Sorry about the lull in posting, folks, but I'm having a bit of a busy week. In any case, here's a quick one to tide you over. Shoo the kids out of the room for this one, maybe. This was inspired by another photo (above) spotted on Gregoire Alessandrini's truly marvelouos NYC in the 1990's blog.
It doesn't seem like all that long ago that Billy's Topless was still holding court on the southwest corner of West 24th & Sixth Avenue, and it's an establishment that, if I'm being candid, I must confess to having patronized on occasion. As unseemly as that may sound, it should be noted that Billy's was not your average strip bar. You didn't necessarily feel as if you'd been dipped in a sickly vat of sleaze every time you went in the place. Essentially, it was just a neighborhood dive bar that, well, happened to feature a strip show.
While it was by no means a regular stop, there were several evenings in the late `80's to mid-`90s (when I was still young, stupid and single, mind you) wherein my friends and I would stop into Billy's for giggly rounds of beer-fueled idiocy. I still remember getting into a ridiculously sincere conversation about the merits of Joy Division with one of their dancers (and this was while she was dancing, mind you). It was that kinda place.
This was also back in an era when that particular strip of Sixth Avenue still kinda felt like "downtown." On that avenue, you still had wide swathes of open space -- lots that played host to flea markets on the weekends. The neighborhood still had a bit of character. Sure, Danceteria and S.N.A.F.U. were gone by then, but Tramps and the Limelight were still around, as well as a seemingly since-forgotten club/music venue called The Building (anyone remember that one?)
Billy's Topless was there for eons, it seems. I could be completely wrong, but I don't think its immediate neighbors regarded it as that much of a menace. It was certainly not that much raunchier than, say, Hogs & Heifers over in the (then still endearingly seedy) Meat-Packing District, and -- again -- felt much less sleazy than its counterparts around Times Square. Billy's even made a fleeting cameo in the video for "Edie (Ciao Baby)" by The Cult (see below.... that's guitarist Billy Duffy standing out in front ...geddit?)
In a few years, everything changed, of course. Under Giuliani's rule, the city cracked down on Billy's and other similarly-inclined ventures (although, again, none were as surprisingly social and accommodating as Billy's). To stay out of violation of new city ordinance, Billy's actually had to change its signage to Billy's Stopless (as in "we don't stop dancin'!") for a little while. In the summer of 2001, however, it closed its doors for good.
Today, you can buy bagels there.