This was the late 1960s, a time when the gay community suffered unspeakable prejudice from the police, authorities and a seeping religious intolerance. Christian fundamentalists, cloaked in toxic reverence of themselves, believed incorrectly by summoning the will of God upon the person with homosexual feelings, that the devil could be driven out of their body and thus cleanse their soul. It therefore wouldn't be a great leap of faith to believe that the Zodiac Killer had utter contempt for this form of religious piety and the practice of exorcism, hence the description of The Exorcist movie as the "the best saterical comidy that I have ever seen". This contempt for the police and newspapers may have been well founded, as arrested gay individuals had their names and addresses routinely published in the newspapers as a form of public shaming.
Taking meter readings from the taxicab at the crime scene and information acquired by Robert Graysmith and Officer Harvey Hines, it was believed the Zodiac entered the taxicab of Paul Stine outside the Westin St Francis Hotel in Union Square. But where had he been in the hours preceding this fateful journey? The 'Exorcist' letter was without doubt a response to the San Francisco Chronicle article entitled Weird Goings on at the Movies, authored by Paul Avery and published on January 11th 1974 detailing the audience reaction to the recently released Exorcist movie in 1973. The news report was from the Northpoint Theatre, located at 2290 Powell Street, San Francisco. The theater was located 3.4 miles from Washington and Cherry Streets, the intersection where Paul Stine was murdered and only 1.3 miles from Union Square where the taxicab driver picked up Zodiac.
The Exorcist movie opened its 26 week stint at the Northpoint Theatre on December 26th 1973 and had performances throughout the day. A typical schedule was 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm for films two hours or longer. The area where Paul Stine picked up the Zodiac Killer was the bustling theater district in San Francisco, so his perceived leanings to the theatrical in his communications may have played a part in his choice of pick-up point. Had he just exited from an early evening performance? The arrival of the taxicab at the intersection of Washington and Cherry at 9:55 pm indicated a departure time of approximately 9:40 pm from Union Square, conducive to his exit from a nearby theater. The Westin St. Francis Hotel may also have been familiar. Union Square borders the Nob Hill and Tenderloin districts, which combines both the LGBT and theater influences under one banner. Jose Sarria, a high profile San Francisco drag performer and gay activist was arrested at the Westin St Francis public restrooms for solicitation - a location known to be frequented by homosexuals.
Midnight Cowboy ran from the 16th July 1969 to 17th December 1969. The film, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was the first gay-related Best Picture winner. In addition, it was the only X-rated film ever to win Best Picture. Ironically, the film that preceded Midnight Cowboy was The Great Bank Robbery with writer William Blatty accredited for screenplay.
Here is a very relevant clip from Midnight Cowboy where Dustin Hoffman has an altercation with a Yellow taxicab driver. The taxicab incident in Midnight Cowboy was apparently not scripted in the film - but likely Zodiac's impending murder of Paul Stine was conceived beforehand - a predetermined reel of murder for which there was only one end.