Greenwich Village in New York City was a a newly sexually liberated homosexual’s dream come true in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. You could literally walk down Christopher Street in the West Village from Sheridan Sheridan Square to the piers and have as much sex as you wanted, anytime of the day or night.
There was a pay phone on the corner of 7th. Avenue and Christoper Street that would ring when a hot guy stood near it. The caller, a very handsome closeted soap actor lived in an apartment overlooking the phone booth and when the “trick” answered the and after a few questions about sexual positions an invitation might be issued to visit the actor’s bedroom.
Further down Christopher Street and abandoned for decades, the piers along the elevated West Side Highway became part of the Christopher Street gay cruising scene when men began wandering a few blocks over to the darker and seedier areas to cruise. Every pier, dark corner or loading dock in the was used for a sexual encounters.
Gay men would gather cruise, sunbathe (during the day) 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 with a hint of danger on the side..
Gay men fucked on the piers, in the trucks, in alleys, doorways, bookstores, bars and backrooms, Anywhere you look on Christopher Street and along the West Side Highway 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 a gay ancient Rome, a never-ending bacchanal with the many bars, after-hour clubs and bath houses that had once been 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 high-end Brooklyn”clothing outpost” on the corner of Christopher and Hudson streets, was once a popular gay bookstore with a not-so-secret sex grotto downstairs that was filled with sexual satyrs doing their thing 24 hours a day. And this was just one of many such places back then. Backrooms, peep shows, sex clubs, bath houses, adult movie theaters, and the Central Park rambles. It was an all you could fuck and suck buffet.
The TRUCKS were parked near the docks on the West Side Highway under the then elevated West Side Highway which is now gone along with the infamous abandoned crumbling piers.
During the day the TRUCKS were loaded with merchandise and freight unloaded from arriving ships. At night they were parked and empty and the rear of the trucks doors would be left open. The truck orgies began at around 10pm, getting busiest at around 2am. The area around the parked trucks was empty, dark, and dangerous which heightened the forbidden pleasures found within.
Anyone who stepped foot into the boarded-up dock terminals at the piers or to the TRUCKS to have sex were “playing at danger,” they were experiencing the thrill of breaking the rules. But there was real danger in walking on the crumbling piers, especially at night, and the men who had sex on the piers or in trucks parked nearby were risking encounters with police, gay bashers, and muggers. Arthur Bell’s 1975 exposé in the Village Voice focused on the brutal murder of a waterfront gay bar patron, (The murder of Addison Verill) warning that if you go to Pier 48 “you take your life in your hands.”
To Jonathan D. Katz, and others 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 gay men built this beautiful utopia and inhabited it. To see 4,000 naked men laying outside on a Sunday afternoon on the piers…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.”
May we never forget it.