Porn Again: Living with the Racy Ghosts of Times Square

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Scott Ewalt’s apartment is haunted by the ghosts of ’70s Times Square.“I love the power of suggestion,” he says of the antique signs and marquees that fill his East Village loft, which looks like what you’d see if John Waters hijacked Architectural Digest. The New York City artist is a historian of the naked city, having collected one-of-a-kind signs from the grindhouses and male strip shows that lined Times Square in the era before Disney took over. His collection includes the original sign from the legendary Venus, the first theater to show a film with male frontal nudity in 1963, and the Eros, the first American theater to advertise “all-male” and “male burlesk” on its marquee. Ewalt’s own neon-colored paintings—an artistic response to what he finds beautiful about his collection—have a similar vibe. “I love portraying locations that most people wouldn’t consider beautiful, even an eyesore,” he says, “and making them as appealing as possible.” The signs, which Ewalt says he will eventually donate to a museum, are a reminder of an all-but-vanished time in the city’s history. “These clubs and theaters were questioning the rules of entertainment and morality,” he says. “Historically, all these places had small revolutions going on within them.”

The original sign from NYC’s Eros Theater, circa 1960s, above one of Ewalt’s own paintings.

Photographed by Floto + Warner
Photographed by Floto + Warner

Ewalt in vintage Thierry Mugler.

Photographed by Floto + Warner

Photographed by Floto + Warner
Photographed by Floto + Warner

Artifacts from the Eros and a female star of the Roxy Theater in Cleveland.

Photographed by Floto + Warner

More collectibles, including a photo signed by Bettie Page

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