XXX for the Clueless | One night during college, as these types of stories always start, two buddies and I decided it would be a fantastic idea to check out a peep show. I’m referring to one of those rundown buildings in the shitty part of town that has “XXX” and “Nude Girls” signs glowing in the cracked windows. This particular peep show was visible from Jasper Ave, in a lot that has since been bulldozed, and the three of us drove by it on a regular basis. Being young and male and bored, my buddies and I decided that night was the night we discovered what the fuss was about.
I, the perverted one, was the one to make the initial suggestion, partially in jest and partially in hopes the other two would go for it. Bryan, the impulsive one, was driving; he quickly agreed and made the turn into the parking lot. Randall, the reserved one, was eager for adventure and happy he had us as an excuse.
Inside, it looked exactly like what you’d expect an “adult bookstore” to look like: a small, yellowish room filled with shelves of porn magazines and DVDs with labels like “Backdoor Adventures 8” and “Horny College Girls 9”. The clerk, who of course was overweight and balding, asked for I.D. and told us the fee for the tokens we would use to feed the video booths.
We presented our driver’s licenses and he held up each one and read our names aloud. I became sure he was showing them to some hidden camera and I began to think of excuses to tell the police. Despite this panic, I still paid the fee and the man gave us each a handful of dirty yellow coins and motioned to a staircase heading down to a basement.
The basement contained a table and a few chairs. A man was sitting and watching an episode of the Simpsons on a large TV bolted to the wall. Clearly this was the “recharging station”, where men sat with empty balls and catch a breath for another round. On the opposite side of the room was another open doorway, several boxes of Kleenex, and a trashcan filled with tissues. We walked past the can and the tissues and Simpson’s man and walked through the door.
Inside, booths were set up at random intervals, creating a loose maze that greasy, shifty-eyed men slunk through. Bryan, the oblivious one, giggled and made a beeline for a booth. Randall, the cautious one, thumbed through the coins in his hand and looked at me. I, still the perverted one, stuck my head into an empty stall.
Inside was a bench, another box of tissues, and a TV monitor on the wall with a large button underneath it. The monitor depicted two dudes having sex. “That’s funny,” I thought, immediately dismissing it as meaningful. I hit the button to change the channel. The next scene featured a variety of penises and no women. “Huh,” I thought. “Must be a specialty booth”.
Randall poked his head in. “This one’s showing nothing but gay stuff”, he said with a certain sense of alarm. I nodded and pointed at the screen in front of me. Any other time, gay porn would elicit a chuckle and a shrug; down in the maze, with our I.D’s on record and garbage cans full of spunky tissues everywhere, it inspired a cowardly sense of unease.
Clearly these booths were not targeted to our particular demographic. We decided to try another stall.
Another quick viewing of dude on dude love convinced me we had seen all there was to see. “We need to get Bryan and get out of here”, I told Randall. He nodded, and in a show of good faith, dumped his coins into the hands of a downtrodden man loitering nearby.
He then announced that his weak bladder had betrayed him and he needed to piss; not wanting to be left alone in the maze, I hovered by the bathroom door. “This probably looks pretty gay,” I thought.
As the immature thought crossed my mind, a man crossed the floor and walked right up to me. He was tall and lanky and of course wore an oversized coat and leaned in when he asked, “How’d you like a nice BJ?” Not wanting to get involved with what my brain told me was surely a pimp who had a girl waiting on her knees behind the building, I declined with an eloquent “Uh, nah. I’m good” and the man slithered away.
Randall stepped out of the bathroom and we both heard the sound of Bryan’s maniacal laughter echoing out of a booth not far from us. At this point I noticed that most of the patrons, including Randall’s coin recipient, had gathered in a loose, zombie-like circle around us.
We poked our heads into Bryan’s booth and informed him it was time to leave. “It’s all gay porn!” he said with another incredulous laugh, before following us out. Behind us, the maze zombies stared, shuffling back and forth slightly, and I got the distinct feeling the three of us were the most succulent visitors the maze had seen for some time.
We passed the portly and hairless clerk and I half expected him to stop us on the way out because our I.D’s hadn’t checked out and cops were on their way with updated permanent records for the three of us. Instead he let us pass without a word and we dove into Bryan’s car.
After some time, I spoke first: “I don’t think we were supposed to be in there”.
Then Bryan said. “There was a hole in my booth and some guy kept sticking his fingers through and wiggling them. It was weird”. Randall and I nodded in sympathy and understanding and utter confusion.
We were certainly welcomed by the maze dwellers with open arms (and mouths) and we were never in any sort of real danger, just the kind perceived by college-aged men eager to prove their heterosexuality at all costs. I still wonder why the clerk read our names aloud as he held up our I.Ds; it wouldn’t surprise me if our ordeal was recorded by hidden camera to a DVD that’s now labelled with tape and marker that reads “Dumb Clueless College Guys 89” and is sitting on a shelf in a small yellowish room. No doubt it’s a top seller.