Ah, sleaze fondly remembered. To start, here is a shot I took of 46th Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday morning 9/25/16, looking northwest, with the new, recently completed, and rather monolithic RIU Plaza hotel in the middle of the picture.
Once on the very site of that hotel stood two very interesting adult video stores, crammed to the tops of their shelves not only with standard hardcore movies but also intriguing exploitation and grindhouse flicks on VHS and DVD. Also there was the Full Moon Saloon near the corner, one of my favorite hangouts back in the 80s and early 90s.
I seemed to stop spending much time in bars after a good portion of the adult magazine business shifted over to Magna Publishing in New Jersey in 1993, to where I commuted frequently to assemble titles like CHEEKS, GIRLS OVER 40, SEX ACTS, and LEG WORLD. Formerly I did all my editing and writing in Manhattan, and life in New York felt strangely off-kilter when I had to reverse-commute to New Jersey. Even though, since I was a freelancer, I didn’t have to do it everyday like most of my associates, nonetheless there was always something discombobulating about it.
The old building on the left side of the picture was known back in the day to some of us sleaze aficionados as the “TV Hotel,” as in “transvestite,” because many transgender women used to ply their prostitution trade there, after meeting customers at nearby clubs and bars in Times Square. This went on back in the late 70s, early 80s. Now for many years the building has been just a regular tourist hotel.
Additional factoid, but not visible in the picture: at the vantage point from which I took this photo once stood three adult movie theaters: the Capri, the Eros, and the Venus. They are long gone and the space is now occupied by respectable bars, restaurants, and an outdoor shopping mall. If you want to read the definitive book about these theaters and the area, check out the classic volume Sleazoid Express by Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford.
The moral of my musings is simple: these builders can transform the neighborhood but never erase the lingering memories of the locals. We exist in two dimensions simultaneously: the current world of a better scrubbed, more staid New York,and the landscape of its more uninhibited and colorfully tawdry past.