In the 1970s and 80s New York was internationally renowned for its seedy underbelly; the world capital of leisure, luxury, and sin. And the epicenter of New York vice, hands down, was 42nd Street-Times Square—a.k.a. the Forty-Deuce.
On any given night on the Forty-Deuce you could take in the latest blockbuster, B-movie, or skin flick; cop drugs or cop a feel. A playground for the perverse, as well as a destination for thrill-seekers and partiers from every borough of New York City and beyond, Times Square was the electric heart of the city that refused to sleep.
The Forty-Deuce: The Times Square Photographs of Bill Butterworth, 1983–1984 is a series of photographs capturing a gritty, glamorous, and authentic old-school New York, well before Mickey Mouse took over Times Square and scrubbed it clean. Curators and editors Beatriz and Hilton Arial Ruiz have collected and preserved the work of local street photographer Bill Butterworth, and have drawn from his work to create a revealing portrait of the Forty-Deuce, inside and out—capturing the unique street life and street style of the era, but also drawing us deeper in, to the peep shows, sex shops, backroom brothels, dimly lit arcades, and low-budget theatres where the action happened. In the tradition of Jamel Shabazz’s classic, Back in the Days, The Forty-Deuce showcases the early-80s style of New York’s first b-boys, out on the town and dressed to impress, but it adds some sin to the mix, with the Deuce’s own slick pimps, strung out hustlers, and the spandex and leather clad prostitutes, strippers, and trannies that worked 42nd Street nightly, and defined it for years.