Friday, May 15, 2009

The World of DVD is closing: So how many adult shops are left on Eighth Avenue?

Walking up to the Times building on Eighth Avenue...across from the Port Authority...

I notice the World of DVD, located on Eighth Avenue just below 40th Street, is going out of business. (Technically, it's going out for business.)

I go inside to check the sales. The usual stuff -- with a dash of crapola B movies upfront (who knew John Cena was in so many films?) to make it seem a teensy legit. The "buddy booths" are upstairs, where two men are standing, waiting for something. Nothing much doing. They barely glance my way. Another man stands in the back. He's holding a mop. The row of booth-style peeps are empty.

How the shop looked a few years back...

So yeah, it's very old news that the XXX joints of Times Square past — the Major Midtown Wanton Hussy Belt is my favorite description of previous eras — are gone, replaced by the corporate sheen of multiplexes and chain stores. Still, a touch of the seedy element remains. But what is left? I continue north on Eighth Avenue. There's the Show World Center there on the right, featuring DVDs, lingerie, toys and booths. It survives for now.

Then there's Gotham City, which sits next to the Lace Gentlemen's Club between 43rd Street and 44th Street.

Signs promise "live fantasy girls." On the second floor. I take a look. I figure they're old signs from the glory days. Uh, well, no. On the third floor, three women sit in front of peep booths. One of them may have been a man. Though probably not. The woman closest to the stairs gives me the rundown: "$30 for a strip show and $40 for a masturbation show." She ends her sales pitch by saying, "You can totally masturbate!"


Moving along...

The infamous Playpen was an adult-oriented mecca along the southwest side of Eighth Avenue and 44th Street. That whole parcel came down in late 2007 to make way for whatever blandness the Tishman Realty Corporation has in mind.

And as Jeremiah noted, the northwest corner of 44th Street and Eighth Avenue is ready for demolition...the building housed two adult DVD stores...(one of the stores moved to 37th Street and Sixth Avenue.)

Then, apparently, there is another Gotham City on Eighth Avenue, this one between 47th Street and 48th Street. This store also promises "live fantasy girls." On the second floor. The booths are in the back. You can pretend to browse for lingerie in the front section of the floor. One woman is on duty near the booths yesterday for the post 9-to-5 crowd. She looks at me, and makes a hissing noise. "Tssssssssssssst." And motions for me. I wave and head back down the stairs, pretending to look at a thong first.

So. On Eighth Avenue between 40th Street and 50th Street, I saw the following:

Three stores that sell DVDs and toys. They feature viewing booths.
Two stores with "live girls."
One gentlemen's club.

OK, six...

There are also three adult DVD stores on 40th Street between Seventh Avenue and Ninth Avenue.
Cheetahs Gentlemen's Club is on 43rd Street between Eighth Avenue and Seventh Avenue.
Private Eyes Gentlemen's Club is just west of Eighth Avenue on 45th Street, next to the Al Hirschfield Theatre.
I'm sure there are other adult-theme stores in the immediate vicinity. This is simply what I see on this trip.

According to the Times, there were 96 sex-oriented sex shops on Times Square in 1977; down to 35 in 1987.

In any event, I see more of the winker-feeler-groper-looker set in other areas of Times Square, the sparkly new part with the chain stores and big window displays, such as this one on 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue...

For further reading:
Questionable prostitution charges at 8th Ave. porn shops (Chelsea Now)


Bowery Boogie said...

there is also a peep world on 33rd Street, I believe. closer to 7th Avenue.

great work!

Anonymous said...

I spent hours! days! weeks! in the dirty movie houses, peep shows and buddy-booths of the the '70s and '80s, and never regretted one sleazy, thrilling minute of it. Okay, okay -- TMI! -- but there you have it. I despise legislated morality, and am depressed by the sterile, glossy thing that NYC has become.

Anonymous said...

Also pretty sure there's one on 8th b/t 37 and 38, next to the Distinguished Wakamba Cocktail Lounge and the Grey's Papaya.

esquared™ said...


$30 for a strip show and $40 for a masturbation show?

I remember when it used to be $10 and you had a choice of "touching" top or bottom.

But then again, a regular thursday or weekend nigh-out in MePa or EV, nowadays, provides one those: a strip show and a masturbation show -- for free.

prodigal son said...

Apparently there are a few seedy Port Authority dives still around the area, including a notable one on 40th Street, plus Wakamba as you mentioned. I've not been in the area for three years, so this is repeated second hand. When I worked there between 2001 and 2004, there was a pretty balanced mixture of what was left of the adult stuff, some mid-priced restaurants, some fancier restaurants, places catering to office workers, places catering to tourists, some dives, and some corporate stuff. Arguably this was an improvement over when I worked there in 1989. But I'm not sure how long the balance lasted.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks for the comment, Prodigal Son.

I do like Port 41 — a fine bar behind the Port Authority...

Anonymous said...

That "blandness" is going to be a 4.5 star Intercontinental Hotel. A new spot to take high class hookers to.