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Brave-Heart

AN USHER IN TIMES SQUARE PART 2 1951

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On the right side of the theatre was the usher’s dressing room. You walked up a long flight of stairs--well at 15 it seemed like a long flight---where I would go to change into my uniform and, yes, to once in awhile bring up someone to have sex with. Among the audience were married men who came into the movie theatre for ‘quickies’, some with women, some with men. While the women were generally hookers the gay men were there just for sex.
I would, occasionally. exchange looks with someone and when I was sure I would nod my head and tell them to follow me which they did and we went to the usher’s room. Also I would now and then roam down to the men’s room where obvious cruising would be going on and once in awhile I would let two guys use the usher’s room and sometimes I would join them.
It may have been the third or fourth week I was working there when one of the security cops who worked the movie houses called me over to where he was holding an obviously very frightened man and asked me if I had seen him expose himself in the men’s room or had he made a pass at me. I was completely dumbfounded by what was going on especially when, without my saying anything, next the cop said to the man, “Look I have this kid as a witness. He is a minor and this could get you into a lot of trouble but if you want to pay your fine without going to court or before the judge I will let you go this time.” He was shaking down this poor frightened married guy---as I was to learn he (they) only picked on married men--and as soon as the guy gave him whatever he had in his pocket/wallet the cop would tell him to get the hell out and never come back.
I don’t quite remember all that the cop said to me about cutting me in if I would set up some guys in the men’s room or get them up to the usher’s room so they could come in and catch them in the act with me. I don’t remember what I answered but it was some sort of form of ‘no’ and he warned me that I better never ever bring a guy up to the usher’s room again as he had seen me do or he would arrest both of us. I was shaking in my shoes and went to the manager to tell him what was going on and his reply was that he had hired me because I was a good looking kid and could help them all make a little money. To say I was shocked would be to put it mildly but something told me to speak up.
Once again I don’t remember what I said but I worked there the rest of the summer without getting involved with the manager--who was cute and did make a pass at me--or the various cops who were running the scam and continued to bring guys up to the usher’s room without anyone bothering us.
That I didn’t speak up or turn the cops in--to who?--and saw married men getting taken in and being very scared that their life would be ruined, shames me to this day and no way would I turn a blind eye if the circumstances repeated themselves.
By the way the Lyric theatre today has been combined with another old theatre and both were gutted and today make up the Ford Theatre of the Performing Arts and is a part of what has been called ‘the Disneyfying of Times Square’ and I am sure there is no resemblance to The Lyric Theatre where I got an ’education’ at 15 and can still hear Danny Kaye using a French accent and singing “On The Riviera”!


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