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Tales of Times Square Paperback – November 1, 1993


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House; First Edition edition (November 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922915172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922915170
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,260,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Concentrating on the period from 1978 to 1984, which he labels the "golden age of pornography" in mid-Manhattan, Friedman has drawn a vivid picture of the Times Square area and its denizens. He writes about the porn palaces with live sex shows, and the men and women who perform in them, prostitutes and their pimps, the runaways who will likely be the next decade's prostitutes, the clergymen who fight the smut merchants and the cops who feel impotent in the face of the judiciary. We are shown a depressing picture of sexually obsessed individuals seeking instant gratification again and again. But there are also delightful interviews with old-timers in the area, now mostly in their 70s or late 60s, who offer reminiscences of Times Square in its heyday. Friedman (Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental also discusses the proposed reclamation of Times Square, about which he demonstrates mixed attitudes.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Josh Alan Friedman left New York City years before his favorite beat, Times Square, was irrevocably Disneyfied. Josh is the subject of a feature length film also called "Tales of Times Square." Its completion date is this Fall. Josh also contributed to Feral House's celebrated "It's a Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, the Postwar Pulps."
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

In 1987, writer-guitarist Josh Alan Friedman sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads (the Crossroads of the World--Broadway & 42nd Street) and moved to Texas. He'd just written TALES OF TIMES SQUARE (Feral House), a cult classic. An Expanded Edition with new chapters was recently released, while the still-unfinished movie of TALES has played 35 film festivals.

Josh's latest book is BLACK CRACKER (Wyatt Doyle Books), the story of his tumultuous childhood as the only white boy at Long Island's last segregated school.

In 2008, Josh released TELL THE TRUTH UNTIL THEY BLEED: COMING CLEAN IN THE DIRTY WORLD OF BLUES AND ROCK 'N' ROLL (Backbeat Books). Before that: WHEN SEX WAS DIRTY (Feral House); I, GOLDSTEIN: MY SCREWED LIFE (with Al Goldstein); and NOW DIG THIS: THE UNSPEAKABLE WRITINGS OF TERRY SOUTHERN (co-editor).

Josh also set off satirical fires and lawsuits as writer-half of the Friedman Bros, the most feared cartooning duo of the late '70s and '80s. Two anthologies remain in print, featuring the art of Josh's brother, Drew Friedman: WARTS AND ALL (Fantagraphics), and ANY SIMILARITY TO PERSONS LIVING OR DEAD IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL (Fantagraphics).

On the music front, as "Josh Alan," he barnstormed the state of Texas for 20 years, rocking whole arenas with his Guild D-40. Copping three Dallas Observer Music Awards for Best Acoustic Act, he released four albums: FAMOUS & POOR, THE WORST!, BLACKS 'N' JEWS (the title of which became a documentary on Josh's life) and JOSH ALAN BAND.

Josh shares new work and selections from his archives - articles, photos, music and video - on his website, www.BlackCrackerOnline.com

