Our friend Janis Ian was in Santa Fe last week, at the Jean Cocteau Cinema. It was the first stop of her new tour. She did three shows for us (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, all sold out), and on Sunday she conducted a Master Class for aspiring songwriters. Janis, of course, is among the greatest singer/ songwriters of her generation (which also happens to be my generation), and has been for half a century. She’s been a star since she was fifteen, and her music, new and old, has never failed to move me. (“Seventeen” is, of course, the song she is best known for, but she has others that are just as powerful, and her new stuff… she is touring to promote her new album… is just terrific as well.
Janis has played at the Jean Cocteau before, though not for a few years. (Covid, y’know). It was an honor to have her back.
Especially since this is going to be her last North American tour. (She has a European tour coming up). But that will be it, she tells us. She will continue to write and sing, of course… music is her life, as writing is mine, and neither one of us can really comprehend the idea of “retirement.” Whatever that is. But touring is another matter, especially when the tours are as long as hers are.
So if you’re a Janis Ian fan, this may be your last chance to see her live. Don’t blow it. Santa Fe was the first stop of her farewell tour, but far from the last. She left on Sunday for Tuscon, and after that… well, take a look.
All four of her appearances in Santa Fe were sold out, and I believe many of her other dates are as well. Not all, though, at least not yet. If you’d like to catch a show, pop over to her website and grab some tickets ASAP. You won’t be sorry. Janis is a wonderful performer, a really nice person… and, as it happens, also a fan of science fiction and fantasy. (I had loved her music since the 70s, but the first time we met was at a worldcon).
Last week marked the end of another era as well. Janis Ian not only opened her farewell tour… but she also closed the Jean Cocteau Cinema. Her Master Class on Sunday was the last scheduled event at the theatre. On Monday morning we shut our doors.
The JCC was Santa Fe’s original art house. It opened in 1976 as the Collective Fantasy, and became the Jean Cocteau in 1982 after a change of ownership and a major renovation that gave the space its present configuration and its present name. During the decades that followed, it remained the City Different’s most beloved movie theatre, famous for its eclectic offerings and its popcorn (best in town! with real butter!!). After several changes of ownership, it became part of the TransLux chain… but TransLux closed all its movie houses in 2006, and for seven years the JCC went dark… until I bought it in 2013. We installed a new screen, new sound, digital projection (though we kept the old 35mm projectors as well), did a top to bottom renovation of the lobby, and turned a broom closet into our award-winning bar.
The theatre reopened in August 2013, with a bill that featured FORBIDDEN PLANET (best SF movie ever made), John Carpenter’s DARK STAR, and a classic from its namesake, Jean Cocteau. In the years that followed, we have hosted all sorts of events: live music, magic, burlesque, author events and readings, and films of all sorts, old and new, Hollywood and Bollywood, huge blockbusters and small art house movies. All accompanied by our award-winning custom cocktails, draft beers, and of course our popcorn.
Movie theatres all across America closed with the coming of Covid-19 in March 2020, and the Jean Cocteau was no exception. We shut down for the remainder of that year, and for most of 2021 as well, reopening a few times late in the year for special events when the vaccines and social distancing started to put a dent in the virus.
And now we are closing again…
… but not forever!
The Jean Cocteau will be back.
It was time for another renovation. We did a lot of work back in 2013, but that was nine years ago.
This time our focus is on the audtitorium. (Above). Say goodbye to those tired old blue seats, that tattered and soiled carpet, and that huge center aisle that took up so much room where the best seats in the house should have been. We have all new seats coming in, larger and more comfortable. Two side aisles instead of the big center aisle. A new ceiling, a new floor.
The renovations will cost us a few seats. The old Cocteau could seat 130. After renovations, our capacity will be down to 80… but truth be told, very few of our offerings ever drew 130 patrons (Janis Ian, Neil Gaiman, and GAME OF THRONES premieres excepted). And the new seats will offer more comfort and a better viewing experience for however many patrons turn up.
The popcorn will still be great, I promise.
So watch this space for news of our reopening in a few months time.
It’s the end of an era… but the beginning of a new one.
((I will open comments for this post, but ONLY for messages about Janis Ian, the Jean Cocteau Cinema, and old movie theatres in general. Off topic posts will be deleted,)).
Current Mood: contemplative
Comments have been closed for this post.
Any idea on when the JCC will reopen? I’m in NM part of the year now, and I’ll miss it (indeed, good drinks/popcorn, and friendly people).
I hope that you will find the 80 seats a more intimate experience for fans of all genres. One of the best opportunities (post Covid) is to get out and re-ignite a love for live entertainment or shared digital entertainment. I believe your performers may also find this setting to provide a better overall experience with your new arrangement. Wishing the JCC many years of continued success and shows!
