Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Safe to Peep

Last fall, we got an inside look at the refurbishing of the old Peep-O-Rama neon sign, and its installation in the renovated Times Square Visitor Center. Recently, I got a chance to go by and visit it.



The sign hangs over what the Visitor Center's website calls "A Fantasy and Desire exhibit featuring...three show booths, which now showcase videos on the history of Times Square." The show booths are covered in a familiar red Formica and sport a pair of slots for quarters that don't actually take quarters. (The usual smell of citrus disinfectant is also missing.) You stand inside and look at images of sexy, squalid old Times Square, and there is absolutely nothing sexy or squalid about it.

Tourist children venture inside, looking up at the images of prostitutes and XXX marquees, not knowing what they're seeing. Still, the sight of children in those red Formica peep booths creates a cognitive dissonance. "Mommy, come look," they shout. It's all wrong. Oddly debased by the kiddies, the peep booths seem sheepish and apologetic, wishing they could creep back into the shadows and perform their intended function.



At the gift shop, you can buy magnets that mimic signage from the old peeps--"Only One Person in a Booth" and "Live Girls On Stage." There's something humiliating about them being displayed on a carousel next to Lady Liberty and other such innocent magnets. I mean that the peep magnets themselves seem humiliated, as if they might be cringing and wondering, "What are we doing here?"



The whole thing made me think of tigers in a carnival cage, things once wild and dangerous that have been beaten into submission and put on display for the entertainment of families with children.

Back in December, when the Visitor Center opened, the Times asked about its preservation of porn: "'We’re at a point where Times Square is thriving and it’s safe to look at this from a historic perspective and have a sense of humor,' said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance."

It's safe now. You can look.

11 comments:

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

I'd like to pull my dick out and do some masturbating, as I used to do so many times at the Bryant or Pix movie houses. Those were neat dive theaters back then. Guys would get it during their lunch breaks and disappear into Times Square area. Oh boy, those were the days...

EVGayBear said...

May need to reconsider a visit then. Red Formica still gives me a chubby.

Shaun said...

Oh look kids! This is where daddy would go to his dick washed for a quarter before getting on the train back to Connecticut.

Tricia said...

it sounds like the front of the show (as we say in the carnival biz)--the restored neon sign --is now the show

JAZ said...

Just something else that led character to an area, and was extracted, sterilized, and made safe for examination by the masses.

It is sad and depressing - kind of like a retired thoroughbred champion being used as a kiddy ride for $10 a pop.

Marty Wombacher said...

"(The usual smell of citrus disinfectant is also missing.)"

Great observation, Jeremiah! A "G" rated PEEP-O-RAMA. And the "G" stands for Goddamn it all to hell.

Goggla said...

Anyone know anything about any of the women who used to work here? Are they dead? Forgotten? Lived happily ever after? What happens to the caged women who are no longer useful for display?

lauras said...

life is one big web-sight. in stead of real life, we see displays of it. new york will be the biggest site ever! except you dont need a laptop. for some reason this porn tourist thing is very sick.

MikeB26 said...

@Mykola "I'd like to pull my dick out and do some masturbating, as I used to do ...Guys would get it during their lunch breaks and disappear into Times Square area. Oh boy, those were the days..."

Me too!! It was perfect for a J/O quickie between my lunch and dinner shifts as a prep cook at TGIF's down the street!

Uncle Waltie said...

Do they have a guy with a mop? Every one of those places had a guy with a mop circulating among the booths.

Anonymous said...

You are all wonderful and funny.