A lot of people have asked me when I started writing. My folks got me a typewriter for Christmas when I was in 7th grade. I started writing whatever popped into my head. I tried short stories, news articles, even started a local newspaper which lasted for an entire summer. I wrote every night. Nothing really came into focus until I discovered pornography.
Back in 1967, I went into an adult bookstore in Manhattan. I used to take the 2-hour bus ride there and hang out in the music stores downtown and in the Village. I was 16 but looked a lot older. In one of the many adult book stores, I bought some of the fledgling adult monthly magazines, most produced on newsprint in those days. When I got home to Southern NJ, I started to think that I could write stories as good as I had read in the magazines.
After working at the typewriter all night, I finished a 3000-word short story based on “Captain John’s Motel.” It was a real motel that my folks used to drive by while taking the back roads to the Jersey Shore. My brother and I used to joke that it was a fisherman’s and lover’s paradise. We would pass the time in the car making up stories about the place.
I submitted the story to a couple of the magazines. One of them bought it and paid me $300, 10 cents a word. They asked for more so I obliged, doing a series about the fabled motel. I wound up selling several stories before I got a part-time gig as a reporter/photographer for the Atlantic City Press and my local newspaper, which really launched me as a “serious” writer.
I think the adult magazine would have pooped little blue BBs if they knew I was only 16 when I was writing for them. Hey, $300 for a few hours work was pretty good for a teenager back then.
When I tuned 18 in December of 1968, I decided to visit my first adult theater. Armed with my ID, I headed off to Atlantic City. There was a huge burlesque theater down by the inlet in those days. During the winter, they didn’t have live dancers but showed XXX-rated films 24/7. My friend Joe, who had turned 18 a few months earlier, asked to go with me. We were 2 South Jersey farm hicks off for our first great “adult” adventure. We might as well have had the word “Geek” or “Nerd” tattooed on our foreheads.
Atlantic City was a weird ghost town in the winter back then (over 8 years before casino gambling). After the 1 hour drive to Atlantic City, we arrived at the theater. It was about 8 O’clock on a Tuesday night. There were a few cars in the parking lot. It was that really damp kind of cold that is so common to the Jersey Shore that time of the year. After a brief, chilly walk, we were in the lobby.
This place had once been a palace back when burlesque was considered to be an art form. Now, it was a dirty, cavernous edifice dedicated to smut. I figured it might have been the inspiration for the Grateful Dead song, “Brokedown Palace.” I was already sticking to the floor in the lobby and had decided to throw my sneakers away along with the rest of my clothes when I got home.
It smelled like combination of pine oil, mold and semen. I was surprised that there was a snack bar and that someone was actually working behind it. He looked like the artist sketches of child molesters we see on the cable news channels today. Joe was one of those guys who ate 24/7 and didn’t gain weight. I even had to stop on the way down to get him a hamburger.
Somehow I instinctively knew that eating any food from the filthy snack bar would be on a par with licking the seat in a public toilet. Joe had no such compunctions and made a beeline for the popcorn section. He returned with a large tub of grey popcorn slathered with fake butter. I had to fight the urge to hurl.
As we walked into the theater, there, on the 70-foot screen, in glorious color, was an erect penis being swallowed by a woman who looked hard enough to cut glass. I was waiting for my eyes to adjust when I realized that Joe was no longer with me. I walked out into the lobby and there was Mr. Iron Stomach throwing up. Predictably, one noticed or came over to help him.
When he stopped puking, I asked him what was wrong. “I didn’t know it was going to be like that,” he replied.
“What the f**k did you think it was going to be like?” I asked.
Joe went on to explain that he thought it would be the softer, kinder and gentler version of human sexual contact that he had seen in his father’s Playboy magazines.
No amount of convincing was going to get him back into the theater. He said he would wait in the car while I went in. Realizing that his naivety would probably get him killed out there, I decided to chalk up the gas and $5.00 admission to experience. I was able to stop Joe from asking for a refund. Of course, I did have to stop and get him 2 hamburgers on the way home. After all, his stomach was empty now.
