My estranged friend and former colleague, Rory from Manitoba, has come for a visit. We’re trying to decide what to do with our Saturday night. He has crossed the border with grace and elegance, so the least I can do is show him a proper Buffalo Night Out.
“Listen, I had an idea yesterday, for my new blog. It’s kind of sick. Twisted, even.”
“Oh?” Rory replies, with a raised eyebrow.
“There’s a porn store down the street called Video Liquidators. It has a 24-hour porn screening room. What kind of people go there? I need to know.”
Froth from Rory’s Southern Tier has foamed around his beard.
“But! We need to blend in and not draw attention,” I say authoritatively. “We need to be one of them. This is a journalistic expedition.”
“I’ll be discreet!” Rory declares, lacing up his steel-toe boot.
We drive the miniscule distance to Video Liquidators’ Elmwood Ave. location. It can’t really be detected from the street, save for a bland black and white sign. Once you turn into the parking lot, “Video Liquidators” glows lasciviously in red letters. The building itself is yellow brick. Red and yellow supposedly increase one’s appetite; that’s why McDonald’s employs these colors. It must make those with perv-y predilections salivate for miles around.
“It’s packed in here tonight!” I shriek, eyeing the half dozen cars in the lot.
It’s dark, cold, and silent in the city tonight. My watch reads 9:30 pm. The fluorescent bulbs inside the store snap me awake. I’m half baked. Some guys scurry around the store’s periphery like bugs; they hide in the corners once we strut in.
I lead the way through aisles of sex toys and suggestive polyester “lingerie” vacuum-sealed in plastic. Navigating around racks of nudie mags, we make our way to the theatre door at the very back. There’s not a big to-do with this theatre; the door could be a closet. A neon sign flickers above. I look around helplessly.
“Hey! You need to pay to go in there!” exclaims a blonde, tie-dye clad woman behind the cash register.
“Oh, how much is it?” I say, walking over to her.
“Well, since you’re a couple, you’re free,” she says to me. “For him, it’s $10 to choose either the Couples Theatre or the Singles Theatre. It’s $15 if you want to switch between both.”
“$15 for both of us, for both rooms?” I’m already taking a twenty from my wallet.
“BUT!” The cashier leans into me, eyes wide. “If he leaves the room, you HAVE to go with him. You CANNOT be left alone, under ANY condition.”
“We’ll stick together.”
Rory and I creep down a concrete hallway. We pass a few empty rooms, each with a TV proclaiming “No Signal,” a bench and a mop bucket. This is it? Then, we see the door marked Theatre #2. We go inside.
It’s pitch black. I tip-toe, inch by terrified inch, leading the way. It’s impossible to know what is inside this room. I could be walking into a closet full of violent offenders, with venomous snakes slithering across the floor. Grabbing Rory’s sweaty palm, finally, a dim glow from the movie screen vaguely lights our way.
The theatre is vacant except for a faceless couple in the last row. I can’t tell anything about them, just that they aren’t naked and aren’t engaged in any, um, activities. I’m relieved. We sit down and start to watch the film. It looks like it’s from the 90’s; a blonde is walking around a house in a modest French maid outfit. In the background she speaks a monologue – “He always was an ass man…So I’d be sure to bend over in my maid outfit…” We watch a fuzzy montage of her walking through a house. The man behind us coughs and groans and sucks down an iced fountain beverage.
“This is a boring movie, let’s hit the singles theatre. There might be more action there.”
We go to Theatre #1. Upon entering, it’s easier to see, there’s graphic sexual acts on the screen, and a room of ten guys. The movie screen is much smaller than your standard theatre variety, but it does the job. Two guys in front of us are having a conversation like this is Kelly’s Korner or something.
“Yeah man, the scene down in Cleveland is really something. There was this Canadian couple that would always be there…”
They must be a part of the Public Porn Scene. I realize that now I can finally cross Watching Porn With a Room Full of Strangers off of my bucket list.
The next movie starts. The actress is very beautiful. Both films fit the theme of POV, or Point of View, porn. The point is to be a professionally-directed porn, made to look like a really well-shot amateur movie. The director is also an actor, a participant. I find it to be artsy and Post Modern.
My eyeballs are starting to water profusely. I realize it’s because I haven’t blinked in about five minutes. This is really riveting stuff. I feel something poke me in the arm. It must be Rory’s hand. But was it? I’ll never be sure.
To my far right, in the aisle across from me, a pudgy guy in a dress shirt and tie is casually whacking it. That’s somebody’s dad, I think to myself. Shit.
After the second film comes to a close, I turn to Rory and we decide to leave. I need a whiskey, neat, and some ice cream. We go back to my car, and check the time. 11 o’clock. Damn, time really does fly. We decide that it was pretty fun.
When we get back to my apartment, I Google “Video Liquidators cinema.” I want to see if anyone has already written about it. Nothing really comes up. The only item of interest is a message board/forum called CityXGuide, which apparently never got off the ground, but should have. On the site, there’s a public forum called Streetwalker Reports, where Buffalo’s gentleman can tip each other off as to where to find a hooker.
“Oh. My. God. This shit is great,” I say. My face is practically pressed to my laptop screen and my contacts are super dry.
I spot a post from three years ago by “Dariusz” that reads “Best BBBJ I ever had was in Bflo. In the Video Liquidators on Elmwood. They have couples nights on Saturdays and one time this hot 40s girl was there with her
husband. Give me a great BJ.”
BTW, the site is a great place to pick up obscure acronyms. Type in “BBBJCIMNQNS.” It’s a real thing.
There’s no excuse to be bored. Who needs cable at home with the Video Liquidator’s theatre a stone’s throw away?