The events described hereafter take place two years after what went down in that first piece.
A few key pieces of information: A) Madonna Boots is the nickname of the blonde cheerleader from New Jersey to whom I lost my virginity, and B) between 1985 and 1987, I managed to drop about 150 pounds off my delicate frame, roughly cutting my overall bulk in half.
It didn’t help. As you can find out below.
The last time I saw Madonna Boots was on November 27, 1987. It was the day after Thanksgiving.
Bootsy, as she liked to be called, was a freshman at Montclair State University in New Jersey. I was in my third semester at the State University of New York at Purchase, a public arts academy in endlessly dull Westchester County, just north of New York City.
I ran the college radio station, which got me a lot of free records and an abusable telephone.
While not going to class and not getting laid, I phoned Madonna Boots at school as the holiday season started. Things had gotten that bad. Since arriving at college, I had not so much as accidentally bumped knees with a female. No dates. No kissing. No hand-holding. Nothing.
For that, I lost 150 pounds?
Dottie was a ballet major who looked a ’50s advertising drawing of a spunky, strawberry-blonde scamp. She talked kooky and she liked the Monkees and my Hawaiian shirts and we both had the complete Weird Al Yankovic discography and we immediately hit it off. Just not enough (for me).
People assumed Dottie and I were a couple for the first few months of school, which both delighted and depressed me: on the one hand, it meant I was perceived as human enough to have a girlfriend; but in reality, she wasn’t actually my Girlfriend From Mars, so the fact of my subhumanism remained unevolved.
Dottie sashayed in and sat on my lap.
I freaked. Bad. But not outwardly. I just barely kept it together enough to not jump up and go hide in a corner. Here was the very first moment in my entire 18 years that a girl was expressing genuine attraction to me. Ho. Lee. Shit.
“I’m tired,” Dottie said. “Let’s go lie down.” She led me to the bed and we got under my garish Marimekko comforter. We kept talking to Springo. Dottie snuggled into me.
Then, a whole bunch of bozos I knew came by my room to hang out. I’d spent the previous few years of my adolescence in dire isolation and tragic loneliness; why did I have to be Captain Popularity now?
Dottie seemed extremely comfortable. One by one, my chatty pals gave me a thumb’s up or a wink and then took off. Somebody even dragged Springo out, too. And then it was upon The Girl From Mars and me.
Silence. Darkness. Warmth. Sex.
I froze. Dottie who, again, didn’t come by her outer-space moniker accidentally, was even wackier when she drank. She babbled a little bit, wrapped an arm around me, put her head on my chest, and fell asleep.
I stayed awake.
I just lay stiff (yes, in every sense), with this adorable, appropriate, happy-to-be-there ballerina pressed up against me. I prayed for her to wake up and kiss me. It was biologically impossible for me to make any sort of first move. That’s when fate intervened, in the manner to which I had become accustomed.
This being 1986, the walls surrounding my bed contained a velvet Elvis painting, Freddy Krueger pin-ups, and a shrine to Howard Stern. The main eye-catcher, though, was a massive, four-foot-by-six-foot French poster for the Italian gore-fest Suspiria. Real chick-bait.
From the day I first taped that monstrosity up, the poster never so much as slipped an millimeter—until about 4:30 am on the one (and only) night I had a girl in my bed at SUNY Purchase. Yes: Suspiria came crashing down on Dottie Woodward and me.
It woke Dottie up, whereupon she tried to act cool for a minute, and then left.
Ah, well. At least I could get some sleep. Someday I’d be dead so, drifting off, I took some comfort in that.
From there, Dottie immediately got over whatever motivated her to climb into bed with me. And on she moved. I did. too … to nowhere and nobody.
It was that track record that prompted me to call Madonna Boots just before Thanksgiving.
“What do yewwww want?” was how Boots replied when I told her who was calling.
“I just wanted to say hi. I’m the president of the campus radio station, so I get free use of the phone.”
“Yeah. Whatever. Your school is for losers. Montclair State is awesome. Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Ha! Of course not! You fat again?”
“Why are you calling me?” Bootsy said.
