This story is over 5 years old
Vice Blog


by VICE Staff
Feb 18 2011, 3:48pm
Like so many book shops and record stores, the social institutions known colloquially as whack shacks are shuttering all over the world in the wake of technological "advances." Paris is not exempt, and out of the plethora of options the urban masturbator enjoyed during the salad days of the 70s and 80s, only Le Beverley remains. As a kid I went to a co-ed boarding school, where I learned how horny 13-year-old boys are from the muffled sounds emerging from a room packed with hormone-ridden kids watching video tapes with lots of grunting and heavy breathing. (I initially thought the boys in the room were suffering from terrible asthma attacks.) Since then I've been amazed at the close proximity in which males, under even the slightest sexual deprivation, will jerk off. It doesn't matter why they are sexually deprived. Whether they are too young, too old, single, or just hideously ugly, most of them won't hesitate to drop trou and rub one out mere feet from others. What I didn't know, or rather, thought was an urban legend, is that some men, having lost all hope for a real punani, will give each other a hand--literally. When I stopped by Paris' last porn cinema last week to speak with the owner, Monsieur Laroche, he told me that "In the dark men get closer and help each other out." Apparently it's quite common for his clients to tug or blow one another during screenings. "Ironically I once showed a film with a gay blowjob scene, and the men stormed out in a furor. They don't think of what they do as a homosexual act, but more of a love thy neighbor as thyself kind of thing," he explained while making me coffee and changing the reel from A Cunt Like No Other to Young Bitches in Heat. Formerly known as Le Bikini, the cinema was created in the 70s. A member of the CNC (Centre National Cinématographique), all of the movies are shown on 35mm film, and the theater boasts a classy viewing room with 90 old-school leather seats (each cleaned every night, Laroche assured me). For a 12 euro ticket and a €0.60 pack of tissues sold at the counter, you can reside hand in crotch the entire day. Two films, changed weekly, are played back to back, encouraging you to take your time and make friends in the process. "Most of my clients are at least 70 and are retired and lonely, so they hang out here the whole week. It's like a second home to them" he said, explaining that since cafés have become non-smoking, it's more fun for men to take a trip to his joint, where they can share a wank and a chat. People are pretty talkative post-orgasm, and Maurice told me that many of his clients like to share cooking recipes with one another after cleaning up. It's nice to know the next time my sauce béarnaise is a flop I'll have somewhere to go for advice. But Le Beverley isn't all lighthearted communal masturbation and culinary chit chat. Maurice remembers seeing one of his clients die in the cinema. A couple of years ago, two retired friends used to meet once a week for a meal, followed by a trip to Le Beverley. One of the two died of a heart attack right in the middle of a screening. "He croaked dick in hand--that's what I would wish for anyone. I didn't check to see if he was still hard though," he said with a giggle, adding, "It's not death in Venice, but death at Le Beverley… not bad either, eh?" "I often worry about what is going to happen to all these men once this place closes." Laroche pondered with a worried frown. Indeed, Le Beverley has been rumored to shut down any minute. "The government taxes us more than any other cinema. Out of a €12 ticket, I get to keep €1.50. That is why all my colleagues have closed down their spaces." On top of that, the emergence and raving popularity of free sites like YouPorn, YouPlaisir (dubbed in French bin sûr), and the countless others like them aren't helping. "There is something very sad and slightly selfish about watching porn on the internet. It's like drinking apéritif all by yourself at home rather than going down to your local café," says Maurice. "Men are men, and they need visual excitement. That's not going to change. The difference is that now you have seven year olds who know what doing a fist means, because they've seen it on a cell phone." Maurice is a forward thinker who is trying to adapt to changing times. He also offers women's erotic poetry readings, in which he gets actively involved, bringing in long tickle feathers or personally removing the performer's clothes. His biweekly couple's night is also a big hit. "It's become an institution. You'd be surprised to see how many American tourists stop by here the minute they arrive, even before going to see the Eiffel Tower--men are generally happier looking at their own Eiffel Tower." ALICE PFEIFFER