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Author Topic: Recollections of Times Square  (Read 1402 times)
JoeC
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« on: February 06, 2018, 05:53:47 PM »

YIKES!  The Hotel Dixie?  TOO familiar with it back in the day.  Those were rats, but you forgot to mention the hot and cold running hookers Shocked

You know, I don't think The Dixie (and the area west to 8th Ave) really hit rock bottom until the mid-to-late 70s (pretty much the time frame that TV show "The Deuce" is set in). I was long gone from the Dixie by then (up to the Sheraton across from Carnegie Hall, or over at the Hotel Lexington on the east side, the "new" government contract hotels).

My memories of Times Square as a kid (from, say, 1954-65) was as a non-threatening place -- the Automat, Lindy's, Loew's State, Paramount, tickets being hawked to be in TV and radio show audiences and, of course, in 1961-62 for me, TSR. The only shady activity I saw was the grifters doing that "hide a pea" under one of three cups game, where tourists were separated from their money.

By the early to mid-70s, you couldn't help but notice the whole area had deteriorated badly with more porno bookstores and adult movies than you could count (or so it seemed). That movie theater up by the Winter Garden on 7th that showed Deep Throat always had a line outside it (seemed to me that movie ran for the entire decade). TS had a more dangerous vibe that I hadn't experienced before. The "lighting" of the area at night even seemed different to me. More of an eerie feel.

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doctordoowop
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2018, 12:23:35 AM »

I had my 1st  raw oysters/clams  at Grant's on 42  &  7th?  Prob was sitting near  Slim. Grin Grin Grin

What happ to  the Nathan's  on 44th/Bdway? Seemed  like  many  prostitutes in there.
Saw Lloyd Price at his Metropole--48th?

I would take the subway from med  school to Manhattan to see  such films as  Easy Rider, Bullitt,  Butch Cassidy etc.  Always liked the way NY audiences talked back  to  the screen.  Still  do.

In Cal  only black  crowds talk back to  the screen. Maybe  a habit from church?

That was  3  card  monty--my girl  friends  always wanted me to  play-never got it that is a sham. Grin Grin Grin
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Shandy
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2018, 03:59:29 AM »

That place was a zoo since I first ran into it the mid to late 50's when I'd hang with the older kids to go to the movies and play games at Playland.  Most of the seediest experiences I had were with pedophiles, most too graphic and nauseating to recount.  When I was 9 in '59 a man wanted me to step on his hand for ten dollars right on the sidewalk in broad daylight.  Seemed like a lot of money for nothing, but I just knew there was something wrong about it and told him to f off.  He kept following me, pleading.  No sale.  The ones that went after the boys were called Chicken Hawks.  Lots of people in doorways going "Psssst" and trying to sell you a variety of things from watches with no inner workings to little children.  Pickpockets were rampant as were prostitutes.  I never saw any drugs, but I'm sure there were.  By '62 I went there alone to go to work.  I made friends with most of the merchants, so I hung at Romeos for pizza and the greatest juke box and Flaming Embers for steaks.  It was cheap like Tad's, but it had actual food.  The guys seemed to love Tad's, no taste buds or regard for food handling.  I could hang in both Romeo's and Embers alone and if anyone came anywhere near me they were history.  One rule was a must for me, except when in groups at movie theaters....ground level only....no going up or down stairs in that hood.  I didn't even go to Hubert's like the others.  The descriptions of what was down there gave me the creeps.
(cont.)  
« Last Edit: February 07, 2018, 04:01:22 AM by Shandy » Logged
Shandy
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2018, 04:20:49 AM »

(cont.)

Even the great experience I had there and will always be grateful for was twisted.  I always though The Metropole was a low rent Latin Quarter, a less elegant night club with entertainment.  Boy was I wrong, like Bette said, "What a dump".  To the left was a bar full of hookers, to the right were rickety stairs that led to the "lounge", LOL.  I went alone, I had to see Gene Krupa!  I was about 13 then.  They said he was all washed up, a druggie/junkie.  I sat at a rickety (seemed to be the motif here) little table and ordered a gin and tonic.  Legal age was 18.  I started going to bars at 12 and had phony proof, but NEVER once was I carded.  I waited, with few other tables occupied, looking at the postage stamp sized stage.  Then came Krupa, it was like an atom bomb hit.  I'd seen him on TV and in movies, but I never saw him or anyone else play like he did in that dump.  I had two more gin and tonics, but I don't think I ever blinked once.  When the set was over I was on the street, dazed and depressed.  Dazed at his genius and depressed that he had to be playing in a toilet like that.

By the time the 70's rolled around, yeah, there were many more porn theaters, but by then I couldn't be fazed.  And the rampant drug dealing in Bryant Park was just business as usual.  As sordid as it was, I'll never regret my time on The Deuce.  It taught me to handle anything and anyone that was thrown my way.  They don't teach that at Bryn Mawr Wink

Doc - The con Joe saw was called the Shell Game because it was originally played with walnut shells and a pea.  Three Card Monty (the same con with cards) didn't appear until later, and it was everywhere.
  
« Last Edit: February 07, 2018, 12:35:01 PM by Shandy » Logged
JoeC
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2018, 08:44:56 AM »

Yeah, I was gonna say I thought three card monty was a card scam.

Gene Krupa. All I can react with is WOW! I remember one old movie that had him in it and he did a long solo with those "crazy eyes" they used to make actors "use" when the directors wanted to depict mental illness or drug use. Sorta like in "Reefer Madness." His "look" and the frenetic virtuoso drum work was mesmerizing.

