Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Peep World to Hooters

When West 33rd Street's Peep World closed back in March, we thought it would be replaced by a branch of Murray Hill's Overlook Lounge, a large gastro-pub known as "The Home of the Oklahoma Sooners." As I wrote then, "They specialize in hot wings and pommes frites, and feature a TV screen at every booth tuned to a sporting event. Their customers are often seen dressed in mardi gras beads and football jerseys for out-of-town teams."

But this fate is not to be--at least, not exactly.



Instead, Peep World will become a Hooters. Which is kind of the same thing as an Oklahoma Sooners bar serving hot wings. Except it's worse.

It's worse because Hooters is a watered-down, suburbanized version of Peep World and all the other XXX joints that have been erased from the city. It's worse because it's a "family restaurant" that's really all about big tits.

Unlike Hooters, Peep World didn't pretend to be family friendly, it didn't have a children's menu, and it didn't have TV commercials where a dim-witted blonde said, "Hey kids, wanna do your dad a really big favor? Tell your mom you wanna go to Peep World."

Peep World didn't sell creepy branded merchandise to kids, either, like "I'm a Boob Man" onesies and "Your Crib Or Mine?" bibs. And it didn't market to children with the slogan "Life Begins at Peep World."



Peep World was a nasty place for adults. It was raw and dirty and funky, like the city used to be. It wasn't an airbrushed sexcapade for tired, middle-aged frat boys to get their kicks during "family time" after a game of golf.

Peep World was New York. It wasn't Tampa or Dallas or Knoxville. It wasn't a bland international chain.



And I'll tell you something else--at Peep World, you could find all kinds of sex: straight, gay, transgender, plus every brand of kink. It was an all-inclusive smut experience. Hooters, on the other hand, sells one flavor of sex: vanilla. And does New York City really need more vanilla?

This swap, with all of its cruel irony, encapsulates the city's cultural colon cleanse. Greasy burger joints have to be replaced with sanitized Shake Shacks. Grubby bodegas must be transformed into soulless 7-11's. We can't have a Peep World, because it's too dirty, dark, and weird. Instead, we get a corporate suburban chain that peddles sex disguised as all-American hot wings.

In the end, which is more degrading?



Previously:
Peep World Vanishing
Peep World Remnants

Also read:
Peep-O-Rama
Show World
Adult Bookstores
Parisian Danceland

Secret Peeps
Freakologist

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

So perfectly, beautifully said. Thank you Jeremiah.

John M said...

A lot of people, like Bloomie and heartland tourists, would be aghast at your line of thought. I think it's absolutely on target and explains exactly what's going on. Great post, Jeremiah.

Anonymous said...

Same with Hollister. You have middle-aged parents with their teen-age children gawking at those teen-age Hollister employees in their bikinis. At least in peep world, there was nothing hypocritical about going there. At Hooters and Hollisters, people pretend to go there for the wings or clothes, but deep inside they're there for the sexual nature of the place. Now, which one is creepier.

Marty Wombacher said...

Hooter's is a restaurant equivalent of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Fake porn for people that are too chickenshit to handle the real thing. The one in midtown is bad enough, we don't need two in this town.

Ivan said...

Fantastic commentary; thanks!
--Ivan

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other comments here: so well written and well said Jeremiah.

JAZ said...

Marty wrote exactly what I came here to write. And great post Jeremiah; you both 100% nailed precisely what is going on here.

I think it would be hilarious if we had an opening day 'reverse protest', where everyone pays for their food in quarters; unfortunately with the way the city washes away history these days, not a single person at Hooters would pick up on the meaning.

Maybe just have everyone bring a porno mag with them opening day to flip through while eating. It would be hilarious to see the dolled up young things selling the whiff of sex to the horny 'fuckin A, bro! high five!!' crowd suddenly turn into 1960s southern librarians and run in shock and panic at the glimpse of some actual sex. Ehh, I suck at protest ideas - maybe someone out there can think of something better.

EileenW said...

As cogent a defense of Peep World, and the old bad New York as I have ever read.

randall said...

I'm a surfer...you don't even want to get me going on Hollister, but a lot of what I hate about it could be translated into a lot of what is talked about here.

Marty. Dead on.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a single mom I dated. She wouldn't let her pre-teen daughter listen to Guns'n'Roses or Marilyn Manson because -- oooh they're dirty and devil worshipers and bad boys. Yet she let her daughter listen to Britney Spears 'Baby One More Time' or 'Slave 4 U' or Christina Aguilera's Genie in a Bottle, and while we were having this conversation, her daughter was listening to and uttering the lyrics to Aqua's Barbie Girl. The only reason why I dated her because, even though she had a facade of being prim and proper, she was a freak in bed.

Anonymous said...

I am in agreement with you J. I like wings and all but when it comes to sex and filth, I need that a la carte. There was a story in the Daily News recently about a former bartender who outed members of a Long Island country club for hiring strippers and ho's for these kind of orgiastic golf tournaments or something. I understand whorin' and I am also an avid golfer, but the idea of combining them is pure idiot. Not everything goes like chocolate and peanut butter.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks everyone. JAZ, i like your thinking--do it! true, Marty, about the fake porn--it feels so plasticky to me.

as for hot wings and sex, i did enjoy the presence of the hot dogs in murky water over warmers at old Billy's Topless, but that was good nasty, and i never put them in my mouth.

Tim said...

