Homo History – Sex: Christopher Street, the Trucks, and the West Side Highway Piers A Sexual Wonderland

NYC Piers

 

Greenwich Village in New York City was a homosexual’s dream come true in the 1970’s and early 80’s. You could literally walk down Christopher Street and have as much sex as you wanted, anytime that you wanted either day or night.

Abandoned for decades, the piers along the elevated West Side Highway became part of the Christopher Street gay scene when men began wandering a few blocks over to the dark and seedy area to cruise. Every pier, dark corner or loading dock in the area was used for a sexual encounter.

Gay men would gather cruise, sunbathe and party on the open docks and then venture into the skeletal remains of the forgotten PIER 48, a rotting wooden structure where sex could be had anytime of the day or the night.

Gay men fucked on the piers, in the trucks, in alleys, doorways, bookstores, bars and backrooms, Anywhere you look on Christopher Street today I can guarantee you that gay men fucked there in the 1970’s.

The sex was constant, boundless, free and liberating.

Back then Christopher Street was our version of gay ancient Rome, with the bars and clubs and bath houses that had become infamous in the gay culture but now is slowly being lost, forgotten and in some cases hidden from public view as if it was shameful and embarrassing.

Where today stands a Brooklyn Industries outpost on the corner of Christopher and Hudson streets, was once a gay bookstore with a not-so-secret backroom sex grotto downstairs.

The TRUCKS were parked near the docks on the West Side Highway under the then elevated Highway which is now gone along with the infamous abandoned crumbling PIERS where sex could be found 24/7.

During the day the TRUCKS which were parked in the area were loaded with merchandise and freight unloaded from arriving ships. At night they were parked and empty and the rear of the truck would be left open. The orgies began at around 10pm – 5am, getting busy at around 2am. The area around the parked trucks was empty, dark, and dangerous which heightened the forbidden pleasures found within.  Arthur Bell’s 1975 exposé in the Village Voice focused on the brutal murder of a waterfront denizen, warning that if you go to Pier 48 “you take your life in your hands

It was exciting and dangerous sex. There was also the ever present risk of being robbed, attacked by gay bashers or arrested by the NYPD.

To Jonathan D. Katz, the piers which line New York’s riverfront serve as evidence of a lost civilization — particularly for the city’s gay community.

“This group of queers built this beautiful utopia and inhabited it. To see 4,000 naked men laying outside on a Sunday afternoon…it’s kind of inconceivable today.”

The freedom with which men lay naked in the sun or fucked in the burned-out sheds epitomized the spirit of the movement.  Raw, uninhibited, and passionate.

 

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Piers
Piers2
Christopher Street Bookstore

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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13 Responses

  1. Jerry Hoose says:

    Ah the memories…There were several areas of trucks all of which I frequented..my favorite sex bars were The Barn and The Stud which I lived right down the street from..The Trucks started way before Stonewall..I started going in the mid sixties..It was so great..you could always count on guys being there..during rainstorms-blizzards-hurricanes-you could also count on being harrased and sometimes beaten up by Miss Lily(the police)..even after Stonewall…the sex bars were also raided after Stonewall..However it was a great time of freedom and liberation after the bleak sixties..I consider myself very fortunate to have enjoyed the fruits of our activism after Stonewall..
    Jerry Hoose(gay activist-sex activist)

  2. Chicago Bob says:

    Although I never went into one of those trucks I saw many men doing so. I was very young and very scared. I thank God I was not very promiscuous at that time in my life. I probably would be dead today. My serious sluttiness came years later in the 1990s.

    I remember walking down those piers on the inside of these warehouses with my first serious boyfriend one gay pride weekend in June 1981. As we walked the length of this very massive warehouse that went out into the water towards New Jersey we passed loading dock doors on each side of us and saw nude men sunning. I get aroused to this day at that memory. It was just amazing.

    • Chicago Bob says:

      One more thought:

      Gay life was so fucking exciting and so fucking hot in the pre-HIV days. Most of today’s younger generation just do not know what they missed. As it was I didn’t get to experience everything but sure do have some great memories.

  3. I well remember the gay sex action that took place in the west village. I particularly like visiting the Stud, usually meeting guys there and then taking them back to my flat for private sex. I well remember all of the backroom clubs and miss those days of liberation. Unlike then, when you actually had to meet a human being and talk (or grope), today, guys all hookup via Grinder or web sites. They do not know what they are missing !!!

  4. Jay Ray says:

    Ahh, the roar of that greasepaint, the smell of those crowds…and crowds there were, the looky-looks and the shady crooks, and then there were us, on the prowl for some fun in the sun, in the shade, in the alleys and the back rooms (ahh, The International Stud)…we all had to start somewhere, and even if ’76 was a later start then some, there was always some around, wishin’ and hopin’ and very appreciative for the attentions…

  5. Brick says:

    you old gay fucks. You rock.

  6. I remember these “trucks” well along the old West Side Highway route in the Village and by Jane and Washington Streets in the old meat-packing district. Men would go there late at night….and fuck in and around them until the sun came up (c. 1978-82) for me ! In those days, it also seemed a gay bathhouse would pop-up almost anywhere ! SCREW magazine had a page dedicated to them, and in their height, also (c.1978-82) there were no fewer than 15 or more all around the city The notorious ones were St. Mark’s in the East Village, Man’s Country on W.15th Street, The Club on 1st Avenue in the Bowery, Everard-Baths on W. 28th Street & Broadway, The Continental in the Ansonia Hotel, Mt. Morris Baths in Harlem, and the ESC on E. 56th St. uptown. However, tiny ones like the one in the basement of a building on Christopher Street just off 7th Avenue and one above the Keller Hotel on West Street were short lived but served the insatiable need for sex crazed gay men before the Aids epidemic hit.

  7. I was a dancer at the Gaiety Male Burlesque 1976 – 1980. I hoofed in underground clubs in NYC: the Anvil,12 West, the Gallery, Crisco Disco, Flamingo, Paradise Garage, Studio 54, the World, Sound Factory, the Saint, the World,….I would rollerskate on the decrepit remains of the elevated west side highway with a birds-eye view of the shenanigans on the covered and uncovered piers in my book, ‘Homo GoGo Man: a fairytale about a boy who grew up in discoland.’ now available on DonnaInk & Amazon & BarnesandNoble

  8. Wayne in NYC says:

    I haven’t seen Rollerina around for a while. Am I just missing her?

    • i only spottted her at Studio54. Read my book: ‘Homo GoGo Man: a fairytale about a boy who grew up in discoland.’ Amazon, BarnesandNoble, and DonnaInk.com. I was a dancer at the Gaiety Male Burlesque 1976 – 1978, which gave entre to the best discos: the Gallery, the Flamingo, Paradise Garage, the Anvil, Crisco Disco, Hurrah, Studio54, IcePalace57, Sound Factory, 12 West, the Saint, the World,… until I crashed and burned in 2004. Now I’m back: Danced till dawn to Nicky Siano from the Gallery, where I REALLY learned to dance, last Sunday at the Standard. the beat goes on………….

  1. May 18, 2016

    […] for public sex after the bars started emptying out. The area became known in in gay circles simply as The Trucks, and had been a long-established cruising grounds since at least the […]

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