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Tales of Times Square Paperback – November, 1993

4.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Paperback, November, 1993
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House; 1St Edition edition (November 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922915172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922915170
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,385,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Aside from the covertly racist remarks, Tales of Times Square is great fun. It's a 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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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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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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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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Perhaps because I now work there & was raised near it I see more into this book than some. But it is an interesting, behind the scenes look at a period of NYC history that the city would love to forget & while we wax nostalgic about it now, hated while we lived it. A funny, point blank, eye opening read.
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I don't always read the other reviews before I write mine but I did this time and I'm glad I did.There is no question that Friedman uses language that is racist and sexist. Reviewers seem to be a bit hung up on denouncing Friedman for it or defending him for refusing to be a PC mouse.I think this misses the point.What I believe Friedman is doing is trying to reflect the mindset of his characters . Friedman s language is an attempt to capture speech patterns and create an atmosphere, one that is not altogether pleasant.In short, this is actually a literary work. A flawed, minor one but it's not simple "straight " reporting.That's no surprise, he's Bruce Jay Freidmans' son.Further something tells me he may have at least been acquainted with A.J.Lieblings work as well as Tom Wolfe and Joseph Mitchell.At his best , Friedman is good.He can be very funny and sharp.Some reviewers think he is condescending to his subjects.Well , yes and no.I would say his tone is more often bemused affection .Look this is a white middle class guy from a literary family.There is a limit to how much he can identify with his subjects.He is Jewish and probably at his best writing about Jewish characters about whom he's funny and nasty!I was shocked by some of his comments( check out the characterization of Sammy Grubman).I don't blame people for finding this offensive.Yet , while guilty of overdoing it , he gets a lot of things right and never gets mired down in delivering a misanthropic screed.There would be nothing wrong in a friend or family member saying , OH JOSH THAT's RIDICULOUS ,BE NICE- I bet it's happened.So is there any reason to read this book? Yes - two.It is to some degree decent social history of New York late '70s and '80s. Two, I think Friedman is a pretty good writer.Read more ›
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