July 21, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 29
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Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020



Part II: Historic Gay First Avenue (1930 - 1970)
Part II: Historic Gay First Avenue (1930 - 1970)
by Don Paulson - SGN Contributing Writer

First Avenue represents an old pattern in the history of neighborhoods; their birth and glory, their decline and resurrection. During First Avenue's decline (ca. 1930 - 1970) an underground emerged into what a sexually uptight society called 'trash' on the 'Street of Sin.' But it paved the way for correct sexual information and gave us the sexual freedom we enjoy today. Bad ass FIrst Avenue was the hot Gay cruising street, but you had to be careful not to get burned, especially in the notorious, sleazy peep shows.

In the 1940s and 1950s, before the days of explicit sex, the peep shows were called 'pan rooms' made legal under the citiy's tolerance policy. The imagery was very sedate; women who would bump and grind but only show a little skin or a hint of breast and pussy for ten cents, then, twenty five cents. Dale Evans remembers: "My thing was having sex [fellatio] with straight men -- so the peep shows is where I went. I saw them go from pan(orama) rooms to the graphic sex of today. The people who patronized the peep shows were basically heterosexual or -- at best -- Bisexual so it was great for guys like me. A lot of men liked to get sucked off because their wives or hustling girls wouldn't do It."

In the 1930s, Skippy LaRue worked in a house of prostitution in Texas at age twelve. He was the only boy for those who wanted a male. His specialty was 'French dates' [fellatio]. In those days, most women did not do fellatio. The women began to complain because Skippy was getting more than his share of tricks. Skippy said, "Well, I'm the only one sucking dick around here!"

Dale Evans continues: "In the darkened interior of the pan rooms the machines were in a long row, so men would have to disguise their erections behind a coat or something. Then, the machines were altered and enclosed with a partition for privacy. First, they put in a curtain for a doorway into these private rooms, later, they installed doors with locks. With such privacy, one can only imagine what went on! A Gay cruiser admitted to twenty five oral encounters. Another guy bragged about twenty five encounters where the sun doesn't shine. "Too much of a good thing is wonderful" -- Mae West.

Skippy LaRue worked at Lou's Arcade Peep Show in the 1940s and was also in charge of cleaning. "At times there were so many Sailors watching the shows that Lou had to inspect the floor for danger of collapse. There were fifty machines and the customers left a real mess. I hired some street urchin who smelled bad to clean the machines. He said he'd do the job for the loose change he found on the floor. He had to take a putty knife to scrape the dried semen off the machines."

Dale Evans continues: "In those days, before AIDS, we only had to worry about Gonorrhea and Syphilis that a shot of Penicillin would cure. Of course we feared the vice squad and the management who sometimes kicked us out. The worst thing that could happen to you is to get banned. I've kissed butt and all kinds of things to maintain my status. If I'd known the management better I'd have given them $100 to be able to hang out at the peep shows and not be bothered by them.

"On one hand, at lot of these straight guys would spend $20, $30, $40 and then I'd come along and blow them and the management would get cheated out of more money. That's where they were coming from. But for one of them who got their early organism there would be seven others who came back to get some of that same treatment. It worked to their advantage too. The management tried to be both considerate and strict, but I don`t think they ever realized how valuable we were.

"It was wonderful in these places. In the summer it was hot and sweaty and filled with ripe men, men, men.

"Over the years the movies got more and more explicit, from a little bit of skin to graphic sex acts.

"I always felt once I got past the cashier, I was safe. One cashier I remember ran a reign of terror. He was the night clerk and barred every Gay person who came in. He was deeply resented. Then, they got a new guy who was okay."

B.N. recalls: "My buddy and I went to Lou's peep shows just to check it out. Somehow we must have rubbed the management the wrong way because this brute grabbed us by our clothes and literally shot us out the door; tearing my pants and throwing my buddy to the sidewalk.

"Around 1978 they installed surveillance cameras but it was a joke because the lighting was so dim you couldn't decipher what people were doing. After awhile they just abandoned them. At first It was shocking to know you're being watched but after awhile we'd joke and say, 'Oh, I'm going to be on Television tonight.'

"Peep show cruising began to go downhill around 1982 with the mysterious disease called AIDS. The City Council made the management cut off the doors so the best you could do was to go down there, look busy and hope to see someone you carried on with before and go home together. I'd rather trick at home anyway so I could really get into it and take snapshots of my tricks. I have quite a collection spanning 40 years."

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