“A copy of Michelangelo’s David is being displayed at Forest Lawn Memorial Park here without a figleaf. ‘We thought the time had come to try it,’ said Charles Pink, manager.”
—New York Times, 7/20/69
Lunch at The Telephone Booth is no ordinary “feed,” though food is not the point, of course, but the topless and bottomless waitresses who serve it and take turns “dancing” on a dais. The ringside seats for these ballets are at the bar, but the performers’ charms, both fore and aft, are in direct or mirror view of every table. The room is dark, the more fulgently to set off powdered and spotlighted epidermises, and at the same time shield the viewers, some of whom, as if expecting a televised police raid, hide behind smoked glasses as well.
Who are the viewers? Leering lechers? Inveterate voyeurs? Not all of them, at any rate; a bashful gastronome in the booth next to mine hardly bothers to glance in the direction of the dais, or for that matter away from his plate. As for the overt and steady watchers, most of them seem to share a predilection for bosoms, seldom lowering their sights from that level, at all events, though a more bizarre penchant, if it existed, would be unobservable in the circumstances anyway.
The girls wear short black jackets during their stints of waiting on table (i.e., pushing drinks). These are shed on the dais—where each dancer is cued by her “own” recording (her favorite? the only one she recognizes?)—but they conceal so little in the first place that the strip is teaseless. All the same, the first disrobing provokes an exclamation—“Get a load of that!”—from an ogler newly installed at the bar. “That” is a case of bouncy overendowment which the girl seems to defy the customers to notice, looking them straight in the eyes, if that is where they are looking. But her ballet is a dilly, and really indescribable, unless it might be called pussyfooting.
A platinum Esquire-cartoon blond appears next, wearing pasted-on, stage-prop tits, very sheer panty-hose (against the chill? to conceal some foam-rubber supplementation?), and a moue. She is half bombed, I think, but her dance, no bacchanal, might have been mimicked from a circus pooch. She cannot be more than twenty-three, which is middle-aged in this profession, yet she is repelled by sex, obviously, and contemptuous of men. At what more halcyon time of life did she discover that her “virtue” was irretrievable, I wonder, and how many more years as an itinerant go-go stripper, graduating to call-girl, will she be able to take before losing the last few of her marbles and being carried off with the screaming meemies?
The next girl is, at the other extreme, tough, able to take care not only of herself but of every man in the room, some of whom may have been taken care of already, in fact, judging by her claque. Apart from …
This article is available to online subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:
Purchase a print premium subscription (20 issues per year) and also receive online access to all all content on nybooks.com.
Purchase an Online Edition subscription and receive full access to all articles published by the Review since 1963.
Purchase a trial Online Edition subscription and receive unlimited access for one week to all the content on nybooks.com.