On Friday, HBO dropped an advance premiere episode of The Deuce, its new television series starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal about Times Square in the early 1970s through mid-1980s. The show, created by George Pelecanos and David Simon, stars James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, and chronicles the rise and legalization of the porn industry.

Here are the film locations so far we can ascertain from the first episode and the trailer, with assistance from our Gritty Times Square tour guide, Bob Brenner. The show officially releases on September 10th.

Join us for an upcoming tour of Gritty Times Square! 

Gritty Old Times Square

1. The Deuce

Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO
In the trailer, we see the north side of the Deuce, which was the section of 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue. You can also see the Lyric (213 West 42nd St.) and the Apollo (223 W. 42nd St ) in one shot. These two theaters are now combined into a single theater.
The film location for 42nd Street is on Amsterdam Avenue between 163rd and 165th Streets in Washington Heights, a popular shooting spot also for Marvel shows like Luke Cage. As The Deuce’s production designer, Beth Mickle explains to the New York Post, Amsterdam Avenue in this stretch uptown is the same width as 42nd Street, and the sidewalks and storefronts are the same scale as well. Equally importantly, there were no chain stores in this area that could mar the shots.

2. One Times Square

The establishing shot of Times Square shows One Times Square, originally the headquarters of the New York Times when first built and now home of the Times Square New Years Eve Ball, when it was owned by Allied Chemical. Allied is responsible for the refacing of the building from its original granite and terra cotta facade to marble design influenced strongly by mid-century architectural ideas.

Today, One Times Square is mostly covered over by billboards and is one of the emptiest but also most profitable buildings in Midtown.

3. The World Theater

The World Theater, which was located at 153 West 49th Street, was where Deep Throat played from 1972-1973 until the movie was seized by the cops. This site is now a pocket park. According to The New York Times, the Village East Cinema (a Moorish revival gem), on 2nd Avenue, was used as the stand in for filming and “transformed into the World Theater on West 49th Street, as part of a re-enactment of the premiere in 1972 of the groundbreaking adult film Deep Throat.

4. First Peepshow in Times Square

Presumably this peepshow location is Carpel Books, which was at 259 West 42nd Street. The site is now a Chevys Fresh Mex. In the sixth episode, real life Times Square figure Martin “Marty” Hodas, the King of Peeps who died earlier this year, is referenced in the show. Frankie and Rudy Pipilo, of the Gambino family crime mob, sit in a car looking at guys that work for Marty along 42nd Street. “Those Gorillas,” Pipolo says, “they work for Marty Hodas.” “What are they, leg breakers,” asks Frankie. “No. Sweepers,” responds Pipilo. They empty the loop machines and bring the coin back to Marty’s office for the count. Then Marty sends me my cut for letting him put his machines in stores where I got friends.”
Pipilo says that Matty the Horse has more video spots than Hodas and he suspects Hodas isn’t being upfront about the number of locations. Pipolo wants Frankie and his guys to trail the sweepers – real money is en route from the peepshows and Pipolo wants to make sure he gets his full cut.

5. Geisha Massage Parlor 

The Geisha Massage Parlor, located on 414 West 42nd Street, was allegedly owned by Martin Hodas, the King of Peeps who died earlier this year. The site is now Chez Josephine, a chic French bistro. Two competing massage parlors—Palace Massage Parlor (410 W. 42nd St.) and French Model Studio (436 W. 42nd St.)—were firebombed.

6.  Terminal Bar 

Terminal Bar was located across the street from the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 41st St. and 8th Avenue, now the location of the New York Times building. When it opened in 1958, it was a straight Irish bar, but by the 1970s had become predominantly gay, black, and Hispanic. It closed in 1982 and was demolished (along with the rest of the block) in the 1990s to make way for the new New York Times building.

7.  New York Women’s House of Detention

Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Located on 10 Greenwich Avenue, this is where convicted prostitutes were imprisoned, built atop the former Jefferson Market Prison. Demolition began in 1973 and the site was turned into a community garden adjacent to the current Jefferson Market Library.

8.  Martin Hodas’ Secret Basement Film Studio

Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO

This is where Hodas made some of the films for his peepshows, located somewhere on West 14th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenue. Even today, the exact location is a closely guarded secret.

9. Gritty NYC Subway

No show about New York City in the 1970s is complete without shots from the gritty subway. Besides the graffiti, we see a double lettered subway train (the RR), a now-defunct nomenclature used by the predecessors of current subway lines. Both the the Independent Subway System (IND), which was one of three subway systems in NYC that form to make today’s MTA, and the BMT Broadway line, had the practice of designating local lines with double-lettered signage.

The RR, which did not actually run through Times Square, appeared starting 1960 to 1961, the same train known as the “Fourth Avenue Local via Tunnel.” Initially, the RR ran from Forest Hills, Queens to Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. In 1967, the RR train ran from Astoria, Queens to Bay Ridge in Queens on the BMT Astoria line. In 1985-86, with the renaming of the double-lettered trains, it became the R line again.

10. Playland Arcade

Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Vincent Martino’s up-to-no-good twin, Frankie Martino (both played by James Franco) is seen strolling by Playland, an arcade at 246 West 42nd Street that had Skee ball, a shooting gallery, video games, and other games. It was also known for offering Polaroid instant photo booths. The actual film location was the Mexican restaurant La Nueva Juquila at 2106 Amsterdam Avenue.

