A massage parlor full of librarians??

One of the advantages of being middle-aged is that some of the horny time-traveling I do can involve things I actually experienced

Last night around midnight, just on a whim, I started looking around on the Web for images of massage parlor signs from 1970s New York. What I found were only signs that were made as props for a Kirsten Dunst/Ryan Gosling movie about the sleazy Times Square of that era—signs which replicated the look but were not the real thing. This photo is from a New York Times article by Jennifer 8. Lee about that movie, All Good Things, which was shooting in NYC in the summer of 2008. Click on the link to read it, and scroll down on the comments too, especially the hilarious one about the guy who walked into a porn shop in 1961 and was hailed by the clerk as “Joe Pork Avenue.”

This movie prop accurately recaptures those old signs...

This movie prop accurately recaptures those old signs...

Anyway, it was hard to believe, but after an hour of frustrated searching I couldn’t find examples of the authentic artifacts, those poorly rendered but strangely memorable signs and awnings that ineptly attempted to depict the temptresses who awaited you inside…

But I did find something else that was good: an old handbill advertising a massage parlor called The Library…a place I visited as a horny twenty-five year old fairly new to Gotham.

This was when New York side streets were full of easily accessible, luscious detours. All you did was walk upstairs...

This was when New York side streets were full of easily accessible, luscious detours. All you did was walk upstairs...

The main, magisterial branch of the New York Public Library was only a block away, and perhaps they were counting on tourists to get confused and wander into “The Library” instead! Well, I wasn’t confused, I knew where the books were and where the broads were, and being habitually low on cash in those days, a sawbuck for a rubdown with no tip necessary sounded good…

It was a rainy day and I was glad to close up my umbrella and seek sensual shelter…

What I mainly remember is that the girl who gave me my massage (I think it was about fifteen minutes long) was from Argentina, and she was tall, slender, and extremely beautiful, so much so that she seemed to clash with the low-rent, though friendly, surroundings. She sure did not look like the hussy in the handbill—though I would have been happy with said hussy! My masseuse was easy-going and had a warm smile, as well as long dark brown hair that came down to the middle of her back. I put my umbrella down and, after fulfilling her request for me to get “completely comfortable” (massage parlor lingo for getting naked), I stretched out on the table…

She wore a one-piece leotard sort of thing, but I don’t remember if she took it all the way off for the massage…

I vaguely recall being able to see out on 43rd Street from the cubicle, but I’m not sure that’s accurate, because those cubicles were usually private places. Maybe my recollection of the rainy day has created a false memory of what the room was like…

But that the girl was sexy and gorgeous was true, because after the rubdown was over, I was so amazed that I had actually paid only ten dollars to spend some time with her that I left “The Library” on a cloud, walking many blocks before I realized that I had forgotten to take my damn umbrella with me! It was one of those long pointy ones, and I had leaned it up against a corner of the room.

Still, I didn’t go back for it…

I think I felt guilty (!) that I had gotten so much pleasure for a mere ten bucks, that I left my umbrella behind as a tip! (Don’t worry, I’ve become more generous in recent years.)

I returned to The Library a couple of weeks later, but alas, it had vanished—gone out of business. I had to settle for the New York Public Library from then on…where, alas, the librarians never wear feather boas! Unless I’ve been going to the wrong branches…


I found the handbill from The Library at a blog called Copyranter. As the guys handing out those handbills on street corners used to say, “Check it out, buddy, check it out! Free peek! Free peek!”


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Herr Traveler,

    I, too, have fond recollections of the fabled massage parlors of yore! Remember Middle Earth? Caesar’s Retreat? Spartacus Spa?
    Those were the days, mein freund! While I never patronized The Library, I recall its brief existence. I used to fantasize that the beauties to be found within would surely score high on the “Dewy” decimal system! In our present day, perhaps a more useful image would be the comely Tina Fey in her hornrimmed spectacles–and nothing else!

    Count von Pauli

  2. You obviously traveled in the higher circles of the demimonde, Count. I could only gaze at the ads for those emporia with longing and a lean wallet! As for Miss Tina, she could be in charge of “Raunchy Reference” if The Library is ever reborn!

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