“Times Queer” by Mykola Dementiuk— Coming of Age in the 1950’s

times queer

Dementiuk, Mykola. “Times Queer”, Synergy Press, 2008.

Coming of Age in the 1950’s

Amos Lassen

Richard Kozlovsky had a Catholic school education and he has grown up despite it. His classmates teased him and he had been sexually abused as a child. Now as a teenager, he discovers the notorious movie theaters on Times Square and frequents them to supplement his income. It is there that he met a woman who taught him about sex and love and he is confused as to who and what he really is. It is easy to say that he is sexually dysfunctional but there is more to Ricky than that.

He was no stranger to Times Square and participated in what went on there—public mutual masturbation, anonymous sex, etc. One he was preyed upon and then he became the predator. He used his youth and good looks as an advantage and he would often mug men after he had sex with them. When he meets a woman who he calls Red at one of the theaters, he begins to pimp for her.  She took him home to her rundown and seedy apartment once and he loses his virginity with a woman to her but decides that she is nothing more than a whore. He did not see her again until he needed to release some pent up sexual pressure.

He finds her having oral sex in a theater on 42nd Street and he and she leave together and they share another night of sex. No sooner did Richard leave her than he began to think of her again but she has a bunch of “clients” waiting to have their way with her. He walks the streets and has an unexpected liaison with a former classmate, Joey who wants to be sexually taken care of. Richard is afraid that he is becoming gay and runs but then a few days later he sees Red and Joey walking to Bryant Park and he follows them…

Like Dementiuk’s other writing, this is a sordid story based on realism and it describes how Times Square acquired the nickname of Times Queer. Some of this novella is a bit uncomfortable to read because of the descriptions of Ricky, as a kid, being molested by older men. This is a cold story and because Richard was victimized as a youngster, he finds it hard to deal with his sexuality and he comes across as quite sad. We do have to remember that we are looking at America some 50 plus years ago and now so much has changed. The story is valuable because it is about a period that was and if were the same things to happen to Richard today, we would probably get a different story.

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