The Rialto Report returns from vacation next week, but in the meantime we wanted to share a selection of photos taken at the Come Again erotic boutique in the mid 1980s.
The pictures were taken by Efrain Gonzalez, a veteran chronicler of the underworld of New York since the 1970s.
The event he covered featured adult film stars Candida Royalle, Tiffany Clark, Marc Stevens, and Jose Duval.
Come Again, described as a one-stop erotic shopping emporium, was situated first at 246 East 51st Street before moving to 353 East 53rd Street. It was owned and run by Helen Wolff.
Helen was a New York institution in the world of sex. She started one of the city’s first swing clubs (she claims to have introduced future Plato’s Retreat founder, Larry Levenson, to swinging), and regularly supplied garments and toys to New York sex films. She could be fastidious and particular (you had to check your bags in at the shop counter), but behind this meticulous exterior was a well-informed business proprietor with a caring and well-developed social conscience. Come Again donated free condoms by the box-load to PONY (Prostitutes of New York) and to various Manhattan outreach projects that helped sex workers. And Helen was always on hand to provide personal advice to shoppers.
The store stayed open for several decades, weathering the storms of AIDS (Helen stated that “erotic literature and fetish items tripled in sales when AIDS blew up”) and legislation designed to reduce the activity of sex shops (“we sell some porn, but very little – we’re mainly about bondage equipment, erotic toys and role playing costumes.”)
Come Again stayed open longer than other similar businesses, because in the words of Wolff, “we’ve always followed the rules – and we don’t sell sex, we sell things that lead to sex.”
The business closed down recently – the location now is home to a florist.
For more of Efrain Gonzalez photographs, you can visit his site here.
You can also listen to our podcast interview with Candida Royalle here, our Tiffany Clark podcast interview here, and our two part oral history of Marc Stevens.
Jose Duval, Helen Wolff, Tiffany Clark, Marc Stevens
And i thought you guys were meant to be on holiday?!?!?!?!?!
Well i’m pleased that you found time for this post. God, Tiff and Candida were gorgeous.
Happy 2018 – and keep up the AMAZINGLY GOOD work!!!
Thank you Paul!
Efarin’s pictures are wonderful. It’s a blessing that he was documenting the scene. Invaluable…
Happy 2018 RIALTO people. You are the gretatest website in the world.
Thank you Sam!
What a great trip down Mammary Lane. I always enjoyed writing about Helen and Come Again. (I also loved that she always had a fishbowl of free condoms on the counter to give away!) I spotted editor extraordinaire Neil Wexler (glasses, Keith Haring lookalike) in a few shots. And that’s the great smut scribe Jack Shugg in the shades and the “Jack” belt buckle.
You make me young, again, with the fabulous pics of my friends in our glorious youth. Mwah
“The business closed down recently – the location now is home to a florist.”: there’s an incredibly funny joke here, but I just can’t nail it down. 😉
Wow! I used to work a few blocks away from this place and me and my then girlfriend, made a few purchases here. They used to run ads on Ugly George’s VHS tapes. So Cool!
Come Again! Best porn shop name ever. Those 80s babes still rule the roost. The shop owner is mighty hot herself. Love the socks which are a huge turn on for me. The xxx video download page was boring and still mailing it in today. Come to RR and a vacation post blows the boring downloads out of the water with what works best. Old school makes the grade. Be happy in 2018! \(^_^)/
The photographs are just fantastic. Thanks folks.