Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Funny Store & The Playpen


According to the New York Times, The Funny Store—“must-stop shopping for fans of rubber rats, mice, snakes and chickens; fake excrement of all shapes and sizes; and trick playing cards and whoopee cushions”--on 44th Street and 8th Avenue is closing next month. The building has been sold to a condo developer. The shop owner, Arnold Martin, cannot afford to remain in Times Square where the store has been, in various locations, since 1957 and where rents have risen 400%.

Presumably, this also means the tragic demise of the Playpen, which occupies the same beautiful 1916 theater building at 693 8th Avenue. It was formerly known as the Cameo Theater and still has many of the original details. There's not much time left. Take a tour of the upstairs and view the goddesses on the walls--and, downstairs, view the live goddesses behind glass partitions--before they're turned to dust.

This from the Times:
According to Mr. Martin, the most popular item, hands down (or is it feet down?), has been the fake dog excrement. "It’s imported from Spain," he said. "So real it even fools the dog." Other top sellers include hand buzzers, whoopee cushions and rubber chickens.

...One prop no longer in stock is "the magic curtain" for grown-ups, which hung on the left wall. It attracted a businessman crowd, always in a rush, with serious faces. Pull back the curtain and be entertained with a much different selection of props.

The Funny Store had an agreement with the Playpen, a shop selling sexually explicit materials next door that provided an entrance through the magic shop. The arrangement was drawn up after a 1995 antipornography law limited the amount and display of such materials sold in parts of the city to 40 percent of a store’s inventory or floor space. That agreement ended last year, and now a wall has replaced the curtain.

"Just about every day someone comes in, looking for that curtain, trying to avoid embarrassment," Mr. Martin said. "But I suggest that they buy one of our fake beards and a pair of sunglasses so no one would recognize them going into the adult shop."
Copyright 2007, The New York Times, article by Joe Brescia

No comments: