Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Benny Danger Cory

THIS is why I have nothing posted since March 2010...

  Benny Danger Cory hit the scene on March 26th at 4am, 5 weeks early. He was 5lbs 7oz and decided on a month long vacation in the NICU before heading home in April. He has not allowed his mother or father a second of peace since emergence. I'm attempting to pick up the pieces I left behind last March. The housewife gig is great, but my heart yearns for low-down dirty history.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A New Old Burlesque

Headlining the Burlesque-a-pades the World Famous Pontani Sisters

 The Ottobar, the best small venue in Baltimore, hosted The Burlesque-A-Pades on February 12th. As an admitted adult entertainment elitist with a desire to reform my snobby ways I bought tickets for the event, sight unseen, and committed to going with an open mind and a prayer they wouldn't remind me of my dull and uninspired Suicide Girl experience of years previous.

  The only pre-screening I did was check the names of the performers before buying the tickets. The World Famous Pontani Sisters, Ms Tickle and "Special Guests" were as specific as the flyer got, but armed with my historical knowledge of good burlesque names and faith that there really could be an original form of burlesque still out there my husband and I took the chance.

  The Ottobar is a two level club with a punk rock bar up a deathly flight of stairs and a full stage and great sound system on the first level. It's not a place you want to linger on the furniture or lick the drop of tequila off the tip of your finger without a hand washing first. It's a great neighborhood bar that does their own musical and entertainment thing. Some nights you may hit a mirror image crowd cooly bobbing to New Wave or, like February 12th, a mid-size crowd of average thirty-something professional types looking for an evening of naughty distractions. To my surprise there was even a large gaggle of cackling middle age office women drunk off their asses and loudly crowing through the whole thing. I must say that they had the rudest show form I've seen since my Phish days and I only hope that my nights out with the girls never turn into drunken egg laying sessions when I'm forced to face the reality of getting older.

   Mostly the crowd was a very quiet paired off mix of large and small hetero couples who may not be brave or interested enough to go to a strip club, but appreciated the art and style of a sensual strip tease. It was a far leap from the Suicide Girl's "burlesque" that took place in the same club a few years ago. The crowd was sold out pushed chest to back, heavy drinking, girls in black dresses with red cherry patterns and peroxide hair. Each person at that event showed up to preform their own sensual show in a place where it was inevitable their look would blend right in and be appreciated by all the other "alternative beauty" girls and the slobbering boys that tagged along with the understanding that someone's drunk chubby friend with heaving cleavage and a cherry bow would eventually feel left out and let them in on some action to ease her self image. By the third or fourth heroin addict skinny, tattooed and pierced dancer that came out with electrical taped nipples (it seemed like breasts were optional at this event) and stuck her crotch out into the face of a squealing audience member we left.
Just two of the legions of Suicide Girls out there. They are showing off what I consider their "stripper-lesque" stylings. Frowning pout is a must, but rhythm and individuality are optional.
 I left that show so disappointed that I vowed to continue my work on burlesque research and I wasn't going to stop looking for the "real" modern thing even if I had to make it happen myself. The origins of burlesque didn't even involve the revealing removal of clothing. It was a protest to the prissy Victorian era, but despite the lack of nudity and addition of Progressive morality it evolved from Britain to America as a sensual and artful act of blue balling whole audiences of horny sailors and businessmen. If it took a burlesque dancer five minutes to take off one glove...the audience just showed that much more appreciation when it was tossed to the stage only for the dancer to begin again with the other. The acts differed in sexual intensity from town to town and girl to girl. The Block housed a diverse collection of clubs that encouraged all things from full (illegal) nudity to The 2 O'Clock Club of the 1920's and 30's that boasted tango acts alongside solo showgirl teases. Each girl was forced to define her own image, unique act and set out each time with a magnetic smile and razor wit.

   It's not for me to define what burlesque must be in order to meet "traditional" criteria because there was never just one method of taking off clothes and tantalizing lonely men. Some women don't even need to be in the same room to get a man randy while others prefer to have him wear her like a mink stole and ply her with expensive champagne as a flirtation. It's no different than today.