Moving on – Are the Strip Clubs with “Dead Nude Girls” Less Expensive than the Ones with Live Nude Girls?
There were 3 “Live Nude Girl” Theaters in Southern New Jersey from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. The last one bit the dust along with many other “adult” establishments in order to transform the Admiral Wilson Boulevard into a family-oriented thoroughfare for the 2000 Republican Convention. Guess a lot of Senators, Representatives and Delegates would have taken the road on their way to the hookers in Atlantic City. The big billboard that said, “Live Nude Girls” might have offended them. Okay…?
My brother’s company did all the plumbing work for the 3 theaters when they were built. He recommended me, a penniless college student at the time, to install the sound systems and telecommunications gear. Telecommunications? Yeah, it was pretty brilliant. There was no direct contact with the “nude girls,” that would have been deemed prostitution. In these places, you paid a dollar a minute to watch the ladies dance on a revolving stage that was surrounded by about 40 pay-for-play booths. There was a small plexiglass window between you and the dancer that your dollar opened up for the minute.
When you saw someone who appealed to you, you waited until they were finished dancing and then went to their private conversation booth. It also cost a dollar a minute but the plexiglass window was much larger than the dancing circle so the women could see your genitalia. Why? Because most men would go in and have the ladies talk dirty to them while they masturbated. The worst job in the place was the cleanup guy with the mop and bucket full of Pine Sol.
Once they were operating, these places smelled like a combination of semen, cleaning solvent, cigarette smoke and an OB/GYN clinic. (I’m getting turned on already!) They had about 10 private conversation booths, all about the size of a Porta Potty. There was a telephone on each side of the booth. I can only imagine the bacteria and viruses that lived on those phones, especially on the customer side.
I was in college when I put the sound and telecommunications systems in the 3 theaters. It took about 2 weeks for each one. The semester was still going on so I had to schedule my work time for late at night into the early morning. These places ran 24/7, even in the building phase, so getting in was no problem.
They were run by an organization that thrives on cash businesses. I was paid in cash, as was my brother, when I finished each location. I had to install a “snoop system” in the phones so management could make sure the women were not hooking with the clients. While an easy feat today, it was a little tricky in the analog early 1970’s, but I was able to do it.
I felt very confident about my work and I checked and rechecked every system. Hey, these weren’t the kind of guys you wanted to disappoint. I did run out of solder for the last telephone/intercom I installed. I made a very tight pigtail splice with the wires and figured that since the whole thing was in the wall there would be no problem. When I’m wrong, I’m wrong.
One night my phone rang a little before midnight. Seems the telephone in one of the private booths had stopped working. I knew it was the one with the pigtail splice. I jumped in my car and headed to the Admiral Wilson Boulevard. It was about a half hour drive at that hour of the night.
When I got there, I went to the problem booth (they never asked how I knew which one) and started to remove the switch panel. Since one of the young ladies was in the booth. I was doing my best Greg Morris impression from Mission Impossible. I was the dancer side of the booth so I wasn’t afraid to kneel on the floor. Just random vaginal discharges, no semen/pine oil residue. I wouldn’t have to immerse myself in a vat of Clorox when I got home. Burning my pants and underwear would be sufficient.
The young lady in the tiny booth was smoking so it was like repairing a telephone in an OB/GYN clinic that was on fire. She was impressed with my technical knowhow. I could have gotten lucky but given her weathered appearance it would have probably been like throwing a hot dog down a diseased hallway.
As I was finishing up, I heard the sound of the curtain behind the plexiglass. In a few moments I was face-to-penis (through quarter inch Lexan, thank the Lord!) with a customer of the theater. He had his member in his hand and was ready for action. The woman in the booth had neglected to turn her booth light to red.
The poor guy practically castrated himself pulling his pants back up. I don’t think he heard me say, “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you like the showgirl and repair guy fantasy?” I ran out of the booth and gave the guy $20.00. I apologized and hoped he was cool with it. He took the money and walked away without saying anything. At least he didn’t go to management. The woman and I would have probably been found floating in the Cooper River the next morning.
