Why Disco Sometimes Gives Me A Boner

I don’t know what it’s like for you, but sometimes it’s hard for me to divine disco from pornography. Both were early discoveries that arrived at about the same time, and both were a little greasy and a little lurid; too high or free or crazy to give a shit about much, an attitude that I found both compelling and terrifying. Pictures from Studio 54 were cropped into Hustler/Penthouse folios– nipple slips and beavers and Grace Jones with her boobs out (also compelling and terrifying)– and if the BeeGees zippered up tight and were drawn more to daylight times stepping down 42nd street followed by a lens crouching from below, Sylvester and Donna Summer and The Tramps got theirs out at night, flinging themselves and their business to crowds also flinging around their business. The pages of some music mags weren’t that different from the pages of Cheri or Screw or gay magazines of the era: one scene reporting on the other and vice versa. Heat was heat and fun was fun and this was society having a dirty time. People were tightly-pouched and camel toed. Bare chested or braless. Whenever I watched pornography or listened to disco–usually at the same friend’s unsupervised house– everyone looked to be way deep into their moment . Drummers smiled and funked while ladies gave vigorous blowjobs to men with stomach rolls. Bassists popped and snapped while men dove between their lovers’ thighs and singers shouted and screamed while a dozen couples lay over a huge bed, doing stuff that I could not, mathematically, comprehend. Only later did I understand the social and political subtext of all of this– “Not A Love Story” aired on CITY TV and everyone saw it– but, at the time, the world was like one round bouncing ass moving to “Love Rollercoaster.”

I remember being at Kevin Sazoki’s house. His parents were away. Kevin found some videotapes in his parents’ closet that had pornos on them. We all gathered around the tv; 5 of us; maybe Grade 9, I’m not sure. Kevin popped in the tape, and while my memory tells me it was Marilyn Chambers, it may not have been because, a few weeks later, Ernie Colosomi had a copy of “Insatiable” and we watched that too. The actors came out, said their lines, and pretty soon, everyone’s clothes were off. Of course, it was all fantastic, but, more than that, I recognized the music: Walter Murphy’s classical hit, “A Fifth of Beethoven,” which played on a loop as boners boned and boobs jiggled and the women made faces like they loved it. When the man finally spurted his goo, the director landed the song on the last “duh-duh-dah-duh!” cello stroke and showed the goo fountaining in slo-motion, which, really, none of us needed to see, although as film-making, it struck me as brilliant and inspired and helpful in its own way. I’ve said a lot here, but what I’m really saying is this: When I hear “A Fifth of Beethoven,’ I sortof get a boner.

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