   Blaze Starr often spoke of how much she loved being a stripper. She talked about how much she loved making men crazy with desire with her unique and creative stage performances and then being able to leave them steaming as she went behind the curtain. Starr understood and appreciated her looks and sexuality from a young age and rather than find her choice of careers shameful she lived it to the extremes, bought her own strip club and happily laughed at the opposition. It wasn't a way to feed her kids, or get her fix or find a man. Her dancing was an art form, a career, and that's how she always preformed and became "The Queen of Burlesque" and "The Pride of Baltimore." If a show doesn't meet the standards Blaze Starr set for herself then I don't consider it real burlesque. Suicide Girls knew they had a desired look, used their body to tease, but missed the subtle nuances of making sex tantalizing without ever having to try. It was their vehicle for attention, not for art or career. Don't get me strippers I would have been glued to the stage, but as performers they needed to learn their sex history.

* FULL DISCLOSURE: Yes, I am a cranky bitch that writes exactly what I think. BUT...contrary to common belief I am NOT judging anyone in my posts. Even middle age chicken women deserve to party.  It's just that all of us humans are so damn funny to watch it would be a shame not to write it all down. If you want history and observation that's neat and clean watch The History Channel. Don't waste your time letting my babble piss you off.
   I have a litany of personal failures and weaknesses I would be more than happy to disclose to any curious reader as an attempt to prove my humility. Just a few examples: I love New Kids on The Block, I religiously watch Dancing with the Stars...and vote, I spend more time with my cats than with other humans, it took me ten years to get my Bachelor's degree....ok? ok? Can you see me for the weak and feeble human being I really am? My insults don't hurt so much anymore do they?

                                              History and Sin are all in good fun.
An original Femme Fatale and star of burlesque. Ms. Tickle is a must see for any true historian of sex culture.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Adult Entertainment News

   In case you missed it in the previous post, Arson? 2010 Block Fire, I stumbled across some interesting news sites for the adult entertainment industry. I don't know much about their credibility or origin at this time, but rest assured that I will be checking into both. For now, check it out and revel in the fact that you will be the expert on porn and adult entertainment news at your New Year's party. Besides, was cool enough to publish a brief about The Block fire. Show some love. - some really interesting news snippets about murdered strippers, porn stars on the run from the law and juicy lawsuits in the industry.

Adult Industry News Press Releases - a very in-depth collection of forum topics and news stories related to news from the adult entertainment industry. Included are topics related to Barbie, a 10 year old girl, her mom and a porn site as well as how the cast of "A Christmas Story" is related to the porn industry.
       Just a little warning, it is not for those looking for instant gratification, the site requires a bit of common sense and the ability to navigate through some layers of confusion before getting to the news. While other posts are available with one click. Worth the hunt!

  If you do decide to make a visit to these sites, don't forget to mention as the source for great sinful history!

Arson? - The 2010 Block Fire

  A fire started in The Gayety Show World viewing booth, fire dogs sniffed out an accelerant in that area, reports from locals stated that a massive collection of vagrants, employees and visitors are present daily and anyone could have been responsible.

  It looks like this is all we get on this subject for a long time. I'll continue searching and picking up the news of the day, but the city has been waiting for The Block to "fade away" and this is a great event for them. Never mind that the property burned was originally The Lubino Theatre circa 1907 (more details on this history to come) that was a huge attraction for all walks of life in Baltimore. It had a rich history, one that could have been restored, highlighted and sold for a good profit to tourists and business owners. But now, the history has been buried with the "investigation."These are some follow up articles recently published that discuss the findings of the fire investigation into the 5 alarm conflagration at 404 East Baltimore St earlier in December 2010.

   Read through some Block history in the Sin In Mobtown archives and you'll soon understand that the ruling of arson is far from a surprise. I highly doubt that the true arsonist and motivation will ever be revealed and that the investigation will quietly and quickly fade into the archives of City Hall. The powers that be on The Block, as mysterious as they may seem, have heavy hands in the politics of Baltimore. While no one can/is willing to prove a thing against these mystery people their actions throughout time sure show off their influence.

