Synopses & Reviews
Praise for Last of the Live Nude Girls
"The most compelling aspect of Last of the Live Nude Girls is that it illustrates just how easily one can wind up living a life outside the margins." Portland Mercury
"McClear writes about her secret peep-show existence with the ribald expertise of a natural storyteller, but its her deeper exploration, into the motivations behind her actions, that makes the book both memorable and highly relevant." -Daily Beast
"Sheila McClear's sharp, sweetly personal account of New York's vanished tenderloin asks the question if such supposedly degrading places are such a blight, why do we remember them with such fondness? A fascinating and honest read." Mark Jacobson, author of The Lampshade andAmerican Gangster
"McClear is most convincing and most moving, in fact, on the complex relationship between the sex trade and her own frustrated sex life." -Public Books
"Sheila McClear's beautifully detailed account of her life as a peep-show girl reads as both a eulogy and a paean to the freaks and misfits who have long given their souls to the city. Filled with psychological insight, metaphor, and above all empathy, this book should be read by anyone who has ever taken or even contemplated extreme measures to escape the pain and tedium of life, with the hope of finding some meaning or redemption along the way." Matthew Gallaway, author of The Metropolis Case
Ms. McClears closeness to the material most enriches her reporting when it comes to her coworkers. Despite their outsized personalities, they could have wound up sounding as interchangeable as their stage names, but with Ms. McClears writing, even their tattoos are memorable. Their substance abuse becomes familiar, occasionally even endearing, in a madcap way. Ms. McClear also has a keen ear for dialogue.” New York Observer
Sheila McClear is a reminder that kids can still arrive in New York City from Nowheresville and break in with some serious grit, hard work, and talent.” Out Magazine
"Everyone is required to buy two copies." Gawker
"Eye-opening, gritty, and compelling." The Paris Review Online
"A collection of disciplined and rewarding New York tales." -The L Magazine
In a peep show, a man pays $40 to watch a girl strip naked behind glass for three minutes. First appearing in Manhattan in 1972, the peeps once lined 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue by the dozen. They were not only associated with the area's honky-tonk, lowbrow entertainment, but also a symbol of its decline. Now, these strange institutions are nearly extincta relic in a rapidly gentrifying city.
There are only three live-girl peep shows left in Times Square, and Sheila McClear has worked in two of them. In The Last of the Live Nude Girls, she pulls the curtain back on the closed society of the peep shows, a world wary of outsiders and accessible only to those who have worked inside it. An introverted late bloomer from the Midwest, McClear became a stripper in the peeps as a kind of dare to herself. But after-dark Times Square seeped into her blood, and she ended up staying much longer than she ever imagined. However, the story she tells is not just of her own coming-of-agenor is it one of sex and vice and salaciousness. Rather, it is a redemptive narrative of modern life on the fringes of society in New York City.
In the last of Times Squares peep shows, a man pays $40 to watch a girl strip naked behind glass. These institutions, left over from the days when 42nd Street was the vicious center of vice, will soon disappear completely from a rapidly gentrifying New York City, their stories lost forever. Yet, the story of the peeps is too interesting and too vital to the history of Times Square not to be told.
In The Last of the Live Nude Girls, Sheila McClear pulls back the curtain back on the little-documented world of the peep shows and their history. A late bloomer from the Midwest, McClear became a stripper in the peeps after finding herself adrift in New York. But after-dark Times Square seeped into her blood, and she ended up staying much longer than she imagined. The story she tells is not just of her own coming-of-agenor is it one of sex and vice and salaciousness. Rather, it is a redemptive narrative of modern life on the fringes of society in New York City.
About the Author
Sheila McClear is a staff reporter for the New York Post
who spent nearly two years working in the last live-girl peep shows in Times Square after she moved to New York from Detroit in 2006. Her writing has also appeared on Gawker.com.