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Category Archives: Times Square

Jane Dickson’s art reminds me of lively lonely nights in sleazy old Times Square…

I recently caught up with “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air,” an exhibit of paintings by Jane Dickson which bring to life the Times Square of the old sleazy era in the 80s and 90s. Her style is her own but its impact reminds me of Edward Hopper’s, evoked primarily through urban night scenes; as in Hopper’s works, deserted streets and places have a loneliness that’s not entirely sad, but also thoughtful, introspective, almost peaceful, and sometimes even inviting—as in this picture of a guy with a placard for a club called Dreams (I vaguely remember that club’s name, although I don’t remember if I ever went there)…

Jane Dickson: “Dreams” 2018

Dickson’s paintings in this excellent show at the James Fuentes Gallery on NYC’s Lower East Side (on display through February 17, 2019) feature a woman’s face looking through noirish Venetian blinds; a boy at a bus stop in an ominously red full face mask; a girl dancing in peep show with a customer on the other side (we get the peep show’s window eye view)…

Jane Dickson: “Peep,” 1992-96

 

There’s a painting of a low angle on a woman navigating a baby stroller down a stairs; the front of the big Peepland that was situated mid-block on the south side of 42nd between 7th and 8th Avenues; cops running on the street in some kind of frenzied police action; an evocation of the Terminal Bar that used to be (if I recall correctly) at 40th and 8th Avenue; and my favorite painting, showing a long hallway leading to the “employees only” area of a strip club, with a solitary half-naked dancer, almost out of eye view, leaning against the wall–you can almost imagine the rasping sound the linoleum would make beneath her high heels…

Jane Dickson: “Employees Only,” 2000

The colors of Dickson’s paintings and their varying sizes suggest indirectly a complex mix of personal emotions, those of the painter or (more vaguely) of the subjects of the pictures, just as Hopper paintings do for their era. One painting I also particularly liked, and one of the largest, was a vertiginous angle on the stairway/escalator leading downstairs in the old Nathan’s Hot Dogs that used to be at 43rd and Broadway…

Jane Dickson: “Nathan’s,” 1984-86

I went down that stairway many a time to eat a frank in the forlorn expanse of the lower level dining room (I lived in Times Square myself in the 80s, only a few blocks up).  This painting in particular reminds me how the old raunchy neighborhood (I never called it “The Deuce” myself back in the day) might have made you feel lonely, or was a place you went to hang out when you were already feeling lonely (or horny); but it didn’t necessarily make you feel ashamed of being lonely (or horny), as the new overly technological tourist-filled Disneyesque miasma of 21st century Times Square does for me. Once you were allowed to sit in your solitude in Times Square, perhaps feeling forsaken but not defective for not having a wife or family in tow; knowing that you could find distraction only steps away in any number of strip clubs or peep shows or in library-like adult bookstores where you could stand wordlessly side-by-side with other strangers and browse through assemblages of erotica that sometimes, depending on the particular store, could appear to the scholarly-minded almost Smithsonian in their range. After all, it was in places like this that I found rare mint copies of the original John Willie BIZARRE magazines from the 1940s, at prices so low it was clear the merchants had no idea of the value of what they were selling.

So if you have a casual interest, a deep nostalgia, or a fascinated yearning for the bygone Times Square depicted in HBO’s series The Deuce (see my own thoughts on the show here), check out Jane Dickson’s beautifully evocative paintings at the James Fuentes Gallery, located at 55 Delancey Street. Here is a link to more info, and another link to an interview with Ms. Dickson and a preview of the paintings. Also check out this interview by Ben Yakas in The Gothamist on the occasion of the publication of her book of street photography and art, Jane Dickson in Times Square, which you can find on Amazon here.

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Postscript: It’s funny, but I just realized, in looking this over as I was editing, that my selection of the pictures to illustrate this review really evokes a typical night for me back in the 80s or early 90s. I didn’t assemble the pictures consciously with this in mind, but studying them now I see how they match the pattern of my many lively lonely travels through Times Square. Seeing a guy advertising a club, I might have gone to the venue, or maybe first to a peep show, then to the club; later, in the strip joint and having had a few beers, I would invariably head to the men’s room and might well have seen a dancer having a cigarette back near an “Employees Only” area; and finally, having had my raunchy fun at the club (or even been disappointed, as could frequently happen), I’d stop at Nathan’s for a hot dog and Coke…a meal that could be lonely, yes, but also satisfying in a quasi-Romantic “I’m a lone wolf” kinda way…  😉 You know, “lone wolf” as in David Janssen in the great old 60s tv series The Fugitive? Except that I was probably just running away from having to spend too much time alone with myself…

But that’s the subject for another post someday.