“I’m going to be in the city the day after Thanksgiving,” I told her. “We should get together. We can catch up.”
“No. I mean, sometimes I do. But not a lot.”
“You’re a fuckin’ loser. You should freebase. It’s the best way to do coke.”
“I did ’shrooms last semester. It was fun. Do you have a boyfriend?”
“I have a guy I see. He’s 25. I have threeways with him and his friends. One time I did him and four other guys at once. It was awesome. You ever do stuff like that?”
Before I could answer (and probably lie), she cut me off: “Of course not. You’re a loser. One guy was black. You think you have a big dick? This guy was like King Kong!”
“What are we going to do in the city?” she asked me. “You gonna take me out? You gonna take me do a movie and buy me dinner and get me something nice?”
“Of course,” I said. “I’m a class act.”
“Jesus Christ. All right. Meet me at the bus station. Bring money.”
When Friday finally came, I stood at the New Jersey Transit Gate in the Port Authority terminal and heard, “Ewww. You lost all that weight and your skin didn’t clear up?”
Welcome back, Madonna Boots.
In 1987, Times Square was still the heart of New York City vice and 42nd Second Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues was its main cum-clogged artery.
The Deuce pumped sex and death and every joy and horror between them round the clock—all day and night, every day and night, all the way up until it didn’t.
As crack, AIDS, and—deadliest of all—home video ascended in the second half of the ’80s, the end was at hand (and gland) for the Deuce. But there was still some awesomely repugnant life left there as Madonna Boots and I traversed eastward up the big four-two.
I had been going to double and triple features at the trashpit movie palaces on 42nd Street since my first few weeks in high school. But for any number of reasons, I only ever went alone. I preferred it that way. Still, I have to say it was a kick sharing the Deuce with Madonna Boots that day.
The last time—the only other time, in fact (at that point)—I walked 42nd Street with a female was 11 years earlier. I was eight. My mother took me into the city for a Broadway show and then announced that she was going to show me “the worst place in the world.”
I was already delirious from the sidewalk-to-sky wallpapering of pornography in Times Square, so I experienced whatever the prepubescent equivalent of a mainline speedball was when Moms marched me up the actual Deuce, saying, “Don’t look at anyone in the face. But just look around at this. Isn’t it a shame?”
Hookers. Most of them mostly nude. Pimps. Real, scary crazies saying and doing real scary craziness. And naked lady pictures! Better than Playboy! Out in the open! Everywhere you looked!
Every few feet there were theaters showing horror movies, too, and a lot of karate stuff. One movie place had a crazy display of African revolutionaries under its marquee, with a video loop playing of people getting shot and cut up in the jungle.
It was, indeed, the worst place in the world and the best thing I had ever experienced.
“You have to, like, be a loser, don’t you?” she said. “I bet you go to those peep shows!”
“I don’t!” I said. “I kind of want to, but I never had the nerve. I just go the regular movies on 42nd Street.”
“You even have one girlfriend since me?”
“Yeah, I went out with this girl last summer.”
After lunch, we had one movie option and one movie option only: Flowers in the Attic, an adaptation of a Gothic horror romance novel that was immensely popular with teenage girls in the 1980s.
Largely forgotten now, Flowers and its follow-up books by V.C. Andrews (Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns—get the drift?) were very much their era’s equivalent of the 21st century Twilight craze.
I could respect that.
Flowers in the Attic was playing on the Deuce proper at the extra bizarro, extra dangerous Anco theater back up by the bus station. I wasn’t taking anything remotely blonde and female as Madonna Boots into the Anco, though, so we settled on the massive National Theater on the northeast corner of Broadway.
The movie sucked, even by Madonna Boots’ standards, and she liked The Bride with Sting and Jennifer Beals (and my fingers on her left nipple as we watched it. It was our very first date. And my very first everything).
In her disappointment, however, she offered one killer idea toward salvaging the day’s entertainment:
“Let’s go to one of them peep shows!”
My heart sang. Victory!
