Private Magazine

Tag: Video Liquidators

Romantic Retardation*

*In the clinical sense of the word

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Another Memorial Day, another drama. That’s my life. For the past two months, I was seeing this guy “Billy,” an electrician with peroxided hair. I thought that I knew the real him.

Our passionate connection made me feel like we were sheltered under the sunny boardwalks of Venice Beach in 1994 with nothing to kill our buzz.  I was wrapped up in his bubble. Billy skateboards all the time, and lives out in the country actually. He was kind of like an obscure record I discovered in a beat-up barn out in Cambria.

We met in a strange twist of fate and turns out, we both read Hustler for the articles. Our romance was meant to be. Billy took me out to eat and to the park all the time, brought pinot grigio and PBR for us, held my hand and gazed into my eyes… He was just so romantic.

But then the record totally scratched. Billy flipped the script. Everything changed.

Masks

The masks we wear

One week ago, Billy told me that he was too broke to take me out to eat anymore.

“I’ve been saving for a house,” Billy texted me. “I can’t spend any money.”

“But it’s impossible not to spend money when there’s a woman in your life,” I said.

Honestly, I was hurt. Why would Billy take me out on dates for two months straight and then suddenly say he can’t anymore?  I figured it meant he wanted to do his own thing, and that I should break up with him as soon as possible, before I’m the one left in the dust.

“Look, Billy…” I said. “If you’re trying to be rude and passive aggressive, than just leave me alone.”

“What are you talking about?” He texted me about five hours later. “I’m not mad about anything.”

So I’m a crazy bitch then, apparently. It was all in my head. Ugh!!

 

romantic

But the situation didn’t go away. For the entirety of this past week, Billy turned into a withdrawn and depressed goon who didn’t want to do anything, despite the fact I told him I would be an emotional support and wear a schoolgirl outfit to his house.

“I don’t want to bring you down when I’m in a depressed mood,” Billy said.

“It’s okay to be in a depressed mood,” I said. “Everyone gets in depressed moods, you don’t have to totally ignore me because you’re in a depressed mood.”

But that’s basically what Billy did. His personality changed. Emotionally, he disappeared. He hid away in an emotionless purgatory, and he didn’t care how I felt about it. I suppose you could say he left me high and dry, feeling abandoned, vulnerable enough to join the Church of Scientology…I mean, right when I thought that I met someone honest, it turned out to be an act.

“I actually don’t even like going out to dinner,” Billy said. “I hate going out to eat. I hate going out downtown.”

“What?” I said. “You could have fooled me.”

“I don’t know how to show my emotions,” Billy continued.

“You are a sociopath, I think,” I told him. “American Psycho!”  I hung up the phone, and then I went out for the night.

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Saturday night, Allentown was pop, lock, and droppin’ from Wadsworth to Main. I decided to forego stilettos and wear pointy ankle boots which said “Girl’s Night – Not Trying to Talk to or Be With Any Men.”  Except that is, the men who were in Q. and supplying me with dollars to pick out songs by Nicki Minaj and Demi Lovato, (what can I say, I’m a great DJ at Q. late at night, when the THC and pinot grigio and Adderall are coursing through my veins and I think that 1:30 a.m. is still early and that I should call a bunch of people right away).

“Eddie!” Eddie is my somewhat nocturnal ex-bf/BFF who is definitely an emotional support.  I thought maybe, just maybe, he might be awake. “I’m tipsy and I can’t get home!” But did I really have any intentions of going home?

“I’ll be right there, where you at?”

By the time Eddie’s olive-green Honda pulled to the curb, I had already twisted my ankle while crossing the street. Damn ankle boots…I muttered, flicking the ash of a cigarette whose origins were unknown. Stupid little Billy boy…I paced the corner of Allen and Delaware amidst taxi beeps. If only he could see me now! 

“Eddie!” I hopped in the passenger side of his olive-green Honda. “Hi!’’

“So, you, like, needed a ride home?”

“Meh, I guess. But I don’t really feel like going home yet!”

Eddie drove around to a quieter street, and we sat in the car and talked awhile. I hadn’t seen Eddie for several months; but it doesn’t really matter, because we’ve known each other a super long time and there just aren’t certain pretenses between us. Except now, Eddie has a girlfriend who would chase me away with a broom if I were to ever show up at his place.

“It’s just all gone to shit,” a tear rolled down my cheek under the glow of a crescent moon. “This dork Billy, I never should have given my heart away. He’s too busy saving for a house, apparently…”

“He’s an electrician, he should already have a house,” Eddie lit another cig. “They make good money.”

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“What an asshole,” Eddie said, and I realized he was wearing finely-striped silky pajama pants the whole time.

“I like your pants,” I said.

“Thanks,” Eddie said, and I leaned over to give him a kiss.

