History and Historiography

The secret life of Times Square’s notorious porn queen

By New York Post

The late Chelly Wilson was a larger-than-life New Yorker who embodied the American dream.

“She believed America was the greatest place in the world, that you were free here to do whatever you wanted to do,” her daughter Bondi Walters told The Post.

And what Wilson wanted to do was run a porn empire.

A Greek-Jewish immigrant born in 1908 in Thessaloniki, Greece, Wilson fled the Holocaust and came to New York in 1939, where her first job was managing a hot dog cart at Dyckman Pier.

By the mid-1960s, she was one of the reigning porn movie magnates of Times Square, running five theaters along Eighth Avenue during the so-called Golden Age of Porn.

A new documentary, “Queen of the Deuce,” celebrates the wild life of Wilson, a colorful and fiery character who thrived in the midst of a heavily male-dominated milieu and hosted a rotating cast of guests and supplicants at her apartment above one of her theaters, the Eros, located on what would become one of the neighborhood’s sleaziest blocks — the east side of Eighth Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets.

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