Archive | sex

Phone Booths: useful convenience or pedestrian sex-ed opportunity?

I mean really, when is the last time you saw someone actually put a quarter into the phone slot and make a phone call. Is it even a quarter any more?  For that matter, when is the last time that you–or anyone you know–picked up one of those pay phones and actually heard a dial tone?

The booths exist now, I’m sure, as sheer revenue-producing devices for the city, and while I’m all for the city making more money (thus perhaps enabling the sanitation workers to make more money, stop being angry at the mayor, and start picking up garbage), I’m tired of these mini-billboards touting things I don’t want to look at.

Although actually, it’s not the looking that’s the problem. It’s the explaining.

My kids know what “endurance” means. Should I tell them that this ad is for some particularly long-lasting kind of underwear?

How would you explain the relevance of “endurance” to what, exactly, these two people are doing? Or preparing to do?

Continue Reading · on January 3, 2011 in NYC, sex, street notes

Hookers. The Oldest Profession as the New Corporate Motivator.

Did you see the article about a contractor on trial for fraud in yesterday’s paper? It was tucked below the fold on the left side of Tuesday’s Times. I don’t blame you if you missed it. After all, how many corrupt contractor trials is a person supposed to follow? It’s starting to seem as if one of the requirements for being a contractor is a genetic predisposition for graft.

But this guy–David H. Brooks–takes the cake. Or maybe his lawyer takes the cake. Regardless, that cake doubtless has a stripper bouncing out of it.

Mr. Brooks is on trial not only for misappropriation of company funds, but also for a delicious little stock fraud scheme, in which he falsified stock information about his company, DHB Industries (they make military body armor), before selling the company. He made more than $100 million smackeroos on that deal, even though, whoopsie, other people who had invested with the company lost their entire life savings when the fraud was revealed.

I know, I know, I can hear you. You’re rolling your eyes: stock fraud stock shmaud; it’s a dime a dozen these days. Everyone’s doing it–stock fraud is the new black.

But Mr. Brooks had another angle: he used the money generated by his company for his own expenses, including a $100,000 belt buckle, a multi-million dollar bat mitzvah party for his daughter, and, oh yeah, hiring prostitutes for his employees and board members. I’m hoping he didn’t hire ladies to work the bat mitzvah party, but really, who knows.

His lawyer, who must be just a prince of a fellow, argued in court that the prostitutes were totally necessary: they were “a legitimate business expense if Mr. Brooks thought such services could motivate his employees and make them more productive.”


Let’s imagine the monthly body armor sales meetings? “Hey, great job Steve, you hit your sales quota this month, so we’re sending you home with Tawny Rose here!  But Al, you missed your monthly goal, so no nookie for you!” 

Do you suppose any women work at DHB Industries? I mean, is this an equal-opportunity hooker hiring opportunity? Does this guy know that prostitution is illegal?  Oh. Wait. Yeah. If you’re buying belt buckles worth WAY more than my annual salary, then probably pesky things like “the law” don’t bother you.

But maybe he’s onto something. Maybe that’s what Barack needs to do with recalcitrant Repubs: promise them the hooker of their choice (and oh my goodness, what a range that would be!) if they would just vote like reasonable human beings. You know, stop fucking the environment and everything else, and screw someone who is at least getting paid for it.

Continue Reading · on July 28, 2010 in Politics, sex

Show and Tell

Caleb has learned to read. Generally speaking, this is a great thing. He hasn’t quite crossed the line from reading-as-chore to reading-as-pleasure, but he’s getting there.  And that means he reads the signs–excited by his sense of mastery–as we walk along the street: PIZZA! ICE CREAM! SHOES!

Then we walk past this:


Caleb says: SHOW AND TELL! 

Pause. Then: Why’s he showing us his tummy? Does he have a six-pack?  Liam says I have a four-pack. What’s that? Why does he look so angry?

Okay, so how would you answer those questions, all of which seem eminently reasonable: why is this vaguely sinister, carefully unshaven man showing us his sinewy chest, and what art editor okayed such a heavy-handed use of airbrushing? We can practically see the curve of this guy’s intestines.

I mumbled something about the picture being an ad for a gym and wanting people to exercise, and we walked on; I’m sure Caleb thought nothing of it. But this threatening guy is everywhere, it seems, flashing us his solitary nipple from just about every phone booth in a twenty block radius. Clearly, that’s why phone booths still exist: as sites for advertising. God knows, no one uses them anymore, not even superheroes.

Mr. One-Nipple Six-Pack is not, of course, trying to sell us gym memberships.  He’s selling us “manhunt,” an online chat room designed to let like-minded glowering six-pack owners discuss the finer points of…how to shave until there’s only a rind of stubble, or how to take off an undershirt using only your fist?  What’s he going to show in this chat room? The other nipple? 

This ad disturbs me for lots of the usual reasons: the confusion of sex with love, the commodification of desire, an unreal (and thus unattainable) body portrayed as the object of desire; the list goes on and on.

I’m pretty sure this ad isn’t aimed at my. . . demographic, let’s call it, and that’s fine.  To each his own. I’ve got the World Cup players to look at, and some of the vamps on True Blood–oh, and Husband, of course of course–so I’m all set.

So why does this guy bug me so much? Do I really care if someone wants to “”?  (It’s the manhunt slogan. Truly, it is. I checked. Never let it be said that this blog is not a veritable fountain of information).  Sure, I wish that everyone could find his or her soul mate and enjoy the totally blissful experience of raising kids in Manhattan, but I realize that for some folks, trying to get to the soccer field at 930AM on a Saturday via the 14D bus with two kids and a bag of gear may not be their life goal, and that’s okay.

But this guy and his solitary nipple bug me.  Bugs me for the same reason that I’m bothered by the sprawling oiled lovelies selling Victoria’s Secrets, or just about any other underwear/swimsuit brand, and by the BIG TITS magazines on the newstand… Aren’t we tired, as a society, of looking at yet another almost-naked person? Does a twenty-foot billboard of a man in his underpants really sell more underpants? (And isn’t it curious that for all the hoopla, the word “underpants” is about as sexy as “waffle iron”? )

More and more often I wonder what my kids make of all these hotsy-totsy images. Maybe they don’t see it all yet, but they will, soon enough. How do we help them understand that even though images of sexuality are everywhere, those images have nothing to do with real life–real straight life, real gay life, real whatever kind of life.

Perhaps it’s not a surprise for a writer to say that she wants her kids to be good readers, but I think that’s what I mean. I want them to be good readers–to learn not just the words but the meanings between the words; to learn that the image is not necessarily the reality and that reality is not usually found in an online chat room.


*after I wrote this post, I saw that Forefront Church, in NYC, is talking about this same picture as part of their 1000 words series. Guess Mr. Six Pack is bugging a lot of people this week!

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Continue Reading · on June 19, 2010 in sex, street notes

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