World Theatre

153 W. 49th Street,
New York, NY 10019

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Showing 1 - 25 of 83 comments

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

“HOTEL” “LIQUORS” “XXX BOOKS” “PEEP SHOW” “PARK” “HARDWARE” were the main signs you would see on 8th Avenue in the 40’s

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 19, 2011 at 3:01 am

I think i remember you from the Hollywood Cinema board early last year.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on April 19, 2011 at 2:57 am

Roger, I have no idea if they were ‘hetero’ or even women at all. That would not have bothered me in the least.

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 19, 2011 at 1:23 am

you were lucky to have found hetero girls. my first trek down 8th Avenue in 1979 found only tranny hustlers instead of hetero ones. Right at 47th street, it didn’t even occur to me that prostitution was not only about hetero hookers. We ran like bats out of hell because we weren’t prepared for that kind of thing. I was 17 at the time too

in fact it was from that experience that made me leery of that part of 8th(this was by the old Biltmore property which at the time was a row of boarded up buildings) for quite awhile

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on April 19, 2011 at 1:11 am

What did out-of-towners think?

As a 17 year old tourist on my first trip to NY in 1974 I walked from the Port Authority down 8th Avenue to my room at the Edison Hotel on 47th street through a sea of pretty young blonde wigged hookers grabbing my suitcase and asking me if I wanted a date.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 18, 2011 at 11:21 pm

oh yes, and what about between 1978 and 1980 when the old Lincoln Hotel at 700 Eighth Avenue (between 44th and 45th) was renovated into the Milford Plaza which opened in 1980. This is the one with the “M” on the roof you can see when you’re in the general area

do you have any recollection of what the old Lincoln looked like back then? If i had to guess it must have been terrible given the state of the neighborhood. must have looked horrid when undergoing renovation

what got me curious about the Ramada was i always could see the red RAMADA INN insignia logo on the top part of the building, which kind of lent an air of respectability to the street until you saw how awful the surrounding areas was, so i always wondered how that hotel managed

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 18, 2011 at 11:07 pm

there was a Ho Jo’s Motor Lodge for decades a few blocks up between 51-52 street. recently it became a Hampton Inn

but the old Ho Jo’s Motor Lodge was right at the end of the prostitution district so i figured it was safer to stay there then the old Ramada

there is a Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza on B'way and 48th-49th that opened in the late 80’s, but it is several grades up from both the Ramada and HoJo’s

I just wondered what out of towners did when they arrived at the Ramada and were literally facing peep shows and XXX bookstores right across the street (right by the old Blarney Stone bar). did they go out at night on the town or take a cab back to the hotel?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I do remember that Ramada Inn (I thought there might have been a Holiday Inn around, but might be confusing it with the Ramada). I’m sure it survived through the sheer ignorance of out of town visitors who planned their trips to New York unwisely! May have been a fleabag, too, if it flew under Ramada’s corporate policies. I’m sure Ramada did not sanction short-stay or hourly bookings, officially or otherwise.

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 18, 2011 at 8:11 pm

do you remember the Ramada Inn on Eighth between 48th and 49th—in the mid 90’s it became a Days Inn and a few years ago became a Hilton Garden Inn when the area started to get “swanky”.

When Eighth was down and out back in the 70’s and 80’s before Worldwide Plaza was opened, I always wondered how the Ramada managed to stay in business with peep shows, XXX bookstores across the street, and all the drug selling and hustling in the area. Was that actually a tourist hotel or was it a fleabag? I remembered places like the Fulton Hotel (46th) and the Sherman (47th) were small little dives, but a national chain like Ramada sitting in the middle of all that mess, made me wonder how it survived

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

The Winter Garden is between 50th and 51st, one block north of where the Rivoli stood. I saw Beatlemania there as well, ages ago. No doubt, Eighth Avenue was a sordid and dangerous affair – and the general desolation on Eighth made it much more intimidating than Seventh and B'way, for sure. I used to go to the Hollywood Twin when it was a revival house for a few years in the ‘80’s. Very sketchy area and I sometimes felt like I had to keep one eye over my shoulder even when I was in my seat watching a movie there.

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 17, 2011 at 1:08 am

I remember seeing Beatlemania at The WInter Garden in September of 78 which i think was right next to the Rivoli. I always found that 46th-50th street area along B'way and 7th to be seamy but what really frightened me was 8th Avenue in the same spot like around the Venus, Capri, Eros Cinemas down by 46th, the Hollywood Cinema up by 47th, the firehouse by 48th and the big parking lot up by the old MSG. there were always types who seemed like they were under the influence hanging around those porn shops and the worst were those XXX bookstores

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 17, 2011 at 12:55 am

B'way and Seventh Avenues were always very busy with pedestrian traffic – even during the bad old days. Some blocks were worse than others in terms of crime and solicitation, 42nd Street itself probably being the most notorious – particularly the closer you got to Eighth Avenue. I wasn’t keenly aware of which streets tourists, theatergoers and casual passersby tended to avoid at night other than 42nd, but I’m sure that those sorts of crowds would have been more inclined to stay where the crowds seemed to be.

