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Tag Archives: Eighth Avenue

Remembrance of New York City dungeons past…

Folks were recently chatting on Twitter about the differences between the online femdom scene of today and the old days, back when dungeons and dommes had to be sought out in a more stealthy manner, when most mistresses made their money by doing real-time sessions rather than having the option of concentrating on filming clips and getting financial tributes via the Internet.

My British artist colleague Sardax just did an excellent post about seeking femdom experiences over in England back in the pre-Internet days. You can find it here.

For me, back in the 70s through the early 2000s, a femdom experience (and they were always commercial ones for me) could first start with a perusal of SCREW newspaper, which featured classified ads that tempted me into the ladies’ lairs. (Yes, I know the word “lair” is a melodramatic one, but that’s what they felt like to me in my nervous anticipation of my forays therein.)

 

 

Later I discovered the fetish-oriented femdom tabloids like DOMINANT MYSTIQUE and THE VAULT, which more specifically showcased the BDSM scene, often with large, tantalizing, and beautifully done photographs. I also looked at femdom magazines which very much got me into the mood for a real-time experience.

I never had these encounters when I was in an intimate relationship with someone, though. I kept them separate. There was a wide chasm between my attempts to have a “vanilla” existence and my expeditions into the kink world.


Once I was unattached again and decided to visit a mistress, it was then a matter of finding a phone booth from where I could call anonymously to get more information about her (nobody used the term “domme” then, as far as I knew) and where, approximately, to go for the scene and how much it would cost. I was paranoid about calling some total stranger from my home phone (there was still no *69 yet to block one’s own number); and of course there were no cellphones decades ago.

Once an appointment was agreed upon, the actual location of the dungeon or private studio would only be given to a first time visitor right before coming for the session, usually by calling the dungeon from a specified phone booth across the street, where the mistress could perhaps see you on the street from a window and, presumably, size you up. Once in the dungeon or studio, you’d get undressed, hand over the fee (over the years from mostly the 1980s to the early 2000s spanning $100-200, plus a tip afterward), then discuss the scene with the mistress and get down to it. It’s been quite a few years since I last went to a pro-domme, but that’s basically the routine that I recall following.

In the years afterward, I became more comfortable discussing some of my submissive fantasies with the dancers in strip clubs, and began to get my femdom thrills during the private $20-per-song dances instead. I also had some erotic femdom roleplay in the 80s and 90s in the “one-on-one” booths in Times Square, where the customer would be on one side, the performer on the other, and you’d watch her through glass and talk to her via a telephone. Actually, those were pretty hot experiences and I should really write an entire post about them sometime. Economical, too. Those booths used to cost only about $1 a minute (designed to use as tokens the one dollar coins with the image of feminist Susan B. Anthony on them). Since the scenes usually took about ten-fifteen minutes, the cost was around $20-$25, including a ten dollar tip. Not trying to reduce things to dollars and cents, but sex history is also economic history…

Anyway, going to professional dominatrices in dungeons was a mixed bag for me. As I came to realize, looking back over the years, I never enjoyed paying for erotic experiences very much; I did it (repeatedly, of course) because I was young, horny, and the women were so physically alluring and tantalizing to me (and usually much more glamorously attractive than those I could meet in my day-to-day life); but there was no way I could rationalize the ego-deflation I felt by being a “trick” —as I called myself in the spirit of being “realistic” about what I was actually doing.

You see, I never thought of myself as a “client” of a dominatrix but always as a “john.” I grew up in a conservative Midwest Jewish background (not overly religious, but sexually and psychologically uptight) and my erotic adventurousness was badly tempered by feelings of shame and guilt that I was not living up to the image of “being a good boy” with which I was indoctrinated. So I always felt there was something “wrong” with me because I had to “pay for it”–not to mention that I was paying for female domination (!), which was really considered beyond the pale thirty, forty years ago. I went to therapy for nine years and one of the topics I always brought up was how I could act more “normal.” Didn’t happen. 😉

