When photographer Tony Stamolis wrote in to say he read my post on Billy's Topless and recalled renting the place out for a photo shoot just a week before it closed, I asked him to please send the photos. Billy's closed in 2001 and images of the interior are hard to find.
Tony was kind enough to share these shots (the women here are friends of Tony's, not actual dancers).
all photos by Tony Stamolis
He writes, "They were taken as part of a project that was hung in the windows of Fun Box Times Square, an art/performance space on 42nd Street. That building was torn down soon after. Having spent most of my time (living and working) in that area in the early 90s, the focus was, obviously, on the Disney-fication of Times Square. It was titled "Quality of Life?" and had fake money covering the floors of the windows."
Tony's photos show the crummy little stage that the dancers used, with its undulating three-part shape. The greasy mirror, the dropped ceiling. Somewhere to the left, out of sight, is a hot dog and mac-n-cheese buffet served from trays warmed over Sterno.
We also get a good look at the bar, with its ratty stools and weathered wood. Giuliani's "Quality of Life" campaign shut Billy's down. Now it's all gone to bagels and smoothies. But it was a good old place.