What is hidden will be revealed. Ain’t that always the way? I’m not breaking any big story when I say that, since the Giuliani administration, good New York City peep shows have been hard to find. You can still score potato pancakes at three in the morning, but try to check out some chick’s flapjacks at four in the afternoon and you’re sunk. Wondering, as always, just how low you can still go in this fair-to-middling metropolis, I decided this best-of season to jack into Times Square’s no longer fertile but still seedy peep underground. My goal? LIVE NUDE GIRLS. Come: Step into the booth with Johnny. Just mind your shoes.
On the advice of a well-known man-about-midtown, Tracy W., I begin my laborious six-block quest at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue. Behind me squats the Port Authority Bus Terminal, from which seemingly displaced people spill onto the sidewalk like so much lost seed. As they move—furtive, tense—into cabs, I cut through foot traffic and duck into marquee-marked doors.
Impressed by the planetary breadth of peeping its name suggests, I start with Peep World (693 Eighth Avenue, no number). Coldplay’s “The Scientist” plays over the speakers, and shelved pornographic videos stretch toward the wack, I mean, back room, to which I am inexorably drawn, because I have to write about it. Between the moody Britpop, shifty-eyed clientele, and wafting scent of pheromones (bleach?), my senses are underwhelmed.
Inside the ersatz stall sit a hard plastic chair and two medium-sized televisions, one on top of the other. Six large buttons —A, B, C, D, plus up-and-down arrows—jut from the wall on my right. I slip a dollar into the whirring machine, and the image of a guy getting beaten by a man with breasts pops onto the lower monitor; the upper comes alive with four scenes at once. I surf through all manner of disgusting, filthy, gross, hot skinema. Suddenly, the action gives way to an advertisement: “Get your horny weed at the front desk now!” Less than two minutes have passed.
Next I visit the large, clean Gotham City (687 Eighth Avenue, 212-445-1731) for 100 seconds of Mardi-Gras-ice-nips-handcuff-spank- anal-strap-on. (Another four dollars enables VCR controls.) In the snazzily decorated Show World (669 Eighth Avenue, 212-247-6643) where, per usual, some gay flicks pop up—a slouching guard directs patrons wanting to wash up to a closet with a propped-open door, industrial sink, and urinal. At Joy Video (557 Eighth Avenue, 212-239-0469) I watch a prone porn starlet lick a black high heel while the booth next to me gets mopped. I’m glad no one’s ordering me to the ground.
I am even gladder to stroll into Playpen (693 Eighth Avenue, 212-307-5447)—the one area peep palace, I’ve been told, featuring LIVE NUDE GIRLS. (And couples booths, how romantic!) Six or so ladies—not yet NUDE, but frilled, cinched, and otherwise tarted up—stand patiently by their doors in the almost cavernous pen, staring at yours truly. I grin at them like a dumbass. One, a petite Latina with childbearing hips and a space between her front teeth, gives me the come-hither finger curl, and I trot over like a brain-damaged puppy. For a five-minute performance she demands 20 bucks, on top of the five you put into the feeder. I request a receipt so I can expense her rubbing one out, but she laughs as if no one’s asked her that before!
When the motorized curtain comes up, she jiggles her jugs free from their lacy, underwired confines, exposing puffy nipples, and shimmies out of her thong. As she hops onto her stool and spreads her legs, feet up on the wall, I whip out my trusty reporter’s notebook. Suddenly I’m Barbara Walters. “My name is Berry. Ninety-five percent of the women in here are fucked up—they’ve seen too much dicks every day. I go to Brooklyn College for finance. Ninety-five percent of the guys who come in here are fucked up . . . ”
I ask that you not repeat what follows—it’s a little embarrassing. “Aren’t you going to jerk off?” Berry asks me. Don’t think so, I tell her. A few moments pass; she’s working two fingers into her pinkness. “Why don’t you show me your dick?” she suggests. Never one to disappoint a lady, I stand up, unzip, and pull out Johnny Jr. “You got a skinny dick,” she says seriously. “I need a man with a fat dick!” I fumblingly refer to Johnny’s average-or-better length (always a point of pride), but she’s not sold. Just as the curtain begins dropping, she looks at me and asks, “Are you gay?” I knew then what my search had actually uncovered: a LIVE RUDE GIRL.