Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Real Prince of Wales

In the 1970s the Prince of Wales was as much a part of Cardiff's cultural landscape as the Wales Millennium Centre is today. Like an architectural metaphor of the city's declining fortunes the once swanky theatre had mutated into an infamous cinema for dirty old men.

You didn't have to go inside and watch the non-stop screening of dirty movies either to be aware of its sleazy presence. The lurid display adverts outside were a constant reminder that Cardiff was a less than innocent place to live. Of course Cardiff has always had a sex industry but in the Prince of Wales - a majestic and prominent building - it seemed to have gone overground and was parading obscenely on St Mary Street.

All that remains of Cardiff's porn palace today (apart from the building itself - now a soulless theme pub) are John Williams' excellent novel The Prince of Wales featuring a fictionalized version of the cinema; and a few faded adverts in yellowing newspapers.