Show World Owner Wants to Transform Legendary Building

NEW YORK — The owner of Times Square's famed Show World adult emporium hopes to turn the building into a comedy club or other more PG venture, according to the New York Daily News.

The only obstacle in 83-year-old Richard Basciano's way is a lawsuit filed against him in Manhattan Federal Court by his partner, Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada. Masada claims Basciano intimidated and cheated him out of millions in the 50/50 partnership they've held since 2003 in a Laugh Factory branch inside the Show World building.

The 16,700-square-foot building now houses adult products and entertainment in only 40 percent of its space — a change it had to make in order to stay open under the anti-porn laws enacted by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration. The greater part of the real estate is now billed as "Times Square Arts Center, All-Star Comedy."

Once great friends, Basciano and Masada have become bitter enemies. Masada has accused Basciano of forcing him to sign away 25 percent of his profits in their partnership with intimidation tactics including threats and holding him at gunpoint.

Basciano calls Masada's claims outright lies. He says Masada mismanaged the Show World Laugh Factory and defaulted on $1.5 million in rent.

Basciano hopes to develop the Show World site through a 99-year ground lease or enter into a joint venture to transform it.

To read the full Daily News story, click here.