Thursday, September 30, 2010

how 42nd street played a part.

i'll admit, i never set foot inside of one those old
grindhouse movie theaters that used to line 42nd street.
by the time i was of age to hit the subway by myself,
42nd street was in the beginning stages of being cleaned
up due to it being 'Giuliani time'. amid all of the new
restaurants and theaters being built for Broadway shows,
the video stores still remained. most, if not all of them
still sold pornography by the ton along with the infamous
video booths. it wasn't until 2000 that i got a chance to
fully explore the dwindling world that 42nd street used
to be.

now i realize that i sound rather nostalgic but i knew
exactly what the forty deuce used to be: a hot spot for
all kinds of filth and wild behavior. i was working on
42nd street with a broadcast advertising agency, one of
those first jobs out of school. i was working the night
shift, which meant leaving the office at 1 in the morning.
so you KNOW each night had the potential for it to be
like Whodini's classic 'Freaks'. but those stories are
for another time. one thing that amazed me was the ratio
of kung-fu flicks to porn in a couple of stores. i can
distinctly remember one store having nothing but martial
arts movies right on Eighth Avenue. before i would get
on the E train back to Queens, i'd head into the store
and pick up one or two flicks along with some grub and
make my way home.

most stores had a wide variety of films. you had your
Shaw Brothers, your Ocean Shores, your Golden Harvest..
if you were lucky you might find a rare gem of a movie
not even released stateside. and the store owners knew
what sold; i remember one tiny store on 43rd street
that made it a point to not only sell rare kung fu flicks
but damn near every blaxploitation and b-moive ever
made. i can still smell the mixture of lamb and rice
off the food cart and ammonia that seemed to be a staple
of these spots along with a penchant for having the
radio blare '80's pop music. there are SOME advantages
to the digital age.

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