By Mykola Dementiuk
In many of my stories there is a character in some movie theater, watching a film and feverishly masturbating. At a certain point the character explodes in ejaculation and for all intents and purposes he actually is having sex, perhaps alone with himself—but sex out in the open and who the devil cares! Even (or especially) with the flickering lighted darkness surrounding him, he wants to be seen, as so many do. These men hover about in their anonymity, shielded with their overcoats, or simply ejaculate in their overheated pants and rush away afterwards. But I wanted to be seen. I’d just lower my pants and begin the heady manipulation that would take me away from reality. An entry into a Times Square/42nd Street movie theater was always just like that, someone jerking away as you were jerking away too. We were in the movie house for the same reason, wanting sex; if masturbating openly was the closest we got to it that night, that was fine.
Many of the tales in my books of short stories and novellas, particularly Times Square Queer, revolve around someone eventually masturbating, either in desperation to find someone to help the process along or satisfied to do it himself. And Times Square/42nd Street was ideal for that: the street was a total nirvana, sex permeated the sidewalks, you could sense the masturbating activity before you even entered the movie house—the rabidly horny sex, men with men, men with hookers or men simply masturbating. That’s why I loved the entire scene and for a few years I became a denizen of the movie house world and didn’t know of any other. Many of my stories, “The Wet Skirt”, “Eighteen Today”, “Trio at the Movies”, “The Masturbating Idiot” amongst many others, clutch the 42nd Street world the way you would hold on to your penis as you tried to ejaculate. The sensation was always that: Bliss! Peace! Perfection!
But it’s over now and a pity that 42nd Street and Times Square have been changed so much, their former atmosphere of hot steamy sex never to be reclaimed or recaptured again. It’s like watching some faded old Burlesk films, racy comedies of old Forty-Second Street lurching and speeding into prostitution, transvestitism, pornography, on and on, going headlong until it was slammed shut and disappeared from the scene, with only internet photographs to take its place. Now you can masturbate in the safety and privacy of your own little home through the comfort of computers. What rot! What a rip-off! But that’s what we have, just a Masturbating Idiot standing and doing it by himself in some imaginary movie house, stroking, stroking, stroking…
Gone are those days never to return. And I suppose that’s progress, but when in olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking…that’s when I feel my hardness growing stiffer and once again I’m back where I want to be, going Whump! Whump! Whump! huddled in some sleazy movie theatre with a slew of masturbating men surrounding me and each one fascinated and mesmerized by what they see on the screen, or what they imagine they see, as someone is looking and inching closer to a seat near them.
But when I write about that time, I recreate it in my head—and for the duration of the story I am back there. That is why, when I write, I often return to the lost era of Times Square’s queer culture of the 1970s–80s. In that sense, memories often inspire, infuse and set off my work. Does they ever do that for you? If not, next time you are stuck and don’t know how to get started, try recalling a magical, sexual moment in the past and see where the writing takes you.
Mick (Mykola) Dementiuk is a two-time winner of the Lambda Award, and his collection, Times Square Queer, was a finalist for the 2012 Bisexual Book Award. Visit him at http://mykoladementiuk.com/