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A PG-13 Moment

Posted by Jim Botticelli  January 25, 2014 05:01 PM

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A PG-13 moment in the Combat Zone, 1978. Photo by David DeMilo

The very phrase Combat Zone evokes strong reactions among most locals over 30. Forbidden and irresistible simultaneously, the Zone was originally given its moniker in a series in the old Record American written by Jean Cole in the 60s. The term combat seemed to cover the character of the Zone as a neighborhood plagued by crime and violence, and as a popular destination for military personnel on liberty in the port of Boston. Following the decimation of the West End and the destruction of Scollay Square, what could a poor boy do except to head to the Combat Zone? There they could see what replaced the Old Howard Theater burlesque entertainers like Ann Corio. Now that poor boy could enjoy caged go-go dancers doing the frug, the pony, the monkey and the jerk in high energy performances made famous in classic B-movies of the 60s. But go-go came and went relatively quickly and was replaced by harder core strippers who provided much of the indoor entertainment at the Two O'Clock, The Teddy Bare and the Naked I. Prostitutes provided the rest.
Photo by MJ Wilson,

While there was a hue and cry to delete the Zone as a go-to section of town, there were those who took a more libertarian view toward the vice industry. These included such diverse politicians as Barney Frank and George Romney (Mitt's father) who believed vice to be essential to the growing convention business Boston was beginning to attract. Time wasn't on their side, no it wasn't. These days vice is a private affair and what was once the Combat Zone is pristine beyond belief to those who remember the Dirty Old Days. Chinatown couldn't be happier.

Wikipedia is helpful in providing some basics.

Please 'like' us on Facebook as Dirty Old Boston. Coming in 2014, Dirty Old Boston, the book.

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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