The Eternal Ugliness Of Serge

I’ve succeeded at everything except my life. I know my limits. That’s why I’m beyond. I like the night, I have clearer ideas in the dark. I prefer ugliness to beauty, because ugliness endures. I am incapable of mediocrity. Ugliness is superior to beauty because it lasts longer.

Serge Gainsbourg

And let’s not forget the immortal Pacadis.

Moi et Pacadis 1985

Ah Paris.

The City of Light.

Times Square Babylon Then

Rent boys.

Hookers on the Strip.

Flesh peddlers.

Martinis at Hojos.

Now Babylon is no more.

But Times Square was something else in the 1970s.

And anyone who wandered that chasm of sin knew that all too well.


January 25 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Howl Gallery

6 East 1st Street

Writers Remember Times Square

Noah Prince, Peter Nolan Smith, and Claudia Summers

Confetti lingers in lonely gutters and the crevasses of the sidewalks. It spins upward through spiraling gusts of wind eventually landing again. Aside from your best intentions, nothing escapes the gravity of the neighborhood. —Noah Prince

Times Square as a center of gritty life is long gone, but among this group of writers, it’s not forgotten. Join us for an evening of provocative readings by Noah Prince, Peter Nolan Smith, and Claudia Summers. The Disneyfication of the area is complete, and for many what remains is a memory of a time in the life of New York City prior to commercialization, gentrification, and the gutting of neighborhoods and the colorful characters who inhabited them. Just as Jane Dickson’s paintings describe her experiences of living in Times Square—once a mecca for voyeurs, exhibitionists, criminals, and misanthropes—these writers describe a bygone era of this infamous locale.

Jane Dickson’s exhibition, HOT, HOT, HOT: Paintings of Times Square Peep Shows, continues through February 23.


Claudia Summers is a writer living in New York, a recent MFA graduate of City College. She was the vocalist on the dance club hit “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight”. She is currently working on a collection of linked short stories set in the 80s downtown art and music scene of New York. She can be followed on Facebook, and her Instagram username is @_claudia_summers_.

Noah Prince moved to Hell’s Kitchen in early ’86 and lived so many events he could never un…live… Times Square was his coming of age. He accidentally began a career in the New York film industry. The idea of writing was nowhere in his path. In 2011 he worked on a television show set in the theatre district. It brought back his memories of the 80s. The thoughts quickly formed a book, Failures at Summer Camp, as well as several short stories from the time. He lives in Brooklyn.

Peter Nolan Smith moved from his native New England to New York in 1976. The city was ablaze like the Goths had just burned Rome, but the East Village was a refuge for young malcontents. A doorman at illegal nightclubs in the late 70s, Smith moved to Paris to pursue writing detective poetry. Nothing came of it other than a few short stories and a failed screenplay. Back in New York he compiled more stories and published in various literary magazines before heading out to Asia for a decade-long excursion throughout the Far East. In recent years he resumed writing novels and collections of short stories without bothering to have them published other than on his website, living by his old motto: “No commercial value. No sellout.” The author now lives between Fort Greene and Thailand and is currently writing a novel about teenage devil worship in the 1960s.

January 25
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Times Square Of Yore

Close to 300,000 people pass through Times Square every day. A good percentage are commuters heading to the Port Authority bus terminal and the rest are tourists, who come to gawk at the theaters’ bright lights, shop at the name-brand stores, and dine at the chain restaurants.

Times Square wasn’t always that safe for citizens.

Back in the 1970s the Bright White Way was dangerous for the guilty as well as the innocent.

From THE END OF MAYBE by Peter Nolan Smith

Here are the first two paragraphs of Chapter 3 from that book about a failed punk band.

Thirty-one shopping days remained until Christmas, yet not a single wreath adorned the porno shops, strip clubs, or X-rated theaters above 42nd Street and any Santa Claus, real or fake, steered clear of Times Square, where hapless victims were robbed, cheated, murdered or worse without any interference from the Law, for the ‘Deuce’ had been designated a free-for-all red-light district by NYC officials in hopes of containing the city’s rampant sex and drug traffic. Standing in front of the Haymarket Bar Johnny Darling bore silent witness to the overwhelming failure of the politicians? social experiment.

All along the Minnesota Strip suburban tricks hijacked teenage runaways straight off a bus from the Midwest and slick hustlers struck cowboy poses on the street corners, while dope-hungry muggers trailed unsuspecting hicks down dark streets. The action should have tapered off before Thanksgiving, except the players on the Strip were dedicated to acting naughty and not the least bit nice. Tonight was no exception.

Last year I walked from the Hudson River ferry landing and saw this HOTEL CLOSED at 360 West 42nd Street.

It was a lost memento of that era of errors.

There can’t be many left in this city other than in my memories.

They are good ones.

Old Faces

This photo from a 42nd Street porno parlor dates back to the early 80s.

For some reason the older man looks familiar, as if he might have been involved in the nightclub business.

No one I asked knew his name mostly because they didn’t recognize him.

Then again not everyone toured the XXX shops of Times Squares for answers to mysteries hidden by tales of the birds and bees.