The Burly-cue Is What It Was
Coming of age back in the day …
Earlier this week I reminisced with a friend about how much easier twenty-first century adolescent boys have it with respect satisfying their hormonal urges-at least visually. A veritable cornucopia of smut and depravity is available 24/7 for one with access to the Internet. We never had such effortless entrée into the venue of, um, fine art. The Burly-cue Is What It Was
During my formative years there were sneak-a-peak girlie magazines available for those fortunate enough to have older brothers or a father inclined to study art (snicker) in the human form. Some of the older gentlemen tried to disguise their voyeuristic proclivity by being shutterbugs, joining camera clubs, and subscribing to certain photographic industry publications, which featured many of the nude females to illustrate the use of shadowing, etc, etc. to improve their technique. (Yeah, right.) Both types of periodicals were hidden from the prying eyes of us horny tweeners, and (I’ll bet) from wives. I recall discovering a photo magazine in my Dad’s desk, and the electric thrill of actually seeing exposed bosoms, which sent my hormones reeling. Of course I never revealed my discovery so I could creep back at opportune times for additional lingering looks.
I never “read” a girlie magazine until I went to college. Our fraternity restrooms were well-stocked with what we called cock books. Most were old and tattered, but that did not spoil the images within. We used to lie to each other as we are interested in the articles, cartoons, and jokes. Before then, as an eleven-year-old paperboy, I was exposed to little eight-page pornographic comic books referred to as eight-pagers or Tijuana Bibles. A grizzled pressman at the newspaper supplied them I suspect just to laugh at our reaction. Eight-pagers official famous newspaper comic subjects and movie personnel in ridiculous circumstances. Let’s see … there were Dagwood and Blondie, Popeye, Roy Rogers and Trigger, Dick Tracy, and many others.
Anyway, there is nothing that can compete with today’s Internet offerings … except maybe one live version. One of the veteran pressmen who handed us our papers. We thought he had to be pulling our legs, but one of the paperboys said it was true because he read advertisements about two burly-cues in the newspaper of the closest big city. Since my parents subscribe to that paper, I can not wait to get home and check it out for myself.
The Toledo Blade had two or three regular sections, and a one-fold, four-page section at the back called the Peach Section since it was drawing that color. Mainly it contained humorous columns, puzzles, a comic strip called, Miss Peach, and ads for the coming attractions at local movie theaters. Among the cinematic ads were announcements (with photos) for two burlesque theaters, Townhall and Gaiety. The photos were of scantily clad ladies in what looked like harem attire with come-hither smiles, and smaller insets announcing whatever comic was performing. Whoa! The burly-cue is real! The ladies had large bosoms that the pressman said they would actually bare! I can not wait to tell my friends. First, I saw my Dad sitting in his easy chair reading the sports page. I decided to try something … I pointed to the Townhall ad.
“Hey, Dad, what do they do at burly-cues?” I got him my best innocent look and held up the Peach Section.
He was amused. “It’s not burly-cue; it’s pronounced burlesk.” It’s a theater where comedians work on their acts.
My Mom looked up and piped in. “It’s also a place where women take off their clothes for vulgar men It’s not very nice.” She gave me a meaningful stare. “It’s an indecent.”
“Oh, um okay, I saw the pictures in the Peach Section, and just wondered.” I like the whole thing was a terrible bore, and hoped they bought it.
Toledo was an hour north by automobile, which was much too long for a bicycle ride along dangerous US-24. More discouraging was 18 years old to be admitted. Next day at the newspaper, the pressman said not to sweat it because they did not check IDs. He said they let in high school kids all the time. Since my friends and I were either twelve or thirteen, high school seemed an eternity away. We made a pact to get his driver’s license from Toledo and the magic that happened at the Townhall and the Gaiety. Meanwhile, I found a deck of cards in my Dad’s desk that featured fifty-two nude ladies. My friends came to the house often over the next three years for a look. It would have to do.
The Burly-cue Is What It Was