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Times Square Red, Times Square Blue

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,330 ratings  ·  106 reviews
If one street in America can claim to be the most infamous, it is surely 42nd Street. Between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, 42nd Street was once known for its peep shows, street corner hustlers and movie houses. Over the last two decades the notion of safety-from safe sex and safe neighborhoods, to safe cities and safe relationships-has overcome 42nd Street, giving rise to a ...more
Paperback, 203 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by New York University Press (first published 1999)
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David M
Jun 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to David by: Jonathan
Man, New York sounds fucking lame. According to Mr. Delany, gentrification has gotten so bad you can't even masturbate in public anymore. Dear goodreads, come to San Francisco for a good time.

(especially July 31 or September 25)



Life is sort of a fleeting encounter, no?

A paean to gay cruising and other fleeting, random moments of intimacy that the city enables. At times Delany strikes an elegiac tone, which may be a bit premature. I don't think flaneuring is completely dead.
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
samuel delany is a big gay angel whose only agenda is a healthier and happier humanity. This book about blowies at the movies is one of the most loving ive read!!!!!
Leo Robertson
Oct 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great read for Delany fans for the simple disturbing reason that every weird sex scene from his novels is probably something he was involved in in real life and enjoyed more than anything you've ever done. I CANNOT EXPLAIN how long I will be disturbed by (view spoiler) ...more
Jul 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a book of two halves - the first half , a memoir style account of Delany's experiences in Times Square, specifically the porn theatres, pre gentrification, the second half, an argument against this gentrification, happening at the time of his writing.

I absolutely loved the honesty of the first half. Delany, a gay black academic and writer, spent over 30 years frequenting both the straight and gay porn theatres around Times Square, and is frank and unapologetic about this fact, detailing
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I think I would put this on the old "essential reading" list. Something for everyone here - narrative in the first piece, theory in the second. I am growing more and more fond of Chip the more of his stuff I read.
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like an eternally lingering childhood memory where you were nothing more than a spectator, Times Square Blue's effect on me was so formative for adulthood in a way I still cannot pin down. A literary Objet petit a, Delany explores an explicit sexuality that was averse to commodification, a margin that couldn't fix itself on any page without taking it over.

The sexual deviant finds various underground communities. You've heard their legends, the sex dungeon under your local pizza place, the back
Audacia Ray
This book was published in 1999, the year I moved to New York - and of course at that time I fetishized the NYC of years gone. Its every bit as amazing a read as I remember it, but when I read it for the first time twelve-odd years ago, I was definitely more taken by the cultural analysis than the stories about Times Square and the denizens of the porn theaters. This time I felt the opposite, and actually skimmed through the analysis stuff and savored/reread the stories.
Feb 23, 2011 rated it liked it
I wouldnt have read this except the blurb talked about urban planning and the revitalization of Times Square. Im a planner, so I thought this would be right up my alley. Alas, much of it focused on the BEFORE parts of the Times Square revitalization specifically the activities in the many movie theaters. It was, um, interesting. On the other hand, I did learn that a fish is a woman in gay terminology.

That said, it was a well-written set of essays from a viewpoint I hadnt considered.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book captures the rapid increase of gentrification in NYC at the expense of those who are marginalized, scrutinized, and often get pushed away whenever it is convenient for those in power. Delaney's description of gay culture at the time when AIDS epidemic, crack-cocaine, and all other drugs were at the corner of Times Square, is vibrant, honest, and most importantly deeply gut wrenching. It highlights how the beauty (if you consider it beauty) of modern day NYC, specially midtown, at the ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer, theory
chip i love u!! so happy i get to read u in new york
ty for writing the kind of theory i want to write and telling of your experience alongside marx because those things matter to one another
ty for theorizing the way relationships function in a city in a way that combines focus on discourse, architecture, public spaces, infrastructure, and superstructure.
the argument that life is enriched for all parties when cross class contact happens freely and often in public spaces is well made. emotion
Strangely enough, I've had to return to this book after I had read it in the first graduate course I ever took. It's more amazing to me this time around after having "been around the block" in academia for over a decade at this point.

The second portion provides a theoretical account of the memoir-ish first person. This kind of book is probably what more academic books should aspire to be: both rigorous but subjectively located.

Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
it's pretty cool, because I live here kinda or at least nearby, now I can get off the ACE a few stops early and walk by Worldwide Plaza (pitbull in the bkgd: mr worldwide) and all these big buildings and read from the book: zamn this used to be a Hot Spot for Homosexual Relations. More importantly: this was the infamous Adonis, or Eros, or whatever other venue for casual public sex that eventually got swept out in a show of "urban cleansing," under the pretense of an AIDS epidemic, in the weird ...more
Jake Powell
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Anecdotally and historically, a rich dive into ways of being queer that are both wholly separate from what I live now, and also completely recognizable. Theoretically, an approach to urbanism that will stick with me. Not certain that the framework of contact will be my guiding model, but itll certainly stay on my mind. ...more
Mark Fitzpatrick
Nov 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this for a Sex and Politics class I took in undergraduate. However, the amount of urban politics, social reform issues, democratic theory, public/private, gentrification issues, and communication/network theories made this a very ripe read. The first half dived into Delany describing various social interactions he has had in his life and what the general social philosophy is that pertains to these interactions. The real meat comes in the second half. I will be frank, the first half was a ...more
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Delany's analysis of the role chance encounters and inter-class socializing (including slutty public gay sex) play in democratic society is brilliant, important, and original. The book gets four stars instead of five because he occasionally backs up assertions with anecdote rather than statistics, and - in the second half of the book - uses the sort of critical theory jargon that makes my head hurt.
Nov 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: sarah B., Sara-Maria, Steph, Julie, Manu, Allison B., Ashley, Anne.
Recommended to Naeem by: Professor Catherine Taylor (writing department)
I find myself speechless in trying to review this book. It is about the nature of desire and the relationship between desire and the urban political economy.

