Friday, October 16, 2015

Flash Report! Johnny Paradise: Notes from a Theatre, Somewhere in America

Doc here, a man who some say has read some great reports tonight as I prep them for publication. Solid blow by blow reports, some incredible new pics, and new info for the dB.

However, when I see a report from senior reporter Johnny Paradise land in my in-box, I get excited. I know that something special is right around the corner for my eyes and my head. 

And kids, in my honest opinion, this is his best report yet (and each one of his is an instant classic).  There is no one I publish who captures all five senses in the adult theater scene like Johnny Paradise. 

Get ready to be enveloped.

Take it away, sir.



"I was born in the Midwest..."

So sayeth scholars and sinners, heroes and fools, Presidents, paupers, poets and prophets, profiteers and populists, barons of industry, the working men who built America, so sayeth Don Draper in a terse declaration of identification - defensive, defiant, delivered with the curious blend of modesty and arrogance that is as Midwestern as the Midwesterner himself.

I was born in the Midwest, too... and at the risk of letting bias blur the ink of journalistic impartiality, on a crisp beautiful October afternoon it surpasses one's ability to not think, to not believe that this land is different, special, blessed and beatified by the unique geography that makes Autumn here so indescribably nice. Autumn in Michigan is exquisite - and brief - a short cool sunlit trip through an orchard that starts under summer's unforgiving heat and delivers us, finally, to the cold in-escapability of winter's long embrace; in the middle ground there is bittersweet perfection.

Bittersweet, because Autumn reminds us of loss and the brevity of all things, accomplished and undone... "Sic transit gloria mundi" - so sayeth the Midwesterner, so sayeth the observer of things, so sayeth the baseball fan.

And it is baseball that really drives this story, because it is baseball, among other things, that made this day SO bittersweet, as in an extra early dash of bitter; as in this Autumn there is no baseball in Detroit - for the first time in what seems like an era, a short epoch of victories and near victories.

Ty Cobb
August 24th, 1909
In other parts of the midwest it is very different, of course. Hope lives in Chicago, and in St. Louis and Kansas City two mighty teams make the game seem so easy....

In Detroit the spirit of Cobb walks silently down Michigan Avenue. The absence of Fall baseball is an almost palpable thing.

So......with a sense of the ending of one season and the commencement of another, a sense of the unfinished, unaccomplished, lost and someday to be forgotten, preoccupied by the sad uncertain impermanence of ALL things - which is the essence of Autumn -  I found solace where solace is inexpensive - on the road, driving. GO.

55 degrees Farneheit
wind S 10 mph
humidity 69%

Clouds of charcoal blue and deep violet moved uncannily through the hazy semi-starlit black of the deep mysterious October sky and the freeways buzzed like emptied hives with people looking for something - excitement, thrills, color, lights, warmth, or maybe just a way to stave off the sadness of nights in fall, the sudden drop from sunny to dark, or maybe to fill the time they would have spent rooting for the home team. I was motivated suddenly by the thought a city of glass and a taste for a Hungarian hot dog. In that city there are two sister buildings, a Theatre and a Church. They are related in an interesting variety of ways. Both receive penitents, both see hope and sorrow, both offer moments of quiet reverence, and both house the same two customers, to borrow a phrase - the living and the dying.

The Church was closed, so I went to the Theatre.

I was intrigued upon my arrival; I have never seen the parking lot so full. There was no room at all. I parked at the pharmacy across the street and walked.

"Sic transit gloria mundi...." The Theatre has changed, not for the better, as has been attested to by abler scribes than I. Its glory days are part of the irresistibly elusive past. I walked in and remembered the first time I walked in, when it still felt, really, like a theatre, like a cinema house. I remember an old man who carried in his heart and mind and reminiscences the dazzling delightful history of an era, of that place, of the changing times, of adult film and the culture of viewers it inspired or even to whom it just delivered cheap kicks. Granted, to get to these stories you had to get past a decidedly cantankerous demeanor.....but it was all so good and it was all so honest and it was all so real. 