The system was fixed and I didn’t receive any more calls from this or any of the other theaters. I would stop by from time-to-time to see how things were going. They always offered me a free half hour in a private booth with the lady of my choice. Since I really like plying the guitar and knew if I picked up one of those phones on the customer side I would have to chop my hand and ear off, I politely declined.
Epilogue – In the finest Quinn Martin tradition.
The success of these theaters spawned a spate of imitators. Back in the early 1990’s I did check a couple of them out. They were really seedy, not like the other places weren’t, but these were truly awful. And some had a private room where you could touch the women. Many were closed for prostitution, gee, what a surprise.
I was really attracted to one of the dancers at one of the “off-brand” theaters and she recognized me from QVC. I asked her if she wanted to have something to eat after her shift. (As Archer would say, “Phrasing!”) She agreed and we went to the Brooklawn Diner on Rt. 130 in Brooklyn, NJ. We started dating. She was really paying for her college education by working at this place. I helped her with a couple of her papers.
The place where she worked was a no-contact places and she was pulling down some big bucks working there. She was a single mom and her mother watched her daughter while she was “dancing.” We dated for a few months but really had nothing in common. She was really looking for a husband and I was pretty footloose and fancy free in those days. I did take her to a QVC event, so if you’re keeping score that’s one famous porn star (you’ll read about the former later in this story) and one not-so-famous exotic dancer who were my escorts while I worked there.
While most of these places have been killed off by the authorities or Internet porn, there are still a few around today, especially in Southern New Jersey. If you go to one, always remember “there is no sex in the champagne room.” You have to get a room at the motel next door.
Back to the Time Line:
In the mid-1970’s, I won a dinner date with an adult film star. I was in college at the time and an adult magazine had a contest to see who could record the “dirtiest” 3-minute adult-themed audio tape. I was a music major and produced my own original porn soundtrack (boom-chicka-wow-wow) and used all of my skill as a writer to create the most titillating narration I could muster. I won. They paid my way to New York City, by train since I lived in Southern New Jersey. Then they put me up in a 4-star hotel and picked me up in a stretch limo.
She was in the back of the limo. The woman was very nice, extremely intelligent and had 46 double Ds! We had a great conversation on the way to the restaurant. After dinner, she asked me back to her room and we did exactly what you think we did. She was fantastic (lots of practice). We stayed in touch and actually went out a few more times. I was single and in college, it was a dream come true.
Back in the 1990’s, I attended the personal appearance of a porno star in Philadelphia. It was at the adult video store on the Schuylkill Expressway, near the Walt Whitman Bridge. A totally unexpected storm came up while I was driving there. It was snowing very hard, but I had a vehicle that could make it through the weather. She was a very well-known adult film star and had even done a 2-episode cameo on a network TV cop show.
We had 6 inches of snow on the ground when I got there and it was still really coming down. The star was there, but no one else showed up. I got to have an extended conversation with her. I was flattered that she recognized me from QVC. I was a host then. The snow kept coming down and her limo driver told her he was stuck in the parking lot.
They called a tow truck but after an hour, it was obvious no one was coming. I told her I could take her back to her hotel, which was located a few miles from the store. I guess she figured I wasn’t an ax murderer. I was pretty sure she wasn’t either, although at the time I was glad I invested in those jockey shorts with the hidden ax sheath.
It took over an hour, but I got her back to the hotel. It was a full-fledged blizzard by now and it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make it back to Chester County. There were rooms available at the hotel, so I registered for the night. She was so impressed that she asked me to have a drink. I agreed. She had a full bar set up in her room. We even had breakfast together.
She did ask me about getting her videos and other products on QVC. That was pretty funny! I told her we were too “family-oriented” for that. She understood. We stayed in touch. I was single at the time and so was she. I even took her to a QVC function one time when she was in town. It was cool to see how many of the big wigs recognized her but wouldn’t admit it. None of the women seemed to recognize her. That speaks volumes about pornography’s demographic.
I have always liked pornography. Financially and otherwise, it always liked me back. And so far, I’m disease free.
© 2020 Steve Bryant – No portion of this or any blog can be reproduced or copied and posted on any online site or read aloud on any audio or video media without the express permission of the author.