 

 

Valentine’s Day: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

February is said to be the most romantic month of the year.  It’s a time to bask in a sea of sexuality without shame. We spend weeks, sometimes months out of the year, shooting Cupid’s arrows at the objects of our affection. Valentine’s Day should be for reaping the benefits of these efforts. But this isn’t a perfect world. The laws of physics tell us each action brings with it an equal and opposite reaction. Sometimes you wind up shooting yourself in the face.  Your intentions (or theirs) fall flat. You can wind up Facebook blocked before you know each other’s middle names. Maybe it’s a Millennial thing.

All I know is men are full of surprises. If the past month is any indication, romance occurs at unexpected times.

hennessey

Sleep-Humped in Seattle

Jo Jo, Eleanor, and I met up at Gramma Mora’s expecting a girl’s night. It was getting off to a great start. The bartender was one of our co-worker’s nephews, and he presented us with a round of complimentary margaritas. We sipped them gratefully, and started to let our hair down. We began to divulge our innermost thoughts.  That’s right about when Jo-Jo’s boyfriend Manny and his friend Jerome showed up.

I met Jerome last summer, when we all went to the beach. His pot brownies caused a grown man to call an ambulance on himself (he was fine). But other than that, Jerome didn’t stand out much to me. Throughout dinner at Gramma Mora’s, Jerome and Manny kept going to the bathroom together. Whether it was a bromance thing, or a “blow-mance” thing, we couldn’t tell.

After dinner, we went to Gecko’s. The bar had 90s techno music blaring and strobe lights flashing.  DJ X-Treme was behind a table in the center of the room. We waited for the dart board to vacate, but it never did. So Jo Jo, Eleanor and I went to Sidebar. Our male escorts disappeared around the corner to “let Jerome’s dogs out” and were gone 25 minutes.  Us three girls drank cosmos at the bar.

“Do you need a drink?” Jerome asked upon his return. Behind him, Eleanor was giving me a knowing look.

“Sure, thanks,” I said.

We had been discussing whether or not Jerome has a girlfriend. Jo Jo wasn’t sure. Apparently he’s enmeshed in an “on again/off again” situation. But Jerome ordered me a glass of wine and we all went to play shuffleboard. Jerome was my partner. We lost.

I went off to the ladies room. Jerome’s bald head suddenly poked into the bathroom while I was at the sink. “Do you party?” he said.

“Um, come in,” I said.

I won’t go into excruciating detail, but Jerome and I kissed in the bathroom. I don’t tend to go for baldies, but when you are presented with an opportunity you just have to take it.

Jerome pranced out of the bathroom with an energetic strut. I put on lipstick. After finishing up at Sidebar, we all went back to Jerome’s crib.

“Listen, Jerome,” I said. “I’m just going to sleep on your couch. Can I?” I was cuddling up to Jerome’s bassett hound.

“Sure,” Jerome said, with a twinkle in his eye.

Jo Jo, Manny, and Eleanor left right around that time. I noticed a deck of cards on the coffee table, and proposed a game of strip rummy (a retirement home favorite). Jerome totally lost by quite a few articles of clothing, but didn’t seem to mind sitting there naked. It’s not like I was going to touch his ding-a-ling. I have a blasé attitude about that kind of thing. (See: Dicks, Diners, and Drives).

My phone told me it was after 3 a.m. so I seized an afghan, laid down on the couch, and closed my eyes.

“I guess it’s time to turn in for the night,” I said.

“I’ve got a couple people coming over,” Jerome stated.

“But, who?” I said, opening one eye.

“Pauly and Stan, from Tonawanda,” Jerome said. “They should be here in a few minutes.”

“Oh, all right,” I said. “I’ll just snooze in your room.”

Jerome was pacing around, smoking cigarettes into the early morning hours. I know this because around 7 a.m. I was awoken by someone humping me from behind.

“Um, Jerome?” I opened one eye. “I’m, like, asleep.” For some reason, I had no sexual desire for Jerome and was completely unapologetic about it. I mean,  what did I really know about him, anyway?

“I can drive you home now if you want,” he said.

“Jerome,” I sat up in bed. “My car is on Hertel and it’s the crack of dawn.”

Jerome continued to pace the room, smoking cigarettes and grinding his teeth as the sun rose over Hertel Avenue. I literally left him high and dry and didn’t feel bad about it.  Of course, that was the last time I heard from Jerome.

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Poetic Justice

A couple weeks after the Jerome situation, I met Pete in a way described in countless paperbacks, “Out of nowhere, we locked eyes while waiting for our drinks at a local café, and fell in love.”