Unlike what The Deuce set suggests, Playland did not have peep shows or girls. As Roberts Brenner, who leads our Gritty Times Square tour, attests, “It attracted a younger, mostly teenage crowd. Peepshows were usually located in adult book stores, where teenagers were discouraged.”

11. Vinnie’s Neighborhood and Bar

Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Vinnie leaves in Bay Ridge, near the Verrazano Bridge, which you can see in the background when he gets held up outside the bar he works at and in the background when he meets with his estranged wife Andrea, after he moves out. His local subway stop is the Fort Hamilton Parkway D station.

12. The Lionel Hotel

Activity seems to converge in the Lionel Hotel, which is shown in the first episode located next to the “Park and Lock.” In real life, this is Meyers Parking on West 30th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue, close to Madison Square Garden. The vintage sign still exists on the facade today. In later episodes, the entrance is shown to be on 42nd Street, shot on Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights next to Eddy Food Center Bodega, which is turned into ABC United Trading Corp., an electronic store.

Vinnie heads here after he leaves his townhouse (and wife, mother in law and kids) in the Sunset Park/Bay Ridge area, off the Fort Hamilton Parkway D train.

13. New York University

We first meet Abby Parker as she seductively entices her college professor during a lecture. Later, we see her walking through Washington Square Park back to her dorm at New York University (NYU). In the background of the shot above, you can see the handsome townhouses that surround the park. Later, there is an aerial shot of the Washington Square Park arch and fountain.

Although Abby gets out of a vintage cab during the first episode, the aerial shot gives away the present day film location, as it shows the park’s fountain layout following the 2009 renovation:

14. House of Korea

Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Conveniently, the Manhattan bar inside the restaurant, the House of Korea, that Vinnie tends at is just down the street from the Park N Lock, so it’s also filmed on 30th Street. In an earlier scene inside, we see a conversation been Vinnie and his boss, the owner of the House of Korea, who is lamenting the bad business.

His boss turns down the idea to rebrand the restaurant as a steakhouse. But later, Vinnie sees some Danskin leotards in a shop window and has an idea to drum up business: the waitresses will wear leotards on the street, pass out empty glasses, and offer a first drink free to customers.

According to Bob Brenner, there was no Korean restaurant in Times Square during this era.

15. Brooklyn Public Library Williamsburg Branch

Darlene heads to a library branch to check out the book A Tale of Two Cities, which the movie she watched with one of her customers is based on. The library scene is shot in the Brooklyn Public Library Williamsburg branch, with its unique rotunda interior. The firm responsible for the 2002-2003 restoration describes this particular branch as an “historic, atypical Carnegie branch.”
Later Darlene reads the book in the Korean restaurant and is spotted by Sandra Washington, the reporter documenting the Times Square sex industry. Sandra attempts to start a conversation but Darlene’s pimp steps in.

16. Sarge’s Deli

Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO
Intrigued by the film industry, Candy arranges a meeting at Sarge’s Deli on the East Side at 548 3rd Avenue. She meets with the man who does the fake porno shoots for a live audience, but he tells her he doesn’t really use actual film and that there isn’t any money in the film business because of regulations on pornography in the United States.

17. Parisi Bakery

Two members of the Gambino family mob –  Rudy Pipilo and Carmine Patriccia walk down Mott Street and end up at Parisi Bakery Delicatessen, the old-world Italian bakery that has been operating in Little Italy since 1903. Patriccia warns Pipilo not to put his name on anything regarding the project the lawyer is doing for Mayor Lindsay, as the New York City mayor campaigns for U.S. President, even if the crime family does get involved.

18. Lincoln Tunnel

Lori is waiting for clients by the Lincoln Tunnel, scared by her recent encounter with the biology teacher from Great Neck who tried to kidnap her pretending to be a cop (and whom C.C. subsequently killed). Someone flags her down looking for head. Negotiations get underway, and she gets $30 instead of the usual $20 contending that traffic coming back is heavy so the client needs to factor in her time.

19. Metro Motel

Lori gets out on the New Jersey side of the tunnel, in front of the Metro Motel. Her john is upset, because he thinks he’s going to get a return ride based on his negotiation. The Metro Motel actually exists, but is located in Woodside, Queens right on Queens Boulevard and has pretty horrific Yelp reviews. The neon signage however, is original to the motel.  

20. Supreme Books

Photo: Paul Schiraldi/HBO

In The Deuce, a character named Fat Mooney runs Supreme Books, a shop with magazines that gets raided by the cops. The actual film location is Don Panchito in Washington Heights.

21. New York City Criminal Courthouse

A number of the major players in the Times Square sex industry and the city’s criminal families show up to the New York City Criminal Courthouse to hear the verdict on a game-changing lower-court ruling on obscenity, which will pave the way for the industry to thrive.

Join us for an upcoming tour of Gritty Times Square! 

Gritty Old Times Square

Stay tuned for more from The Deuce, when it officially releases on September 10th! Check out more from our Film Locations column

One thought on “NYC Filming Locations for The Deuce about Gritty 1970s Times Square on HBO

  1. I’m watching the first episode of The Deuce, how did they re-create the theatre marquees in the scene where the girls are hanging out?

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