Show World Center, the last of that bastion of all things nasty, is gasping its last breath on 8th Avenue. Today, Curbed and Gawker both picked up on the Post's report: "The Times Square area's once-raunchiest location is up for lease or sale, possibly spelling an end to what's left of porn king Richard Basciano's Show World Center at Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street."
I am stricken by the news. Though Show World mostly disappeared a few years ago, it still retained a neon-lit rabbit warren of backroom and underground porn-tastic hideaways filled with video peeps, DVDs, magazines, and toys. You enter on 8th Avenue, but follow the many doorways and stairways, and you'll find yourself cast down and back, emerging after your adventure into daylight on 42nd, next to the entrance to a hotel that sports a gold glittering lobby.
(You will also find a treasure-trove of vintage Penthouse magazines, dating back to the 60s and 70s, on sale for a few bucks.)
It seems odd that Basciano would be selling the L-shaped building that also houses, in addition to Show World Center, his Times Square Arts Center, because he just signed a deal to develop more "wholesome" entertainment for the location. And last month he put up this flashy sign outside Show World's 42nd Street entrance/exit:
Just as the family-friendly Laugh Factory disguises a backroom packed with smut, I suspect this news is not what it appears and perhaps we haven't seen the last of Show World. It is still, even in its vanishing, the best show left in town. Especially now that the Playpen has been reduced to this sacrificial mudhole: