The Forbidden Apple: A Century of Sex & Sin in New York City
From brothels on the Bowery to the crusade to retake Times Square, journalist Long (""chief writer"" of the guidebook Sexy New York City) examines the bawdiest characters and exploits in New York City's history, and those determined to ruin the fun. Contextualizing the gritty, bopping, libidinous culture that most associate with New York in the 20th century, Long introduces readers to outcasts of all kinds, outraged moralists like Anthony Comstock and Ed Koch, popular Prohibition-era dances (the Charleston, the Black Bottom, the Lindy Hop), and iconic phenomena like the film Deep Throat. Long also covers civil rights milestones for gays and women (the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the 1970 Women's Strike for Equality), and her reach, for much of the book, is far enough to make an apt general history of the city from Reconstruction. Unfortunately, Long's fastidious research hasn't discouraged a decidedly liberal bias (""free love"" gets unconditional respect, Gov. Giuliani's clean-up initiatives are condemned on sentimental grounds). Further, the final chapters focus narrowly on Times Square, devolving into a somewhat tiresome diatribe/eulogy. Long should capture the interest of New York history aficionados, but only if they tend to share her lefty permissiveness and it-was-better-when sentimentality. 11 b&w photos.