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Drew Hunkins on March 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
Aside from the covertly racist remarks, Tales of Times Square is a fun chronicle of the recent history of the classic red-light district that was as part of Americana as mom and apple pie. With stark detail, down to the exact addresses of various brothels, porn houses and other wild joints; it feels as if a walk down the old Forty Deuce and Eighth Avenue is taking place as the pages go by. A natural born writer, Friedman's eye for detail is amazing and he delivers the goods.
During its height of splendid glory it was a neighborhood that fostered more orgasms than any other making it somewhat depressing that this cultural relic known as Times Square has now been hijacked by Disney, the big developers and large corporations. Friedman does a quality job in touching on the underlying politico-economic realities responsible for the destruction of one of the last places that refused to be gentrified.
With a keen eye for the hilariously absurd and the interesting denizens populating the Square from roughly the mid 60s to the mid 80s, Friedman offers up funny and enthralling stories involving strippers, johns, swing clubbers, prostitutes, shoeshines, religious folks, kiosk workers, pornstars and others. One startling fact broached is that in the 1970s during a typical summer night it wasn't unusual to see a thousand old school style hookers plying their trade along Eighth Avenue. Today it's scarcely possible to imagine given the plethora of cops occupying America's cities.
Certainly the most indelible section of Tales of Times Square has to be the description of the famous -- or infamous depending on a person's predilections -- east coast swing club Plato's Retreat. The wild shenanigans documented are simply unbelievable.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew P. Riddle on June 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
When you watch a film like Taxi Driver, there's a certain scumminess and grit to New York that really doesn't exist anymore. Nowadays the place is a giant tourist wonderland and Times Square is full of theaters and chain restaurants. This is really about a time before New York was safe. This is Times Square when it was full of porn theaters and peep shows, and when subway cars were covered with graffiti. It's a lot less safe, and a lot less clean. And this isn't really just about the Square itself, but really the people behind the scum. Overall a good read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Waller on April 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was nice. It lightly covered the era, places & times. I think the expanded area about Al Goldstein was really to negative. Just my 2 Cents.
But if your courious You should reed the book & More. It's only a limited partial view. Of a history & culture heard about & being lost.
But very important to generations that only heard about it or might hear about it in years to come.
Lenny Waller former operator Hell Fire Club NYC
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tim Oliver on December 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This may very well be the best book on Times Square,so far ( compared to Samuel Delany's "Times Square Red, Times Square Blue" and Bill Landis & Michelle Clifford's "Sleazoid Express").Josh Alan Friedman reads like a cross between Damon Runyan, and Studs Terkel, with a big dose of Jimmy Breslin vocabulary. He definitely tells it like it was, from the early history of vaudeville, to burlesque, to porno grinders, Plato's Retreat, and live sex shows. And, he heralds its demise, even in the early 80's. His character sketches are priceless! It's funny, erotic, dirty, and, at times, downright repugnant, a veritable Dantesque tour of sleaze. Welcome to the Forty Duece,suckers!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There will never be another place on earth like Times Square during the heighth of its sleaze days. Friedman captures it perfectly and in this wonderful book. It seems incredible that anyone would ever want to revel in nostolgia for the old "Forty Deuce" (West 42nd Street), but now that the XXX theaters, massage parlors, pimps and hookers have been driven out, their absence can be strongly felt, leaving a gap filled today only by a Disney-dominated corporate sanitation job. If you remember the "Times Scare" of yesteryear, and maybe even miss it little bit, then this book is a must.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found this work to be a very good description ot the old Times Square...that is prior to 1983. I was familiar with many of the establishments described and some of the people. Friedman's use of imagery is outstanding. He helped me to understand for the first time things that I had seen thousands of times. The author's tone is perfect. He is without moral condemnation and without excuse for the charaters in the book. His tone is one of amused...and amusing disgust. Future historians may doubt that such a place ever existed, but Freidman's description is so very true.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Scott Ewalt on September 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the best document ever written about pre-AIDs pre crack Times Square. Koch era New York was the golden age of Times Square and no book captures it with less judgement than this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By CM514 "Chris" on July 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Now Times Square, 42nd Street (aka The Deuce), 8th Avenue and even The Port Authority Bus Terminal itself were sleazy as hell and dangerous and full of porn palaces and whores and hustlers and pimps in the late 1970s and 1980s - oh I miss it so (kidding). Somehow concurrent with that just described a myth developed of beautiful teen-aged white girls from Minnesota running away from home, hopping on a Greyhound bus to NYC, and immediately being forced into prostitution by evil black pimps. And who was there was to save them? Catholic Priest Bruce Ritter and Covenant House! Ritter so successfully peddled this tale in quest of fame and contributions even then President Reagan publically called him "The Good Shepard of Times Square". But none (or mostly none) of it was true, and the author does a good job of exposing this and I must say Ritter's depiction never squared with my own experience with that part of town. Truth is Ritter ran a home for troubled teens but they weren't sweet Nordics he was saving from debauchery they were most likely black or Puerto Rican youths from NYC some fleeing dysfunctional family situations and some even kicked out due to drug use, bad behavior etc. Not that such children don't need assistance and kudos to those who will aid them, but the reality of the situation was nothing like the picture painted... and Father Bruce was eventually forced out when it came to light he was having sexual relations with some of his youthful charges...
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