I loved it. Then I hated it. Then I loved it. And again hated it. It is an imperfect project but oh so powerful. I'd venture that it is impossible to be indifferent to this book.

He shows me a world I wouldn't otherwise know and shows me a part of myself I am not sure I want to know. So kudos to Delany for this forced immersion into his
Russell Grant
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
Read for Stoya's bookclub.

I loved this one. A collection of two essays by Delany, both about the transformation of Times Square from the notorious sexual pit of legend to the now current family friendly version. The first essay is Delany's first hand account of the goings on in the porn theaters he frequented and it is a truly wonderous thing to behold. My experience of Time Square is rooted and framed through horror movie, "Grindhouse" history, full of tales of terror were one could be killed
Written by science fiction author and literary theorist Samuel R. Delany, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue tells the story of the porn movie theaters in Times Square, before Times Square became the sanitized, corporate-funded tourist trap it is today. Half of the book is full of stories about brief, anonymous sexual encounters between men in those movie theaters. The way Delany tells it, they were not romantic, but they were intimate. And full of generosity: wanting to provide pleasure and ...more
Angelica Chong
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
really, really cogent and clear writing. first half is supremely entertaining / curious as a personal account of delanys social life in the times square of old, while the second half is a lot more theoretical, dealing with the question of what makes city life pleasant and good and rich. i found the latter half especially engaging, and delanys examples and style compelling and easy to follow (esp. the two main concepts he raises - social interaction through contact vs networking - and the idea of ...more
Lauren Levitt
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dissertation, quals
Five stars for "Times Square Blue," three for "Times Square Red," mainly because I disagree that networking situations cannot provide the benefits that contact can under certain circumstances.
Maureen Sepulveda
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
The author writes about 42nd Street of the 70s and 80s when it was full of prostitution, peep shows drug. Then, in the 90s developers swooped in and government intervention led to a sanitized and tourist attraction for the area. He provides interesting discussion about how this changes culture and interaction in neighborhood. ...more
May 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Samuel Delany is a science fiction writer of some renown. He is also black, gay, and disabled. Check, check, and check. Delany recently published this piece of non-fiction prose on the cleaning up of New York's Times Square. I was attracted to the book because Delany uses Jane Jacbos' Death and Life of Great American Cities in order to evaluate the corporate-sponsored sanitizing of Times Square -- its conversion from a district of seedy cinemas and casual sex to a Disney-style downtown ...more
Christian Bauman
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Pretty amazing stuff here, whatever your predilections. I'm currently writing about New York, so turned to this along with a small handful of others (including Patti Smith's Just Kids) to spark memories of the NYC I knew as a kid and young adult -- so much more in here than just my need to spark something in my own writing, but that was the starting point. Having read Babel-17 less than a year ago, it was cool to hear Delany's voice from the other side of a few decades. I loved it. Amazing ...more
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Swaths of Delany's recollections of the adult film theater scene of Times Square and the underlying social forces at play must have sailed over my head; and yet much of what remains-- his unbelievably intelligent, lucid, counterintuitive, deeply felt, fiercely argued rallying cry for the necessity of interclass contact--connected; and I'm grateful, because it's changed the way I think about these tacit processes, which I now realize constitute my particular city life. That newfound awareness of ...more
Matthew Lawrence
Jan 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Good read, although starting about 3/4 through there are a lot of ideas packed into a short, short space. But Delany's critique of networking v. contact seems even more astute now, in the social networking era.
Merritt K.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential not only for understanding the cultural history of and antipathy towards urban spaces, but for equipping oneself to analyze and formulate countering tactics to the current attacks on institutions of sexual freedom and interclass contact.
Joana Peroskia
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Time square red and blue very exciting the form that is presented
mimosa maoist
He has a careful and generous tone toward the people he writes about.
some of his estimations about hustlers/sex workers is a little off but otherwise this book is amazing and you all should read it now.
Paul Scott
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
DELANY IS BEST known as a science fiction and fantasy writer, but he is also consistently brilliant and original as an essayist/critic. This book (now 20 years old) looks at the overhaul Times Square was undergoing in the 1990s, the sweeping away of an assortment of porn theaters, peep shows, and other marginal small businesses, the arrival of something more family- and tourist-friendly, blander, more corporate, more homogeneous--its Disney-fication, as it was sometimes called.

"Times Square
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Samuel Ray Delany, also known as "Chip," is an award-winning American science fiction author. He was born to a prominent black family on April 1, 1942, and raised in Harlem. His mother, Margaret Carey Boyd Delany, was a library clerk in the New York Public Library system. His father, Samuel Ray Delany, Senior, ran a successful Harlem undertaking establishment, Levy & Delany Funeral Home, on ...more

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