J Ralph’s studio and stage. Image via Vanity Fair
At 80 Clinton Street, producer J Ralph has an iron and velvet-clad recording studio tucked in an apartment building. In what was then the Galician quarter of the Lower East Side, the studio is in what used to be the Clinton Star Theatre, a vaudeville house built by Sam Agid in 1914. It has been reported that the theatre sat 1,800 people: 797 on the first floor, 283 in the balcony, and 182 in boxes. The theatre showed movies and Yiddish theatre until it closed in 1950.
Image via Cinema Treasures
When in operation, one would have entered the theatre on Clinton Street, passing under a marquee and large signage. The bulk of the theatre, however, was on the other half of the block toward Attorney Street. Above is a view of the back side of the building as seen from Attorney Street.
Back when it was the Clinton Star Theatre, the entrance was through the existing tenement building to the auditorium space. Today, there is a store at 82 Clinton in the space that was the orchestra level of the Clinton Star Theatre.
View from stage in recording studio. Image via Vanity Fair
To enter J Ralph’s recording studio–that doubles as a super-exclusive night club–one still moves through the entrance to the apartment building at 80 Clinton, then through a pass door to the space. The luxuriously decorated period space takes you back in time to the era of vaudeville theatre.
Cast-iron fish tank in J Ralph’s studio. Image via Vanity Fair
Check out another theater on the Lower East Side–the abandoned Amato opera house on Bowery.