Black Cracker presents

Tales of Times Square: The Tapes

By Josh Alan Friedman

This podcast presents voices of strippers, old fighters, burly-Q men, peep show girls, hustlers, cops and the priest who tried to save them.

I’m Josh Alan Friedman, reporting to you from Times Square in the ’70s and ’80s. The people you will hear—now ghosts of Old Broadway—spilled their souls for my book, Tales of Times Square.

Listen to the Episodes Here

#10: Uncle Lou’s Scrapbook

Innocent victims of adversity. That’s how Uncle Lou, a geologist turned chauffeur, saw many of the girls in Times Square, who affectionately called him Uncle. His scrapbook documents an era of burlesque queens and porn starlets, whom he remains loyal to decades after their careers ended.

#9: Oh Susanna!

Tales of Times Square

  Copping a feel in Times Square. Show girls, moonlighting nurses, pickpockets and members of a fake marriage ring. Live Nude Girls 25¢ was the neon community catchphrase, and it was all about fast cash. About the music in #9: Oh Susanna! The intro to this podcast uses Josh’s acoustic cover of “Theme From Shaft,”…

#8: Holy Cross.

Josh Alan Friedman, Tales of Times Square

The Catholic Church Vs. Times Square.
Three priests of Holy Cross Church witnessed the rise and fall of Times Square. Father Robert Rappleyea, pastor during the era of porn, saw the human condition reach bottom. He put up a bold front.

#7: King Heroin

  The Toast of Broadway. A lightweight contender in the 1920s, Manny Rosen worked in the kitchen of the Stage Delicatessen for 32 years—in charge of making toast. But he also wrote “King Heroin” for James Brown, after losing his daughter to heroin. He became the right-hand man of Bob Anthony, “Mr. Burlesk,” in the…

#6: The Peeps

LIVE NUDE GIRLS 25¢. Peep Shows were a phenomenon as common to Times Square as slot machines to Las Vegas. Live Nude Girls became the neon community catchphrase. We visit Roger K as he creates the technology in his private laboratory at Show World. About the music in #6: The Peeps The intro to this…

#5: Penny Arcade in Hell

Welcome to the bowels of 42nd Street. It’s 1983. Charles Rubinstein has run the penny arcade at 8th Avenue and 42nd Street since 1939. “This is the dumping grounds of 42nd Street. But I’m not a-scared of any individuals that tries to threaten me. You have to use that nightstick, and I say let ’em…

#4: Raven

From Hells Angels to burlesque. A Columbia Presbyterian nurse, then a drug counselor in the California prison system, Raven de la Croix busted loose as a burlesque star at the age of 32. She’d also spent eight years with the Hells Angels and starred in several Russ Meyer films. Here in the headliner’s dressing room…

#3: Mr. Burlesk

Welcome to the back office of the Melody Burlesk. Frank Sinatra’s boyhood pal and first bodyguard, Bob Anthony, also became a big band singer. Tougher than Frank, but devoid of hit records, he went on to found the Melody Burlesk in Times Square. Like the Heimlich maneuver, you might assume a lap dance occurred somewhere…

#2: The Ghetto Avenger

To hear Izzy Grove is to understand Damon Runyon. Unnerstand? One of the last Guys & Dolls characters to survive into the porn era, Grove was a welterweight fighter known as The Ghetto Avenger in the 1920s. In 1983, he is being thrown out of his office. Hustling in Times Square for 60 years, he…

#1: Pee Wee

Pee Wee Marquette was the caustic M.C. at historic jazz club, Birdland, during the 1940s and ’50s. The short-tempered midget spent the last 25 years of his life as doorman-greeter for Hawaii Kai, a schlock tourist restaurant next door to the Winter Garden Theatre in Times Square. Come bend your ear to another voice of Lost…

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About the podcast

Writer-guitarist Josh Alan Friedman was born in New York City in 1956. He was Senior Editor of Screw magazine when most of these cassettes were made on the fly. In a city of 50,000 writers, Josh was nearly the only one covering the Times Square beat, for the men’s magazines of the era. (His parents might have preferred he work for The New Yorker, but he also wrote for National Lampoon, Soho Weekly News and New York magazine.) By 1987, he’d had enough and followed his wife to Texas, a year after Tales of Times Square—the subject of this podcast—was published.

About the music in this podcast

The intro to this podcast uses Josh’s acoustic guitar cover of “Theme From Shaft,” from his new album, Sixty Goddammit.
Incidental music appears from Josh’s albums throughout the podcast: Famous & Poor, The Worst!, Blacks ’n’ Jews, Josh Alan Band and Sixty Goddammit.