The Porno Bin
1 Comment

Like other extinct things from my youth such as rotary phones, mix tapes, and speaking face to face, there’s a certain romance to the found porn magazine. These magazines weren’t so much present in my adolescence as they were rumored. Someone’s dad had a subscription or a friend of a friend’s cousin had a stack in his closet. You couldn’t really find one as much as you had to get your hands on one.

One summer, a few days before we were set to leave our soccer camp in Lake Placid that was housed on the grounds of a boarding school, my friends and I found a Penthouse. One of the boarders must have left it behind. My friend Jay took it home and hid it in his room. Years later, when we were either seniors in high school or freshman in college, he showed me the magazine. The pages were falling apart, disintegrating from the edges. I said, “you still have this?” but it really wasn’t a question (because it totally made sense in a Stand By Me sort of way), it was a statement of admiration. Even with its autoerotic utility expired, you don’t throw out a Penthouse that you found unless you have to.

So, behind Brighton High School, somewhere between the track and the multi purpose soccer and baseball fields, there is a freestanding wooden wall against which you can kick a soccer ball. During the summer, I would ride my BMX bike up to the high school often by myself just to get out of the house and kick around. If I wasn’t alone or I happened upon someone who had the same idea that I did, we would play wall ball, a game in which you had to kick the ball against the wall in such a way that it came to rest before your opponent could kick it.

It was painted often, too, by mysterious people who were inspired in the middle of the night. One such makeover found the wall filled with quotes from The Doors. My fifteen year old self aspired to one day be cool enough to adorn something in Doors quotes.

Off to the side, on the way out towards the backyards of the houses that ringed the fields, there was a trash can. One day, that trash can was filled with porno magazines. It seemed like an angry wife or girlfriend, or perhaps even the owner, had finally had enough and thrown them out. It was impressive both in volume and variety. I don’t remember anything even as mundane as a Playboy or Penthouse. No, our collector was a connoisseur who had certainly taken some time assembling the collection.

When word of the trash can spread it was dubbed “the porno bin.”

Those of us who frequented the wall were in a very brief stage that comes after the onset of puberty and before driver’s licenses, mature by adolescence standards, which explains why, to my knowledge, no one took any of the magazines. Perhaps it was the fact that these had fallen into our laps that led us tacitly to creating a respectful sharing economy (or it could have been because they were in a trash can). It was really more like an impromptu lending library, a feature in the world’s worst country club. “Hello, old sport! We’re almost done with the wall but if the mood should strike, please, thumb through some pornography.”

And then, just a few days later, I went over to the porno bin to find that someone, perhaps the very person who threw the magazines out in the first place, had dumped dog shit into the trash can on top of the magazines. It was a shrewd move, to be sure, as even the teenage appetite for porn has its limits. And so it was that the porno bin was gone as quickly as it had arrived, probably for the best.

The funny part is that over twenty years later, with the ubiquity of the internet, the idea of static images in magazines seems downright innocent. I can’t tell which is worse, the fact that kids these days can see more hardcore porn on their phones than I had ever seen before the age of thirty*? Or is it that I just wrote an essay where I fondly recalled the time I found porno magazines in a trashcan?

* I’m thirty-eight now. Make of that what you will.

One thought on “The Porno Bin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *