Before it was cleaned up for the sake of tourism, New York’s Times Square used to be a proud epicenter of sin and vice. In the 1970s, the neighborhood was known for its numerous pornographic theaters that supplied viewers with as much sleazy, hardcore action as they could handle. The glory days of adult theaters in New York now live on through location footage shot for such gritty ’70s classics as Taxi Driver and The French Connection. Even the employees of the Sunshine Cab Company on Taxi were likely to pass a theater showing Slippery When Wet occasionally. Those old XXX grindhouses of New York are long gone, but what has come along to replace them? The Rialto Report, a podcast and blog dedicated to preserving the history of pornography, recently decided to find out. Armed with vintage reviews from Al Goldstein’s Screw magazine, they visited the former sites of 34 adult theaters in and around Times Square. Their report is both educational and sort of sad all at once. Times Square sure ain’t what she used to be.

The Rialto Report helpfully includes numerous before-and-after pictures of such long-gone theaters as Peepland, the Fantasy Twin, and Big Top Cinema. A sliding feature enables readers to make side-by-side comparisons between pictures taken in the ’70s and ones taken in 2016. Today, in place of the porn theaters, there are lot of perfectly ordinary, prosaic businesses: souvenir shops, pharmacies, Verizon stores, etc. A few ex-theaters, oddly enough, are now occupied by Sbarro locations. One was even built on the current site of M&M’s World. The comparison between the old photos and the new pictures is amazing, because there is virtually no resemblance between the two. It’s like the 1970s Times Square was erased from the map, and an entirely new one was built on top of it.

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