Thursday, May 11, 2017

Death Knell of the Peeps

Last week, we heard the news that Richard Basciano, porn king of Times Square, had passed away. He had kept Show World going for decades in a pair of old buildings on 8th Avenue and 42nd Street, remnants of the lost Deuce. Surely his passing will mean the closure of Show World and the sale--and likely demolition--of the buildings.

I went by to check on Show World. Already, much of the place has been closed. The main room is open, still selling DVDs, magazines, and sex toys; and the handful of video peep booths there are running. But the warren of back rooms and basement spaces has been closed. The neon lights are off. Chains cross the entrances hung with "do not enter" signs.

Show World has been diminished.

This week, Crain's offered an in-depth look at Basciano's life with Show World. They came to the same conclusion:

"Regardless of whether his estate sells, undertakes a development itself or finds a partner, the financial pressures from the lawsuit make it likely that Show World Center will close. That would mean the end of an era, reducing to three the number of porn shops operating around Eighth Avenue in Times Square: Vishara Video, The Blue Store and The Playpen.

'Show World was the mega emporium of all things erotic,' said Neil Wexler, a writer for a host of X-rated magazines in the 1980s and 1990s, including Leg World, Cheeks and Girls Over 40. 'It’s a shell of what it was. If it closed, it would be symbolic of the death of the industry in Times Square.'"

Crain's also reveals another imminent vanishing:

"Vishara Video may also be unable to withstand the pull of market forces," they write. ("Market forces" is another way of saying landlord-driven hyper-gentrification.) "Hersel Torkian, the XXX store’s landlord, said he did not plan to renew its lease: 'Their lease is coming up soon, and we don’t want them there.'”

Here's what the last shuttered XXX joint on 8th Avenue looks like today. What was DVD Depot has been sitting empty for 3 years. From smut to high-rent blight:


RMAN said...

I visited Show World decades ago as a young kid (yeah, a minor)
Even as recently as a few months ago I drove by, kind of glad to see that it was still there - a hold out of the old Times Square.

The owner's passing is symbolic of the heart and soul of NYC - nearly completely gone and scrubbed clean with bleach for wholesome tourists, then decorated like an expensive whore and pimped out to the highest bidder.

Brian said...

8th Ave was kind of the smut marketplace. Times Square and 42nd Street got cleaned up and then 8th Ave. For those not offended by the sale of sexual explicit material, the streetscape was architecturally interesting. Ok, so, many people were excited because it would open the area to some really cool stuff to replace the xxx tape/dvd stores, xxx theaters, and movie palaces. Instead we got blank sterile blocks like 42nd between 6th and Broadway, the Bank Of America Tower with glass towers and no storefronts. Condo towers on 8th are boring and the Shake Shack, Duane Reades, Starbucks every block, franchised theme restaurants, themed candy stores kind of blands the whole area down to a typical Midwestern mall.

woohoo!! said...

what a gross place! glad it will be gone soon! hope it turns into a giant Starbucks, bank or Duane Reade, yay!

Brian said...

There already is a huge Duane Reade on that corner 42nd & 8th, so you can buy all the diet Pepsi and gum you desire. Maybe they will put in a CVS next door

Dov said...

NYC has become a sterilized Disnyfied version of itself. No soul left there.

Unknown said...

hahaha the pimping continues thanks city hall i'm sure you'll get your cut too.

Unknown said...

Keep NY Weird

TheBlueMan said...

I hope to god Vishara doesn't close. Not all porn is archived on the internet and more importantly just like books i like having a hard copy of something (in this case porn). Vishara has the largest and most diverse collection of porn I've ever seen (everything except bestiality i think). They also still sell porn mags (3 for 1 packages). Their kink toys and sex toys aren't bad quality either and even if they are expensive stores have to make money and you're not getting a bad product. Jeremiah once did a piece awhile back about stock footage from the pleasure chest in the 70s, and honestly places like Vishara make me think of that. Rainbow lounge and other backroom places in Chelsea make me wonder with this closing how long will they last? These are still cruising spots too and they could be more than that if the owners allowed for it (as i said with Vibe formerly rawhide).

Just because you don't like it doesn't mean you should pressure it out of existence or phase it out because it's a reminder of something that once was (and until these places close still is). Looks like I'm gonna go porn shopping (lesbians and bondage) at Visharas and go see some booth girls at playpen before it's gone for good.

Christopher Duquette said...

A star was born in 1976 when I innocently wandered the sex industry saturated Times Square of 1976, to be scouted and whisked onto the stage of the prestigious Gaiety Male Burlesque where I was mentored by street savvy young men eager to exploit their youth and beauty for money. Encountering no consequences, I danced professionally and recreationally for 2 years until I went legit. Jeremiah's passage describing the last days of the gaiety's male marathon where correct. There was no more diversity or thought given to the burlesque performance. But the disco bug kept me addicted to NYC clubs and drugs du jour past my prime. 'Homo GoGo Man: a fairytale about a boy who grew up in discoland' documents my first hand tell-all experiences in the best clubs in NYC 1976 - 2004. Congratulations on your publication which I only learned about from Greg Newton of BGSQD bookstore, where my book is available and I performed my multi-sensory reading with DJ accompaniment to chapter's relevance and disco staging. On YouTube 'Homo GoGo Man'. would like to meet (I live in NYC) or discuss contacts that my open more doors than my ambitious creative mind is capable of. My publisher has agreed I could use an agent who knows my drug/club/NYC story.