Flesh Lust at the Lusty Lady
Ricardo Miranda Zuniga
The internalized desire awaits satisfaction; the invasion of sensory being has worked its magic. The floor is sticky, the scent of cum even stronger.
Growing up, my room was located at the rear of the house. My window looked out to my back yard as well as those of my neighbors. This was in San Francisco where the houses are built one against the other with small back yards and short fences leaving a clear view of the kitchens or bedrooms of neighbors. One evening, when I was about ten years old, I recall walking into my room to pull down the window shade when I noticed a lit white room in a neighboring house. The light as well as the room itself struck me as odd because never before had it been used or even lit. It had always stood there with its large obscure window as a reflection of my own room, but never with its own depth and identity. I remained at my window peering into this new room, awaiting some sort of activity, when suddenly into the frame of the window entered a young naked woman. Following the initial shock, I sprung from the window to turn off my own light -- my wildest dreams were being fulfilled. I had heard of such remarkable fortunes from friends and had even spent nights over at friendsÕ homes to view their discoveries, but never had I anticipated this happening to me; for I now owned my own nude.
Voyeurism became a secret ritual. Each evening as nine oÕclock approached, I would slyly take the binoculars from my parentsÕ dresser and place them in my bed under my covers. I would absently watch television, returning to my room every five minutes to see if the dark room had become enchanted. On some nights I would face obstacles such as my puritan brother with whom I shared the room, or my motherÕs questioning as to why I kept running back and forth from my room to the living room, but whenever these obstacles were overcome, my voyeuristic desire was satisfied.
Passive transgression is a socialized impulse particularly common to men. The desire to objectify and undress women is as common as a momentary itch upon oneÕs body. Such transient signs as a passing panty line against a thin tight skirt or an erect nipple against a T-shirt or a cashmere sweater trigger an objectified passion within the male pedestrian. And this objectification is recognized as a transgression, for if anyone catches sight of such apparent ogling, the transgressor shamefully retreats into his own self. (Unless of course the third party happens to be a male transgressor himself then a proud exchange of camaraderie may occur.)
Nestled into one of the cozy side streets off of Broadway in the heart of San Francisco lies a popular, seemingly voyeurist escape, The Lusty Lady. Adjacent to the Broadway area are the financial district, Chinatown and Northbeach, a traditionally predominantly Italian neighborhood. This locale makes for a very active business. Throughout the day, The Lady is patronized by elderly Chinese men and old Italian men, most of them small business owners, as well as Mexican men, usually restaurant service employees whose day shifts have ended. After five oÕclock She is flooded by businessmen of all ages. Tie slightly loosened, briefcase in hand, and a tense expression chiseled into the face -- these are men in search of pleasure. The Lady serves as a place where anxieties may be momentarily poured out.
The Lusty Lady presents an alternate environment of voyeuristic spectacle. She attempts to be a simulation of the dark and slightly hidden desires internalized by men. As one enters, all mundane attributes of daily life are left behind. One steps from the bright daylight into a dark, moist setting. Two young, athletic men, usually with shaven heads and any number of piercings and tattoos check IDÕs at a welcoming desk. Those above the age of eighteen may proceed through a red velvet draped doorway. At this entrance, the guest may wish to inspect a reference window that contains head shots of the dancers with their names and scheduled hours.
As one proceeds through the heavy red material, the five senses are all at once over taken. The moisture of the environment escalates. OneÕs scent and palate are invaded by the pungent smell of stale cum. Rock music plays from hidden speakers and the dark lighting is accentuated by the deep red wall to wall carpeting. Immediately behind the second entrance are two quarter machines; the quarter is the needed token for entertainment. Around the corner from the change machines is a row of doors and above each door hovers a Vacant/Occupied sign. (Of course, the Vacant is in green and the Occupied is in red.) Each door stands as a gateway to a private erotic experience; a means to be transported to the naughty transgressions of childhood when voyeurism was first discovered.
Once the guest has exchanged however many singles for a handful or two of quarters, he turns to a silent line of pacing men anticipating an empty booth. Strangers do not face one another, their eyes only meet in passing and even friends speak in whispers. The men either stare ahead at the row of doors or look down at the detailed design upon the carpeting. Some will pace about, reading over and again the same poster ads for porn movies that line the walls. At times the guest may encounter a few vacant doors yet the men in line wait for a particular door to open. A special treat must lie behind that door, but with little patience to wait around one will succumb to the nearest vacant space.
The guest is now highly excited simply by the anticipation of the erotic. The internalized desire awaits satisfaction -- the invasion of ones sensory being has worked its magic. He finds himself in a small booth with a perimeter of about two and half square feet. He faces a small window, about twelve by sixteen inches, the widow is curtained on the other side (the private interior) by that same thick red velvet of the second doorway. Just below the widow is a slot into which one deposits the quarters. Suddenly, the booth seems oddly familiar. Not unlike the old peep-shows at the arcade museums in which a nickel will trigger a series of animated stills depicting an exotic striptease act. To the left of the window screwed into the wall is a tissue dispenser, a signifier of that which is to come. And below the tissue dispenser a small trash can. The floor is sticky, the scent of cum even stronger, and the temperature at least ten degrees higher.