Someday plan to visit Sante Fe & the wonders that we keep reading in Grrm blog
You had me going with the idea that the JCC was being closed for good! I still hope to catch a classic SF film some day, whenever I manage to get to Santa Fe again.
End of an era indeed. The longest one is still yet to end 😉
George you had me all sad in the middle of the post when I read that the cinema was closing (even though I’ve never been to Santa Fe or New Mexico)
I was like “damn, covid claims another small business”
But then I read on and saw that you baited me, that its only temporary. lol
I’m still a young man so I’m of an age where movie theaters weren’t quite built to be grand. But I did get to see The Irishman at the Belasco in NYC. It was a unique experience to see a mafia epic in a Broadway theater, but the feeling of the space definitely influenced my experience in a positive way.
For me I think it’s just the amount of open air and the visible decor (as opposed to the black voids of AMC’s and the like.) What about you folks? Does the space influence the viewing experience?
Comments are open? :O
So long as they remain on topic.
I was worried when you said the JCC was closing but really glad to hear it will be back. I’ve never visited Santa Fe but a friend just moved there. I plan on stopping by the JCC when I visit. Can’t wait to check out the new setup when it’s finished, along with everything else Santa Fe has to offer!
Very insightful read from someone who has never been to Sante Fe.
In England there are a number of classic Cinemas which still use a 35mm film and have a mixture of retro and modern showings. In fact in Birmingham we have ‘The Electric’ (if you are not already aware), which opened all the way back in 1909. It’s still got the classic early 20th century art deco facade, and since the 2000s it has been kept in great condition. I believe it is one of the oldest if not the oldest operational Cinemas in the UK.
So happy to hear George. My wife and I (Game of Thrones die hard fans) took a trip when we got engaged to Santa Fe, and I told her we absolutely had to see the JCC. Wouldn’t you know it, our first night walking out in the town holding hands, we stumbled right onto it. I love it’s vintage feel tucked away on that side street, it was a highlight of the trip for me. I could feel your influence, and I’m excited to visit again and see the new inside!
George, Janis is a great artist. I really enjoy her music, At Seventeen and between the lines are my 2 favorites but she is awesome and all her music is great. Thanks for the information Mr. Martin and I look forward to more news in the future. Take care good sir. -Joseph
It’s quite a shame how hard Covid hit cinemas and public theaters in general, I remember a British Lord warning that Covid was pretty much the death knell to theaters; Netflix and Lazy-boy gave their own blows but at the end of the day… it’s only so long before cinemas/theaters around the world join the ranks of Blockbuster and boxy tv sets
Love, love Janis Ian! I will be checking out the Oregon concert. Love you GRRM as well.
I’ll have to make plans to visit the renovated JCC sometime!
Good luck on the renovations!! I hope to visit one day
I really like old movie theaters. In many of them the atmosphere is just unique and magnificent. It is really sad how many of those smaller theaters have suffered during the pandemic. Maybe after the covid is finally over, I could make a trip to Santa Fe to see those many places we here from this blog. I wish you all the best George, I am a huge fan of yours and I really appreciate your work, especially the Song of Ice and Fire, cant wait to see how it ends.
Hi Mr. Martin (or should I say Dr. Martin)
I just wanted to say thank you so much for your work and writing (and not just ice and fire). Over the past 2 years, I read the Ice and Fire novels, Dunk & Egg, Fire & Blood, Fevre Dream, Dreamsongs 1&2, and probably a few more. Your books really helped during this tough time, and I’m really thankful for them. I am actually happy that the comments are open and I can share my gratitude. I wish all the best, and please do take your time writing and ignore the negative voices out there.
Hope the renovations go well, George!
I’ve been wanting to visit the JCC for years. First I lived too far away (UK), and then when I moved a bit closer (Michigan, so still pretty far) Covid hit. You had me worried that I had missed my opportunity! Well played!
Single screen theatres like JCC are a rarity today….somehow the multiplexes can never come close to offering the unique experience of single screen theatres
mmmmmm real butter!
Good luck on the renovations. Stay positive and enjoy life bro!
I remember listening to Janis Ian when I was 19 or 20, and hearing the song Tea and Sympathy. I was surprised at how moved I could be, by a song that didn’t relate at all to my lived experience. She has many other songs I enjoy as well, but that one will always hold a special place for me.
Don’t let this distract you from the fact that Mr. Krabs sold SpongeBob’s soul for 62 cents.
I remember the first posts here about this cinema here because I asked whether its name would be changed and you answered! It’s good to see you staying the course and making sure the place is preserved for all to enjoy. If I ever came to Santa Fe I would definitely pay a visit.
