As I said in my last post, I wanted to tell you the significance of the corner of 46th and Broadway. Well, where the American Eagle Outfitters store now stands in Times Square at that intersection…selling among its stock the Aerie brand of provocative underthings for young ladies…
…this once stood: the Follies Burlesk theater!
I found the Follies shot at a cool blog called The Whiskey Barrel.
In today’s pedestrian plazas in Times Square, you can pull up a chair and watch the digital tease show that looms above you like a parade of young giantesses.
I remember the Follies, which was there well into the 80s. Somebody said the name was changed to the New Paris Theater; I don’t remember, but that’s entirely possible. I just remember it as the Follies, and that’s what I always called it; where I saw strippers like the busty blonde bombshell, the late Joey Karson, back in the early 80s. I remember me and my managing editor at the time, Sid Pauli, once running into porn legend George Payne in the doorway of the Follies and having a nice chat about the adult movie biz. I think the Follies closed just before the late Lisa de Leeuw, one of my porn favorites, was about to headline. I remember how disappointed I was. Luckily, I got to meet Lisa on one of my first trips to the adult video conventions in Las Vegas, but it would have been fun to see her bodacious redhead beauty cavorting on the Follies stage.
If I recall correctly, the Follies was managed for quite awhile by a guy whose mother was a famous stripper back in the 40s and 50s.
Below is the old time sign of the Follies as I remember it in the 90s and after, and how it still hung until finally the demolition of the building made way for the structure that is there today and houses the American Eagle Outfitters store. I found this shot on a tumblrblog called Art Is The Opposite of Death.
So I guess this corner of 46th and Broadway was the perfect spot for a modern day version of a girlie show, except in its modern, digital, socially acceptable form.
For eight years in the 1980s, I lived a half a block away too, right in the middle of the sleazy tumult of pre-Disneyfied, pre-cleaned-up Times Square…the era when the girlies were still whirling there. But that’s the subject for future posts.
This corner was also the location of a famous gay burlesk venue, the Gaiety Theater, and you can read all about it on the great urban history blog Vanishing New York. Their post also has a shot of the box office of the Orpheum, a heterosexual “taxi dance” hall which stood on the spot at one point as well. One day I’ll write about my own experiences at the last few taxi dance halls that still dotted Times Square in the 70s and 80s.
The American Eagle Outfitters billboard shots were taken by yours truly. Copyright 2012 Irv O. Neil.