Now, I’m not making a value judgment about pay-for-play; in fact I am grateful for the encounters which relieved many a lonely hour; and I believe in sex work decriminalization. I am simply expressing here what I felt about my personal experiences with it. So even though I did have fun now and then, the femdom sessions I had in dungeons or, earlier, New York’s apartment brothels and massage parlors, seemed to have very little resonance in my imagination or fantasies. Instead, I mostly fantasized about women whose pictures I saw in magazines, or in videos. I also liked written erotica; art (by everyone from Stanton to Bilbrew to Harukawa to Sardax); short stories; and audio files by femdom erotica creators ranging from Keri Pentauk (of WHAP Magazine fame) to Goddess Lycia; still do. Yes, I have always been partial to the erotic world stimulated between my two ears.

Some of the best femdom experiences I ever had in real-time, real-life, were with a beautiful and very intelligent Asian-American stripper in the early 2000s who came to understand my fantasies. In a friendly yet professional way, she asked me what I liked and then indulged those preferences in verbal roleplay while she gave me lapdances in a midtown club. I did not feel paying for lapdances or drinks was as hurtful to my wobbly self-esteem as going to dominatrices or, earlier, to those apartment brothels where I first explored some of my fetish and submissive desires; so for quite a few years the strip clubs became my venue of choice to explore my submissiveness. I only really stopped when the sex magazine business in which I worked began to crumble in the wake of the Internet, and my income declined. Simply, I could no longer afford the indulgence of spending money on twenty-dollar lapdances or on the dancers’ expensive drinks.

Often when I left a dungeon I would feel glad that I had gone; it was cathartic and I usually enjoyed the encounter with the mistress. Now and then a session wouldn’t be good, but generally the ladies were friendly and decent even if the chemistry was lacking in our session. But being playfully dominated in the strip club setting became more enjoyable for me, partly because I could spend less and I ended up preferring that. Also, in the strip club, I felt as if my desires were more integrated with the rest of my life—I just walked in, hung out for awhile, and left— whereas when I went to a pro-domme or a dungeon (or to vanilla hookers before that), I felt as if I were going into another, faraway zone (calling from a certain phone booth, etc.) and it was more stressful to me.

On trips to dungeons I only even took the bare minimum of identification in my wallet in case I was somehow going to be robbed during the session (which had happened to me in the 70s once). Maybe that was paranoid of me, but I thought I was being prudent too. And, even if the places were friendly and well-run, for me trips to dungeons or studios felt secretive and shameful; and, after I went to a couple of places that did not seem any too clean (including one very famous dungeon), possibly not all that hygienic either. And again, I don’t mean to sound judgmental; I am just describing my probably over-neurotic feelings for the sake of honesty and a sex history perspective. Looking back, I think I was overly fastidious—but returning to the subject of my background, I grew up with hypochondria and “germ-consciousness” in my family life. It’s a wonder, in fact, that I even could have even started going to hookers or mistresses at all, given my hang-ups; but one can never underestimate the horniness of the young, especially when gorgeous streetwalkers in hot pants and platform heels patrolled Eighth Avenue in its last fabled years of rich raunchiness, the ladies flaunting their wares to the lonely, the throbbing, and the susceptible.

I noticed in Sardax’s piece on this topic of bygone days (again, you can find that here)  that he discussed the idea of meeting people through contact ads. That was something I never tried to do; I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of writing a letter to a stranger about the fantasies of sexual submission I felt so ambivalent about. That’s undoubtedly why I just focused on commercial transactions with professional dominatrices. I did once go to a meeting of The Eulenspiegel Society, the well-known BDSM group, thinking perhaps I could meet a mistress that way; but I couldn’t get into joining or participating, I was still too unaccepting of my feelings and still wishing I could be “vanilla.”

This post was difficult for me to complete. I’ve been working on it since March 2019 and only finished it because Sardax’s post inspired me to finally get it done. I wish I could have struck a lighter tone, as he did. Anyway, forgive me if I went off on personal tangents possibly unrelated to the topic, but I decided to leave them in to give you a sense of what it was like for me, one person, to deal with the fulfillment of these submissive desires in the days before the easier-to-access pervy plenitude on the Worldwide Web.

