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Portraits of New Orleans prostitutes, 1912 (NSFW)

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The kids thought the old man creepy. He had spidery legs, walked funny and was kinda misshapen. They told the younger kids he was a murderer, a weirdo and you don’t ever wanna go near his house. The grownups that knew him thought him a miser, a strange one, or that retired guy who’s always taking pictures. He had been a photographer—worked as a commercial photographer taking photos of ships, machines, or whatever the heck he was paid to shoot. Now he walked around New Orleans trying to take pictures with one of those newfangled hand cameras.

His name was E. J. Bellocq—John Ernest Joseph Bellocq. Nobody knew very much about him. He was a quiet man, kept himself to himself—which always sounds like the kind of thing said by neighbors after they find out they were living next door to a particularly nasty serial killer. Bellocq was no serial killer—but he did have a secret life that only came to light after his death in 1949.

In amongst his personal effects were about ninety glass plate photographs stored in his desk. These pictures were portraits of prostitutes from the red light district of Storyville circa 1912. They were portraits—often featuring the same women posed on chairs or standing in rooms where they worked their trade as prostitutes. Bellocq must have had a close—if not intimate—relationship with these women in order to gain their trust and have them pose so willingly. Portrait photography is a work of collaboration. These women are posing as they want to be seen—wearing furs or prized clothes, smiling with a pet dog, lying like one of Henri Matisse’s odalisques, or playing cards. The images are considered and composed. Other than that, we know very little about E. J. Bellocq and the women he photographed.

What we do learn is the historical conditions—the quality of rooms and brothels—these prostitutes lived and worked in around the turn of the last century in New Orleans. The rest we can imagine or fictionalize—as Louis Malle infamously did with his film (inspired by a song) of Bellocq’s relationship with an underage prostitute in Pretty Baby.
 
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More of Bellocq’s photos of New Orleans prostitutes, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.01.2016
09:33 am
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The Combat Zone: A look back at Boston’s mythical dens of sleaze

The Naked i cabaret in Boston's old
The Naked i Cabaret in Boston’s old “Combat Zone.”
 
I grew up in a small town just outside of Boston called Somerville. And like pretty much like any other teenager, I worked quite hard at the craft of getting into trouble as often as possible. I ran with a crowd that was comprised of teenage losers that enjoyed passing the time stealing beer from delivery trucks. As far as you (and my parents) know, I (mostly) never did anything more than drink said stolen beer under train track bridges while underage.
 
Combat Zone, 1974
Combat Zone, 1974.
 
But when it came to a right of passage in Boston, if you were a late teen or mostly of legal drinking age in the late 80s, you hit up Boston’s Chinatown after last call to eat food full of MSG and drink “cold tea.” In Boston, (and perhaps where you grew up, too), “cold tea” was code for “beer” (usually flat) that you could order slightly before or after closing time that was served up in white teapots in certain restaurants in Chinatown. Of course, after a night of youthful boozing, we would occasionally have enough “beer balls” to walk through the red light district of Boston that bordered Chinatown known as the Combat Zone. I remember one particular night when, after a couple of pots of cold tea, someone dared me to sprint through the Zone alone as fast as I could, which I did. Because what could go wrong when a blond teenage girl decides to run through the seediest part of town full of peep shows, dirty book stores, prostitutes and pimps?

Although widely considered a place of ill-repute, the Combat Zone’s history is important to Boston for many reasons. Specifically, thanks to its “relaxed” approach to adult oriented pursuits, the Combat Zone was also home to a wide variety of drag clubs and gay bars frequented by Boston’s LGBT community. Which is in part why in 1976 The Wall Street Journal dubbed the area a “sexual Disneyland.” In other words, there was something for everyone in the Combat Zone. And that wasn’t always a bad thing. In 2010, an art exhibit at the Howard Yezerski Gallery showcased photos taken in the Combat Zone from 1969 - 1978. Many of the images from the show as well as others taken during the Zone’s heyday, follow.
 
A sign outside the Combat Zone riffing on a famous line from JFK's inaugural address
 
Combat Zone, 1978
1978
 
More Beantown sleaze, after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.19.2016
10:51 am
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Hot Stuff: Glowing neon strip club and peep show signs from around the world
03.31.2016
09:36 am
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Neon sign for the
Neon sign for the (or at least ‘a’) “Sex Palace” in Amsterdam.
 
After finding myself in a typical Dangerous Mindset “research” kind of rabbit hole, I spied a few of the naughty neon signs you’ll see in this post that help advertise the availability of strip clubs, peep shows and other “establishments” that help aid the hot-blooded pursuits for sex from around the world.
 
A neon strip/sex club sign in Bangkok
A neon strip/sex club sign in Bangkok.
 
A neon strip/sex club sing in Hong Kong
A neon strip/sex club sing in Hong Kong.
 

“Super Pussy” neon sign, Bangkok.
 
Neon sign with a stripper on a pole
 
Neon sripper sign
 
It’s pretty easy to procure these kinds of neon signs for your own personal display - if you’ve got a few extra hundred bucks lying around, such a sign can be yours.

Grab a roll of dollar bills as loads of sexy, slightly NSFW-ish signage from Bangkok, Germany, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and of course, the good-old U.S. of A. follow.
 
Neon strip/sex club sign, Costa Rica
Costa Rica.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.31.2016
09:36 am
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