Edited by Hilton Ariel Ruiz and Beatriz Ruiz
Introduction by Carlo McCormick
Urban Studies / 80s New York / Hip-Hop Style
10.5 x 10.5 inches
over 200 full-color photographs
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 Ariel 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.
Bill Butterworth came to New York from Australia in 1964 at the age of 24. While there he worked as an usher at the old Metropolitan Opera House at 39th Street and Broadway, while also studying painting at the Art Students League of New York. In 1967 he moved to Berkeley, California where he worked as a longshoreman and was active in the antiwar movement. Butterworth returned to New York in 1970 and worked for SoHo artists as a studio assistant until 1980 when he realized a long-held goal of becoming a “photo man.” Beginning in Washington Square Park and moving, in 1983, to 42nd Street, Butterworth took photos with a medium format camera and made 8×10 color enlargements of his work, soon finding many customers. He continued as a photo man on 42nd Street for 14 years. In 1997 Butterworth left the darkroom and has spent the last 14 years videotaping amateur boxing in the New York area.
Hilton Ariel Ruiz grew up on New York City’s Lower East Side. He studied photography at Queensborough College and the Fashion Institute of Technology, and studied cinema at New York University and the School of Visual Arts, where he audited classes. Ruiz went on to found and run the Chrystie Street Gallery from 1999-2007. Ruiz is currently working on a new photography project, Boxing, as well as a film project, What Ever Happened to the Air Down Here? The True Memoirs of Gil C. Alicea.
Beatriz Ruiz grew up on New York City’s Lower East Side. She earned a BA from St. Johns University, and a master’s degree in Political Science from NYU. Ruiz is currently working on a couple of documentaries and photo projects including Boxing, alongside Hilton Ariel Ruiz.
You must be logged in to post a comment.