Scary Bar Project: Cordato’s Deli and Bar
Joshua M. Bernstein

“I like scary bars … as long as they are not brothels,” my easily spooked friend Aaron tells me.

“Don’t worry,” I lie, “it’s not a brothel.” I omit the bit about bump-’n’-grindin’ ladies. And how an off-duty cop once shot a bargoer over spilled beer.My half-truth, however, entices him and another friend to Cordato’s Deli and Bar. It’s a seedy oddity on a stretch of Greenwich Street near Ground Zero that, the day following our visit, The New York Times branded “Sodom South.” The block houses the Pussycat Lounge strip club, Thunder Lingerie and More peep show (a reputed brothel) and Cordato’s, a seemingly mundane bodega-cum-pizzeria. Construction workers grab carbonated beverages, while secretaries gobble folded slices. Past beer coolers, though, there’s a wooden door. Consider it a barrier between a world you know and a world you shouldn’t.Beyond the pale lies a grungy, white-walled shoe box decorated with shamrocks, a boxy TV, video-poker machine and an ATM. HOT 97 hip-hop rumbles from the jukebox. The scarred bar is manned by tired-eyed women who serve Corona, Heineken and Budweiser bottles for $4—nearly quadruple the deli cost. This amounts to an ambiance surcharge.“That woman just did a 90-degree split onto that guy’s lap,” my other drinking companion says, mouth agape.
We eyeball the duo beside us, who are exploring the many wonders of friction. They have company. About eight beach-ready ladies—a United Nations of diversity—wear brightly colored bikinis and micro skirts. They’re entangled with paint-splattered day laborers, baggy-pants gangstas and Wall Street suits, performing seventh-grade dry-humping—and enacting seventh-grade fantasies. One gleeful man wearing a syracuse sweatshirt is the writhing meat in a bikini-girl sandwich.“It’s the world’s most chaste orgy,” my friend Aaron says, quickly ordering a second, then third round of beers. “We’re at Manhattan’s lap-dancing epicenter.”Given our locale, I’d say we’re at lap-dance ground zero, but this observation could be tasteless. Then again, tasteless ably describes Cordato’s. After chafing sessions finish, some men slink to the toilet. A girthy guard, prone to knocking on the bathroom door, ensures gentlemen complete fluid release in a timely—“Would you like a dance?” asks a diminutive dancer, barging in and caressing my lower back.“Uh … uh … no,” I say. “I uh … uh …”“Whatever,” she says, walking away.What I meant to say was, “No, this is too artificial. Fake smiles, fake breasts. Why are naked women the peanut butter to scary bar’s jelly?” By visiting my third bikini bar in two months, I’m a grade-A depraved hornball.But at least I’m not that deviant. In a Will Ferrell–worthy scene, a dude in a brown sweater sits on a stool. A Mexican girl laxly gyrates on his lap like she’s stirring pancake batter … while they jointly peruse a glossy celeb mag. She flips a page. Oh, Angelina! He rubs her legs. Oh, Brad! Then they speed to a conclusion best kept behind closed deli doors.Perceived Scariness (scale of 1 to 10): 7
Actual Scariness: 8 (Stick to bodega beer, and skip the sticky lap dances.)
94 1/2 Greenwich St. (at Rector St.), 212-233-1573Scary Bar Project ideas? Contact