Friends of the Library to Host Author Talk on the Former Combat Zone

The Friends of the Charlestown Branch is hosting a book presentation on Inside The Combat Zone: The Stripped Down Story of Boston’s Most Notorious Neighborhood given by author and reporter Stephanie Schorow on Thursday, Nov. 1.

The lecture is free and open to all and includes a book signing and reception.

Upscale restaurants, majestic theaters, and luxury condos line the streets of downtown Boston today. Students, office workers, doctors, and shoppers navigate the busy sidewalks along Washington and Boylston Streets, giving little thought to the historical significance of their surroundings.

The bustle distracts passersby from what may be the city’s dirtiest little secret:  these blocks were once home to Boston’s most notorious neighborhood. The Combat Zone, a five-plus-acre, city-sanctioned “Adult Entertainment District,” was as sordid and as alluring as anything found in Amsterdam or Vegas. Indeed, Boston’s now toney neighborhood once resembled a scene out of HBO’s The Deuce, all with the blessing of City officials.

In her provocative new book, Inside the Combat Zone: The Stripped Down Story of Boston’s Most Notorious Neighborhood, veteran reporter Stephanie Schorow recounts the stories that made the Zone infamous. Meet the dancers who stripped to rock ‘n’ roll, the cops who tried to keep order on the streets, and the hookers turned tricks and slipped wallets from gullible men. Go beyond the enticing marquees promoting all-nude revues to discover how the Zone — in an era dogged by miserable economics — made millions from the dark side of desire.

With Inside the Combat Zone, Schorow examines the constitutional and societal issues that led Boston to engineer an audacious social experiment, heralded across the nation as the solution to the pornography epidemic. She introduces the players who made it possible and the antics and tragedies that unfolded as a result of their decisions.

The streets come alive through interviews with former city planners, strippers, and porn merchants. Some nostalgically recall the Combat Zone as a seductive adult playground where some found the freedom to express themselves; others remember it as a dangerous, crime-ridden skid row. Schorow deftly captures a moment in Boston’s history that helped shape the city today – and will likely never be seen again.

Wheelchair accessible; conveniently located near the Orange Line and bus connections. Charlestown Branch Library, 179 Main St. For more information:  HYPERLINK “” \t “_blank”,  HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” \t “_blank” [email protected], 617-242-1248.

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