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散文佳作108篇 第63期:A Tale of Two Smut Merchants 两个淫秽照片商的故事




A Tale of Two Smut Merchants


Mike Royko


In simpler times, there lived a self-employed photographer in Chicago who worked weddings,anniversaries, graduations and other family events. He also padded his income with goods hedidn’t advertise in the neighborhood paper. He sold nude photos—the kind we used to calldirty pictures.


His model was usually his wife, an empty-faced woman who tended their second-floor flat andtwo small kids and did what her husband told her to do. Other than having a big chest, therewasn’t much to recommend her as a model, except that she was willing to pose inembarrassingly revealing positions.


The photographer would sell stacks of the wallet-size photos to guys he knew in factoriesand taverns, and they would sell them to guys they knew. That’s the way such things circulatedin the days before porn stores and national smut magazines.



The photographer’s neighbors didn’t know about his dirty-picture business because he soldthem outside the neighborhood. But then he made the mistake of asking a teenage girl fromthe next block if she would be interested in making some money as a model.


When he told her exactly what he had in mind, she told her mother. The mother told the father,who owned a corner tavern. And the father and his large son, carrying baseball bats, went tothe photog’s home and banged on the door. Not being a dummy, he wouldn’t open the door.So the father yelled that if he ever came near the girl again, they’d kill him.


A few weeks later the tavern keeper was at the local grammar school, attending the graduationof one of his other children. During the ceremony, he glanced around and saw thephotographer with a camera in his hand. “What’s that creep doing here?” he shouted.


It turned out that the creep was the official photographer of the graduation. “He ain’t takingmy kid’s picture,” said the tavern keeper. He got up and bashed the creep in the jaw, and thephotographer fled.


The tavern keeper then explained to parents and teachers that he had driven a degeneratefrom their midst, so someone else was called to take the class picture. Within two days, thephotog had moved from the neighborhood and was never again seen.


I thought of that incident while watching Bob Guccione, owner of Penthouse magazine, beinginterviewed some time ago on a network news show, and it occurred to me what remarkablechanges have occurred in only a few decades.


The neighborhood pornographer was punched around and had to move away in disgrace.Guccione, a multimillionaire, wears gold chains, travels the world in jets and is invited to thebest parties in New York City.


If the photog tried to explain why he did what he did, nobody would have cared. They wouldhave just punched him some more. But Guccione speaks with great seriousness about thejournalistic necessity of publishing nude photos of a well-known woman. And there are peoplewho take him seriously.


Actually, there’s little difference between that neighborhood pornographer and Guccione, themagazine publisher, other than financial success. The only significant one is that the photogwas born before his time.


Maybe, I prefer to think that it was the tavern keeper, unfortunately, who was born before histime.


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