Like Nobody Knows The Rules (Times Square Episode 7)

On this episode, Melissa and Cheyenne line up everyone making money off the sex trade, including the landlords. And we expose the connection of art film/porn film obscenity prosecutions, with a look at Flaming Creatures. Our special guest is Jeremiah Moss, author of Vanishing New York and the long-running blog of the same name.

Times Square, 1975 / Getty

On this episode

The mob's landlords / Mayor Lindsay recruits Archie Bunker / Election Year vice crackdowns / the Public Morals Taskforce / Fantasia & "now the pimps wear blue uniforms" / stealing sex workers' dresses for slumming / "the whore who wants saving" / "the police are too busy being pimps to be art critics" / The Boys in the Sand / the whitening of the sex industry / Jeremiah Moss and wanting to be where things happen – in Times Square / "the innards of these places... they felt so exposed" / "to have empathy for spaces" / Flaming Creatures / the Fortas Film Festival / watch Serpico / call us! / become a patron / so long

Further reading and viewing

  • Mayor John Lindsay's 1972 run for president
    • Nixonland, Rick Perlstein; 2008
      • "As for John Lindsay, he had practically moved there—going so far as to don a scuba suit to plumb Biscayne Bay to show his concern about pollution. “As Gene McCarthy made America face the war in 1968, Lindsay now details the battles destroying its cities” ran a timely Saturday Review cover profile, “The Sun-Kissed Lindsay.” “The switch is on to Lindsay” was his campaign slogan. It wasn’t. He pulled in 7 percent, only three points more than his fellow New Yorker Shirley Chisholm. George McGovern didn’t campaign in Florida and got 6."
      • "No one knew what Florida Democrats wanted; the appeals there were a confused mess. John Lindsay ran commercials starring Carroll O’Connor imploring Floridians “to vote your hopes, not your fears.” Then, sticking a cigar in his mouth, he added in Archie Bunker’s voice, “Ya know what I mean, stick with me as part of the Lindsay continguency.”
  • John Lindsay 1972 campaign commercials, featuring Carol O'Connor (online archive)

  • "4 Groups Are Key Landlords For Midtown Sex Industry," New York Times, July 10, 1977 (online archive)

Formerly owned by The Durst Organization, 121-127 W. 46th St.

Formerly owned by The Durst Organization, 121-127 W. 46th St.

the original Luxor Baths Hotel

the original Luxor Baths Hotel

March 13, 1976, New York Times, " Mr. Durst's Cleanup"

March 13, 1976, New York Times, "Mr. Durst's Cleanup"

Seymour Durst, a former member of the Mayor Beame’s committee to clean up Times Square, rents space to two theaters listed by Mr. Baumgarten’s task force as sex‐industry establishments. They are the Avon 42, at 133 West 42d Street, which features live sex shows, and the Avon‐at‐the‐Hudson, 130 West 43d Street, where explicit sex movies are shown.
— 4 Groups Are Key Landlords For Midtown Sex Industry, New York Times, July 10, 1977
Flaming Creatures

Flaming Creatures

New York , November 29, 1971

New York, November 29, 1971

Still,  Flaming Creatures

Still, Flaming Creatures

  • Flaming Creatures, d. Jack Smith; 1963 (full film online)
  • On the film's star, Mario Montez (archive online)
  • Jonas Mekas, exhibitor, charged with obscenity

  • "Nixon, LBJ, and the First Shots in the Judges’ War," Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative, April 7, 2017 (archived online)
  • Penny Arcade on Jack Smith (lecture archive online)
  • Behind the Green Door, d. Artie J. Mitchell,  James L. Mitchell); 1972
Grand Luncheonette and peep shows, Times Square, 1980s

Grand Luncheonette and peep shows, Times Square, 1980s

Featured Music

  • "Shannon," Henry Gross; 1976
  •  "One More Tomorrow," Henry Gross
  • "(I used to be a) Brooklyn Dodger," Dion


TERRIFIC CITY is hosted by Melissa Gira Grant and Cheyenne Picardo. The show was recorded and edited by Cheyenne Picardo, and it was produced by Melissa Gira Grant. (Thanks to Bradley Robinson for helping with music supervision.)

TERRIFIC CITY is 100% listener-supported. Become our patron and help us make more seasons.