Sunday, October 18, 2009

"The Duce"

The "Duce" or as cultural civilians calls it Times Square. For a good chunk of the 20th century it was a magnet for armies of con artists, whores, hustlers, winos, junkies, comrades of the third sex, drunken sailors, and marines.

Not to mention the occasional waves of the dispossessed arriving at the port authority bus terminal. Btw that joint was prime hunting grounds for them chicken hawks as well.

Oh the "Duce" where I bought my first Gay Porn as a teenager. Saw my first acts of police brutality. My first dead guy, and my first act of public sex. Well it wasn't that public. It was on the balcony of the Amsterdam movie house.

All this, and more.

Heck I can remember when just walking down 42nd between 7th, and 8th was an adventure few would believe. The pavement was black with gawd knew what.

I loved it.

However for the last ten years or so it's Disney on the Hudson. My wanderings on the Duce tonight was about as exciting as a trip to a mall. Yeah, yeah it's clean, safe, and there's still hot dawgs.

Fun for the whole family, but it ain't New Yawk anymore.


Lino in NYC said...

"Fun for the whole family, but it ain't New Yawk anymore."

It's back more-or-less to what it was before the Flynt-porno ruling killed the area.

In the early 60 my parents used to take me along on a "Saturday night date" -to a movie and then dinner at a place called Tofinettis (sp?)which later became Nathans.

In '65-66 I did alot of modeling and a few commercials and tv shows. Some of them held rehearsals in the studios along Broadway just below the Brill bldg. The area was still OK.

Then, around late '67 things bagan to change and my parents were not as willing to go down there as before and you started to see and read about "muggings" down there.

The last time we all went there was in early '69. A Saturday night we had just seen a re-run of Ben-Hur at a theater and were headed down on B'Way when we saw a crown around a young woman with a bloody arm. She had just had her purse taken and been thrown to the pavement.

My Father hailed a cab and we left the area.

Late in the 70s-early80s I occasionally in those shoebox theaters on 42nd west of 9th ave.

By them T.S. was so bad our casts and crews seldom ventured east of 8th ave.

Later when I did shows on Broadway, I carried a piece of black iron pipe when I went to the Market Diner or Kraft rest. That was during '85-88 -the crack era. I had to use that pipe, twice.

My Brother later worked in the Mayor's Office and with me showing him how to use a protractor, drew up the maps that determined what of that shit could remain, and what had to go.

After some court battles (the mafia runs porno) the police finished the job.

I've never cared for Disney stuff (even as a kid) but it is nice to see families and decent people take back that area, instead of the scum I had to deal with.

self correcting Lino said...

god, I'am an awful typist

Uncle 2012 said...

My folks also used to take me to the "Duce",, I mean Times Square. Mostly when family came from out of town, and on my birthday.

There was a giant hobby shop in the west thirties called "Polks". You must remember it.

On my birthdays my mom would take me there, and I'd get to pick out kits.We'd then go to a movie over on the Square.

I remember dragging Ma to assorted monster movies. I especially liked "Gargo".

A seriously weird Bit monster flick about a big toad that ate London.

We stopped going to "T.S." at about the same time as your family did, and for the same reasons.

Soon after I began to make my own trips to the Duce for my own reasons.


It was a wild west of every urban horror you can imagine. It was a cultural, moral Battle of the Bulge.

As in that famous battle the forces of light, and safety won out.

Still the Emerald City was left without an official lawless zone. Every great city needs one. A new one has yet to form here.

Probably because one can now get porn on demand via cable or the 'net.

I guess this is progress. Certainly it's less messy.

Zaek said...

I was only ever there as a tourist long ago, in 1983. I walked the zone between 7th and 8th, and it wasn't appealing. Worst of all there were no cute rent boys there, to my considerable disappointment, just junkies or dealers or zombies reaching out for a piece of flesh or whatever it was they wanted. I didn't go back.

Zaek said...

Oh yeah - shouldn't it be "The Deuce"? "Duce" (pronouced du-chay) is Italian for "duke," and a nickname for Mussolini. Or so I've heard.

Lino "of Trains" said...

"There was a giant hobby shop in the west thirties called "Polks". You must remember it."

Ahh Polks..The Land Of Lightened Wallets"

I have so many memories of that place as well as the "woo-woo shop" -a train store o 45th bet 5th and 6th..I mean Avenue of the Americas.

Entering Polks you noticed the high ceilings and the late 30s era fluorescent chandeliers, these had 3-4 foot tubes mounted vertically and two or three circular ones at the base. Not exactly attractive..but of their time.

Up the old Otis elevator located on the left as you entered you might go all the way up to the slot car track they had. I was a little too young to play with those crew cut guido types and I had my own Eldon Selectronic set at home anyway.

The real center of action was the floor with the model trains.

I had first an American Flyer (Christmas 1960 I was 4) Then a Marklin HO -Christmas '62 followed two years later with the first micro-miniature "N" gauge -which was called "triple O" back then.

My Brother was getting interested in trains by 1966 so an old dealer in my neighborhood mentioned that he had some 1950s era Lionel sets and we got them that Christmas.

I never really cared for the Lionels, the three rail tracks looked phony.

What I -really- wanted were the model subways just like ones that survived your travails, but back then they had to be custom made and even for my super indulgent Father.....

Actually, I could have bought them by late '65, I had some money from doing alot of modeling and some commercials, but most of that money had to go into a trust and I didn't see spending what I did get all on trains.

The biggest train set we got was, again at Christmas, this time 1970...The Mighty Casey Ride'em Railroad.

This was for my Brother and the name says it had a motorcycle-sized lead acid battery and you sat on it and rode around on 8 or9 inch wide plastic tracks. My young teen friends loved it (and me)even more then my Brother.

My father get this at Gimbels on Herald sq only a day or two before was the last one.

He called from the subway station to tell my Mother that he got it and was on the way home. It was rush hour and he had this, not large..-enormous- box to drag onto the train. He said that the crowds smiled, parted and held doors for him. He was a strong guy but I don't know how he got that back here, it wouldn't even have fit the trunk of a cab.

The last trainset was a German made LGB from the aforementioned "woo-woo" shop. Christmas 1975. They(father and brother) went back for enough track to run it around out "P" shaped apt. We still have the "N" gauge the Lionels and the LGB.

My Brother sets them up at his girlfriend's rented house in NJ but at Christmas one set will come back for awhile.

BTW: Did you ever have an engine that "smoked"? We also had some cheapo Marx (Lionel gauge) trains that you would put a few drops of some sort of liquid into the stack onto an -asbestos- wick w/heater coil and a bellows pump, as the train rolled it would puff.

I liked to overload the fuel and stink-up the living room :-)

Anonymous said...

You must have been blind if you didn't see anything going on on The Deuce throughout the 60s and even beyond.

Even at its worst, I liked it more then. Fuck your families and nice people. They have fucked up everything in the world and they cheated us out of our beloved Deuce!

There has been some excellent writing done on this whole era in the area which totally debunks the crap you are trying to pass off as history.