Actually, I didn’t know if the scheduled hangout session which followed was even a date. It was a coffee date. On a Monday.  I hadn’t been on a coffee date in a really long time. Aren’t coffee dates strictly reserved for side chicks and people you meet online? A coffee date on a Monday struck me as lame. But since this was a first date with a new man (someone I met in a hipster café, after all), I gave it the benefit of the doubt.

I got to Public Espresso in the Hotel Lafayette and spotted Pete from behind. He was waiting in line wearing a salmon hoodie. I chalked this up to, undeniably, Pete must have a big dick. Who else would wear a salmon hoodie on a first date? I guess Pete doesn’t have to compensate.

What followed was par for the coffee-date-on-a-Monday course: Pete interviewing me about my life, and me asking the requisite follow-up questions. After I told him about writing for Hustler and frequenting Video Liquidators, Pete suggested we take our ‘date’ to Acropolis for a half-off bottle of wine.

We drank wine, and Pete bought me dinner. So this was a date, then? I still couldn’t tell, until Pete walked with me down the street and kissed me goodbye.

The next day, I called Pete and invited him to take a walk with me. He met me at the park. We strolled for an hour. Suddenly, Pete said he had to go to work. He absconded back to his car on the other side of the park. There was no kiss that day. I wasn’t sure what to make of the Pete situation. We made tentative plans for Saturday. I decided to see what happened naturally.

Pete didn’t talk to me the entire rest of the week. He cancelled our tentative plan at 8:30 am on Saturday, via some way-rehearsed text. All I said was “K”. He didn’t reply. I blocked him on Facebook, because I found his behavior rude. That was the last time I heard from Pete.

What’s Love Got to Do With It??

Today, for Valentine’s Day, I’m going out with a man who constantly confesses his love for me. I tell him all the time he’s just a friend, and that I won’t put up with him getting over-emotional and attached. Still, he takes me to dinner and the movies. We even might go to Puerto Rico. Why the hell not? I guess it’s a pretty good situation.

There is a new man on the horizon. There is romantic potential there. I have a new bartending job in Niagara Falls, NY and that place is crawling with men. I’m able to get my flirt on. A tatted up muscular guy wants to take me for a ride on his motorcycle. And why the hell not? I’m back in the game. I’m not really much of a gambler, but this year I am taking a chance on true love and betting against the odds that I find a loveable man. It is time for me to move to Round Two.

The Craigslist Orgy

mustashe “Didn’t you write about Video Liquidators?”

I look up from my wine glass, eyes landing on a mustachioed guy I sort-of know. It’s 10 p.m. at The Gypsy Parlor, and a hip-hop show is going on.

“Yeah, I did. You read it?”

“I was deeply moved by the article,” this mustached guy, whose name is Eugene, says.

The comments to “Movie Date at the Video Liquidators Theater” have been pouring in. I love it, readers – thank you! “Joe”s confession that he’s “been there alone a few times” moved me… as did his invitation to a potential orgy. I’m sorry I couldn’t come, Joe! (That’s what she said).  It has found readers in Brazil, Australia, Germany… and other awesome countries! I wish “Tom” luck with taking his girlfriend there for the first time. How did it go?

“Oh, ok.” I say, surprised.

“I feel that I am your soulmate to accompany you on your next journalistic expedition.”

“Sure!”

Eugene wanders away and begins pumping his fists to the emcee on stage. He looks attractive.

——————————–

It’s the following Saturday. Eugene and I are drinking wine in Delaware Park. It’s pouring rain.  We each have our own bottle in a brown paper bag.

“So I was thinking we could pretend to be swingers and infiltrate the Buffalo Swingers Scene,” I say. “It would be an undercover investigation.” I take a swig of my Drama Queen Pinot Grigio from Gates Circle Liquor. “I’m talking with an editor who is potentially interested in the idea.”

“Great, awesome!” Eugene raises his brown paper beverage to the rainy sky – an offering to the gods. “Yes, there’s definitely a Buffalo Swingers Scene. I’ve been to a few things.”

Things…?” I ask. But then I decide not to ask too many questions. I kind of have a crush on Eugene. “Yeah, swingers… cool!”

“I can be your research assistant,” Eugene says.  

We are steadily sipping our vino beneath the Casino in Delaware Park, wandering around aimlessly whenever the rain lets up. Eugene strokes his mustache, as rainwater patters down on his arm tattoos, making them glisten.

I slow down to a halt. Screeeeeeeeeech. I do not want to imbibe all of this wine and do stupid things that I’ll later regret. But do I ever regret anything,  I’m thinking to myself? Suddenly, Eugene’s voice breaks my meditative cloud, my foggy wine haze.

“Let’s go to the Video Liquidators Theater!” Eugene yells. It echoes.

“Oh, I was just there,” I say, exasperated. Did I really just say that?  “Yeah, I mean, why not? It could be interesting…But we’ll have to sneak this wine in.”

