- Series: Sexual Cultures
- Hardcover: 203 pages
- Publisher: NYU Press (April 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0814719198
- ISBN-13: 978-0814719190
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (Sexual Cultures)
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An award-winning science fiction writer, esteemed professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and celebrated essayist and memoirist, Samuel Delany is one of America's keenest observers. He was also a longtime habitué of many of the sex theaters in New York City's Times Square, spending, by his own estimate, "thousands and thousands of hours" at the Capri, Variety Photoplays, the Eros, and the Venus. In the 1990s all of these theaters were shut down through new restrictive zoning laws, part of a combined effort by the Walt Disney Corporation and the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani to gentrify the area, replacing these seedily memorable institutions with antiseptic, innocuous architectural and cultural creations in the name of health safety. But as Delany reveals in his new book, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, the decision to clean up Times Square had little to do with public health, and everything to do with corporate greed.
In the two essays that comprise this eloquent, provocative book, Delany grieves for the loss of this strip of sexual release. Though he is careful not to romanticize or sentimentalize the peep shows and porn theaters, he does illuminate the way in which these venues crossed class, racial, and sexual orientation lines, providing a delightfully subversive utopia--and a microcosm of New York life. In the first essay, "Times Square Blue," Delany details his shared erotic and conversational encounters with working-class and homeless men in the theaters (which primarily showed straight porn films) and the genuine friendships that resulted; these immensely personal reminiscences also provide a social history of late-20th-century Times Square. Drawing on historical and theoretical resources in the second essay, "Three, Two, One, Contact: Times Square Red," Delany next builds a thoughtful and passionate argument against the gentrification of the area and the classist, characterless direction in which he sees New York heading. Read together, the essays of Times Square Red, Times Square Blue are both heartfelt homage to a beloved city and lament for a quirky vitality increasingly phased out by encroaching capitalism. --Kera Bolonik
From Publishers Weekly
In a provocative and persuasively argued cri de coeur against New York City's gentrification and the redevelopment of Times Square in the name of "family values and safety," acclaimed science fiction writer Delany (Dhalgren, etc.) proves himself a dazzlingly eloquent and original social commentator. In the first of two radically distinct but related essays, Delany, an Amherst college professor and native of Manhattan, writes frankly about his gay sexual adventures in the peep shows, porno movie houses and bars of Times Square. This personal history is juxtaposed with a detailed record of how the city's red light zones have changed over the past 40 years. The companion essay movingly details Delany's sociological and anthropological observations of the men who live, work and socialize in the area, and extols the virtues of a society that not only tolerates but values a public sexual culture. Drawing upon a wide range of historical and theoretical materialsAthe history of the pornographic film, Jane Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities and Supreme Court discussions about homosexual activityADelany makes the case that because urban areas like Times Square promote relationships across class boundaries, they are not a blight but foster an environment of safety, empathy and social coherence. In his most dramatic argument, Delany charges that, despite City Hall rhetoric, Times Square's "Disneyfication" is not about public morality, safety or health but simply serves corporate and private economic interests. This bracing and well-calibrated blend of journalism, personal history and cultural criticism will challenge readers of every persuasion. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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The book is made up of two essays .I enjoyed the first one more.It's basically a collection of musings and observations, usually interesting , sometimes funny.The second essay put me off at first.It is "theoretical ". However I had a slightly revelatory experience after I started reading it.I was looking at THE SPECTATOR and I came across an article where the author talked about meeting a former manager of Roxy Music and later one of the Sex Pistols through drinking in pubs.I said to myself, an example of contact rather than networking.In otherwords I picked up on a key concept from Delany and used it without even thinking about it .So what at first stuck me as an utterly abstruse essay turned out to be analytically useful.You could probably dismiss Delany as crazed and weird and maybe you'd be right but mixed in with the craziness is considerable wisdom.
The material gets explicit about Delany's sexual encounters, so be prepared to read some graphically described scenes.
The first ("warm") half is an account of the now-vanished culture of random sexual encounters that once flourished in the Times Square area, especially in the porno theaters: alternately funny and tragic, and quite authentic, as I can attest from my own visits to the Adonis in ancient times.
The second ("cool") half is (indirectly) on the same subject: it's an essay dealing with the difference between "contact" and "networking" (I won't try to explain... read the book). Even though it never mentions the Internet by name, it says a lot about what the Internet is about, and what it's doing to us.
Most recent customer reviews
I didn't really like the book though. Although at times it was thought provoking, it just wasn't really my thing.Read more