A delightful group portrait of the West Village as it has been and can be.


A compilation of interviews with accomplished residents of New York City’s West Village.

Minichiello, a reporter for Westview News (the West Village’s local paper), has compiled his first book from two decades’ worth of interviews with neighborhood residents who are prominent in a variety of fields, including business, community activism, and the arts. The youngest interviewees are from Generation X, although the majority are older. They include some well-known names, such as authors Barbara Garson, Calvin Trillin, and Susan Brownmiller, but even those who are less celebrated have achieved things worth knowing. The interviews, with minor variations, follow a clear format, beginning with a short autobiography that includes a survey of the interviewee’s career and how they came to the Village. Almost all end with the person’s assessment of the Village today compared to times past. A very few of them, such as painter Marjorie Colt, have left the Village and speak about that. When comparing the Village of the past with that of the present, most agree that the neighborhood residents are wealthier than they used to be and that the Village is no longer a haven for the struggling and creative—the very environment that brought many of the interviewees there. Overall, they see this gentrification as a mixed blessing, but they differ as to whether the arrival of high-end retail has stripped the Village of its character. More controversially, some talk about how the Village’s gay identity was clearer in the past in a variety of ways—a subject addressed by several LGBTQ+ interviewees, including Richard Eric Weigle, longtime president of the Grove Street Block Association, who says, “When I moved here [in 1973] it was 80% gay and now [in 2017] it’s 80% straight.” The interviews also raise the question of whether the Village can ever return to being the affordable place for the creative that it once was—and a couple believe so. In any case, the stories of these “West Village Originals” may make many others wish they could live and create in the Village, as well.

A delightful group portrait of the West Village as it has been and can be.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-949596-10-6

Page Count: 220

Publisher: BIOS Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.


A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

Did you like this book?

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

Did you like this book?