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The Forbidden Apple: A Century of Sex & Sin in New York City Paperback – March 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From brothels on the Bowery to the crusade to retake Times Square, journalist Long ("chief writer" of the guidebook Sexy New York City) examines the bawdiest characters and exploits in New York City's history, and those determined to ruin the fun. Contextualizing the gritty, bopping, libidinous culture that most associate with New York in the 20th century, Long introduces readers to outcasts of all kinds, outraged moralists like Anthony Comstock and Ed Koch, popular Prohibition-era dances (the Charleston, the Black Bottom, the Lindy Hop), and iconic phenomena like the film Deep Throat. Long also covers civil rights milestones for gays and women (the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the 1970 Women's Strike for Equality), and her reach, for much of the book, is far enough to make an apt general history of the city from Reconstruction. Unfortunately, Long's fastidious research hasn't discouraged a decidedly liberal bias ("free love" gets unconditional respect, Gov. Giuliani's clean-up initiatives are condemned on sentimental grounds). Further, the final chapters focus narrowly on Times Square, devolving into a somewhat tiresome diatribe/eulogy. Long should capture the interest of New York history aficionados, but only if they tend to share her lefty permissiveness and it-was-better-when sentimentality. 11 b&w photos.
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About the Author

Kat Long is a journalist and author specializing in sexuality and the social history of New York. She was the chief writer of two editions of the best-selling guidebook Sexy New York City and is the former managing editor of GO NYC Magazine. She has published numerous articles in Playgirl, the Village Voice, BUST and other media.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ig Publishing (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981504000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981504001
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #637,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Before pornography was a few clicks away on your computer, and then before you could slip a videotape of an X-rated movie into your VCR, you had to go out to see performed porn. You also had to go out to buy dirty magazines. Any American city big enough had places for such commerce, but there was no commercial sex scene more famous than that of our biggest city. It isn't surprising that the history of New York's sex-for-sale is lively and full of contradictions, and in _The Forbidden Apple: A Century of Sex & Sin in New York City_ (Ig Publishing), journalist and social historian Kat Long has chronicled the ups and downs of the city's sex trade. Because New York leads the nation in many ways, this is a history of sexual culture in the United States, with particular attention to what has gone down in New York and in particular within the famous Times Square region. Long shows that though the region has been cleaned up for a few years, there has been over a century of attempts to rid the city of vice. The different versions of the vice squad through the century have fought the battle in different ways, but there has been so much give and take between the sides that it makes sense, as Long shows, to look at the different forces as symbiotic. "As everyone knows, the city is being rebuilt," she quotes Police Chief William McAdoo as saying, "and vice moves ahead of business." He said this, however, over a hundred years ago, and it remains true.

Long starts with a name that will be familiar to anyone who knows something about the history of American pornography. Anthony Comstock was indignant that there should be any written material discussing or depicting sex or medical issues connected with sex.
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This book was pretty solidly average. It had some interesting stories and facts, but overall it was pretty dry. Especially for a book about sex, I expected something a bit more of a page-turner! I struggled to remain interested, mostly because the history was pretty predictable and the author didn't offer too much more than common knowledge might.
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