 


All examples of the paintings shown here are by Jane Dickson, as displayed at the James Fuentes Gallery NYC January 16 through February 17, 2019.

 

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Silk stocking magazines set me off on the quest…

Silk stocking magazines…just the name is so evocative!

I’ve written here before how I’m always fascinated walking around Manhattan and remembering what occupied a particular space long ago. For example, this decrepit building at the northwest corner of 46th Street and Eighth Avenue housed a fantastic video store, DVD BLOWOUT, that sold obscure cult movies like stuff from Something Weird Video in addition to its hardcore porn; and next to it was the Full Moon Saloon, a place where I did a good amount of drinking back in the day…

This is what has replaced it: shiny, tall, and a hub for tourists.

I also remember, when I pass by an Asian noodle shop near the southwest corner of 49th St. and Eighth Avenue, that long ago in the 70s its space was occupied by a used magazine store, where I first came upon these magazines (scans taken from my own copies, some of which I’ve sold at memorabilia shows):

I recall asking the slender gray-haired middle-aged guy behind the counter near the door what these magazines were. I had never seen these publications before, packed with the nylon-sheathed ladies of the late 40s and 50s. “They’re called ‘silk stocking magazines,’ ” he said. Amazingly, they were only $2.50 or $3.00 a piece, so I bought three or four. Now they go for about $25 a piece, even in just good, not necessarily, great condition. They’re hard to find. BEAUTY PARADE, TITTER, FLIRT…these are the titles of the mags in which Bettie Page and other popular models frequently appeared. They were published by Robert Harrison, who later in the 50s went on to great notoriety with the scandal-mongering CONFIDENTIAL magazine.

Little did I know that my lifelong quest to collect vintage girlie mags and endless pinups had begun! I still have the copy of FLIRT, which I bought in 1977 from the late Art Amsie, the dealer and collector who was a cornerstone of the pinup revival, and who even photographed Bettie Page himself. It’s a mint copy which I’ve only looked at a few times, wanting to keep it in as perfect condition as possible—not because it’s worth so much, I probably couldn’t get more than $100 for it; it’s just nice to have an issue so well-preserved from so long ago, when most of them are so fragile they fall apart as you turn the pages. You can read my profile of Art Amsie here.

You can see how un-seriously these mags were treated by some folks before the interest in pinups was renewed in the early 80s. The price $3.00 was casually scrawled on the gorgeous Peter Driben-painted cover of TITTER, along with the date!

If you’re interested in seeing more of these covers and the insides of the mags, look on Amazon here for a Taschen book called 1000 PIN-UP GIRLS, and your orbs will get their fill of the fillies! Note their variant spelling of “pin-up.” Me, I always spell it “pinup.” 😉

 

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FATE OF A STRIPPER: when she goes too far~~

In the coming year 2019 I’m going to try to get my novel FATE OF A STRIPPER out there to more readers. It’s a damn good piece of work but so far has not found the audience it deserves. I may also make it available in a paperback edition as well as in the current ebook format.

Check out the lengthy free sample right here, below, and see what you think…it’s not porn, not erotica, but a psychological suspense story about a young woman who goes too far in trying to control her life, and the older guy she gets mixed up with.

For the time being, it’s still only $2.99, and can be read on phones, tablets, computers, and of course on Kindles.

What a great movie it would make, too!

 

 
 

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Alicia Silverstone’s cute bare behind…

I’m so grateful they haven’t gotten rid of all the sexy sights in NYC’s “family-friendly” tourist-obsessed Times Square.

I snapped this pic on Eighth Avenue a few months ago, just across from the New York Times Building on Eighth Avenue.

I must say Alicia Silverstone has a nice bottom! I wonder what all those families thought about it…

 

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2018 in Erotica, New York City, Times Square

 

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I miss my floozies…

I have a friend, George, with whom I’ve sometimes watched films noir. He has an endearing habit of saying, “Here’s the floozy music,” whenever the music on the soundtrack obviously indicates the entrance of a so-called tramp or femme fatale.

