THE BLOG

Forbidden Fruit

03/10/2015 10:23 pm ET | Updated May 10, 2015

2015-03-10-1426000783-2875945-550pxThe_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_by_Bosch_High_Resolution.jpgPainting: "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch

Back in the '70s there was a strip club located in the garment district, on 35th off 8th called Forbidden Fruit. That was back in the days when New York was a far more dangerous and wide open city. New York was on the skids and anything went (or goes). It was years before there was money for the kind of development that was the modus operandi behind Rudy Giuliani's clean up of Times Square. But even by the standards of the time, Forbidden Fruit lived up to its name, with totally naked often inebriated sylphs populating what was essentially an adolescent wet dream. But the name is the point. There were other strip clubs but they had more prosaic names like Diamond Lil's and Legz Diamond (which still exists). But who ever named "Forbidden Fruit" was inspired by the biblical story of temptation which led to the Adamic "Fall."

In l990, MoMA would present High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture, an exhibit curated by the then New Yorker art critic Adam Gopnik in collaboration with Kirk Varnedoe, the director of the museum's department of painting and sculpture. But it's nice when the conjunction of two impulses takes places in a truly underworld, or underground setting. Forbidden Fruit was a far cry from today's Gentlemen's lap dancing clubs (like say Scores) where sex is highly regulated, expensive and accompanied by fine food and wine. Forbidden Fruit -- its name conveying a biblical jeremiad -- could have been the second circle of Dante's Inferno where sinners as varied as Paris, Semiramis and Helen were punished for their desires. It also resembled the lust scene in David Fincher's Se7en, minus of course the murderous rape device. Forbidden Fruit was painted in chiaroscuro and the action that transpired on the premises called to mind Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights."

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}