 

 

 

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Jane Dickson’s art reminds me of lively lonely nights in sleazy old Times Square…

I recently caught up with “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air,” an exhibit of paintings by Jane Dickson which bring to life the Times Square of the old sleazy era in the 80s and 90s. Her style is her own but its impact reminds me of Edward Hopper’s, evoked primarily through urban night scenes; as in Hopper’s works, deserted streets and places have a loneliness that’s not entirely sad, but also thoughtful, introspective, almost peaceful, and sometimes even inviting—as in this picture of a guy with a placard for a club called Dreams (I vaguely remember that club’s name, although I don’t remember if I ever went there)…

Jane Dickson: “Dreams” 2018

Dickson’s paintings in this excellent show at the James Fuentes Gallery on NYC’s Lower East Side (on display through February 17, 2019) feature a woman’s face looking through noirish Venetian blinds; a boy at a bus stop in an ominously red full face mask; a girl dancing in peep show with a customer on the other side (we get the peep show’s window eye view)…

Jane Dickson: “Peep,” 1992-96

 

There’s a painting of a low angle on a woman navigating a baby stroller down a stairs; the front of the big Peepland that was situated mid-block on the south side of 42nd between 7th and 8th Avenues; cops running on the street in some kind of frenzied police action; an evocation of the Terminal Bar that used to be (if I recall correctly) at 40th and 8th Avenue; and my favorite painting, showing a long hallway leading to the “employees only” area of a strip club, with a solitary half-naked dancer, almost out of eye view, leaning against the wall–you can almost imagine the rasping sound the linoleum would make beneath her high heels…

Jane Dickson: “Employees Only,” 2000

The colors of Dickson’s paintings and their varying sizes suggest indirectly a complex mix of personal emotions, those of the painter or (more vaguely) of the subjects of the pictures, just as Hopper paintings do for their era. One painting I also particularly liked, and one of the largest, was a vertiginous angle on the stairway/escalator leading downstairs in the old Nathan’s Hot Dogs that used to be at 43rd and Broadway…

Jane Dickson: “Nathan’s,” 1984-86

I went down that stairway many a time to eat a frank in the forlorn expanse of the lower level dining room (I lived in Times Square myself in the 80s, only a few blocks up).  This painting in particular reminds me how the old raunchy neighborhood (I never called it “The Deuce” myself back in the day) might have made you feel lonely, or was a place you went to hang out when you were already feeling lonely (or horny); but it didn’t necessarily make you feel ashamed of being lonely (or horny), as the new overly technological tourist-filled Disneyesque miasma of 21st century Times Square does for me. Once you were allowed to sit in your solitude in Times Square, perhaps feeling forsaken but not defective for not having a wife or family in tow; knowing that you could find distraction only steps away in any number of strip clubs or peep shows or in library-like adult bookstores where you could stand wordlessly side-by-side with other strangers and browse through assemblages of erotica that sometimes, depending on the particular store, could appear to the scholarly-minded almost Smithsonian in their range. After all, it was in places like this that I found rare mint copies of the original John Willie BIZARRE magazines from the 1940s, at prices so low it was clear the merchants had no idea of the value of what they were selling.

So if you have a casual interest, a deep nostalgia, or a fascinated yearning for the bygone Times Square depicted in HBO’s series The Deuce (see my own thoughts on the show here), check out Jane Dickson’s beautifully evocative paintings at the James Fuentes Gallery, located at 55 Delancey Street. Here is a link to more info, and another link to an interview with Ms. Dickson and a preview of the paintings. Also check out this interview by Ben Yakas in The Gothamist on the occasion of the publication of her book of street photography and art, Jane Dickson in Times Square, which you can find on Amazon here.

