TALES OF TIMES SQUARE by Josh Alan Friedman
Kirkus Star


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An absolutely satisfying tour of Times Square, or Sleaze Heaven, circa 1978-1984, by a journalist who must now be recognized as the Prince of Scuzz. Aside from his gift for physical description, Friedman has mastered the vocabularies--down to the finest turns of phrase--of the various lowlife businesses he surveys. ""Times Square's most miserable, ghastly forms simmer in a witches' brew along Eighth Avenue from 39th to 43rd streets. Here are the official dregs of society, the scum of the earth, the lowlife's lowlives whom Mother Teresa wouldn't bother to save. A Puerto Rican pre-op transsexual stabs a trick in the eye with a sharp fingernail to grab his cab fare before he pays the driver. Brain-damaged evangelists rave aloud to themselves. . . Near-dead human vegetation take root in their own excretion in condemned doorways--most of them have slit pockets from scavengers searching for their wine-bottle change."" Friedman talks with amusement parlor operators, the flesh agents, the strippers and schizzes and space cadets at Melody Burlesk who won't show crotch or who go all the way and even allow the customers to touch and ""lunch out""; the acts who do live sex on a spotlighted mattress from three to 12 times a day; the restaurant owners and junk food peddlers; the saviors who are there to snatch souls from the pit; he visits the peep stalls where masturbators watch live nudes through a window; the camera and electronics shops; the bathroom at the Adulterama and the Pussycat, where customers gargle afterwards; Tana Alexandra, who set the Spermathon record by taking on 83 men in one session; Larry Levenson, the owner of Plato's Retreat, who won a heavy bet from Screw's Al Goldberg by ejaculating 15 times in 14 hours and 25 minutes; the kook movies featuring ""menstruation-vampires, bowel movements unloading, girls fucking horses, Great Danes getting their peckers sucked""--and even more strange and unnatural acts in a bestial ""Disneyland in hell."" Friedman digs in like a hip-talking cultural anthropologist time-machined back to Sodom and Gomorrah before acts of God buried them. Quite a book. Photographs.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1986
Publisher: Delacorte