Monday, June 24, 2019

Show World to Hive

After going, going, going, Show World is so very gone.

On 8th Avenue near 42nd Street, the buildings that made up Show World and its neighboring businesses are wrapped in scaffolding and demolition shrouds.


The interiors have been completely demolished, but the buildings will remain, renovated into something called The Hive, "an $80 million boutique office and retail property," according to The Real Deal, geared to "attract technology, financial and media tenants."

So what else is new?

architect's rendering

In the Commercial Observer, The Hive speaks for itself, describing itself as "authentic" to the neighborhood.

"On the inside," it says, "you will find a hip, urban interior featuring exposed hardwood floors, brick walls and steal columns throughout. The historic character of the building reflects the roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic that defined the success of the many companies that called this neighborhood home."

Roll up your sleeves? More like take off your panties.

1976, John Sotomayor/The New York Times

Richard Basciano, New York’s former "prince of porn," opened Show World in the mid-1970s.

It featured a circus theme, the interior decorated with weird clown dolls.

After Giuliani’s 1995 zoning ordinance to restrict adult entertainment businesses, Show World soldiered on, its naughty bits whittled away piece by piece. By 1998, the live girls were gone and the theater space was leased to an off-off-Broadway company that performed Chekhov plays on stages where naked girls once performed live sex acts, including Face Shows—as the sign said, “Let our girls sit on your face.” (Here's an NSFW look inside in 1980.)



The original, main section of Show World Center vanished (mostly) in 2004 and became a family-friendly entertainment place, featuring comedy and light horror (Times Scare). However, right next door, a smaller Show World Center remained a XXX joint, a sort of annex to the original.

Along with video peeps, dirty DVDs, and toys, you could also find rooms full of (almost) nothing but crossword puzzle books -- by order of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

When he passed his unconstitutional ordinance against sex shops, part of the ruling stated that a store would be considered X-rated if 40 percent or more of their stock or floor space was in adult materials. As the Times reported at the time, the sex shops complied--by loading their spaces with just enough non-adult materials to qualify them as not X-rated.

So you could wander through Show World, up and down front and back staircases, into warrens and hallways, from one room to the next, passing through smut and crossword puzzles. It was a strange experience.

That Show World went up for lease or sale in 2008, but did not close until 2018, after the death of Basciano in 2017.

The end had arrived.

Show World main lobby, 2003

Show World main lobby, 2018

Gone with Show World are a number of other businesses, including those in Three Hundred Three Towers. With the entrance around the back, it held offices and apartments, possibly an odd hotel--I could never quite figure it out.

I don't know where its people were displaced to.



What remains of Show World and its neighbors will be just a shell, all its dirty, unfettered history gutted and remade for a new population.

But it's all okay, because "Working at The Hive," says The Hive, "will impart a sense of pride and authenticity."

It's going to be so authentic, in fact, the architects have rendered a new retail establishment called AUTHENTIC--just in case anybody thinks The Hive is anything but.

Also, these people playing ping-pong on the roof!


Pat said...

"steal columns" - I guess literacy is not their long suit.

Lucy said...

Dear Jeremiah,

The language used is so fickle. It's exactly the same here in London. You should see the building named Avant Garde.

I have been drawing New York from life on visits over the past 30 years, noticing changes as they occur. The collection of drawings will (we hope) be a book, with an introduction by Luc Sante. It's currently a project on Kickstarter.
I'd be delighted if you'd take a look.

Maybe you'd like to write something? please let me know via my website

I saw you speaking at the Brooklyn Historical Society in December.

all best,

TrashBrain said...

Can only speak for myself, but the blandification of that area is worse than the burning down of Notre Dame.

meesalikeu said...

lets face it, after rudy clamped down on the sexy, the remains of show world were just an eyesore. at least the block will be put to better use. good riddance to the last of the scubby grubby 42st porno past.