Sleazoid Express: A Mind-Twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square


Times Square was once America's most notorious red light and theater district. Its main artery was the Deuce, a tiny strip of neon and concrete coldly fleshing out 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. The street was wall-to-wall movie theaters, punctuated by high frequency shoebox-sized adult bookstores, male street hustling, weapons shops, phony drug salesmen, bootleg electronics stores, tourist junk shops, and guys offering couples to take their quickie Polaroid portraits ...
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Times Square was once America's most notorious red light and theater district. Its main artery was the Deuce, a tiny strip of neon and concrete coldly fleshing out 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. The street was wall-to-wall movie theaters, punctuated by high frequency shoebox-sized adult bookstores, male street hustling, weapons shops, phony drug salesmen, bootleg electronics stores, tourist junk shops, and guys offering couples to take their quickie Polaroid portraits while they sat in wicker chairs.
The Deuce was the most intense block on which one could ever hope to see a movie. The main venues were grindhouses, down-at-the heels creations left over from the Minsky's Burlesque days-and showcases for the wildest and most extreme films in cinematic history. Their disenfranchised audience were film's harshest critics, demanding that the exploitation movies the theaters screened lived up to the promises made by their graphic, outrageous ad campaigns and shocking trailers. If the movies let them down, the audience would react by shouting, tossing food containers, and physically damaging the theaters. For exploitation movie lovers, going to a Deuce grindhouse was like taking your life in your hands for a cinematic thrill - which, of course, added to the fun and increased the shock status of the experience.
Those theaters are gone, but the films remain. They've spread to millions across the globe through video and DVD. Wildly successful video companies like Something Weird and Grindhouse Releasing sell millions of vintage horror and sexploitation films that once haunted the Deuce. No more hard seats and sticky floors. Exploitation movie lovers now enjoy their entertainment in the safety of their bedrooms, watching a favorite film five times or more, gleefully programming their own double and triple features.
Sleazoid Express: A Mind-Twisting Tour through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square will be an odyssey through the gritty venues of the old 42nd Street and into the world of the vintage exploitation movies in which they specialized. The book will span the halcyon era of the early-1960s through the mid-1980s, when American grindhouses began closing and the various exploitation movie genres moved to home video and DVD. It will reproduce for the reader what no home video can provide - the experience of watching an exploitation movie within the Deuce grindhouse setting, followed by behind-the-scenes talk about the movie's production. Each chapter of Sleazoid Express will focus on a uniquely 42nd Street exploitation genre and supply a close, intimate portrait of its makers, stars and showcases.
Sleazoid Express will be an exploitation film fan's nirvana, while covering the essential works of the sleaze canon for a mainstream audience. The visuals will be a rich tapestry of graphic stills and rare original ad mattes. The chapters will contain sidebar interviews with and current photos of key exploitation film performers, producers, distributors and directors, many of whom the authors have known for many years. Exploitation movie makers, players, and merchants range from the eccentric to the outwardly criminal, and these will be rare interviews available in no other book. Detailed reviews of landmark films will also be presented as sidebars. Sleazoid Express will include an appendix listing various exploitation movie video companies and the genres they specialize in, with examples of the films that they make available.
Sleazoid Express will combine a love for popular culture with an in-depth analysis of films that bring to light human nature's subconscious impulses towards sex and violence. The reader will visit the old 42nd Street, see what's playing and meet who was responsible for creating and merchandising the films. Sleazoid Express will be the definitive document of cinema's most shocking and extreme moments and people as they exploded in a legendary place.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Hubert Selby, Jr. author of Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream I am amazed at the information....[Landis and Clifford] certainly do know these films, and have captured the atmosphere and ambiance of the theaters....I'm certain a lot of people will have a lot of fun reading this book.

Larry McMurtry author of The Last Picture Show and Lonesome Dove One of my most cherished possessions is my near-complete file of Sleazoid Express, a work of rare wit and almost unbelievable devotion to trash cinema. I consider it an invaluable resource.

Robert Downey, Sr. A bent, funny, smell-the-facts look at the movies on 42nd Street during their heyday.