The peep show we picked wasn’t just any peep show, either. It was Peepland. Smack in the middle of the Deuce. The former site of Hubert’s Flea Circus, an arcade with a freak museum and a live sideshow that included, back in the early 1960s, a canary-voiced warbler calling himself Larry Love who would later hit it big as Tiny Tim. In the 80s, Peepland specialized in bestiality videos.
I had studied years for this moment.
Above Peepland’s entrance was a 20-foot-tall eye shaped like a keyhole, flanked on either side by a 25-cent piece twice the size of a tractor-trailer tire. Therein was the promise: Beyond this door, you could peep in upon the infinite, all for the price of a 12-and-a-half pieces of Bazooka bubblegum.
Madonna Boots took my hand, out of fear, as we approached. Ironically, I swelled with confidence and felt absolutely bulletproof as I led our way inside, as though the hundred-pound, five-foot-maybe-nothing golden-haired wisp attached to me were a suit of armor and bejeweled crown at the same time.
As long as there was a girl with me, I wasn’t in Peepland because I had to be. I was there just, you know, for kicks. That gave me one up—the only one that mattered—on everybody else in the joint, who appeared to just be blurs of business suits peppered with darktown strutters in tattered army coats speeding in and out of wall after wall of narrow red doors.
It was bright inside. So bright. Flashy. Whirling. Hot. Neon quarters spun along the upper walls while neon hussy legs kicked. Mirrors lined every available surface, giving the glare something to glare off on and back out onto itself. It was like an orgy on circus train crashed into casino where an orgy was going on.
We followed the scorching pink road.
Downstairs was even brighter than upstairs, accompanied by noise. Loud noise. Crazy noise. Pop radio station Z-100 blared from a stadium-worthy sound system, above which came sing-song siren wails:
“Come AWWWWWWWNNNN, Fellas!”
“Let’s GOOOOOO, Fellas!”
“Get INSIIIIIIIDE, Fellas!”
Those Live Nude Girls on the other side of all these doors were calling us fellas.
One mammoth fella sat in a little banker’s booth at the foot of the stairs. He had his own bellowing chant:
“TOKENS! Get your TOKENS! Don’t be muffuckin’ standin’ around! TOKENS! Get yo muffuckin’ TOKENS!”
Bootsy dug her fingers into my fist. She wasn’t scared anymore. She was … tickled.
We approached Grand Moff Token.
“How many?” he grunted.
I handed him a five.
“Take two dollars in tokens. Tip the girls with the rest. Go! Next! TOKENS!”
I took the eight coins and three singles and tried to figure out what to do next.
The bottom level of Peepland housed a circular floor-to-ceiling structure in the middle, and two semi-circular structures along the walls. Each of the round structures was lined with doors, in and out of which men popped. The women, I deduced, were on the other side.
Boots and I stepped into one of the doors and closed it. It was a booth the size of an upright coffin with a plastic guard covering a window at eye level. Below it glowed a slot for putting in tokens. I put them in. The shade whirred up and there they were.
And there we were.
Peepland was like an aquarium, but there was no glass between you and the exotic creatures on display. Once that window raised, you had open-air air access to a half-dozen unclothed women, some of whom were being molested through windows by other customers, others of whom were sitting on the floor smoking and reading the Daily News.
A Puerto Rican face filled the window.
“No,” I said.
The face vanished.
A new face appeared.
The window shade buzzed and slid back down.
“Put more tokens in!” Bootsy demanded.
I did. The window went back up.
“You gotta tip, baby.”
I gave her a dollar.
“It’s two dollars, baby. Then you can touch. Top or bottom.”
“You can TOUCH them?” Madonna Boots squealed.
Puerto Rican Face laughed, walked away, and yelled to her cohorts, “There’s a GIRL in here!”
This time the Live Nude Girls gawked back at us, pointing and giggling.
Boots surged past me, stuck her entire blonde head through the open window and sarcastically roared, “Yeah! And I’m hot for YEEEEWWWWW!!!!”
She pulled back in right in time for the plastic guard to roll back down.
“Fucking bitch,” she huffed. “Callin’ me a lesbian.”
I couldn’t believe it!