Well, I don’t need music to know when I’m in the presence of a floozy. I use the term affectionately, meaning to me “a woman of the demimonde.” Strippers are my chief floozies, although in my time I’ve known some nice hookers too. But with the decline of the adult magazine business in which I worked for more than 40 years, and the greater difficulty of making a buck as a porn writer online, I just don’t have the disposable ca$h to spend time with “floozies” much anymore.

That’s one reason why I enjoy noir films and noir novels…I get to spend time with floozies without going over my budget. 😉 (Can you tell I drank a 24 ounce can of ready-made margaritas before writing this post?)

While I drank the margaritas I watched Joan Bennett in 1948’s Hollow Triumph on TCM’s Noir Alley series, although in this film Joan is not particularly floozy-ish. I love Joan Bennett, her tart affectionate dames are just my cup of tea, and I’ve known a few in my time, especially barmaids at the old Times Square strip clubs like the late lamented Club 44 on Eighth Avenue near 44th Street. I sometimes have a gloomy disposition, after all I am a kind of noir guy myself; and one of the Club 44 barmaids, a older Brazilian lady named Elizabeth, used to try to cheer me up by giving me clippings to read, in a plastic baggie, of humorist and toastmaster Joey Adams’s joke columns from the New York Post.

Anyway, I digress. Here are a couple of recent novels I’ve read that had their happy share of floozies…

This cover scene is actually in the 1952 book, as a streetwalker tries to pick up the detective hero at 51st and 6th Avenue, a location I know quite well. But although a nice interlude, the sequence feels inserted into the story simply to justify the cover; it’s not pertinent to the plot, which is a pretty good one about political corruption in NYC.

 

This is a really tense 1954 novel about two gay drifters who kidnap a narcotics agent as he drives out to Los Angeles after a undercover job on the New Orleans docks. It has two well-drawn floozy portrayals, one of an affectionate stripper involved with the agent in the Big Easy, and the other of a not-too-bright but good-hearted female drifter from Tennessee who gets swept up by one of the male drifters, who is bisexual.

 

When I wolfed down these fun books, I got to enjoy the company of classic-style noir floozies. You can easily meet the two dames in Death Hitches a Ride by checking out the double-novel reprint at Sinister Cinema’s Armchair Fiction line here. It’s a really well-done story, and in fact I read it twice for the way it builds character and tension; the only flaw is that the ending is a bit too abrupt. But the characterizations are terrific. I wonder whatever happened to author Martin L. Weiss—a very talented fictioneer indeed.

 

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Cable news beauties and New York City buildings…

Now let’s pay a visit to the “What a Porn Writer Sometimes Does to Relax” Dept…. 😉

I am fascinated by the various feminine faces on cable news and like to make pictures of them right off the screen…

Natasha Bertrand, commentator on MSNBC

Ayesha Rascoe, commentator on MSNBC

Mieke Eoyang, commentator on MSNBC

Molly Crabapple, commentator on MSNBC

The point-of-view (POV) shots when the tv commentators look directly at the camera are particularly interesting to me. They remind me of the erotic video clips where dominatrices talk directly to the submissive viewers and tell them all the lowly tasks they’re going to have to perform…yep, that’s the way my mind works sometimes 😉 …anyway, it strikes me that having the commentators talk directly at viewers like that is pretty bizarre. Of course, sometimes they talk directly to the host who’s off to the side, as in the Rascoe and Crabapple pics above.

Now, I also take a lot of pictures of buildings because female models are not casually accessible on the streets of New York as I saunter along. 😦

After all, buildings are almost (but not quite) as beautiful, enigmatic, and supple under the caress of light as women! 🙂

Residences on 43rd Street near Ninth Avenue, 2017

New skyscraper in the Flatiron District, 2017

 

Midtown skyscrapers and new construction seen from Central Park, 2017

 

Moon over Columbus Circle construction, summer 2017

 

Yes, the pictures I take of buildings are in many ways surrogates for pictures I would prefer to take of women. It almost seems as if the buildings are posing for me, just as I would have models do if they were readily available!