Tell you what… While 42nd Street always instilled some fear in me at night, even when I was a frequent moviegoer there (part of the thrill, after all), it wasn’t until around 1989 or so that I first felt intimidated walking down Seventh Ave in upper Times Square. I remember going to a show at the Virginia Theater on 52nd Street, one particular evening, and afterward I decided to take my wife to the heart of Times Square to show her some of my old haunts. At the time, several old buildings had been demolished, leaving entire blocks dark and behind construction shedding. Specifically I remember walking past the block where the Rivoli had once stood and that stretch was rather desolate and no longer lit by the old theater’s huge marquee. It was so foreboding walking along at that time of light – and the lights further down the Avenue seemed so far away – that I considered turning around and skipping the nostalgic tour entirely. But, we soldiered on without incident and the crowds picked up again around Duffy Square. I had never felt that creeped out walking past the prostitutes, drug dealers and porn palace barkers just 3 or 4 years earlier.

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 17, 2011 at 12:36 am

was it true that before the theater district cleanup, people who went to the theater left the area immediately after the show? I have often heard this that people left as soon as the show was over and wasted no time leaving the area

unless you had to cross eighth avenue between 40th and 50th street or had to cross 42 street between B'way and 8th Avenue to get back to your car or get the cab or whatever, except for those 2 spots most of the theater area was passable even after the show?

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Nice page and cool links!

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 16, 2011 at 9:58 pm

no because i always liked midtown—5th Avenue, 6th Avenue in the 50’s and 40’s. we rarely ventured past 7th Avenue back in the late 70’s or below 42 street

was prostitution on 8th Av around 48th-50th streets heavy as it was was further down or was it lighter?

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 16, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Everything was sort of very plain and out in the open along Eighth Avenue. Activity along Broadway and Seventh Avenue was a bit more clandestine – not to mention that much of the soliciting took place in the various cinemas, cabarets and run-down taxi-dance ballrooms that peppered the area. But, to be sure, it was going on in all corners of the Theater District.

Roger… did your father ever mention anything about staying away from the “Dirty Thirties?” Suffice to say, this sort of activity was in no way restricted to Times Square.

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm

what about 42 street between 6th and Broadway. there was some porn on that block, was there any trouble over there? when i was young as a teen(late 70’s) and visited midtown around the Radio City area my dad used to make a point of telling me not to go west of 6th Avenue because certain side streets were kind of unsavory. I used to love this part of midtown where the Radio City area melted into the theater district when you got west of 6th Avenue. it was kind of cool to be on 7th with all the porn and seeing those glittering skyscrapers rising above all the sleaze in the background

robboehm
robboehm on April 16, 2011 at 7:27 pm

The biggest concentration of prostitution that I encountered when working and playing in the city was on 8th Avenue. Never noticed it on Broadway or 7th. Only time I did the cross streets was for a Broadway show and never noticed any in the 5-11 PM periods.

rlrl2010
rlrl2010 on April 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm

was there prostitution on B'way and 7th in the upper 40’s? I ask because there seemed to be an awful lot of porn from 46th to 50th both on 7th and B'way and even on side streets. 49th street between 7th and 8th especially looked like 42 street (raunchy titled theaters like the Ramrod etc) in fact i used to be intimidated to walk near 49th and B'way tho i never actually saw any criminals around there

I remember the World Theater well. It seemed like an oddity(sleaze, porn) to be on a street with those big skyscrapers rising from 6th Avenue(respectability)

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on April 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm

There is an interesting collection of ads here:

View link

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on April 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Hey Al… I just saw a post you made back in 2008 on the Circus Cinema page regarding a NY Times article that noted the closure of both the Circus and Pink (the alternate World we’ve been discussing) in 1996. You directed that post at me, but, since I’ve been away from the fold for so long, I’ve only just read it now. Looks like the space may have previously been a cabaret/theater space called Broadway Burlesque, that operated on the 3rd floor of the building, above the video store.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on April 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Sorry, rvb. They are not meant to be photos of the World on this page.

What Ed and I are trying to get information is on the World theatre with an entrance around the corner from the Circus theatre photos above. That location is not yet listed on CT.

robboehm
robboehm on April 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I don’t believe these last two links are the World. The World building was not just a box. There was a peak in the center of the facade and, altho' original pictures of the Punch and Judy show three floors, there was never open office space of the type shown in these pictures.

AlAlvarez
AlAlvarez on April 16, 2011 at 5:20 am

You can clearly see the three floors in this shot.

View link