�
You are here: Home » Adult Webmaster News » Adult Entrepreneur, Real Estate Developer Richard...
Select year   and month 
 
May 03, 2017

Adult Entrepreneur, Real Estate Developer Richard Basciano Passes

NEW YORK CITY—For decades, anyone who was anyone in the adult industry in New York City (and Philadlephia, for that matter) knew who Richard Basciano was. It was Basciano's real estate acumen that led him to buy up properties cheaply in the Times Square area in the 1960s and '70s when few other businesses wanted to locate there, and to open several businesses catering to adult entertainment clientele, including the world famous adult emporium Show World, leading the press to refer to him as the "porn king of Times Square." Basciano, who had been in failing health for more than a year, died on Monday, May 1, at his home in New York City at the age of 91. "Mr. Basciano lived an epic life as a bricklayer, amateur boxer, and World War II combat veteran who built a modest business speculating in rundown urban real estate into a multimillion-dollar empire after he took over the Times Square pornography trade," reported Philly.com's Joseph A. Slobodzian. By about 1985, Basciano had ownership interest in more than two dozen Times Square properties, many of which housed adult businesses such as bookstores and peepshows, leading The New York Times to call him "a dominant figure in New York's sex industry." Show World in particular provided a refuge for the Big Apple's nascent porn community, with Annie Sprinkle telling Legs McNeil and Jennifer Osborne in The Other Hollywood that, "When Show World started to have porn stars appear live, that's what put me through college." Adult director Fred Lincoln created an ongoing show at Show World called "Ultra Burlesque," which former adult performer (and AVN editor) Tim Connelly stated "could be anything; S&M shows or burlesque skits, live sex or strippers." "Show World was really happening," Sharon Mitchell recalled. "It had four floors with different types of sex—you know, transsexuals, porn stars, unisexuals, S&M shows. Everybody was there, and we were all featuring at different times." Eventually, though, Basciano ran into problems with the property, first with the vice squad raiding the shows several times for lewdness and prostitution, and later, when Times Square property started to become among the most valuable real estate in the city, with Mayor Rudy Giuliani pledging to "clean up Times Square" by pushing through onerous zoning regulations designed to shut down adult businesses. It was at around this time that The New York Times did a story on the crackdown on adult, and on Basciano himself, noting that, "a provision of the zoning ordinance ... would bar sex businesses from operating within 500 feet of a school, day-care center or house of worship," one of which, the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Cross, was just around the corner on 42nd Street. That began a decade-long scramble for shop owners to bring in other, non-adult-related items to sell in order to avoid being labeled as an "adult business." And also during that time, Basciano became one of the major funders of the Coalition for Free Expression, which The Times described as "a band of adult sex shop owners who plan to sue the city to block the zoning change on First Amendment grounds." "We represented him in attempting to stop the city's efforts to close down Show World and several of his other businesses because of a big push to get all adult businesses out of the Times Square area through zoning and other tactics," said First Amendment attorney Erica Dubnow, referring to herself and her late partner Herald Pryce Fahringer who represented Basciano for more than 20 years. "I certainly think of Richard as a great benefactor of the First Amendment, but also fiercely loyal to his employees because at one point, people were talking about closing down Show World when the real estate became worth so much more than the business was, and Richard didn't want to, because he didn't want his people, his long term employees, to lose their jobs, and I thought that that was very important." But Basciano did see the writing on the wall, with The New York Times noting in 1995, "City officials acknowledge that Mr. Basciano was also helpful in the recent push to revitalize 42nd Street. Bowing gracefully to the needs of a city-backed redevelopment project, he sold his Show Palace Theater, his Show Center Peep Show and two other buildings, including one adjacent to the New Amsterdam Theater that Disney officials plan to renovate for family-oriented productions." Basciano did his best to stay out of the limelight, with his last reported interview being in 1982, and not much is known about his personal life. "He really was a very savvy entrepreneur who was a real estate developer; I think that was one of his greatest assets and skills," said Dubno. "He was a fighter; he had a boxing ring inside his office above Show World and he really was a boxer. My late partner had boxed for the army, and so they bonded over their mutual love for boxing." Basciano soon expanded his real estate empire into Philadelphia, with Slobodzian noting that, "In the early 1990s, Mr. Basciano’s network of adult theaters and bookstores expanded into Philadelphia, where he bought the Forum, the city's oldest adult theater, as well as a strip of abandoned and rundown businesses on Market between 21st and 23rd Streets." Things proceeded for Basciano without incident for more than a decade, but in June 2013, as Basciano's construction crews were tearing down several of the Market Street properties in an effort to revitalize the area by building a twin-tower complex that was a mix of residential and commercial space, one of the half-excavated walls collapsed on a Salvation Army thrift store, killing seven people and injuring another dozen. Though Basciano was never charged with any wrongdoing in the accident, several of those injured and the families of the dead sued Basciano, his company, the Salvation Army and several others. The case dragged on until January of this year, when a Philadelphia Common Pleas jury found the defendants guilty of causing the deaths and injuries, and on Feb. 8, a $227 million settlement was announced, largely funded by Basciano and the Salvation Army. "Mr. Basciano had a big heart," said Thomas A. Sprague, Basciano's attorney in the lawsuit, upon hearing of his client's death, "and I think that his concern about the accident and those killed and seriously injured weighed upon him very much and no doubt took a toll on his health." The exact cause of Basciano's death has not been announced, nor have any plans for a memorial.

 
�
�
�
home | register | log in | add URL | add premium URL | forums | news | advertising | contact | sitemap
copyright © 1998 - 2009 Adult Webmasters Association. All rights reserved.