All posts by Gary Gladstone

I’m a photojournalist and commercial photographer. (Remember LIFE, LOOK and the Saturday Evening POST?) In the ‘60’s, I was a comedy writer and jazz record producer. Since the ‘70’s, I have authored eleven books mostly related to or containing photography. My two most recent books are general interest works of humor and Americana. Seven years ago, "Passing Gas And Other Towns Along The American Highway" (Ten Speed Press) was published, followed by the sequel, "Reaching Climax And Other Towns Along The American Highway." Collectively, they contain 110 portraits of people who live in absurdly named real towns like Stinking Point, Virginia Dickshooter, Idaho, Tight Squeeze, Virginia, Gas, Kansas and Climax, Minnesota. I wrote daily journals of my experiences visiting these towns, which became the text portion of these picture books. Surprised by reviewer’s unexpected comments on the writing, I gave up the road after 75,000 miles of self-financed travel for a keyboard and began telling true stories, using only words, just for fun. Two years and thirty chapters later, a memoir emerges with a working title: “Loose Change” The stories seem to make people smile. Dipping into my childhood is a lot like popping into strange towns and discovering funny stories. It’s just too much fun to stop. I’ll post some short chapters, here. Don’t look for deep meaning in many of the lead story illustrations. The accompanying images are just gratuitous eye candy. To see a compilation of many of Gary's works, click here. All work (photos and text) is © Gary Gladstone and registered in the year it was created.

Hooker #3, “Woo-eee! Don’t Do That!”

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 Gary Gladstone

I can list four hookers I’ve bumped into in my lifetime. As I write these memoirs, one sticks out especially in my mind. She is hooker number three.

In 1967 I’m 32 and the rare Manhattan resident who actually keeps a car garaged in the city.  It’s expensive but efficient for my fast-occurring photo assignments.

Even though I’m a six-foot-five, 200-pound guy, I love tiny sports car and today I’m squeezed into the front seat of my little convertible English Sunbeam Alpine roadster. There’s barely enough room in the cockpit to keep up with the tasks of steering, accelerating, braking, clutching and shifting the stubby gear shift in the city’s stop-and-go traffic. When I’m parked, the car is so low that if I hang my arm out the window, I can touch the curb.

I’ve learned from experience never to drive with the top down in the city because Manhattanites like to test their marksmanship by tossing trash or cigarette butts into open sports cars stopped at red lights. So despite the fact that the day is warm, the top remains up and both the windows rolled down as I weave my way southbound on Second Avenue towards Greenwich Village.

I cross Fourteenth Street, the dividing line between the upscale Gramercy neighborhood and the down-and-out saloon and pawn shop area, which has lately been sprouting porn stores with their painted-over windows.

At Thirteenth Street I stop for a light and notice, as usual, a scattering of “working girls” wearing high heels that jack up legs covered with colored mesh stockings rising up into tight and skimpy hot pants. Their stretch tank tops, undersized and overfilled, are decorated with big beaded necklaces and unseasonable scarves. Some of the girls are standing in doorways. Others are perched on the edge of the curb, arms cocked in a half-wave as if hailing a taxi.

I’m tapping the steering wheel counting off the seconds, waiting for the light to turn green. To my left I see one of the curb ladies, a very rotund smiling black woman, step into the street and start to totter in her spike heels across the avenue towards my car. She’s waving at me and shouting, “I’ll be right there. Now don’t you run away!” Her colossal hips are barely contained by bright form-fitting furry red shorts that are bouncing up and down as she bounds towards me. Everything is moving on her body except her Jackie Kennedy hairdo, which seems solidly attached to her head. She’s smiling a juicy, red-lipped smile as she navigates the crosswalk toward my little car.

I think about ducking out, but there are pedestrians in the road so I can’t go forward yet. Besides, I’m mesmerized by this onrushing mass of bobbling flesh in fuzzy pants that stops inches from my face and begins talking to me breathlessly. “Here I am. Now let me show you somthin’, honey.”

Instinctively, I raise my left foot to press the clutch to shift and escape. That’s when she turns her back and presses both cheeks of her huge bottom against my open window frame, completely blocking the view to my left. Then she wiggles back and forth and squeezes her cheeks all the way through and into the car. My left arm is pinned against her bottom and my knees are pushed to my right, crammed against the floor-mounted gear shift. Now, even though I can step on the clutch, I cannot move the shifter. A small part of me wants to laugh at the idea that I’m actually trapped by a giant ass.

She turns her head and out of the side of her mouth says, “Whaddya think of that, honey? It’s goin’ wherever you want to go.”

This attack from the rear is so sudden that I blow my horn, but deep down I know there is no cavalry coming to the rescue in this neighborhood. My left arm is still stuck so I reach with my right hand to the window crank and start to wind the window up. The rising edge presses into her bottom and I keep cranking.

She screams “Who-eee! Don’t do that.”

But I persist, using the back of my trapped left hand to push against her butt while cranking with the right. Finally, she pops out and staggers a few feet into the avenue as I snap the car into gear and charge away. Looking in the rear-view mirror, I see her waving at me with her left hand and tugging at the back of her shorts with her right.

Years after this escape, I smile thinking of this entrepreneurial working girl and how she stood out from the others. I imagine that if we had ever hooked up, the laughs would have been the best part.


© 2016  Gary Gladstone