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Romola Hodas, Daughter of Times Square’s ‘King of Porn,’ Paints a Picture of 1970s 42nd Street in Netflix’s Crime Scene Doc

Romola Hodas, Daughter of Times Square’s ‘King of Porn,’ Paints a Picture of 1970s 42nd Street in Netflix’s Crime Scene Doc

Romola Hodas crime scene the times square killer

Movie News

Romola Hodas had never heard of “Times Square Killer” Richard Cottingham before she was interviewed for Joe Berlinger and Ron Howard’s new Netflix docuseries Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer. But her memories of 1970s Times Square — a time and place when the little-known serial killer was, unbeknownst to her, silently preying on sex workers — are as fresh in her mind as ever.

Hodas is the daughter of Marty Hodas, whose 1960s and ’70s peep-show empire earned him the nickname “Times Square’s King of Porn.” Romola grew up visiting her father’s office on the corner of 42nd Street and 9th Avenue, a once-seedy part of town now occupied by manicured chain establishments like Starbucks, Pinkberry, and TD Bank.

Hodas — Romola, that is — shares her vivid memories of the old Times Square in all three episodes of Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer.

“Walking down the street, especially if it was summertime, was just a mixture of a lot of not-so-nice smells. It was very dangerous and grungy at the same time as being exciting,” she told MovieMaker.  “That was the appeal of it. The danger, the drugs, the women, the excitement — it was like a mixture, which was kind of an interesting, strange combination, that made it what it was.”

Also Read: The Unexpected Reason Why Serial Killer Richard Cottingham Is the Subject of Crime Scene Season 2

Even though she often made trips to Times Square to visit her father’s office while Cottingham was prowling the streets and committing some of his most heinous crimes — including the murders of sex worker Deedeh Goodarzi and a still-unidentified woman at a Times Square hotel in 1979 — she doesn’t remember seeing headlines about the murders, nor Cottingham’s arrest the following year.

“I didn’t know anything about him,” Hodas said. “It’s funny, because all my friends, every one of my friends, said, ‘Where was I? I do not remember this.'”

The overall lack of public awareness about Cottingham and his victims was part of the reason that Berlinger, who directed the docuseries, chose him as the focus for this season.

“He’s interesting in the annals of serial killing, because there are certain serial killers we all know,” Berlinger told MovieMaker ahead of the docuseries’ premiere last week. “If you ask most average people, ‘Hey, name a couple of serial killers,’ they’ll name [Jeffrey] Dahmer, [John Wayne] Gacy and [Ted] Bundy. But nobody really knows who Cottingham is because he preyed upon sex workers.”

Today, all of the Times Square buildings once owned and operated by Hodas’ father have been turned into restaurants and retail stores. The moment she realized that everything was about to change was when former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani closed Show World, the sex emporium nicknamed “The McDonalds of Sex.”

“I remember when Giuliani closed a store that was across the street from Port Authority,” Hodas said, “to put up the New York Times building. And when that happened, my father just knew it was over.”

Now, Times Square’s dark past can only be found in history books — and through stories told by those who still remember it. You can read all about it in Hodas’ memoir, The Princess of 42nd Street: Surviving My Childhood as the Daughter of Times Square’s ‘King of Porn.’

Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer is now streaming on Netflix.

Main Image: Romola Hodas pictured in Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer, courtesy of Netflix.

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