I look at my miniscule metallic evening clutch. There’s no fitting wine in there.

“How are we going to smuggle wine into Video Liquidators?” Eugene asks, truly perplexed. Raindrops on his face look like tears.

“Why don’t we go back to my bungalow? I’ll transfer everything to my most giant purse, and we’ll be good to go.”

That’s exactly what we do. We travel the short drive in Eugene’s rugged truck.

“This is the largest bag that I own,” I’m rushing over to my shelf of bags, fetching an obnoxiously large, embroidered, boho-chic Lucky Jeans bag. I throw it on my kitchen table.

“Ok. I’ll be in my bathroom.”

I run into my bathroom, grab some Nars lipstick in a shade called Damned, smear it on. I’m spraying myself down with strawberry, coconut oil-based mist when I hear a commotion.  I peek into my apartment, and spot Eugene standing completely naked in the middle of my kitchen.

“Is this the first time someone has decided to take off their clothes in your kitchen for no apparent reason?” he asks.

“Actually, no -” I reply. “My downstairs neighbor Kurt did the same thing last winter.”

Eugene appears hurt and looks at the ground. beiber ——————————————————————-

We hop back into Eugene’s truck and drive to Video Liquidators. I‘m drunker than  Mary Tyler Moore at the corner store in 1964.  We arrive at Video Liquidators, and stagger through the grimy concrete corridor. Familiar fluorescent lights jar me awake; one bulb flickers and my eyelid twitches. It all seems more foggy, more pastel colored, than I remember. .. Bimbos on the covers of smutty mags cast judgmental glares. We wander to the back of the store, looking for the  entrance of the seedy porn theater.

“Where’s the theater?” I shriek. “Could’ve sworn it was over here. I was only here once, after all.”

“You’re supposed to be the expert,” Eugene mutters under his breath.

What?” I’m disturbed. I’m a Video Liquidators expert?!

I push open the metal door, and lead Eugene into the depths of darkness. About 20 guys are loafing around inside the grimy theater, which apparently is showing gay porn this evening. I tip-toe down the center aisle, trying not to attract attention…but that is impossible, since the two wine bottles are clanging around in my bag.

“SHHH!” I turn around. Eugene is obscured by the shadows. “Let’s sit over there.”

We sneak down to a vacant aisle and collapse – drunkenly, wearily – into our seats. The wine bottles rattle and clank obnoxiously. I stifle laughter, and uncork my wine…until I look around and realize that some of these guys are staring at me. I slump down low in my seat and hide under my bag, knocking over my wine bottle in the process.

——————————

It’s a cool, crisp night on Eugene’s roof. We just picked up some wine from the bulletproof liquor store on Ontario Street. Eugene’s face is illuminated by the glow of his iPhone, as he scrolls through Casual Encounters on Craigslist.

“What kind of shit can we get into?” Eugene wonders, mustache twitching.

It never really worked out with the swingers. So I thought that Craigslist could provide journalistic inspiration.

“Oh, here’s one,” Eugene stops, tapping the screen on a recent post.  “Sexy young couple looking to set up NHL-theme swingers club.”

For those not familiar with Casual Encounters – reading it is more entertaining than an entire season of The Wire (sometimes). I’m sure the majority of these folks make everything up. I know this because Eugene and I have been sending them e-mails. In the mw4mw section, a couple is “desperately seeking” another couple, for, I don’t know, whatever. It’s never clear. I don’t personally get it,  but thing is – lots of Buffalo people are posting these things up. I’m sure we pass each other on the street, maybe every day. What does it all mean?! What drives such a covert preoccupation? And who the hell is Craig?

“Well, I’ve been involved with these types of things before,” Eugene says.

“You…you have?” What kinds of things? But I decide not to ask too many questions.

——————————————–

I’ve been hanging out with Eugene for a couple of months now. Like I said, I have a crush on Eugene, despite the fact that he went on a drunken diatribe about “relationships being pointless” and “never wanting to be in one, ever.” The only thing he ever wants to do is snoop around the Casual Encounters section. Randomly, when I’m at work, my “research assistant”  forwards me messages/pictures from these Craigslist Creatures.

“OMG – look at this weird guy,” Eugene writes.

“Thug Nigga in2 Spankin House Party. Age 25.”

Only problem is – most of these Craigslist ads are accompanied by completely X-Rated, bad quality photos. One time I accidentally opened one at work and let out a terrified scream. My boss was like, What now? I was like, Nothing.

———————————– condoms2 It never did work out with Eugene. I think he was more into Craigslist orgies than he was into me. But I’ll always have fond memories of the plans that we made, plans which never manifested. I guess he was just my number one fan.

Movie Date at the Video Liquidators Theatre

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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?