Check out these articles for more information: - Baltimore Sun December 15 2010,0,1608357.story - Video of Press Conference included with a detailed article on the investigation Baltimore Sun December 15 2010 - WJZ/CBS written follow-up with a bit of their news footage on the follow-up investigation December 15 2010 - NSFW - Who Knew!? and, the former an adult entertainment industry news site and the latter an adult entertainment news forum and archive, cover the follow-up story on The Block fire. It's brief, but the sites are worth checking out for interesting bits of news you never knew existed! December 17 2010

Lubin, the first big-time Jewish movie mogul and owner of  Lubino's Theatre on The Block of the early 1900's.
 Buy the book pictured above!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The 2010 Block Fire

Long view of the fire from E. Baltimore Street on December 6th, 2010.
Photo from

The Gaety Show World after fire ravaged the building and destroyed this business.
Photo by Baltimore Sun.

The Hustler Club was not damaged in the fire but was directly across the street from the 5 alarm conflagration.
Photo by Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun December 7, 2010. 

   On Monday December 6th a fire of unknown origin began at 404 E. Baltimore Street, better known as The Block. It developed quickly into a 5 alarm blaze that shut down much of downtown for the day and into the evening. 4 buildings were directly affected by the fire including The Gaety Show bar and popular Crazy John's, which apparently had delicious french fries I've yet had the chance to sample.
    I got news of the fire via local NPR station 88.1 around 5pm and had to sit quietly for a moment to catch my breath. The last thing this struggling area needed was a huge fire to further depress their businesses and add yet another abandoned and dangerous structure to the cityscape. To be brutally honest, my initial panic at the news happened because I did not know if The Gaety (now Hustler Club)  and The Two O'Clock club had been affected. Much to my relief I was soon able to deduce that neither were directly involved. It is still a great loss of historical buildings that contained a century of great stories. The Gaety Show World building was a very important place in the early history of The Block. I'll soon be posting an in depth history of what was lost during this fire.
    Below I have compiled a short collection of articles and video clips regarding the fire. Most of the major local network news organizations are included as well as the major newspapers. While the majority of the material represents The Block as nothing more than a crumbling strip club district (which has only been true for the past twenty years, out of 111) the similarity in the articles is what I find most interesting. For a history freak like me who has dedicated years to researching this location I find it ever intriguing that the people of this city know so little about this once rich and lusty district of stars, sex and politics.
     Occasionally the articles will drop a few interesting pieces into their generic accounts of fire companies, closed roads and billowing smoke. By reading and comparing them all, as well as perusing the many other news archives not represented by my list, the continuing pattern of neglect, disdain, reverence, aloofness and hope emerge over and over as different people from all parts of Baltimore society weigh in on the impact of this fire. It is a stark reminder that the people of Baltimore somewhere and somehow recognize the need for this historic vice district to both tourism and the human condition and they also see that its current condition is not the solution. However, the same people are not willing to take the steps to clean up the corruption or invest the time and money to improve the district. 
     Coverage of the fire just continues the limp debate that flares up in city government every ten years or so regarding the state of The Block. Nothing ever happens as the business owners of The Block refuse to cooperate with clean-up efforts preferring the flow of money from prostitution and drugs to the capital required for change. The police and politicians sent to correct the corruption and free flow of drugs very often fall into it themselves as a result of inconsistencies in city policy enforcement and opposite political and social feelings towards this district.
      Just as before, I see this sad event as another call for action to the politicians that have offices next to these dirty clubs and the mayor who brings dignitaries and diplomats down 400 East Baltimore Street. It's an opportunity to rebuild and reinvent up to 4 businesses in this Adult Entertainment Zone, as defined by city law. Essential is understanding the history and culture we Baltimoreans stand to lose with inaction. The citizens can do nothing and get nothing in return or stand up to reap the rewards of progressive improvement embracing the past and future essential to forward movement. I take that as my cue to continue with my research, writing and impromptu lectures to unassuming people in the grocery store check-out line. A historic renovation of The Block will be mine...oh will be mine.

