leisure 02.11.03

NYC Sex

NYC Sex: How New York City Transformed Sex in America, edited by Grady T. Turner, is the book that accompanies the Museum of Sex's opening exhibition. But it's worth reading on its own since it features interesting conversations with various historians, artists and porn stars, including Luc Sante, Art Spiegelman and Annie Sprinkle. How could it not hold your attention, given the cast of characters and locales, including Little Egypt, Anthony Comstock, Margaret Sanger, Xaviera Hollander, Plato's Retreat, Linda Lovelace, 42nd Street, 19th century brothels on Mercer and Greene Streets and Stonewall? The compelling lead essay, by Mr. Turner, is framed around Nora Ephron going to see Deep Throat in 1973 and the subsequent article she wrote for Esquire.

But even if you already know all about New York's sex life, the photos that have been assembled in this book are mostly unfamiliar: fascinating, graphic, sometimes quite funny. There is a full-page picture of two men in drag arrested at the Biltmore Theatre for appearing in Mae West's Pleasure Man in which the two maintain their diva poses right up to the back of the paddy wagon.

Far less amusing is the reproduction of a 1971 Handbook of Vice Control in which the squad was schooled on how to supposedly recognize gays and lesbians. Lesbians could be identified, it claimed, by looking in their briefcase, saying they 'may carry razor, shaving equipment, coke bottles and penis replacement objects.'

The book is $25 and is available at city bookstores as well as the Museum of Sex, 233 5th Ave. [27th] 689.6337, which is well worth a visit.
When there's a significant snowfall, the North Meadow in Central Park has been opening up for cross-country skiing.


Christopher Street

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