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Postscript: It’s funny, but I just realized, in looking this over as I was editing, that my selection of the pictures to illustrate this review really evokes a typical night for me back in the 80s or early 90s. I didn’t assemble the pictures consciously with this in mind, but studying them now I see how they match the pattern of my many lively lonely travels through Times Square. Seeing a guy advertising a club, I might have gone to the venue, or maybe first to a peep show, then to the club; later, in the strip joint and having had a few beers, I would invariably head to the men’s room and might well have seen a dancer having a cigarette back near an “Employees Only” area; and finally, having had my raunchy fun at the club (or even been disappointed, as could frequently happen), I’d stop at Nathan’s for a hot dog and Coke…a meal that could be lonely, yes, but also satisfying in a quasi-Romantic “I’m a lone wolf” kinda way…  😉 You know, “lone wolf” as in David Janssen in the great old 60s tv series The Fugitive? Except that I was probably just running away from having to spend too much time alone with myself…

But that’s the subject for another post someday.

 


All examples of the paintings shown here are by Jane Dickson, as displayed at the James Fuentes Gallery NYC January 16 through February 17, 2019.

 

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Alicia Silverstone’s cute bare behind…

I’m so grateful they haven’t gotten rid of all the sexy sights in NYC’s “family-friendly” tourist-obsessed Times Square.

I snapped this pic on Eighth Avenue a few months ago, just across from the New York Times Building on Eighth Avenue.

I must say Alicia Silverstone has a nice bottom! I wonder what all those families thought about it…

 

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2018 in Erotica, New York City, Times Square

 

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What was the crossdresser thinking about?

Memorable sight on the street last weekend in New York City…

On Eighth Avenue near 48th Street around 3:00 p.m. on Saturday 5/19/12, a couple. A very pretty black-haired young woman in a black dress with a flared skirt, holding the hand of a not-handsome man in a blonde wig, heavy makeup, red and white minidress with horizontal stripes, and bony bare legs on strappy heels. He looked nervous and uncertain as he walked. She looked confident and understanding. What was their story? Was she indulging a boyfriend’s need to crossdress and go out in the world? Or was she perhaps punishing him in some kind of roleplay game? Or was she a hired dominatrix taking a feminized slave out for a walk on the crowded sunny street? What was the crossdresser thinking about? I couldn’t help but wonder.

This drawing by the great Eric Stanton, which I found on the cool site Permanent Obscurity, captures the feeling of uncertainty in the man’s face as I saw it, even though the circumstances of the drawing are different:

The caption at Permanent Obscurity, “The loneliness depicted in [Stanton’s] characters transcends that of a mere ‘comic book’ artist” is also what I saw in the face of the feminized man on the street. Anxiety too. Of course, this is my interpretation. I have no idea what he was actually thinking. I turned to watch them, but they were quickly lost in the milling tourist crowds spilling over from Times Square.

Seen on Sunday 5/20/12 on Ninth Avenue: man who covered up his head in his zipped jacket, so he looked either as if he had no head, or his head was invisible. An invisible man. There are many scruffy fellows along Ninth Avenue between 40th Street going down into the 20s, but this one stood out in my mind. It was as if he had zipped up his face to commune with the darkness of his jacket (and the weather was quite warm, so it must have been hot in there, too).

I couldn’t find any comparable picture to conjure that up for you visually.

Finally, also on Sunday 5/20/12, I saw a girl in a tight skirt, high heels, and a halter, sashaying into the Dream Hotel on 16th Street near Ninth Avenue. Literally a head-turner and not just for me. She was almost like a cartoon out of the great Bill Ward:

Her butt did look like the one in this cartoon, although she wasn’t dressed with stockings; and her expression of indifference to everybody ogling her was just about the same. I found this pic at the site Live Auctioneers.  I don’t resemble the guy in that hat although my gaping expression was probably similar.

On another note, I found an intriguing book at a memorabilia show last weekend, yet another addition to my small library of tomes about the history of prostitution throughout the world–a subject I always find interesting. I was once even on the radio back in the 1970s to discuss an article I wrote myself about the history of brothels for the men’s magazine Swank.

What a seedy title, no? And blunt. Will have to dip into it soon. (Hmm, is that a pun–“dip into” it? Note to porn writer self: Must consider my possible sexualization of books as proxy vaginas. Topic for a future post?)

 

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