Billy’s Topless

New York was a different city in the last century. Neighborhoods were populated by native New Yorkers. Stores served their needs. Bars dotted the avenues as a refuge from the daily wear and tear of urban living. One of my favorites was Billy’s Topless on Avenue of the Americas.

The cozy strip club had been opened by Bill Pell in the heyday of the Sexual Revolution and the girls were our friends trying to make a dollar by showing their breasts to working-class drinkers. The music came from a jukebox and the bar treated its guests to free food, while they watched the dancers. There was no cover charge and drinks were cheap as befits a true dive bar. None of the girls had breast implants and none of them gave lap-dances, since lap-dances were a thing of the future in the late-1970s.

The hated Mayor Guiliani waged a war against sleaze. The realtors raised the rents of porno parlors in Times Square and his police enforced a no-nudity ordinance of establishments within 500 feet of a school or place of worship. Billy’s second owner fought the forces of good by having the girls wearing bikini tops, but the time of wickedness had passed for New York.

Billy’s Topless is gone, but not forgotten by those people in love with a Babylon lost to time.

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