Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Back to Show Follies

Inspired by my 2006 discovery of the secret peep theater abandoned in the basement of a Times Square gift shop, once the Show Follies XXX center, the intrepid Marty Wombacher of the blog Marty After Dark decided to go on his own quest to seek and find the lost treasures of this forgotten porn palace.

He lived to tell the tale--and came back with photos.


photo: Marty Wombacher

In Marty's own words...

I got to the store, found the mirrored diamonds on the outside that you wrote about, and went in. There was a guy up front and one in the back behind a glass counter. I picked up a shirt and kept glancing over at him. I kept inching closer to the stairway. Finally, he bent over to get something out of the counter and I walked downstairs as quietly as I could. At first I was disappointed and wondered if maybe they had dismantled the theater. Then I looked to my left and there it was in all its glory. I snapped a photo and someone yelled out from the top of the stairs. I jumped inside and took another shot of the seats. I heard footsteps running down the stairs.

"What are you doing down here?" the guy screamed, grabbing my arm. "No pictures!"

I told him to let go of me. He said I had to go upstairs. Once upstairs I asked about the theater. Another guy told me to go next door and talk to Mohammed.


photo: Marty Wombacher

I talked a kid folding t-shirts and asked to speak to Mohammed. He looked really strange when I asked and said, "Why do you want to see Mohammed?" I told him I wanted to take a picture of the theater. Two guys in back started shaking their heads "No."

One of them screamed at me, "No pictures!"

"Why do you care if I take a picture of the theater?" I asked.

"There's no theater!"

"Yes, there is, I was just looking at it," I answered back.

Then they ordered me out of the store.

They should rename this place Mystery Science Theater 711 after their address and attitude. Two different people denied the theater even existed, one of them after I had just seen it. And why the anger over the photos? What are they hiding down there besides "I Heart New York" T-shirts? Are they really that ashamed of this building's porno past?

I don't have the answers, all I know is a small chunk of this block's past is being held hostage in the basement. Stop by and sneak a look if you can, it's worth the effort. And if you have a camera, snap a photo and pass it along to Jeremiah. Let's keep the memory alive.


photo: Marty Wombacher

26 comments:

Someone Said said...

"There's no theater!"

Classic, thank you for risking your life Marty.

EV Grieve said...

Classic!

And I'm surprised (a little) that no one ever removed the theater... I'm glad that it's still there, though...

79rigid said...

Wild!Nice work.I understand a store not wanting people in the storeroom,but why deny the theatre?And who's Mohamed?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of your efforts, Jeremiah and Marty. If those two theatres are 3 and 4 (and, upon the quick glances captured in your photos, it looks like one theatre), what happened to theatres 1 and 2? Has the basement been divided in half and are 1 and 2 being used by the Sage Theater?

Ted Barron said...

Nice work, Marty. If you ever want to bring a photographer with you on your adventures - just let me know.
Ted

Anonymous said...

Amazing - to think of the porn watched from those seats, and now they hold tourist-destined T-shirts that say "I love New York." If only the buyers knew where they were stocked...

Marty Wombacher said...

Thanks for posting the photos and story, Jeremiah, I hope others stop by and send in a shot while it's still there.

@Ted Barron: Send me an email and let's hang out, it's been too long!

Jeremiah Moss said...

that t-shirt shot is the best.

Goggla said...

Yay, Marty!

If these guys were smart, they'd charge a fee for taking a peek...they could even show movies down there, who knows? I just hope they don't put electrified barbed wire around the stairs now. ;)

Anonymous said...

One word, sketchy. Go talk to the other guy about the theater that may or may not be there. People forget that sometimes businesses in NYC are much different in the daytime then they are at night-time, or from one day to the next.

Tricia said...

Love this line and that you didn't listen to them and lived to bring back the pictures... "What are you doing down here?" the guy screamed, grabbing my arm. "No pictures!"

Anonymous said...

Dare I say that your photos captured "the money shot"?

Anonymous said...

Send one of those T-shirts to Bloomberg.

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Great investigative stuff, Marty!!

Lisa said...

Marty, you are now officially U.N.C.L.E. agent 3 & 4. Good work, spuer-sleuth!

esquared said...

man, those t-shirts surely would have been 'handy' back then. better than tissues.

callmekc said...

Whoa, unbelievable story, Marty, and the photos are the icing on the cake. I don't understand the animosity from the staff unless they think you're going to steal tourist trap paraphernalia.

Kari said...

I hope people wash those shirts before they wear them.

(btw - I love that your blog is NOT a democratic nation :)

Anonymous said...

Send Patrick Bateman around to visit this Mohammed person!

Melanie said...

The theatre looks cool. Interesting piece.

glamma said...

this is just absolutely fantastic. way to go marty.

Anonymous said...

check out the wall of the theater next to each seat. you can see where peoples heads wore away the paint and stained the wall... amazing. nice recon mission!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for spreading truth through photography, Marty. Glad you escaped unharmed.

I'll bet they have to shake roaches, spiders, fleas and bedbugs out of those shirts before putting them on sale upstairs.

daveplomin said...

My guess why they were mad is maybe zoning doesn't permit their using the space down there, or the health dept would be upset at the way they store merchandise in old theaters 3&4? Maybe they thought you were from either dept spying on them? Great pics!!!

Faggot said...

hey, im a black sissy fag, love your blog.... back in the 90s when i was just out of college, back when you could walk down 42nd st at night and it would be EMPTY, i used to go to all the spots arond the deuce. all the spots. where that hotel is on 43rd and 8th, and the new (relative, of course, im talking 15 years) train station, there used to be 2 or 3 video spots that were off the hook.... anyway, back to the "hidden theater", what i remember most, and we're talking 1996-until it closed, was that it was always packed. my memory is hazy, but i remember only 3 theaters, and an elevator (although i could be wrong about the elevator)... had good sissy times there.... the good ole days

Faggot said...

haha, i was thinking of a totally differenet place, up on 48th and broadway, next to that nasty pizza place sbarro's.... i have a lot of stories about show follies too though.....