Safe to look

Leland Bobbé - Times Square, 1970s
Times Square, 1970s / Leland Bobbé,

“During the segment on life inside a peep-show house in Times Square, Klein takes her camera into a booth to watch a man talk dirty over a house telephone to a naked woman on the other side of a glass partition. When the meter runs out, a metal curtain falls in front of the glass, and the patron must insert another quarter for more titillation. Later, Klein interviews the woman on the same phone; halfway through their conversation, the curtain comes down and Klein has to pay a quarter to finish her film.” – “Porno? Erotica? Case Is Not Made In This ‘Story’,” Bill Cosford (The Miami Herald, 1983)

Times Square Visitor Center, 2011 / Jeremiah Moss
Times Square Visitor Center, 2011 / Jeremiah Moss

“The show booths are covered in a familiar red Formica and sport a pair of slots for quarters that don’t actually take quarters. (The usual smell of citrus disinfectant is also missing.) You stand inside and look at images of sexy, squalid old Times Square, and there is absolutely nothing sexy or squalid about it. Tourist children venture inside, looking up at the images of prostitutes and XXX marquees, not knowing what they’re seeing. Still, the sight of children in those red Formica peep booths creates a cognitive dissonance. ‘Mommy, come look,’ they shout. It’s all wrong. Oddly debased by the kiddies, the peep booths seem sheepish and apologetic, wishing they could creep back into the shadows and perform their intended function.” – “Safe to Peep,” Jeremiah Moss (Vanishing NY, 2011)

In another country

Farish Street, Jackson Mississippi
Farish Street, Jackson Mississippi / Ruddy Roye, The New York Times

“Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using the first comprehensive national estimates of lifetime risk of H.I.V. for several key populations, predicted that if current rates continue, one in two African-American gay and bisexual men will be infected with the virus.”

Lifetime Risk of HIV Diagnosis by State
Lifetime Risk of HIV Diagnosis by State / CDC

“To offer more perspective: Swaziland, a tiny African nation, has the world’s highest rate of H.I.V., at 28.8 percent of the population.”

World AIDS Day, Swaziland
World AIDS Day, Swaziland / Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

“If gay and bisexual African-American men made up a country, its rate would surpass that of this impoverished African nation — and all other nations.” – “America’s Hidden H.I.V. Epidemic,” Linda Villarosa (The New York Times, 2017)

Against the times

Women Against Pornography Protest, New York City, Times Square, 1979
Women Against Pornography, 1979 / The Rialto Report
Columbia University, 2014
Columbia University student activists, 2014 /

“Feminism on campus tends to focus on issues of sexuality, not of economic equity. Anxiety about date rape is intense, along with anxiety about harassment and hate speech. Understanding and appreciation of the First Amendment is a lot less evident, and concern about employment discrimination seems somewhat remote. It’s not hard to understand why: college women, in general, haven’t experienced overt repression of opinions and ideas, or many problems in the workplace, but from childhood they’ve known what it is to fear rape.” – “Feminists Against the First Amendment,” Wendy Kaminer (The Atlantic, 1992)