Each quarter buys about thirty seconds of viewing time through this seemingly private window. (It is recommend to only drop one quarter at first, to check oneÕs vantage point, perhaps that which lies behind the curtain is not agreeable and those who patiently awaited a specific booth had good reason.) The quarters are dropped, the curtain rises and into full view a wide, well lit room is revealed. The room is fully carpeted with bright red carpeting, empty of any design or decoration. At the rear, a platform spans the width of the room. The back wall is a series of mirrored panels and by its reflection one notices that within the interior, wooden bars line both the top and bottom of the boothsÕ windows. The room is occupied by dancing nude women. (The number of women in the room varies dependent upon the time of day. During peak hours one will find up to eight women, during the middle of the day there may only be four. I should also mention that there are a total of eleven booths.) At first, the viewer may not be acknowledged, as the dancers may be busy entertaining others, but no guest is ignored for long. As soon as a dancer approaches oneÕs window, her eyes will meet those of the guest. The viewer is now being viewed and all sense of voyeurism is at once lost; this is the reciprocal nature of vision. The spectacle is reflective and a mutual objectification occurs. The once voyeur is no more than a paying customer, the initial illusion has been replaced by that of banal desire.
Still beyond the window remains that which one can not have, though one may view, and this is exciting. The barrier increases the carnal desire that permeates everyday life that of the other, the panty line, the erect nipple. Though the public signs are exhausted initially by the new set of signs created by The Lusty LadyÕs environment and then by the utter nudity of the dancer, the barrier remains. The enclosure of the booth and the window are transformed into the plane of expression. The man is able to ejaculate not so much because of what he sees but rather because he can not have it, thusly he must bring himself to ejaculation.
The dancer is able to objectify the male, because he himself must perform if she is to remain at his window. The more active and drawn the viewer appears to the dancer the further she will perform. Whereas if he simply stands peering from his booth, apparently unmoved by her performance she will move onto another window. An activated viewer, practically bouncing up and down within the booth, making facial gestures of desire or lust will as well further activate the dancer. She may even go so far as to climb onto the bars and press her vulva against the window, for this is the ultimate signifier, within one set of signs, fully exposed. But the broader plane of expression that of the barrier between the womanÕs genitals and the manÕs act of ejaculation engulfs the other set of signs behind the window. The man can only imagine entering and ejaculating within the warm wet enclosure. Therefore, the first set of signs are rendered impotent by the second, those within the booth and the booth itself. The window, the tissue and the trash can, all signify that which he can not have. By placing himself in such a situation, he as well places his desire within that enclosure, this is desire internalized.
At no point does the dancer desire the man within the booth. If she is activated by his motions and gestures, it is because she is entertained. On her part there is no carnal desire, the only desire is that of spectacle. The man plays the role of the clown. He readily enacts whatever performance needed to intensify and multiply the syntagm she presents to him.
The Lusty Lady becomes a microcosm or a simulation of a system of interaction that occurs on a daily basis between men and women within society. At an early age, the desire for the other is awoken within boys. The attributes of the female body are recognized as a set of signs inculcating physical stimuli. At first a child may be bewildered or abashed by the new sensations, these confused emotions engender the voyeuristic impulses; voyeuristic impulses that are internalized and carried throughout oneÕs life. Youthful impressions effect the perception, interaction and objectification that occurs between men and women. In this particular discussion, the transgressions committed by men against women:Objectified perception: "Damn, check them tities out;" "IÕd like to fuck that piece of ass;" "Those are cock-sized tits;" "IÕd like those legs wrapped around my waist;" "Those lips were made to suck dick...."
Objectified verbal interaction: "Baby, tonight youÕre a star and IÕm the Big Dipper;" "Let me show you that IÕm a talented boy;" "Haven't we met beofre?;" "I just need to tell you, that you are absolutely beautiful," "You seem like an accomplished woman," "I think weÕve met before..." "I would love it if you were my Christmas present"
Such remarks are almost poetic due to their internalized nature.
Thus far I have spoken of two forms of internalized emotives (emotives are dramatized displays of emotion) due to social objectification: the first is internalized desire, or rather flesh lust; the second which practically emanates from the first is internalized sexuality. Within the booth, the voyeuristic aspect is replaced by spectacle once the two individuals acknowledge one another. The spectacle simulates sexual interaction and in doing so both types of internalizations are momentarily overcome. This is the prize to be gotten by stepping into The Lusty Lady and out of the real, public, social world.