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WALKING TOUR: Risqué Cinema, Burlesque & Shocking Scandal ($10)

Join us for a guided walking tour of risqué cinema, vaudeville, burlesque and shocking scandal led by Richard Fiennes-Clinton, a local storyteller, guide and founder of Muddy York Walking Tours.

Our group is getting a 50 per cent discount off regular individual tickets for Richard's tour. We will pay $10. Regular price is $20 for this tour.



We're willing to bet you never knew that Toronto had a past this sordid. Today, Toronto is known for “legitimate” theatre. We have the third largest live stage theatre community in the world, after London and New York. We're nicknamed “Hollywood North” because of all the filming that takes place here for films and television. Every September, we host one of the largest and most important film festivals around the globe. But over the years, cinema, scandal ... and sex ... came together across the dimly lit stages of Toronto.

Burlesque is making a comeback, and today it seems harmless, but in the middle of the 20th century, the good people of Toronto were shocked by how much you could see on a few of the stages in Toronto. Theatre managers threw aside their inhibitions and cavorted in secret rooms with showgirls, while booking the big acts and earning themselves millions. And in the 1970s, the seediest movies in Toronto flickered across the screens of run down theatres on Yonge Street, right in the heart of the city. If you think that the bright lights of Yonge Street are a little seedy today, you haven't seen anything yet. At the end of the 1970s, Torontonians finally said “Enough!” to the lascivious scandals, and insisted that police shut down the 75 pornographic cinemas and massage parlours that stretched up Yonge Street between Queen and Bloor streets.

You'll be shocked at what was shut down in the clean-up!

Some of the legendary luminaries you'll hear about on this tour include Mary Pickford, the world's first internationally recognized movie star Ambrose Small, the lascivious self-made millionaire who built a Canadian theatre empire and vanished without a trace and the Burlesque Dancers who shocked Toronto in the 1950s. More information.

ABOUT OUR GUIDE: Richard Finnes-Clinton has been conducting ghost walk and historical tours around Toronto since 1997. His repertoire of tours covers a number of neighbourhoods and includes arcane stories from history, ghost tours, food tasting tours and theatre history tours. Richard has been sought after to work with many of the major community groups, festivals, heritage sites and tourism boards in and around Toronto over the years.

Richard addresses tour goers outside the Rainbow Cinemas on May 17, 2014.


WHEN: Saturday, June 21, 2014

TIME: Tour begins at 7 p.m. sharp. Meet Belinda at 6:30 p.m.

TOUR START POINT: Rainbow Cinema, 80 Front Street East, Toronto (outside the main entrance. NOTE: The entrance is set back a little from the street)

TOUR END POINT: Near College and Yonge Streets

TOUR LENGTH: 2.5 hours

DISCOUNT TICKET: $10 (includes HST) (Please bring exact cash if possible)

REGULAR TICKET: $20 (includes HST)

MEETUP FEE: $2 (Please pay Belinda exact change at the meetup spot)



RSVP on this event page and show up at the meetup spot on the day of the tour.



Meet Belinda at 6:30 p.m. outside the main entrance of the Rainbow Cinema. Please note: The main entrance is set back a little from the street. Belinda is very short and will be wearing a bright pink hat. Cell # (416) 879-7575. The tour will start at 7 p.m. sharp.

AFTER-WALK GATHERING: We'll go out for a snack to the Market Garden Restaurant at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel (formerly Delta Chelsea Hotel) at 33 Gerrard Street West, Toronto (one block south of College station on the Yonge subway line). 

A small $15 buffet will be served until 10 p.m. or you can order from a good variety of other items, all very affordable, like pizza for $8.50, BBQ chicken breast dinner for $11.50 or prime rib burger for $13. You don't have to tip because it's cafeteria-style!


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  • Valerie

    I had to leave early which was unplanned, but enjoyed meeting new people as well as Richard's tour. Special thanks to Linda for helping me. Thanks Belinda for organizing interesting events.

    1 · June 24, 2014

  • Anne O

    Belinda thank you for hosting this event. It was enjoyable to hear more about earlier times in Toronto.

    June 23, 2014

  • Carol P

    Interesting and fun Richard is very knowledgable

    June 22, 2014

  • Nimira

    Really enjoyed it. Richard is informative and fun!

    June 22, 2014

  • Ed K.

    Interesting walk and talk about the history of theatre in Toronto in all its forms

    June 22, 2014

  • Lisa

    I enjoyed it. Richard is very knowledgable. I enjoy history and learned new things about my beautiful city.

    June 21, 2014

  • JoAnne

    Thanks for organizing. Great weather, people and talks.

    June 21, 2014

  • Elvira

    Great event and people. Thanks to Belinda for organizing and Richard for providing an informative tour of the seemier side of Toronto.

    June 21, 2014

  • Lori N

    Informative and fun!

    June 21, 2014

30 went

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  • THE CLEAN SARDINE (416) 897-2492

    Housekeeping with a finny name, but seariously good service!

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