Read through the articles below and come up with your own observations of how the city and the people view this part of history that refuses to fade away. Good general article from the Baltimore Sun on economic impact of fire on The Block by Peter Hermann (keep your eye out for his other Block articles circulating around the web) 10/10/2010 WBAL TV fire update 12/10/10 uLocal photos of fire from viewers of WBAL TV 12/7/2010,0,990003,full.story Refreshingly good Baltimore Sun article on the fire and The Block past by Peter Hermann 12/11/2010 Batangas Today brief poorly representing The Block, but two good fire pictures 12/7/2010 6 different articles archived on Site-Press regarding the fire and its investigation 12/6/2010 ABC News brief on ATF investigation beginning on fire site with video of interviews 12/6/2010 Washington Post article on fire with only generic info regarding The Block 12/6/2010 great collection of video and some interesting and a couple hilarious quotes from individuals on the scene. Compiled by Dave Statter at beginning with 12/6/2010 and it promises to continue updating as new info is revealed

Video of the Gaeyty Show World roof collapsing as shot by Alexander Koblansky, an employee in an adjacent building. Posted on 12/7/2010

WMAR TV news snippet describing the basics of the fire with various angles and perspectives from the event. 12/7/2010

A Sinful Collection of Smut

 The Rotenberg Collection has been compiled by an independent lover of this often misrepresented and brutally honest art form and historical representation of humanity. Mark Rotenberg has compiled over 200,000 pieces of classic porn of all imaginable flavors and uses his website to sell all types of originals and reproductions of a variety of media. He also grants the rights, for a fee, to anyone interested in using a piece of his collection in mass media production.

    Vintage erotica in any form is often hard to find all in one place because there are very few collectors that have their personal collections out for public scrutiny. One positive to The Rotenberg Collection is that Rotenberg has no hang-up or judgements regarding any of the material he collects. Gay, straight, hard core or bizarre he has it all.

  On the flip side, his presentation of material ranks right up with the skankiest of Penthouse letter submissions. He seems to relish describing all of the media in very graphic, sexual and juicy ways instead of a more objective and professional presentation that would give this art form a lot more credibility. Just explore his nude photo website and start reading the item descriptions and you'll see they contain almost no pertinent historical or bibliographic information.

     His collection, when Googled, does not appear in any reviews or academic analysis. It seems the big hits are his book collections that compile specific parts of his archives and even those seem to be far removed from any scholarly interpretation. NOT that I expect everyone to care about this stuff on a purely academic level. I think there is a very important role for people like Rotenberg in the preservation of this genre. It just makes the task of mainstreaming this material and bringing it some academic recognition difficult when this incredible collection is describing the media in terms such as:

p4s50 - Anti-Hitler, Gay Black on White
VERY RARE. Original 4" x 6" sepia tone image from the 1930s. This appears to be an image with very strong anti-Hitler sentiments, portraying a white man with fake moustache raising his arm in a Nazi-salute while the black man on his back is slipping it to him, big time!!! Inter-racial, Gay and Anti-Hitler... all in one photo!! Heavy photo paper with slight residue from album on reverse. Excellent condition with tiny crease at lower right corner off the image.

   It is a description that is definitely honest and revealing, actually one of his family friendly ones, and is a very direct approach to presenting the content of the photo for sale. Yet, I can only cringe because a piece of political culture such as this could be described on a more comprehensive level. Gay Hitler, inter-racial sex, male is just ripe for historical analysis.

    BUT, that is why people like Rotenberg are so important. He finds and buys and displays the things most of us can't afford or lack the time to dig up in dumpsters or dead men's closests and allows it to be a free and open collection for all to enjoy, interpret and use.

    Looking at his free shop/gallery at is a requirement for anyone wishing to find the perfect Christmas gift for me! Don't forget to add some of the vintage playing cards to my package because each card is a smutty little gem. Happy Sinful shopping!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Being a Historian DOES NOT have an age requirement!