I remember Saturday nights that unfolded with the carnality of an ancient spectacle and Saturday nights when in utter silence a small group of the so-called "raincoat crowd" would stare bleakly at the screen and crane their necks towards the door
in agitated vigil for a woman, any woman, to walk in. And now.....

Even the brief renaissance of this place seems to be over, ended by gimmick-laden, money grabbing policies, by the ubiquitous weekend parties and events, by a decision to cater to a crowd distinctly different from that of the past. With gift-bagged indifference to the way it was the new management has brought about the way it is - safe, planned, programmed, unredeemably dull. The Theatre is dead. The Club killed it.

What more obvious sign could one need - the volume of the "movie" was not even turned on, not for the entire evening. If anyone noticed, nobody cared.

It was a special event night (what Saturday isn't...?) and tonight's festivities were aimed at a fetish group, and their presence dominated the theatre. Imagine the Rocky Horror repertory setting up a Halloween display, and that was the costume-driven flavor of the night. The movie screen was obscured by a giant metal spider web, some sort of medieval rack, and a succession of floggings, candle wax drippings, and bondage sketches. It was the most tedious display of pseudo-deviant kitsch, the least erotic pageant of self-indulgent play acting that I have ever seen. It carried all the sexual charge of a World of Warcraft convention. "Boy" said one timer, shaking his head as he walked his woman up the aisle and out, "this is a real mood killer tonight."

It was costume night, pretend night, stale overdone fantasy night. Fifty shades of blah. Fifty shades of yawn.  Were there some sexy girls in corsets and boots and "alt"-style wear? Yes. But yawn. I saw a curvy pretty pastry of a girl with black bangs and glasses, a vivacious Velma, who on any other night would have caused real excitement, but she disappeared. A giggling gaggle of scantily clad leather-wearing sexually curious females walking around unashamedly, it should have been an awesome sight to behold. But it was all just so forced and fake and fatuous that there was nothing, no spark. It was too much - like a bowl of whipped cream with no sundae beneath. All sugar and froth and pretend. No grit, no grace, no gratification.

I am sure profits were substantial.

There were some of the regular crowd - more lost than ever. ghoul-like in the Halloween mode, staring, staggering, stopping, searching, looking bewildered, looking for something to watch, and put off by the ridiculous scene in the front of the theatre. What should have been a voyeur's delight was anathema to most of the "regulars". There were some couples in the corral. One middle-aged pair were sharing, and a few men were getting sucked by the quiet mouth-to-member ministrations of a man's dutiful female partner. Nothing loud, nothing thrilling, nothing terribly exciting. Men stood at the rail, but most were not even masturbating. No charge, no vibe, so spirit, just an awkwardly nerdy dress-up party and an auditorium of confused men. What must they be thinking? Crack! From the stage a theatrical lash has been leveled on the nervous flesh of a woman who seems as bored with what she is doing as we are with what we are watching. I have
seen PBS panel discussions with hotter action than this.

But now the melancholy mood of the night was affecting me. I was thinking about leaving. Then I saw HER.

The Bombshell.

Strawberry blonde. She looked like she stepped, boot-clad, out of the pages of a 60s men's magazine. To call her voluptuous would be like calling Einstein "bright"; she was a geometry teacher's bright lurid fantasy about the meeting of line and curve. Full pink lips on a face of truly rare beauty, she was electric, exotic, hypnotizing in the way she effortlessly sashayed about looking curiously with bright eyes and a sweet smile at the bizarre carnival in which she had, it seemed, almost accidentally found herself. She was a fantasy woman suddenly come to life, a daydream of flesh and motion, poured like a glass of milk into black fishnets and black garters, a short black skirt and a double double D-decolletage that framed amazingly the buxom contour of her upper body. She was Jayne Mansfield, she was the atomic bomb, it was as if the lovely shadows of the images of all those movies over all those years had fallen off the screen into a 3D form, she was
 the embodiment of the fantasy girl you saw on the screen and hoped would enter the theatre. And tonight, finally, she had.

