Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hardcore Porn in New York in the 1970s

Peep Land, a 1970s porn emporium.




Porn Superstar Linda Lovelace.

Porn peep shows in New York’s Times Square

Porn was more or less a quasi-underground economy at that time. It was a “cash” business for accounting purposes, and much of the money in porn came from organized crime. The loops supplied the peep shows in Times Square and elsewhere with product. There was Peep-O-Rama, the Pussycat Cinema, Show World Center, Peep Land, and many others. These were the porn emporiums, which featured full-color magazines from Scandinavia and the U.S.; peep shows (either scenes from loops or “live girls”) that could be viewed by dropping quarters or tokens in a slot; sex toys; 8mm films and videos; and they often had their own movie theater or strip club attached to the premises. In the emporiums, the “peeps” were usually either upstairs or downstairs from the magazine and film/video area. The smaller peep shows did not have names, just signs that said, “Peep Show,” “25c Movie Preview,” or “Books” and “Adult Movies.” These were smaller versions of the emporiums, with all of their products and services in a much smaller area on one floor.


Forty-Second Street in NYC during the 1970s.

Porn movie theaters and hookers on 8th Avenue

Back in the 1970s, 42nd Street was lined with giant porn movie theaters. They lined the strip, blinding the uninitiated visitor with neon and promises of sex of all kinds in big block letters. “Chilled by refrigeration” invited the lonely pedestrian on a hot summer’s night to cool off and get steamed up watching XXX-rated fare. The audience at these porn theaters was a mixed bag of the “raincoat crowd,” sailors, hookers, drag queens, underage teenagers, junkies, drunks, and businessmen.

The strip was a sleazy, sweaty paradise back then. Danger lurked around every corner. Walking quickly and not stopping for strangers was how one survived. Hookers lined 7th Avenue (and later 8th Avenue), grabbing at men saying, “You wanna go out?” The hooker garb was distinguishable from other women: knee-high black or brown boots, black stockings, skin-tight mini-skirts, low-cut tops showing lots of cleavage, medium or shoulder-length kinky or frizzy hair, and tan-and-white fake suede waist-length coats kept open in the coldest weather to show off her breasts.

Porn actor Jamie Gillis in the 1970s.

Early porn stars were "serious" actors

Porn star Jamie Gillis did Shakespeare with Manhattan’s Classic Stage Company; Eric Edwards was in a Close-Up toothpaste commercial; Harry Reems was in a production of Coriolanus in a coffeehouse where they passed around the hat at the end of each evening. Georgina Spelvin, who worked on the chorus line of Broadway musicals, was the star of Devil in Miss Jones. Even thought it was hardcore porn, Spelvin said, “I took the role very seriously. I was doing Hedda Gabler here!” Gillis worked as a cab driver so he could attend auditions. When seeing his face on a poster advertising a porn movie for the first time, Gillis was shocked and thought, “My God, I’m a serious actor. People are gonna see this poster and its gonna ruin my career!”

Georgina Spelvin starred in The Devil in Miss Jones (1972).
Porn scene had its “kinks”

There was a definite kinkiness to the New York porn scene in the 1970s. Child pornography--legal until 1975--was found at all the peep shows, big and small, as well as featured prominently on Times Square newsstands. Bestiality books and films/videos were also legal and quite popular. Linda Lovelace was infamous for her “dog” loops. One “famous” one is entitled Dogarama. In it she has sex with a man, porn actor Eric Edwards. Seeming unsatisfied, Linda looks around and sees a dog. She snaps her fingers, and says, “Oooh.” Edwards said, “I was floored.” He sat there watching them. “I had never seen a woman with a dog before, but it became the thing to do.”

COPYRIGHT (C) 2014 ERIC BROTHERS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED




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