I’m such a fuckin’ goofball…

Building in Chelsea, summer 2017

 

When there are pictures of women on buildings, so much the better! 🙂

 

Near Times Square, 2017

Midtown, Fall 2016

 

Other times, I photograph buildings that are naturally lit in a sensual way that evokes stories, scenes…I can just imagine nude models illuminated in these ways…the side light, the dappling shadows…

On this very spot at 46th St. and Eighth Avenue once stood a great porn video store, DVD Blowout, as well as a legendary bar, the Full Moon Saloon. Now we have this recently opened hotel. November 2017

 

I love the reflections of light on this two-story building. November 2017

 

~~Digression: see that sign BAR in the center of the picture just above? Forty years ago, maybe more, the space that the bar inhabits on Eighth Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets was a topless bar called Hungry Hilda’s. One night in ’76 or so, a friend of mine gave a tip to a dancer and she practically jumped into his lap in gratitude, which he didn’t understand at the moment. Only later when he went to pay for another beer did he realize that instead of the single he thought he’d given her, he’d mistakenly slipped her a fifty he’d just gotten in pay from his part-time job…$50 being quite a tidy sum in 1975! End of digression. 😉 ~~

Finally, I can even use one of my pictures of buildings to express my admiration for a dominatrix I admire, Goddess Resha, who can be found on Twitter here. She has a most entrancing penchant for sometimes sheathing her amazing legs in blue nylon stockings…

…and the photo below expresses my enthusiastic feelings about the matter! 😉

Near Columbus Circle, Winter 2018

 

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I love the spontaneous pictures the late Garry Winogrand took of women on the street; those would be my ideal projects…

But my attempts at candid street photography were not too successful, as I could never really relax and be bold enough to go for the shots I wanted. Oh well, everybody does the best they can. I think when you understand what the building photos mean to me, you might see their extra dimensions if I’ve at all succeeded in making any decent pictures.

So I look through the trees, across the pond, at the lovely giantesses beyond…

Central Park, autumn 2017

 


I found the Winogrand cover photo here. Its first edition sells there for $795! It’s a great book, and he was an extraordinary photographer. The screencap of Goddess Resha’s Twitter header is used with her courtesy, and the rest of the pix in this post are by yours truly and © 2018 Irv O.Neil.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2018 in Erotica, New York City, Times Square

 

January 29, 2018: the 45th anniversary of my moving to New York

I moved to New York City for keeps on January 29, 1973. That was the day I got in a U-Haul with a college girlfriend and drove from the Midwest to the Big Apple, as it was popularly known back then (I don’t hear that moniker used much anymore). We arrived the next day and checked into a residential hotel on the Upper West Side, but I always date my “New York Adventure” as starting on January 29th.

Actually I’d been here the two previous summers, working part-time jobs and living at the YMHA, and with my father’s side of the family in Brooklyn and New Jersey, the area was always part of my life even though I grew up in Chicago.

I came to NYC hoping to get into the film business but when that didn’t work out I shifted to writing. Sold my first porn novel in the fall of 1974 and the rest, as the saying goes, is “history”—the personal history described in many of the earlier posts on this blog.

Of course dotted throughout the city are the landmarks that have a personal meaning to me. For example, on the ever-changing 42nd Street, between Broadway and 6th Avenue, is the Bush Tower, squarely in the shadowy center of this picture…

That was the address from where such legendary “big boob” girlie magazines such as BUF and GEM were published back in the day. Circa 1978 I sent the company an article about collecting movie soundtracks, a “socially redeeming” feature as they used to be called in that era when sex magazines had to run non-erotic items to appease the censors. One day out of the blue the publisher sent me a check for $40 for the article, and I believe that was the only time in my writing career when I sold an unsolicited piece via the “slush pile.” The rest of the time I’ve written either on assignment or expressly for an editor who was favorably inclined to my work.

So every time I walk past Bush Tower I think of that lovely $40 and how nice it was to make that sale!

Nowadays of course. along with writing for porn websites and the occasional sex magazine that is still around, I’ve become a publisher of some of my own stuff, both of my femdom erotica here

 

…and of my full-length novel FATE OF A STRIPPER here. Although to my disappointment it has not sold well, I’m proud of the novel and keep promoting it, hoping it will eventually find an audience for its very New York story of the relationship between an unbalanced lonely stripper and her lonely lovestruck customer, a noir tale flavored with some passionate descriptions of Times Square and its remaining strip joints.

And as ever I continue to enjoy wandering about the city, taking pictures like the ones in this post, inspired by the surprising urban vistas just for their own sake and as possible backdrops for new fiction.

For example, I wonder what kind of an erotic story I can come up with from the picture below…as in, what fictional characters might I imagine living on this street, and how might they satisfy their lusty cravings? 😉

 

 

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