Black Cracker Presents: Tales of...Season 1

Tales of Times Square: The Tapes

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.

#1: Pee Wee

PEE WEE MARQUETTE WAS THE CAUSTIC M.C. AT HISTORIC JAZZ CLUB, BIRDLAND, DURING THE ’40S 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…

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#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…

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#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…

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#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…

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#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…

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