Library Journal
New York City's grindhouses (burlesque theaters gone to seed) are long gone, but sin-ema fans can relive the experience with this definitive study. Landis, founder of the eponymously titled cult classic periodical, and Clifford, his partner in grime, take readers on a tour of the Deuce, the psychosexual netherland on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues. Between the 1960s and 1980s, the area was home to numerous theaters before being razed and overlaid with family theme restaurants and chain stores in the 1990s. Organized by film genre ("Blood Horror," "Eurosleaze," etc.), the book covers the venues themselves as well as industry personnel, 42nd Street habitu s, and, of course, the deliciously offbeat and perverse films-Black Mama, White Mama; Women in Cages; and, this reviewer's personal favorite, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. Like Jimmy McDonough's The Ghastly One, an excellent biography on sexploitation auteur Andy Milligan, this book moves the chains down the field in grindhouse cinema's march for respectability. Great fetish film fun for all popular culture and film collections.-Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743215831
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 11/19/2002
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 867,004
  • Product dimensions: 0.70 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 9.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Landis founded the legendary magazine Sleazoid Express in 1980 while working as a projectionist on the old 42nd Street. He is also the author of Anger: The Unauthorized Biography of Kenneth Anger.
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Read an Excerpt

from Chapter Thirteen: Lost in the Roxy

The Roxy theater had several incarnations, but all of them were pretty foul.

Located on the south side of the street next to the Cine Twins, it was originally one of the Deuce's grungiest, most pungent smelling, and most dangerous adult houses. Sharing management with the landmark scumatorium Show World, the Roxy spent the 1970s through the mid-1980s showing third-run hardcore porn, hosting a live sex show, and serving as an open stomping ground for quickie prostitution. It attracted the worst, most desperate people on the Deuce. You didn't even stand near the theater unless you wanted a drug addict streetwalker propositioning you as her pimp/live-show partner hung over your shoulder.

In the early to mid-1980s, rare Deuce favorites that had been gone for years were suddenly accessible again because of video, and distributors who hadn't shown some movies in years suddenly saw dollar signs. In 1985, the Roxy was renovated and converted into a multileveled fourplex that showed exploitation double bills on video, becoming a sort of living Sleazoid museum. You could catch every sort of film from every year, including many rough-girl gems from the 1970s, like Fugitive Girls and the Arthur Marks classics Roommates and Centerfold Girls. There were bookings so dissimilar only the Deuce could conceive them, like Superman (1978) and Superfly (1972). Unfortunately, despite the renovation, the Roxy remained devoid of fresh air and retained both its BO aroma and its super-sleazy vibe. Sometimes you'd see the Roxy cashiers — former live-show workers with names like Duran — run into a broom closet with a crack pipe during their breaks.

To walk into one of the Roxy's mini-theaters meant walking into any number of crazy scenes or insane outbursts. You'd see Laura Gemser getting violated by her real-life husband, Gabriele Tinti, in Smooth Silk and Raw Velvet after she participates in a sex magick ceremony at the Sphinx. (The movie was a legendary Eurosleaze classic that you'd have been lucky to catch when it was first released in 1977.) Or maybe you'd see Victor Buono screaming at you while rearranging an Alice in Wonderland style tea party in the horror oddity Moonchild (1974), unable to get it together — something about the guests not sitting where he wanted. You never knew what movie you were walking into. You'd have to stand there for a few minutes to figure it out.

If you stood too long, though, people would start to surround you, thinking you were looking for a possible sex partner or were just stupid and asking to be robbed. So it was wise to take one of the ass-numbing plastic seats anyway if you weren't sure, then figure it out. But before you sat down, you'd have to flick a lighter at the seat to make sure there was no weird wet mess on it.

Once seated, you could easily imagine Victor marching off the screen to tell you to move your chair, as the rest of the cast shouted at you that they hated it there and wanted out of Times Square.

Copyright © 2002 by Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford

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Table of Contents

Preface XI
Introduction 1
1 Bitch Goddess: Madame Olga Works the Cameo 7
2 The Findlays and Ameros Invent the Roughie at the Globe 22
3 Bloodthirsty Butchers at the Lyric: Times Square's Militant Auteur, Andy Milligan 47
4 The Anco Does a Gendertwist 79
5 Race Relations Within the Empire 89
6 Blood Horror: Chopping 'Em Up at the Rialto 108
7 Taking Their Show on the Road: Times Square Mondo Movies 154
8 The Liberty and the Cinerama: Showcases for Eurosleaze 177
9 Bitch Goddess of the Apollo: Ilsa, Queen of Pain 214
10 Peeking on Female Rough Trade at the Harris 229
11 The New Amsterdam Presents Celebrity Crime 253
12 Orientalia Comes to the Deuce 266
13 Lost in the Roxy 283
Appendix of Video Companies 299
Index 301
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2002

    A big thumbs up!

    I got ahold of a galley copy of this book at the Strand in NYC and it's fantastic! It really brings you back to the old Times Square and the films that made it such a lively scary place. Neat pictures and you feel like your right in the grindhouse and it's the 70's watching the films with the authors, there as your guides. They also have a magazine by the same name that I will check out. I give it a big thumbs up!

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