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N.Y. Porn King Looks to Sell Theater

Richard Basciano struggles to sell Times Square peep house
N.Y. Porn King Looks to Sell Theater
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Aug 18, 2008 12:00 PM PDT    Text size: 
NEW YORK — Richard Basciano, one of New York's most prominent adult industry veterans, is trying to go legit.

The 83-year-old entrepreneur owns the Show World theater in New York's Times Square. The theater used to burst with peep booths and stripper poles, but since Basciano joined forces with comedy tycoon Jamie Masada in 2003, the Show World has mostly transformed into a new home for the New York location of The Laugh Factory comedy theater.

But the New York Daily News reports that according to Basciano, several big-time developers want to buy the Show World and turn it into a 3,500-seat legitimate theater – and Masada is trying to stymie the deal.

Masada has filed suit, alleging that Basciano has pocketed millions of dollars and generally created an atmosphere of intimidation.

Basciano denies the allegations.

"It's not my style to intimidate anyone," he said. "I'm really taken aback by his lies."

The closing of the Show World would perhaps be the final nail in the coffin of the sleazy Times Square of old – sleaze that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani targeted during his tenure. Basciano said he has no desire to keep the sleaze in the Square.

"I could put girls in there and be within the law," he said. "But I enjoy at this stage of my life ... to be part-owner of a comedy club."

Basciano's career in adult started back in the 1960s when he started selling X-rated magazines. By the mid-80s, his empire was raking in $10 million per year.

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