with The Residents beginning work on a live show designed specifically for the facility, which was intended to be held in late 1977. A restaurant was also intended to open in the space within its first year of operation.[1]

Despite the detailed promotional campaign, the Howard Street residents became convinced that the Cryptics actually intended to use the space to open a gay porn theater, and petitioned the municipal government to refuse the permit, leading the Cryptics to abandon the idea altogether. The Residents' releases were finally beginning to generate attention in the music press at this time, following the success of their 1976 single "Satisfaction", so the Cryptics focused their attention primarily on the operation of Ralph Records once again.

Legacy

Inflated Ugly Grey Theater balloon

A number of low-resolution images of The Ugly Grey Theater's promotional leaflet, business card and balloons have circulated on the Internet since the earliest days of The Residents' online fandom.

The story of the failed theater was detailed by former President of The Cryptic Corporation Hardy Fox in his June 2017 Hacienda Bridge email newsletter.

See also

External links and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Ralph Records Catalogue No. 1, February 1977
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hardy Fox, Hacienda Bridge #17, June 1st 2017
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