Mutually seeking to end the day and, with it, our entire relationship, on a high note, I walked Madonna Boots back to the Port Authority.
She was always looking out for me, that one.
I walked off, newly armed—and permanently disabled—with the knowledge that for three dollars, you could grope live nude girl boobs and butts 24 hours a day at Peepland. And it was probably like that at all the live peeps.
There were more than a dozen peep shows on 42nd Street alone, and nearly as many on each block of Times Square, plus all along 8th Avenue from Penn Station on 34th up to the high 40s. How many live nude girls worked at Peepland at any given time. I saw about six, and that was just one of three stages, so it must be about 20s.
My plan was to go to Tad’s Steaks, get a groovy $2.99 leather-and-lard dinner, and do this math. Nature interrupted. I suddenly had to take a sick shit.
More than runaway teen prostitutes, more than kiddie-porn chickenhawks, more than dope pushers and 50-cent blowjob crack ladies—and way, way more than buses—the Port Authority Bus Terminal was known for the depravity of its men’s rooms.
Under the most refined of circumstances, any area where a man is allowed to openly apply his mitts to his dick will become complicated. Hence the invention (and necessity) of the now requisite guards between urinals (or, as comedian Jim Norton refers to them, “fun blockers”).
The Port Authority in the 1980s was the least refined of circumstances. Literally.
Alas, the Port Authority provided the only public restroom facilities in all of midtown Manhattan, so when you filled your bladder, you took your chances. But bladder, schmadder, I was in full colonic tumult and would have to venture into—yeee-gads—a Port Authority toilet stall. This was a first (and how I wish I could say it was a last).
I went into the closest facility and the stink hit like rotating sledgehammers to each nostrol. Anus and Clorox. Ancient and rotten. Just underneath, the instant-headache of amyl-nitrate poppers. Everywhere.
Eyes forward and feets not failin’ me now, I darted for the bowls. Fuck. Each stall was occupado. I had to wait. Commotion by the urinals caught my eye. One oily Third World reveler bubbled with glee as he manually engaged his foot-long neighbor. He gave me the repeated head tilt and cocked eyebrow that said, “Come on, join the fun. Plenty of illegal cab driver palm here for everyone.”
I looked down at the floor as a means of politely refusing the invitation. But then I looked back at the happy ball-handler doing his thing—and, even moreso, the other guy’s thing—because, come on, that’s something to look at.
Finally, a stall opened up. I hopped inside, shut the door, and peered into the commode and, there, gazed down unto a living history of man’s inhumanity to porcelain stacked pandemic-birthingly high above the rim.
Shit. Piss. Puke. Blood. Piss with bloody shit in it. Semen (with sperm and without). Condoms. Needles. Puke full of condoms and needles. Condoms and needles full of shitty piss-blood semen-puke.
Regardless, I had to contribute to the long and storied history of biohazardous defeat before me. Thusly did I carefully roll down my torn-jeans-and-longjohns combo squatted as far as I could about the pestilential pile and leaned forward enough to let fly my shit-pipe.
And let fly I did, spraying a diarrhetic topping upon that septic sundae that would have made any previous contributor proud, envious and/or hungry, depending on what particular circumstance let him to be utilizing a Port Authority toilet.
Relieved and eager to move on, I confidently wiped myself and tossed the soiled TP wads atop the mess where they stuck like Velcro-stripped balls in those dart games you’d get for Christmas in the ’70s.
And then, through sheer force of habit, I made one mistake I’d keep playing back in my mind in slow motion, desperately trying to will the action into reverse, but to no avail: I flushed.
What do you think happens when you flush a Port Authority toilet that’s been stuffed solid with a thousand different ingredients for biological warfare?
That is what happened.
I just laughed.
That was all there was do.
I had myself a fine guffaw, left the stall, gave a nod and a smile to the swarthy onanist society along the wall and went to Tad’s Steaks as scheduled.
From my table, I looked hard into the giant eye above Peepland. I had taken a peek that day into a universe of limitless possibilities. All it required was an adequate supply of the right kind of tokens.
I could get that.
And/or I’d die trying.
Either way worked.
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