Gee, this note is not about old theatres BUT about old movie genres that have been lost and forgotten. Years and years ago I sold old movie paper such as posters and pressbooks. I stocked the stock no one else wanted…like movie paper from productions that would only be seen by choice movie goers: dark skinned movie fans. Their “theatres” could be as simple as a bed sheet tacked to a wall as the screen or simply a white painted wall. Like Kermit…being green or other colors proved to be an uphill battle for some folks. Black producers made movies strictly for these fans and perhaps a special night at the JC could help celebrate some of these lost and forgotten classics. Just a thought from an old “paper” salesman.
You had me on the edge of my seat fearful of the Cocteau’s demise. Glad to hear it will survive. Hope to visit Sante Fe someday and take in its offerings.
i was thrilled to see chuck jones at the jcc. he introduced and showed 3 of his most famous cartoons,and took questions from the audience afterwards. i was saddened when the jcc closed and delighted when it reopened. i grew up on the east coast and my favorite independent theater was the york square in new haven,ct. which closed some years ago.
Wow Chuck Jones was there? Absolutely amazing! He’s not my favorite of the great old Looney Tunes guys but he’s still amazing and I wish could have met him
Gosh, here I was thinking this was another farewell post to another lost treasure (in Janis Ian) and as I began reading I was thinking “how did I not hear about this?” I don’t want to say I’m glad it’s about the JCC but I’m glad JCC isn’t gone for good!
I tried At Seventeen while reading this post and it was beautiful, if I get the chance I’d definitely love to see Janis Ian. I’m glad the JCC will be back, it’s been on my bucket list for a while now. It’s still sad to see an era end though
You genuinely had me worried the theater was closing in general George…a theatre I’ve never even been too (I’d love to don’t get me wrong it’s one of the places I’d be ecstatic to perform in and even just to see) being a bit far away here in dear old New York, but I suppose that just shows your talent as a writer making me feel sadness then surprise and joy all in a post about a movie theater I’ve never been too, but you are of course a very talented fellow George. Good luck to Janis on her tour and of course good luck to you with the theater and everything else you do! And there is alot you do, do!
It’s good news to hear the Jean Cocteau will eventually re-open after renovation. Also, thank you for the info regarding Janis Ian.
It’s a relief to get some distraction reading your notablog and your written works from the on going tragedy of Democratic Ukraine and their extraordinarily brave people.
I hope our real world will find our way around Putin and not fall ito Ice and Fire.
Bless you, Mr. Martin, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler and all the s-f writers and fantasists who help the rest of us cope with hard realities through your art.
I only wanted to thank you for your exquisite work. I have read your Song of Ice and Fire series including Dunk & Egg, Fire and Blood and The World of IaF. In times of turmoil your books bring me joy. I hope its ok to comment this here. Please take all the time you need on the next book.
Sorry for my english and for the off topic.
Again thank you for your wonderful work.
The new plans for the Auditorium sound great ! I love the history of these old buildings and your passion for restoration. I’m from Birmingham Uk and we have a place called the Electric Cinema which quite similar , great old place that’s been through similar changes . Good luck George 🙂
I was not aware of Janis Ian until this blog post (her generation preceded mine by several decades) but after listening to songs from her popular 70’s albums—as well as her new release in 2022–I am grateful for your sharing her work. While I won’t have the opportunity to see her live on her last North American tour, at the very least she has gained a new fan who will be streaming her music on rainy days for long to come.
Have I just walked past you in Budapest?!
Ah glad to see you pulled a twist on us, I thought it was closing for real 😉
I’ve never been to the JCC but it’s nice to hear that a place with beloved memories will not only go on but offer an even better experience to its guests. The planned renos seem like the right idea for the place, hope I can visit one day!
Perfect time to renovate was when it was closed for the better part of two years….
Great to read your post about Janis Ian who is just an amazing human being/songwriter/artist/singer. Her latest cd is another masterpiece, and everone with a pulse should go to her show and/or master class. Such a talent, so many stories, so many insights. We are blessed and better for Janis gracing the stage and making our lives better. If Janis says “better times will come”, they will. And “resist”, by all means, “resist.”
PS My sister was at the Jean Cocteau the same night you were, Mr. Martin and loved both the theater znd the performance! I have to wait until April 2nd to see her perform again.
There’s a really cool old movie theater I found hidden in Fort Lauderdale, FL. It’s like tucked behind the enormous courthouse complex and all the mega-luxury apartments they’ve built over the years. Called the “Savor Cinema” or “Cinema Paradiso.” They have super comfortable seats, it’s very dark, and because no one knows about it – it’s usually empty!! Last Halloween they did a showing of the classic “Halloween” and I think there were 4 people total at the theater (including my date and I.)
Sorry for being off topic, but I miss your Hugo suggestion posts. I usually find new stuff to read based on your suggestions. Are you planning to write one this year?
Alas, probably not. I am way too busy, and way behind in my reading.
But I appreciate the kind words.