Mrs. Julia Whitney, a widow of two years, blames herself for her husband’s suicide. She hides a dark secret that could ruin her good family’s name, which has become the target of cruel gossip about her sister who has been locked away in an asylum for the Read more…
|She Sells Sex by the Sea Shore|
Part of my inspiration for the short story, “The Virgin Principle” stems from the years I spent as a Slot Cashier at the Playboy Hotel-Casino in Atlantic City. Back when your Trudy was still earning her pearls, in the days when slot machines still spit quarters instead of coupons, I sold and redeemed the mountains of coin that fueled Hef”s hutch on the Jersey Shore. It was a marvelous place to work, and for an empire so steeped in the seeming “sexploitation” of women, refreshingly progressive and equitable. Its CEO was Hugh’s daughter, Christie Hefner, and aside from the great pay, ridiculously-inexpensive health insurance, free employee meals and generous benefits package, we also received lots of swag and a free Playboy magazine each month. But that’s only part of the story. The real perks, at least to a young and decidedly wide-eyed sponge of an emerging writer, lay in the intrinsic nature of the job - a succulent stewpot of sex.
Because of Playboy's saucy reputation, its clientele, at least on the weekends, almost seemed rehearsed. There were the young bucks that came to ogle at and flirt with the Bunnies (futile, mostly, as they were regulated by the Bunny Mothers and schooled in a strict decorum, classy women, all), the chicks who ventured in looking for the men scoping for the Bunnies, and the inevitable sprinkling of celebrities - of sports, music and screens big and small. Add to that a dress code that nearly mandated a day at the spa or the haberdashery, free cocktails and more nooks and crannies than an English muffin, the casino floor elicited such a contagion of pheromonal fog its effect was like Viagra on steroids.
More than once I had stumbled upon couples en flagrante delicto, Saturday late nights being the most notorious. Some slot machines had chairs in front of them, and in one particularly shady corner a couple had positioned themselves rather discreetly at one. With his legs slightly akimbo and she, with her skirt poofed most ingeniously, well...let me put it this way: more than just coins were being slipped into a slot. And just because the employees had dressing rooms well off the Casino floor, that didn”t hinder the customers from finding their way into them for a tryst. Imagine my surprise one evening when I went to visit my locker mid-shift, and found a couple so engaged atop our bathroom sinks a fire hose couldn't have given them pause.
But those were rather extreme examples. The actual effects even now are infinitely more subtle. The true appeal of the Casino lay in its possibility to seduce - with money, with excitement, with sex. All are there constantly simmering, all are interchangeable. Like Vince Vaughn in Swingers, every man in a suit is money, every slot handle pulled, every double-down split, each toss of the dice a potential fortune. Every man leaning over a table is as suave as George Clooney's Danny Ocean, every woman has the killer legs and steel-trap smolder of Ellen Barkin. To walk onto a Casino floor is like the intimate first touch of foreplay - a jolt to the body and portend of more - with possibilities as random as the odds.