Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pick of the Day: Astali: Peep Show Token Necklace

This vintage peep show token necklace harks back to a very different era in the Big Apple, one I was too young to experience firsthand. A New York - Times Square in particular - where the people were sketchier, the streets were darker and sex oozed from every corner and alleyway. A time when Times Square was the red light district!

The World Show Center (where this token is from) was a 4 story sex emporium located on 42nd and 8th. Started by Richard Basciano in the mid 70's, it was the peep palace. It had the works - live sex shows, peep shows, porn movie theaters, etc. Pimps and prostitutes lined the streets and drugs were an easy score away.

"Manhattan’s 42nd Street has long been a magnet for the risqué. At the turn of the 19th century, from Madison to Eighth Avenues, it was lined with "silk hat" brothels and burlesques; discreet men in carriages gave way to giddy soldiers on leave in wartime. During the Depression, male prostitutes filled its sidewalks as barkers lured customers into theaters to see nude dancers. Those establishments gave way to the more economical peep shows, massage parlors, pornographic bookstores and strip clubs in the 1960s and 1970s." - via NY Times

Dave, who works at the art gallery next to us at Limelight and remembers the old Times Square, pre-disneyfication, had this to say about it: "It was like the fun house at the fair with all those mirrors, but a crazier, dirtier and darker version of that, full of naked women all ready to work for those tokens."

Click here to read a former Show World workers account of what it was like being employed there from 1982-95.

Update: A sign in the window of the Show Center said "You Drop It, We Mop It". For real!