When West 33rd Street's Peep World closed back in March, we thought it would be replaced by a branch of Murray Hill's Overlook Lounge, a large gastro-pub known as "The Home of the Oklahoma Sooners." As I wrote then, "They specialize in hot wings and pommes frites, and feature a TV screen at every booth tuned to a sporting event. Their customers are often seen dressed in mardi gras beads and football jerseys for out-of-town teams."
But this fate is not to be--at least, not exactly.
Instead, Peep World will become a Hooters. Which is kind of the same thing as an Oklahoma Sooners bar serving hot wings. Except it's worse.
It's worse because Hooters is a watered-down, suburbanized version of Peep World and all the other XXX joints that have been erased from the city. It's worse because it's a "family restaurant" that's really all about big tits.
Unlike Hooters, Peep World didn't pretend to be family friendly, it didn't have a children's menu, and it didn't have TV commercials where a dim-witted blonde said, "Hey kids, wanna do your dad a really big favor? Tell your mom you wanna go to Peep World."
Peep World didn't sell creepy branded merchandise to kids, either, like "I'm a Boob Man" onesies and "Your Crib Or Mine?" bibs. And it didn't market to children with the slogan "Life Begins at Peep World."
Peep World was a nasty place for adults. It was raw and dirty and funky, like the city used to be. It wasn't an airbrushed sexcapade for tired, middle-aged frat boys to get their kicks during "family time" after a game of golf.
Peep World was New York. It wasn't Tampa or Dallas or Knoxville. It wasn't a bland international chain.
And I'll tell you something else--at Peep World, you could find all kinds of sex: straight, gay, transgender, plus every brand of kink. It was an all-inclusive smut experience. Hooters, on the other hand, sells one flavor of sex: vanilla. And does New York City really need more vanilla?
This swap, with all of its cruel irony, encapsulates the city's cultural colon cleanse. Greasy burger joints have to be replaced with sanitized Shake Shacks. Grubby bodegas must be transformed into soulless 7-11's. We can't have a Peep World, because it's too dirty, dark, and weird. Instead, we get a corporate suburban chain that peddles sex disguised as all-American hot wings.
In the end, which is more degrading?
Peep World Vanishing
Peep World Remnants