The Skeeviest Things I Saw Working At An Adult Movie Theater
You've got all the world's porn in your pocket right now, on demand whenever you want it. But a small number of people still like going out there and doing stuff the old-fashioned way, with their hands. And genitals. And fluids. That's why porn cinemas stay in business. Way before widespread internet access, adult theaters were bigger than '70s bush, because they gave men a safe space to masturbate (stray balcony cumshots notwithstanding). Now, like the drive-in, the wank theater is mostly gone. A few have managed to stick around, though, and we spoke to the former manager of one. This is what "Marvin" told us:
Even A Manager's Job Is Mainly Cleaning Up After Masturbators
Marvin was one of a number of managers at his pornatorium. It was a courtesy title, mostly, because he didn't do that much managing. So what did he do? "My main job was to wash the walls with a sponge-mop, make sure that everything was tidy, that there were no condoms or bottles lying around etc. No mopping the floor, though. I think the boss left that part out so that he could call us 'managers' and not 'jizz-moppers.'"
Thanks to the work of all the manager-janitors (manitors?), "the whole place had a strong industrial-strength cleaner smell to it." And yet, "your nose still picked it up; something was always off. Under all those harsh chemicals, there was still this smell of lonely unwashed horny men."
And women. "One time as I was closing up, I noticed one of the couches in the couple's section was almost entirely soaked. I was curious. I sniffed it. [Editor's note: WHY GOD NO WHY?] This job desensitizes you. It was squirt. This lady had squirted over the entire couch, in front of everyone. It looked like someone had emptied the contents of a two-liter bottle of Sprite. I flipped the cushion around, spritzed some Febreze on there, and continued closing up."
In conclusion, a porn theater is about as hygienic as you would expect it to be.
The Cinema Had A Rolling Orgy Section
Marvin's cinema had a whole dedicated section on the balcony for couples wanting to spice up their love lives.
"Part of my job was to introduce new couples and welcome them into the couple's balcony, which is basically an orgy section," Marvin explains. "Couples just went up there and banged, or shared partners, or whatever while watching the XXX feature. There could be up to 20-25 people up there on a Saturday night."
They were all very regular-looking people. Picture a PTA meeting with genitals hanging out. And good ol' Marvin was their guide: "If the couple was new, I somehow had to make the situation not awkward." Which sounds like the world's most difficult job. "Integrating them was an important part. I would ask them if they'd been here before, if they 'liked to party,' which I assumed was the correct term for 'swing.' (It's always a pretty funny thing to ask someone. 'Hey, do you like to party?') If they were keen, I would sell it as a cool little underground swinger club. If they were more reserved, I would dress it up as a kinky date spot (where anything can happen). An important thing is to convey that the situation is under control." Which it was, as Marvin was always nearby in case things went tits up. (But like ... in a bad way.)
A Porn Theater Is Like A Lawless Zone For Perverts
Marvin's other job was keeping the peace in the floor area -- i.e. the single section, the masturbation station, the blast-off zone, Amish country (you know, where the butter gets churned). Thankfully, it wasn't very hard *childish giggling*. "I had to make sure these men were behaving, and that none of them were trying to get into the couple's section by climbing the walls (they're desperate people) ... The patrons would come to the lobby and rat out on each other if anything bad was happening, and I'd then go in there with a flashlight and flash them from across the room."
"If they didn't stop, then I would have to call the police. Thankfully, I've never had to do that." Marvin gets 'Nam-like flashbacks to some of the things he saw in the seated section. "Once every two days or so, one of the regulars would bring his wife down into the men's section. Down there was a row of seats sectioned off for that specific reason. What would happen next is super, super weird. The men would SWARM around. They looked like a pack of drunk monkeys in mating season. It didn't look human. They just surrounded the couple ... it's hard to describe. I assume they all jerked off onto the wife, or just watched the couple go at it."
One of the Drunk Monkey Tribe later told Marvin that this cinema was "vanilla," and that at another he frequented, one husband would let all the men fuck his wife, then drink the contents of each condom after. Did that really happen? Who knows? Who wants to know? Not us.
Porn Regulars Have Their Own Secret Code
Much like Bushido, there is a porn cinema code. We also call that code "Bushido," but with a different emphasis. Marvin explains: "There were a few different designated spots around the cinema where different men would stand on for hours on end, looking very, very sad. Where you stood advertised what you were looking for. For example, if you stood in the corner by the bathroom, that meant you wanted to suck someone off. A different spot meant you were down for something else." And we don't think Marvin is talking about fly-fishing.
"I guess it's a lot of oral sex, mutual masturbation, maybe some butt games," Marvin says, taking all the mystery out of it. "There was one spot right where you walked in after you paid. That was a popular one, and the rotation was fast. There was one spot parallel to that, but it was kind of out of the way, and away from where most men would hang out. It was less popular. Another spot was by the women's bathroom. I think one of their 'games' was pretending they were a lady going in there, and then some guy would look through a peephole as the other guy did ... whatever."
You have to understand, though, that those guys needed to mix things up in between semi-public masturbation sessions, seeing as how ...
Porn Cinemas Are Mostly For The Addicts
"The seated area was generally populated by single men, some staying from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.," Marvin told us. Holy what? What kind of smut was this cinema showing for its customers to burn a whole day there? Also, how much money did Marvin's boss make selling sports drinks to dehydrated marathon masturbators (someone get the electronic broom)?
"We would rotate two films a week, back and forth all day long. My boss would choose pretty mainstream things. Nothing too crazy, as in no fetishes. Once in a while we'd get a treat, like Ass Pirates Of The Caribbean or some other parody like that ... but generally not."
So what made these men stay in the theater until their dicks shot naught but dust and despair?
"It's an addiction. They wouldn't care what movie would be playing. These aren't happy men," Marvin said. "Some people would stand by the door until I opened it in the morning. Then they would shuffle in, buy a ticket, and go start their day in the dark. They would come out for peanuts, chips, popcorn we would sell in the lobby, and hurry back in like little rodents. An entire 12 hours is a bit extreme, but it happened. On average, I estimate men spent four hours per visit." Marvin adds, "Most regulars came EVERY DAY," not intending to make a double entendre but succeeding anyway. Well done.
There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Porn
Hey look, another double entendre. Good job, us. Anyway, despite literally everything we've mentioned so far, Marvin doesn't remember this job as particularly pleasant. "Like everyone there, I very quickly lost interest in porn. A month into the job, there's no way I could be aroused by an XXX movie. It was moving wallpaper, basically. It's still like that. If I see an xHamster clip or whatever, it has no effect on me whatsoever ... By the seventh or eighth month, I dreaded working there. Once the novelty wears off, you notice the atmosphere is thick with loneliness, yearning, and dissatisfaction."
"I would get super lethargic and feel depressed after being there for even half an hour, no matter how great of a mood I was in before I started. I still associate all porn with those feelings, which is probably why I don't like it anymore." Question to the lawyers in the audience: Is it possible to sue a business for theft of soul?
By being exposed to so much porn, Marvin eventually started seeing the man behind the curtain. And once he threw that pervert out of the theater, he also noticed that porn is kind of depressing behind the scenes. "I feel the sex industry as a whole is pretty dark. The illusion is lost on me. That girl in the movie is paying bills. Most of the time, her vagina isn't wet. So much porn with dry vaginas! And no one cares. It's fake. It's like wrestling."
Imagine how much time that frees up for Marvin! He could cure cancer. Or start playing Minecraft. Whatever.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter
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