Paradise Bootery: a Times Square shoe store, it's clientele and the inner workings of the shoe trade with the help of writer/musician Josh Alan Friedman and photographer Roberta Bayley.

Paradise Bootery | 1586 Broadway N.Y.C.
Established 1938 | Closed 2009

FROM: In Search of the Longest Stiletto
by Josh Alan Friedman

The Paradise Bootery opened at 1586 Broadway in 1925. Twenty years later, the store was acquired by Harry Weller, a double-chinned, rotund sultan of slut pumps whose supply of high heels came from a Hungarian named Alex Kaufman. An old-world shoe artisan, Kaufman acquired the store himself in the mid-1970s. Kaufman has outsmarted the trendy commercial shoe industry - he lines the walls and ceilings of his little shop with pumps, button-downs, slut platforms, and raw materials that he will soon mold around the finely turned ankles of Broadway’s slickest chicks and highfalutin broads.

Josh Alan Friedman at the Paradise Bootery
Photograph: Annie Sprinkle

Though he says he owns nine shoe stores, Kaufman can be found every evening at the Paradise. Almost every hooker in Times Square shops here, every peep show girl and topless dancer who saves her tips, and certainly any stripper worth her salt. The Radio City Rockettes from around the block drop by; stars of Broadway stage and screen have been customers for fifty-eight years. But business will never equal the days before the Latin Quarter closed, in the late sixties, when the Paradise stayed open twenty-four hours.

Josh Alan Friedman at the Paradise Bootery | Detail
Photograph: Annie Sprinkle

Fox Studios just ordered two hundred pairs of high platform forties shoes,” says Kaufman, stapling shoe boxes together after hours. “We can either duplicate them or pull them out of stock.” The secret behind this Times Square establishment is that Kaufman has been holding sixty thousand pairs of shoes in stock for years—thousands of new unsold shoes from each decade. When they come back in fashion, like forties platforms, he pulls the originals out. “Workers who made these shoes are dead; they don’t make these anymore.”

Paradise Bootery pumps
Source: Etsy

Kaufman also makes periodic trips to Bloomingdale’s, then duplicates designer brands “with even better materials.” The same pair of Charles Jourdan pumps, which cost $175 at Bloomie’s, are $40 in the Kaufman label. “Alligator shoes that sell for $700, I sell for $150.” They duplicate famous designers on premises, at 40 percent off designer cost, sans the bullshit. Kaufman remembers Liz Taylor going for one of his sandal styles: “She bought twelve pairs in each color, and we make about ten colors.”

Paradise Bootery

… Alex Kaufman’s most vexing problem at the moment is where to find a six-inch stiletto heel. The shoes, ordered by a local hooker, are otherwise finished. “The leg looks much better in a high heel. Very big difference between low heel. But for this heel, I look all over the world. They want higher all the time so they can be spotted more. But this high a heel I will never find …"

The complete "In Search Of The Longest Stiletto" and other urban NYC tales of (extra)ordinary lives and debauchery can be found in "Tales Of Times Square" by Josh Alan Friedman (Feral House, 1993 - Expanded Edition 2007).

Shoes from Paradise Bootery
New York magazine | March 6, 1978
Photograph: Jean-Paul Goude

1947-1951 | Paradise Bootery | Creations by Henri
Source: The Seductive Shoe by Jonathan Walford (Stewart Tabori & Chang, 2007)

1977 | Deborah Harry (Blondie) | Philadelphia
Photograph: Roberta Bayley
Source: Blondie Unseen 1976-1980

For the second show in Philadelphia, Debbie wore a bondage-influenced mini-dress from the London store Boy. She debated whether to wear her Paradise Bootery ‘Marilyn’ heels (the ones she wears on Parallel Lines) or more practical sneakers. In the end, she wore the heels for her entrance, and later changed between songs to the sneakers! 
Roberta Bailey
FROM: Blondie Unseen 1976-1980 (Plexus Publishing, 2006)

1978 | Deborah Harry
Parallel Lines photo shoot
Photograph: Roberta Bayley

Blondie - 1978 - Parallel Lines (Crysalis)
Cover Photo by Edo Bertoglio


This store has become one of my favorite hangouts. I purchased a pair of burgundy suede go­go boots that originally sold for two hundred dollars. The one pair left was a tiny display size 5 which fit me perfectly. They are lined in supple milk­white flawless kid. Although the original heels were very cute and mod, not to mention good for dancing. 

I preferred a low stiletto heel for a tougher biker chick look. For a mere twelve dollars extra, the Paradise made new heels from my own design and matched the suede covering almost perfectly. For almost next to nothing I had a truly one of a kind pair of handmade red suede sweeties! The slogan on my receipts makes me grin: "Smart footwear ­ For the Woman Who Knows." Knows? Sure. Shoes are important on many levels...

Deena Schwartzbaum
Bondage model, go-­go dancer

"When I say they've destroyed New York's old stores, bars, restaurants, hangouts, I'm saying the real estate market has destroyed the sacred watering holes and gathering places of the 20th century."

Josh Alan Friedman

Blondie - 1999 - Maria CD Single (Beyond Music)
Photography/Art Direction: Rob Roth