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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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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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What was the crossdresser thinking about?

Memorable sight on the street last weekend in New York City…

On Eighth Avenue near 48th Street around 3:00 p.m. on Saturday 5/19/12, a couple. A very pretty black-haired young woman in a black dress with a flared skirt, holding the hand of a not-handsome man in a blonde wig, heavy makeup, red and white minidress with horizontal stripes, and bony bare legs on strappy heels. He looked nervous and uncertain as he walked. She looked confident and understanding. What was their story? Was she indulging a boyfriend’s need to crossdress and go out in the world? Or was she perhaps punishing him in some kind of roleplay game? Or was she a hired dominatrix taking a feminized slave out for a walk on the crowded sunny street? What was the crossdresser thinking about? I couldn’t help but wonder.

This drawing by the great Eric Stanton, which I found on the cool site Permanent Obscurity, captures the feeling of uncertainty in the man’s face as I saw it, even though the circumstances of the drawing are different:

The caption at Permanent Obscurity, “The loneliness depicted in [Stanton’s] characters transcends that of a mere ‘comic book’ artist” is also what I saw in the face of the feminized man on the street. Anxiety too. Of course, this is my interpretation. I have no idea what he was actually thinking. I turned to watch them, but they were quickly lost in the milling tourist crowds spilling over from Times Square.

Seen on Sunday 5/20/12 on Ninth Avenue: man who covered up his head in his zipped jacket, so he looked either as if he had no head, or his head was invisible. An invisible man. There are many scruffy fellows along Ninth Avenue between 40th Street going down into the 20s, but this one stood out in my mind. It was as if he had zipped up his face to commune with the darkness of his jacket (and the weather was quite warm, so it must have been hot in there, too).

I couldn’t find any comparable picture to conjure that up for you visually.

Finally, also on Sunday 5/20/12, I saw a girl in a tight skirt, high heels, and a halter, sashaying into the Dream Hotel on 16th Street near Ninth Avenue. Literally a head-turner and not just for me. She was almost like a cartoon out of the great Bill Ward:

Her butt did look like the one in this cartoon, although she wasn’t dressed with stockings; and her expression of indifference to everybody ogling her was just about the same. I found this pic at the site Live Auctioneers.  I don’t resemble the guy in that hat although my gaping expression was probably similar.

On another note, I found an intriguing book at a memorabilia show last weekend, yet another addition to my small library of tomes about the history of prostitution throughout the world–a subject I always find interesting. I was once even on the radio back in the 1970s to discuss an article I wrote myself about the history of brothels for the men’s magazine Swank.

What a seedy title, no? And blunt. Will have to dip into it soon. (Hmm, is that a pun–“dip into” it? Note to porn writer self: Must consider my possible sexualization of books as proxy vaginas. Topic for a future post?)

 

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