The Ghosts Of Time Square

Throughout 70s and 80s the Times Square thrived as a haven for XXX theaters, go-go girls, pimps, whore houses, rent boys, hustlers, thieves, dealers, and lowlifes on the make.

Police and city authorities declared the area as DMZ for crime and sex and the 1977 debut of Show World across 42nd Street from the Port Authority Bus Terminal was the high-water mark for Times Square’s Era of Errors.

Successive mayors attempted to clean up 42nd Street, but the Mafia-owned establishments relied on the Free Speech Amendment to protect their wicked fiefdom. Finally in 1995 Rudy Giuliani enacted in radical adult zoning laws and the Deuce’s magnificent wickedness ended the following year with the closure of every XXX theaters and porno shops.

I happened to be walking on West 42nd Street on that rainy day in 1987.

Aficionados of perversity cried on the sidewalk, as the moving crews loaded their salacious merchandise onto trucks. Urban planners had rented spaces to major retailers and restaurants, including Disney. The disgrountled XXX patrons stood outside in tears chanting, “Fuck Mickey Mouse.”

Later that evening a friend of mine lamented the disappearance of Times Square.

“NYC has been thrown into a blender and homogenized into a bland and boring urban pastiche. This city once had character and disparate neighborhoods. Now it’s just numbingly the same wherever you go. I was driving around the city yesterday and occurred to me that downtown-uptown, west-east, it all looked the same now. Same store fronts, same hideous developer apartment buildings, same gourmet coffee, same gentrifications, same same shame.”

My friend wasn’t speaking about egg creams and luncheonettes, although those hallowed institutions have been replaced by Starbucks and Burger King.

While Times Square’s wickedness disappeared like the Wicked Witch of the West melting in the WIZARD OF OZ, we still retain our memories.

Divine Wickedness.

ps Fuck Guiliani.


  1. Charles
    Posted October 8, 2014 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Not all porn shops,strip clubs,peep shows were closed in 1996 ,their’s still a pretty decent amount of these places this very day in the time square area.The last peep show on 42nd street wasn’t closed until 2001 called peep o rama,I guess the article is talking about the main part of 42nd street which is between 7th and 8th avenues which all adult establishments were closed in 1996.

  2. Posted October 9, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    that is true. I was referring to the xxx establishments on the Doo-Wop.

    Curse Rudi Guiliani and Disney

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