Love all the comments, but think the bigger issue is chain stores--not porn. Even if PW was replaced by something unique that would be better than the hooters that sprung up. This homogenization of NY is so utterly thorough and relentless--it just doesn't stop. It's almost like corporations want to stamp out any relic of individual enterprise and originality--and NY'ers are encouraging them to do it...

Anonymous said...

I might have seen middle aged frat boys in Peep World more than once. Honestly, that place has been pretty dead for some time. Internet closed those places down.

Anonymous said...

Internet didn't kill the peep world star, Giuluani did. His administration instituted a zoning law that prohibited sex-oriented theaters, bookstores, massage parlors and dance clubs from opening within 500 ft. of homes, house of worship, schools or one another. In addition, the peep world type of shops had to devote more than 60 percent of its floor space to non-pornographic materials. That's why by mid-90's the peep show shops were selling lingeries, mainstream DVDs, candies, sodas, newspapers, etc. up front, having the appearance of a variety store or a newstand, thus people didn't know that such shops were peep shows, unless you were there before the zoning law or were in the know. It took away the patronage of the tourists and transients from port authority. He improved the quality of life alright : to the real estate, landlords, and riches. But I'm' sure Giuliani nowadays is spending most of his time in internet porn.

Anonymous said...

Well said Jeremiah- it is so sad that we miss places like Peep World bc the alternative is so much worse and insulting and yes, degrading in a way that Peep World is not- really, who thinks this is a family place? Disguising a tits and ass joint as a TGIFridays is sexuality sanitized passionless homogenized

Ed said...

Well this is timely:

http://www.vice.com/read/the-great-manhattan-masturbation-crawl?utm_source=vicetwitterus

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Ed! nasty in a good way.

laura said...

theres something perverse w/that hooters. the whole baby child sex thing. sex jokes on diapers. sick. @ least peepworld was straight up, you got what you got. anyway, hooters is world wide. dont get me started. new york, yeecchhhh!!! no wonder everone goes there. arent normal people just gross??

DrBOP said...

Mistah Moss......in the future, writers will be replaced by "phrasers".
With your "all-inclusive smut experience", and "....city's cultural colon cleanse", YOU will be looked upon as one of the Founding Fathers of the profession:+)

ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT post. Thank-you!

Anonymous said...

Yeahhhh. Giuluani certainly struck the first blow to NYC adult book stores, but internet easy access porn and cruising apps have emptied them and have changed the adult entertainment industry. Guys were still going to those places when Bloomberg came in and the stores have slowly been emptying out. Most of them are pretty dead now, compared to 5 - 7 years ago. That's my in-the-trenches experience anyway. Maybe I'm just visiting the wrong trenches.

Anonymous said...

I've spent many hours on my knees and many $ in Peep World booths. Servicing plenty of boys and men that needed a release before hopping on a train at Penn.

It was a seedy, grungy, and wonderful place. I miss it dearly. Terrific place to get a filling liquid lunch or dinner.

Anonymous said...

The Peep World article is good, but it's very, very "inside New York." And, believe it or not, there are places just like it outside, like here in Milwaukee.

There are places like the one on the south side...

laura said...

ok this is how i see it: the more "hooters", the more tourists. & the kind we dont want. most people shlepp from one place to another, to eat @ applebees (what ever that is) & go to hooters, & the gap, & old navy. the only different thing is they get to see skyscapers, & the times square big board. & maybe they have the sex in the city tours. this is the new york we are facing?

Anonymous said...

Silly manhattanites, thinking you know better than the rest of the world... hooters serves the best wings and buffalo shrimp, bar none (no pun intended).

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 6:05 pm, Your comment about being "on your knees" in those places and servicing men on their way home to the burbs gave me a chuckle.

I too had many fantastic and fun experiences in those XXX booth/video stores along Christopher St. and on east 14th st. All are gone now.

It was really weird to watch them turn into (thanks to Giuliani) those weird mainstream (and dust covered) video places upfront with the porn in the back. The beginning of the end.

Now the west side piers (and other public parks, i.e. what used to be cruising grounds) are locked up at night as well.

I was just telling someone in their 20's (I'm in my 40's) the other day how New York City used to "pulsate" with sex. He was fascinated/mesmerized. Online cruising is just not the same.

It's hard for newcomers to believe how "gritty" (and exciting) the city once was.
*Sigh* The longer I stay here, the sadder I get...

mch said...

I was visiting the city over the last few days -- now, I am a visitor when I'm in the city. There to see my daughter, who lives in Brooklyn, works in Manhattan. Somehow (well, we had a lot of projects all over the place), half our time ended up on subway platforms in Manhattan. (Raining outside. A sauna on the platforms! At least the trains are air-conditioned now.) Well, anyway, descending underground at Union Square we passed some poor soul sitting against the wall in an unhappy, drug-induced (so I surmised) haze. Young man, pretty well dressed, knapsack at his side. But things not good for him, obviously. Got me to thinking, wondering about him, feeling sad for him -- as I charged right past him, of course. Also got me to thinking: how rare these days for a "nice middle class getting older lady" like me to pass people like this in Union Square. A far cry from my youthful days in the city, in the 50's, 60's, 70's. Not that I'd wish on anyone the unhappiness and lostness I think I saw in this young man -- of course not. But life and the world are always going to be full of stuff, and NYC has always been a place that didn't deny that fullness and instead let it be public (and celebrated the creative possibilities). Some sort of middle messy space is getting sanitized out of the city. I hold my pocketbook less closely to my side in Union Square than I once did, and that's nice, but, at what price?