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Bork . . . was . . . right?

I never believed PG when she used to tell me about Robert Bork's claims of escort agencies operating on Manhattan's public access television:

One evening at a hotel in New York I flipped around the television channels. Suddenly there on the public access channel was a voluptuous young woman, naked, her body oiled, writhing on the floor while fondling herself intimately. Meanwhile, a man's voice and a print on the screen informed the viewer of the telephone number and limousine service that would acquaint him with young women of similar charms and proclivities. I watched for some time -- riveted by the sociological significance of it all. Shortly after that, men only slightly less nude advertised homosexual prostitutes.

Certainly Bork had just come home, battle-scarred from a few too many fine, strong Manhattans with a few too many fine, liberal Manhattanites. He was confused. You can't put nudity on American public television! It's a point of pride among some of my British friends that they live in the land of the free, or at least the land free enough to show the best of Shannon Tweed after the watershed.

Little did my English buddies know.

Half-reading my Admin Law while my girlfriend flipped channels on a study break, I was roused from my stupor by her call of, "What the ----?" And there on screen was . . . well, I don't really have the words. Someone had coupled images of women in varying stages of undress with seemingly random stock footage and whatever had been on their iPod at the time. Neither image was shown clearly, but rather both had been made semi-transparent, such that an old couple on a canoe were floating down a river through the ghost of a stripper's g-string. A topless model wiggling her tush had been superimposed on a waddling parrot as Shania Twain's "You're Still the One" murmured in the background. A lesbian scene between two blondes, some shots of the New York skyline, and (my personal drop-dead last pick to include in a softcore act) the Backstreet Boys' "Quit Playing Games With My Heart," was the climax of the program. Each of these . . . "music videos"? . . . was placed between a few minutes of the announcer quizzing horror movie actors and producers (including someone from Buffy), or strange and improbable bands dressed as undead Elvis impersonators.

I'll admit, if I hadn't been completely sober I'd suspect that I'd been drinking.

The only telephone numbers flashed on the screen accompanied requests for more models, not an escort invitation. But I'm willing to give Bork a much greater benefit of the doubt now. Why does Manhattan bother to run such a network, and is there any excuse for The Neal Alpert TV Show?


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I'm not sure why it's there, but it's been there for a long time. I was living in Manhattan in '98 and my roommates and I were fascinated by this channel that, during the day seemed normal enough but, after midnight, turned into the public access version of HBO's Real Sex, or worse.
I think you've also discovered the home of the endlessly re-run "Robin Byrd Show." Do you remember an ongoing Saturday Night Live skit in which Cheri Oteri wore big fake boobs and a hideous orange tan and did odd things like shove her face in other women's cleavage while squawking? http://snl.jt.org/skit.php?i=146 She was doing a reasonably accurate spoof of Robin Byrd. Robin Byrd has been on for forever, and I put her show in the same category as the Teletubbies: awful, yet you JUST CAN'T LOOK AWAY.

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