Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Follies Burlesk

I've written before about the history of 1551 Broadway, and the Gaiety Theater upstairs. But the story seems never to end. Every time I come upon another image of the building, I feel compelled to post it here. Like the 1980 shots by Andreas Feininger and a magnificent color photo from the 1940s, when the Orpheum Dance Palace was still upstairs (and HoJo's was a Childs restaurant).

Here are a bunch of photos from the days in between the Orpheum and the Gaiety, between the dime-a-dance and the jerk-off grind, when the second floor of 1551 Broadway belonged to the Follies Burlesk.

Bob Gruen, 1972, via Ephemeral New York

In its heyday, the Follies Burlesk sported major signage for "the most beautiful showgirls in the world," "glorified burlesk," and the "all live whirly girly revue." 1974 saw the arrival of one Lisa Ct. Cyr ("plus 6 young new oxotics"), surely a poor man's knock-off of Lily St. Cyr, star of 52nd when it was "Strip Street" two decades earlier.

Here's a gal under the Follies marquee, with the performers' photos in the background. The photographer also has a close-up of the marquee, wrapped in light bulbs and featuring DESHA SHAUNEE, whoever she was, wherever she went.

obwantiag's flickr

Another color shot shows the spectacular signage from across the avenue. The billboard above advertised nothing more glamorous than plain and simple WOOL.

When the Gaiety opened in 1976, replacing the Follies Burlesk, the signage above HoJo's shifted--from girls to boys.

close-up, Gruen

close-up, Feininger--same view

By 1978, the painted strippers on the old Burlesk sign had peeled and flaked. They would be replaced by 1980 by a billboard for Howard Johnson's (And behind that Burger King sign hides the remnants of the grandest old Automat.)

1978, via Lost City

Wrote Josh Alan Friedman:

"Perched from my upstairs, extra-seating table view,
I saw the lights go on for the All Live Whirly*Girly Revue,
Broadway's worst burly-Q, first time since '62"

1980s, Carl Burton

I remember standing in Times Square in the early 1990s and looking up at the last remnant of the Follies, the sign for the ALL LIVE WHIRLY GIRLY REVUE. That's all that remained. And then it, too, was covered by billboards. I wondered when they tore down the building to put up an American Eagle Outfitters, was the sign still there? Did anyone bother to save it?

1992, Greenwich Village Daily Photo


Marty Wombacher said...

Great post and photos today. I sure miss sitting at that little orange bar in the back of Howard Johnson's!

Uncle Waltie said...

I'm intimately familiar with that HoJo. Used to eat there almost every night in late 1970. At that time I lived in an SRO on West 44th Street between 6th & B'way. (30 bucks a week cash, paid to the concierge) Next door was a nudie bar, where you could watch naked girls pick up dollar bills. They didn't use their hands. (Gin & Tonic was 2.50) On the same block was the Lamb's Club, where well-heeled white patrons would take refuge from the sordid surroundings. On Broadway was a place called Bond's, a men's clothing store above which was a club whose name escapes me, where one could see major Jazz performers. One person I remember seeing there was Stanley Turrentine, the great sax player.
Thanks for the memories.

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Greenwich Village, NY