Lovingly lingering memories of Eighth Avenue sleaze…

30 Sep

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.


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14 responses to “Lovingly lingering memories of Eighth Avenue sleaze…

  1. Rincewind

    October 1, 2016 at 4:42 am

    I like your retrospective look…

    • irvoneil

      October 1, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks, glad you liked it. I have to do some more like this. It seems to have struck a chord today with several people!

  2. Declan Heyse

    October 1, 2016 at 11:19 am

    When I lived in Philadelphia, I felt the same way whenever I had to cross the river into New Jersey for a meeting or some such thing. Just didn’t feel “natural,” somehow. 🙂

    • irvoneil

      October 1, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Sounds like you know the feeling! Well at least I got a lot of reading done on the commute. 😉 No seriously, over the years I got plenty of solid work from that New Jersey company, assignments much missed by me today with the dearth of erotic magazines for which to write and/or edit.

  3. Louise Love

    October 2, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    That’s a great perspective – both in the post and the shot. I was lucky enough to catch the tail-end (so to speak) of that era. I wish I’d paid more attention at the time. There will never be anything else like it!

    • irvoneil

      October 3, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Thanks, Louise, glad you liked the words and the picture! At least you got to see a bit of those wild days. I’ll have to write a little more on this topic since a number of people seem to have enjoyed it and I do think about it almost every time I walk around the area.

  4. hotncold01

    October 7, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Yep, I agree with you. I miss some of it. I don’t know the nasty end of the business – it must have been there, too – and that’s something not to miss. But for the casual consumer of brick ‘n mortar delight, I miss it, too.

    • irvoneil

      October 24, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Yes, hotncold01, it had its nasty side but it was possible to steer clear of that and, as you say, be a casual (or even obsessive!) consumer of its brick and mortar delights. Thanks for commenting!

  5. mondoeros1

    October 1, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    What was the name of The TV Hotel ?

    • irvoneil

      October 1, 2017 at 11:18 pm

      I don’t remember it, actually. I think it might have been something bland and nondescript. We just called it The TV Hotel…

      • mondoeros1

        October 1, 2017 at 11:29 pm

        Thanks Irv , It’s listed now as Low Income Housing.

      • mondoeros1

        October 2, 2017 at 3:33 pm

        It was an SRO in the early 1980s.

      • irvoneil

        October 3, 2017 at 12:15 am

        Thanks. Actually, I thought it was more of an SRO than a hotel. “TV Hotel” was just more of a moniker people used.


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