Times Square Red, Times Square Blue

Samuel R. Delany, Author New York University Press $65 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8147-1919-0
In a provocative and persuasively argued cri de coeur against New York City's gentrification and the redevelopment of Times Square in the name of ""family values and safety,"" acclaimed science fiction writer Delany (Dhalgren, etc.) proves himself a dazzlingly eloquent and original social commentator. In the first of two radically distinct but related essays, Delany, an Amherst college professor and native of Manhattan, writes frankly about his gay sexual adventures in the peep shows, porno movie houses and bars of Times Square. This personal history is juxtaposed with a detailed record of how the city's red light zones have changed over the past 40 years. The companion essay movingly details Delany's sociological and anthropological observations of the men who live, work and socialize in the area, and extols the virtues of a society that not only tolerates but values a public sexual culture. Drawing upon a wide range of historical and theoretical materials--the history of the pornographic film, Jane Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities and Supreme Court discussions about homosexual activity--Delany makes the case that because urban areas like Times Square promote relationships across class boundaries, they are not a blight but foster an environment of safety, empathy and social coherence. In his most dramatic argument, Delany charges that, despite City Hall rhetoric, Times Square's ""Disneyfication"" is not about public morality, safety or health but simply serves corporate and private economic interests. This bracing and well-calibrated blend of journalism, personal history and cultural criticism will challenge readers of every persuasion. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 203 pages - 978-0-8147-1920-6
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