I def recall Playland. Only "club" I ever went in had to be around 1967 or so? The Cheetah, over on 8th Avenue. Anyone remember that place. Wasn't open for that long. Otis Redding played there.
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Shandy
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2018, 12:38:35 PM »

I remember The Cheetah, went there all the time and always enjoyed myself.  I loved the dancing and remember seeing La Lupe there, high as a kite, which was normal for her.  It seemed extremely popular to me and then it was gone.
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2018, 12:40:58 PM »

Shandy,

Fascinating stories. Relatively speaking I lived a rather sheltered life (I did enjoy the $1.19 steaks at Tad's though, as did my dad...very enthused about the 'value"....tasted like charcoal....but I still loved the experience of our occasional "splurges").  Still, I love to tell my kids how I grew up "in the streets" of Brooklyn. Plus the once in a while experience of wandering around Times Square in the late 60's/early 70's.
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JoeC
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2018, 02:51:14 PM »

I remember The Cheetah, went there all the time and always enjoyed myself.  I loved the dancing and remember seeing La Lupe there, high as a kite, which was normal for her.  It seemed extremely popular to me and then it was gone.

Test my memory on my one visit to the Cheetah. Black with cheetah (the animal)-spotted motif when you entered. Took a minute or so for your eyes to adjust. Inside, when just a disco setup, seemed like a thousand blinking light bulbs. Metallic walls which enhanced the lighting effect. Very psychedelic disco vibe. Looked like it could hold a thousand people or more. I said 8th Ave but now I think it was B'way, around 53rd or 54th??

Place opened early. I saw Otis at like a 2pm show on a weekday in the same year he died. I didn't have tickets; just walked in off the street. No other supporting acts.

I do remember the place later became well known for Latin music and salsa dancing. 70s?
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Shandy
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2018, 05:44:56 PM »

Mike - I'm a Manhattan "girl" myself, but I love Brooklyn for many reasons.  One that probably even a native like yourself wouldn't notice.  It was always bathed in a different light, reminding me of almost everything I saw as a Flemish painting.  It still gets to me.  And I wouldn't call you "sheltered", you just lived a separate and equally relevant reality.  And all the shows I saw at the Bklyn Paramont and Fox.  I went to Juniors, never fainted over that cheesecake, though.  Do you remember Tad's "bread"?  It's was stale and they used it to wipe down the grills before serving up.  I'm probably the only one who spurred it for the Flaming Embers.  The were the same price as Tad's, but as I said before, they had real food and clean habits Grin

Joe - You got the details right and it was on 53rd and Bway.  It used to be the Arcadia Ballroom.  I don't know what that was like.  It held 2,000 people.  Other details are they had a library, TV and movies rooms, boutique, hot dog stand and a fake fur lined bar. They put out an LP of their house bands, "Where It's At - Live At The Cheetah.  They did become salsa oriented in the early 70's and since I love dancing, I still continued to enjoy it.  It spoiled me for the pretentious, velvet rope enclaves that came later.  I checked most of those out.....once.  Studio 54 was amazing (I knew someone), but though I could have gone back almost anytime I never did.  Just couldn't support the attitude and discrimination.  The vilest practice was when I was with friends (or others were) and they'd pick me and not my friends.  I'd tell the bouncer "F you, I know better places.", and I did.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2018, 03:21:32 PM by Shandy » Logged
JoeC
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2018, 09:43:36 PM »

A lot of those Times Square area clubs all looked like the owner(s) put very minimal money into them in terms of any attempt to "class them up." (I guess the rent on the building may have precluded having any money left over to do that and, why put in nice furniture and stuff for drunk patrons just to ruin it.)

Got a feeling you wouldn't wanna see these places the morning after, under normal lighting. That's the main reason they kept them so pitch black when open for business; no one could see anything (or what they were standing/dancing in). 

Studio 54, due to clientele and fame, had to be classier, right? Or, did it follow the same mold? Have u seen any of the movies or documentaries on Studio 54? In one documentary, it focused on the doorman who controlled the velvet rope (a celebrity himself by virtue of his position). He was really on a power trip. His "explanation" of how and who he chose to let in was something else.
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2018, 01:36:03 AM »

Shandy,

Glad that your Brooklyn visits painted you in a memorable "Flemish" light.  Sadly (Gladly?), I've no memories whatsoever of Tad's bread. Junior's cheesecake I did come to appreciate, a bit later on. One of my fondest memories was of leading an aggregation of friends into the city for a VGH show at The Academy (or maybe the Beacon on 72nd), attending the "late" show and finishing the evening with a 4-5 AM breakfast, cheesecake included, at Junior's. Arriving home (Rockaway by that time) after sunrise was a trip (for sheltered me, anyway).
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Shandy
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2018, 04:54:11 AM »

Joe - 54 was notable for it's special FX, themes and famous names.  I never saw it, but their VIP lounge was a dump that appealed to the rich and famous that liked "slumming".  Never read any books about the club, seeing it once was enough for me.  I remember the bouncer, who's names escapes me, and all the people screaming his name and begging.  It was pathetic.

Mike - Wonderful, sounds a little bit like my prom nights, which always ended on the SI ferry with breakfast after. 
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JoeC
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2018, 09:44:49 AM »

Looked it up. Doorman was Marc Benecke. This decade, he had (has?) a show on Sirius XM's disco channel. Or so it says.
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Shandy
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2018, 03:24:59 PM »

YIKES, yes, his first name were what they were screaming.  No matter what he does, he'll never have the "power" he had bouncing.
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