For Immediate Release
Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723
TROY, N.Y. (5/5/14) – May 5 is best known as Cinco de Mayo. But tonight’s festivities in Troy will have an added local twist: a tribute to Collar City Madam Mame Faye, who died on May 5, 1943.
Several “watering holes” in that city will be giving a nod to its seedier past tonight by turning on red lights. Until the 1940s, Troy’s “Famous Red Light District” was known far and wide for its look-the-other way attitude towards the “oldest profession.”
Though brothels were technically illegal, there were once five “houses of ill repute” on 6th Ave. in Troy along the train tracks. Several police officers from the nearby police station are said to have worked there as bouncers when off duty. And a newspaper advertisement from the 1930s advertised:
Red Light District
Known Coast to Coast Satisfaction Guaranteed – $2.00
Catering to Your Every Whim
Do it or Have it Done
Pitch ‘Til You Win for a Duce
Special Attention Given to High School Boys and Traveling Salesmen
1721 – 6th Ave. — FRANKIE MASON’S 3 Ring Circus
1723 – 6th Ave. – MADAM LOUISE’S Crab Orchard
1725 – 6th Ave. – MAME FAY’S Notchery
1733 – 6th Ave. – LOTTIE DENVER’S Cupcake Revue
1737 – 6th Ave. – MIDRED HAMILTON’S Sandwich Shoppe
(Note: Mame Faye’s name was often spelled with variations.)
For one night only, the following Troy bars will be displaying red lights and serving up naughty-named cocktails in memory of Faye:
Lucas Confectionery,* 12 Second Street
Bootlegger’s on Broadway, 200 Broadway
Finnbar’s Irish Pub, 452 Broadway
Ryan’s Wake Public House, 403 River Street
Brown’s Brewing Co., 417 River Street
The Ruck, 104 3rd Street
O’Briens at The Trojan Hotel and Trojan Taproom will be closed tonight but will display two red light bulbs as part of the tribute.
* Lucas Confectionery will offer half-price bottles of Red Wine during “Cino de Wino” and will screen the documentary film about Faye, “Sittin’ on a Million,” by Penny Lane and Annmarie Lanesey in the rear patio area.
Local author and history buff Duncan Crary arranged the low-key tribute after other residents of Troy expressed interest.
“We’re not advocating for illicit activities tonight,” Crary said. “The infamous red light districts in Troy, Albany and Saratoga were shut down long ago, and probably for good reason. But they are a real chapter in our history. And it’s interesting to remember the shadier episodes and figures from our past.”
Like other figures of questionable character in this region — i.e. Jack “Legs” Diamond, Bartholomew “Bat” Shea, John “Old Smoke” Morrissey — Faye had some redeeming qualities, Crary said, noting her reputation for donating some of her ill-gotten funds to charity.
“Lots of Trojans still have stories to share about Faye, either from direct experience or through their parents or relatives,” Crary said. “Be sure to ask around about her.”
Mame Faye is buried at Saint Joseph’s Cemetery in South Troy (her tombstone reads: Mary A. Fahey Bonter “Mame Fay” 1866 – 1943). An operating Troy-based tugboat is named in Mame Faye’s honor.
For information about Faye, visit:
* Best interview opportunities with locals will be at Ryan’s Wake Pub at 5:30 p.m. Best bet for photo ops will be outside Bootlegger’s on Broadway or in the rear patio of Lucas Confectionery. Finnbar’s Pub is located the closest to the former Red Light District.
CONTACT: Duncan Crary, 518-274-2723 DCC@DuncanCrary.com