   **please see disclaimer below if you are a graduate school admissions officer

   If you love history you know that it's everywhere. I say it all the time to every skeptic I talk to about the value of the subject. It's behind all of our beloved technology, media, food and daily traditions. I heard a guy speak last night about Historic Preservation...he loved to emphasize that it was impossible to accurately describe the field in one paragraph due to it's broad field of influence. This was a guy that is an architect whose firm does over 90% of their business in historic preservation cases. He is the director of one of the nation's leading Historic Preservation grad programs and quick to describe his many successes in the field throughout the country. He'd done some cool stuff and definitely had some jobs I would kill for. Yet he stood in front of the lecture hall in a suit that looked liked he'd grabbed it out of a Goodwill refuse bin 30 years ago, his humor only existed to laugh at his own stale jokes and the MA program he runs falls just short of visionary because he puffs up with pride when he announces that the median age of the students is 40.
   I'll come back to that age issue in a minute, but I first need to add the other part of his self important banter that caused me to swallow a little vomit that had cruised up to the back of my throat. Many may find that reaction strange, but if you've been looking for a "History Revolution" as hard as I have people like this would make you nauseous too. I promise.
   The man pointed out, very casually, that the environmental movement and the historical preservation movement developed very much side by side. However, he noted, the Sierra Club has over 3 million members while The National Historic Trust, the nation's leader in HP, has only 250,000. His response to the discrepancy was to note that the Sierra Club used the "KISS" method with the message, "Clean Water, Clean Air, or You Die." "Historic Preservation," he smiled, "just isn't that simple to explain." Really? "Reduce. Reuse. Restore," is that hard to copyright? "Save History or America Disappears," isn't simple enough for people to understand? Without efforts of historians throughout time America would be missing...the White House, Constitution, Liberty Bell, Monticello, Mt. Vernon, the French Quarter of New Orleans, the Vegas Strip, tv re-runs of I Love Lucy or The Brady Bunch...simple enough now?
   When combining this man's delight in age discrimination because, "people under 30, statistics prove, are less motivated and focused than older students,"with his obvious inability to distill information down to its marketable basics I was looking at one of the "leaders" in my future field slowly and joyfully kill off any interest the subject may have for my generation.
   I'm not too proud to say that change comes from youth because we are too idealistic and stubborn to back down from a fight. Sure, 40 year olds with families and life experience could be great at saving historic buildings and fighting politicians and developers over public policy...but at that point in an established existence how much are they willing to sacrifice for the cause? Us youngsters...we don't have anything to lose. We have to prove ourselves to move ahead or we get nothing for the effort. And by the way, I'm a youngster so much as I'm 27, been married for 8 years, expecting a kid in April and have had almost ten years of serious work experience. If I have to wait until I'm 40 to develop focus and motivation my family is screwed and my kid will starve.
   Going back to school serves so many great purposes for people of all ages. It is a big leap when you get older and put it all on the line to start a new career or push for a bigger one. But the reality of the situation is that the 69 year old woman this guy spoke of that had just graduated from his program wasn't going to be rocking any boats. Her area of expertise, historic cranberry bogs in New England. Somehow, I don't see that giving the Historic Preservation genre a step up on The Sierra Club.
   Young people have just as much right, and twice as much experience with the rapid changing technology that is set to rule our world in less than a lifetime, to decide how the history of our world is going to be presented and preserved. By shutting out our opinions and discriminating against our modern ideas...such as...*gasp* using multi-media markets to present history to the public...this man and his Historical Preservation program are dooming the field to failure. Once they die off, and it is sooner than they want to admit, the hole they created with their short-sightedness becomes too big to fill.
   As much as I've wanted to find a place in the world of history to feel accepted, as hard as I've looked and as far as I've stretched my standards to fit the mold I know now that I have to give up that fight. There is no group out there to protect the fun and excitement of history. There is no academic program that is fighting to secure the future of the subject...Being young and spry and only having everything to prove, we don't need to stand for snobbery and traditionalism for the sake of stagnation. Those groups we are looking for...we have to make them ourselves. There is no "History Revolution" until we make it happen. So, I wish those geezers well and I'll wave at them as I move on into the future.

**Disclaimer: if you are reading this as part of my admissions packet to your grad school program...please remember that I'm just a kid and I don't really know what I'm talking about. Think of all your program can teach me! Thanks, Kristi Cory