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Last Sex Shop On Upper West Side Closes

By Leslie Albrecht | June 30, 2011 8:48am | Updated on June 30, 2011 8:46am

By Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE — Upper West Siders are still mourning the loss of H&H Bagels, but another longtime business closed recently to little fanfare.

Amsterdam Video, believed to be the last hardcore pornography shop on the Upper West Side, shuttered about two weeks ago after 20 years on Amsterdam Avenue between West 73rd and West 74th streets.

Unlike H&H Bagels, there were no rallies to save the small sex shop, and no hand-wringing editorials in the New York Times about whether the store's demise spelled the end of the Upper West Side.

Nestled between an old-fashioned barber shop with a striped pole outside and a florist selling bright bunches of freesia, Amsterdam Video's hot pink neon sign and scantily clad mannequins didn't quite fit in with the rest of the block.

"It was raunchy stuff," said commercial real estate broker Rafe Evans of Walker Malloy & Company, who's looking for a new tenant for the space. "It was a classic Times Square porn store. It was a trench coat and fedora kind of store."

A Jacques Torres gourmet chocolate store and two Italian eateries down the block attract steady foot traffic, but locals said Amsterdam Video never seemed very busy. Some speculated that the ready supply of free porn on the Internet had probably ruined the business.

Its owners could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

"It wasn't really the proper neighborhood for it," said Brooklyn resident Preston Casertano outside the darkened storefront on Wednesday. "If people do anything like that around here, they do it on the down low."

But nearby businesses said the sex shop kept a low profile, and didn't lure unsavory characters to the neighborhood, as some people feared when it first opened, said Monica Valencia of Andrade's Shoe Repair.

"I thought it might be the beginning of a negative change in the neighborhood, but I can't complain," Valencia said. "As time went by, they didn't do anything bad."

Still, Valencia remembers steering her young daughters away from the shop's windows, which until recently displayed a naughty Mrs. Claus costume. She said she's hoping a "more useful" business will replace Amsterdam Video.

Tara Rizzi, general manager at Italian restaurant Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto, said she was "indifferent" to the sex store, where some of her employees bought Christmas party gag gifts.

"It's not like it was drawing in bad people to the neighborhood," Rizzi said.

The erotic emporium even provided some unexpected benefits.

"We don't have a waiting area, so it was something customers could look at when they were waiting for a table," Rizzi said.

One local resident said he was disappointed to see Amsterdam Video leave, because it seemed to be another sign that the Upper West Side is losing its neighborhood character.

Evans said he's optimistic about filling the vacant space quickly. Monthly rent on the 588 square-foot shop will be in the "mid $8,000's," Evans said.

He said he didn't know why the store had closed, but noted that the Upper West Side had changed dramatically since Amsterdam Video opened.

"That was 20 years ago," Evans said. "Things were different. It was a rougher, grittier time. Needle Park was right there. Most people would agree it's changed for the better."

Needle Park was once the junkie-inspired nickname for Verdi Square, at West 72nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, where earlier this month a gelato truck opened for business.