Boom.... Where she walked, wherever she stepped like ozone lightning the men were thunderstruck, necks snapped with the sudden ferocity of a jet at Mach 2 to follow her every move. She had an escort, carefully holding her hand, aware seemingly of the great interest she was sure to generate. The "college guy" - did he actually go to college? Maybe. He just had that look, and a certain hipster-ish quality, with his Barry Goldwater glasses and University of Michigan hoodie. He looked a bit like J.J. Abrams...was he her director? He was young enough to be  - what? A graduate student escaping Ann Arbor for a night of debauchery? A youthful sociology prof devoting himself body and soul to his study? If so this woman was a crash course.

In adult theatres I have witnessed the entire catalogue of the female form, in shape and size, dimension and proportion, and on the subjective spectrum of beauty from plain to beautiful, but this was the first time I had ever seen a woman who was, simply, drop-dead gorgeous. My own journalistic distance was compromised by the thoughts that followed her as she walked up the aisle. Little Richard put it best -

"If she walks by the men folks get engrossed,
 If she winks an eye the bread slice turns to toast
 If she got a lot of what they call the most....

 She can't help it, the girl can't help it..."

They walked slowly past the panorama of kitschy bdsm-ing and seemed as disinterested as everyone else. Then they walked out into the lobby - to the arcade? I didn't want to follow, but I could see scores of eyes shifting, darting, tracing their movements through the building. They reappeared and went the "exclusively couples" section. In the pale illumination from the screen I could make out very little - they entered, stood looking out into the theatre, without speaking, intensely - looking for what? Like Gatsby at the end of the pier reaching towards the green light - what were they looking for?

They must have sat down. I could see nothing....til maybe a half hour later. They stood in front of the window and shared a was perfectly appropriate and somehow out of place. They were out of place. Where were they from, where were they going? How long will it take, how long will it last? Their kiss was lustful without being vulgar, overt without being showy, it was a kiss, a real kiss...something genuine, unscripted, unplanned, unpredicted, lovely in its simplicity, but not without meaning -

Every kiss seals a compromise we make with ourselves and with the universe - to accept the transitory nature of things and cultivate the sweetness of life while we can.

Their kiss, for me, was the end of the movie. It was time to go.

On the road back my thoughts were reeling with a thousand things. It might be a while before I come back here. Other theatres, other destinations, other experiences, other cities await. It is time to move on. My favorite secret theatre doesn't exist anymore - it is the ossified shell of something that once lived. It is something else now. The new overthrows the old. Things change. Time moves on.

Hope endures. Spring training is only a few months away, after all.

And the Theatre? In my memory it will always be a secret palace of dream and desperation.

And the fetish crowd? Back to their vanilla suburban Monday through Friday lives.

And the college guy? Back to the books.

And the bombshell?  If she "mesmerizes every mother's son"......well, the girl can't help it.

And the Tigers? Just wait til next year.

And the road is open and wide and in America from coast to coast I still see the land of tomorrow and yesterday, eternal as opportunity, as endless as the hopes of man, brief as the pleasure of a simple kiss, and the road rolls on and over and up and swoops deliriously wonderfully to places unknown but always eventually back home, as Autumn returns and promises Spring, we all go back home.

I will always come back home. I was born in the Midwest.

Johnny Paradise


Doc here again...What can I say, but wow.  Know you know why I got excited when Johnny Paradise's e-mail popped into my in-box. Thank you sir for another classic report. 

In a recent conversation I had with my colleague Brent in Portland, we both agreed that Johnny's reports were something special.  He (Brent) is as big a fan of Johnny's as I am, and with each report, our admiration grows.  

We are lucky to have you Johnny. And we wait for your next report(s) from across the landscape of this thing of ours