Photo by myself on West 33rd Street near 8th Avenue.
Not all of Manhattan is glamorous. There are still little pockets of an older, seedier New York still around, but you really have to look. Times Square, which used to be populated with strip clubs and x-rated video stores, is located only a few blocks north of this location. Now of course, Times Square is squeaky clean.
I was going to write about a certain place tonight because of the above photo. Various online searches went nowhere.
'Damien Hirst strip club 25th Street', I typed. '25th Street 6th Avenue New York x-rated'.
I was trying to remember the name of a place near one of my old offices. Years ago, a coworker had told me that Damien Hirst, the British artist whose work includes a cow cut in half, used to visit this x-rated place. But I couldn't remember the name.
So I turned to Mark on the off chance that he knew.
'Okay, do you know of this place, around 6th Avenue and 24th Street? It was x-rated, and it had a funny name. Something Something. Then they added and 'S' so it wouldn't be so obviously...x-rated?'
Mark put his head down and laughed. 'Oh, Billy Stopless?'
Holy cow. Yes.
'Billy Stopless' was not the anonymous hole in the wall that I thought it was. It turns out that Billy's was a quirky, local landmark. Mark had gone in once with a bunch of buddies years ago. He found it to be a strange and grungy place, with not the most attractive dancers. (He didn't stay long!)
Billy's was originally called 'Billy's Topless', until Guiliani cracked down on adult establishments in the late 90's. Since the letters in the sign were all capitals, the owners only had to move the apostrophe for the name to be acceptable. I used to chuckle every time I saw the sign because of the silly name.
Billy's closed sometime around 2001.
For more about Billy Stopless, including a very small picture of the facade, click here.