A Life’s Work: Mr. Clean

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Mr. Clean: A Life's Work by Lisa Carver

There’s a lot of grossness littered about my fantasy life, and I’m always the one cleaning up. You know those dirty movie booths where men put tokens in the machine and jerk off to pornos? Well, my latest dream is to be the one who mops those places. I know I’m not the only one. Because, I mean, who’s doing the cleaning? Someone must be, because there’s not a foot-high wall of dried come beneath every screen. And with less than five percent unemployment in most parts of America, no one is taking a squeegee to nudie booths in order to feed their kids.


No, they must want

it — the bleach, the rag, the knee pads, the ghosts of ten thousand masturbating men. I’m not the only dreamer.


It was with great joy that I used my occupation as journalist as a cover to approach John, booth-swabber and manager at the most scandalous dirty movie spot in New Hampshire — the owner would like to keep it unnamed — to get the lowdown on splooge-wiping. Our interview was repeatedly interrupted by customers coming and going — they’d silently hand John three dollars, avoiding eye contact, and he’d give them tokens while I waited. I think the fact that it was Valentine’s Day and that I was obviously pregnant made the masturbators shy. Then the unbelievable happened — my father’s roommate approached the counter, boxed vibrator in hand!

Lisa Carver

Lisa:  What do you tend to find in those booths?

John:  Napkins, everywhere. All these napkins.

Well, that’s nice — the customers start the clean-up process for you.


What if you had little trash cans in each booth?

We tried the little-trash-can thing and it didn’t work — people still

just threw napkins and things everywhere.

Maybe it’s part of the pleasure — to leave one’s mark.

Maybe [laughs]. Like graffiti or something. I used to work at

another store; we found all kinds of crazy stuff there. Found a banana with

a condom on it one time. Various rubber appendages.

Those are expensive! You’d think they wouldn’t want to leave ’em


Eh, they do. A lot of people don’t care. They leave lots of ladies’

lingerie behind too. You don’t know . . . a guy can come in wearing a business

suit, and underneath he has a garter and stockings on. What can you do — to

each his own.

What would you say is the income bracket of the average person who

comes in here?

It varies. It’s all over the place — rich guy, poor guy.

Because lingerie is expensive too!

Yeah, and they leave it behind and just waste it.

Maybe they come in with high hopes, in the mood, and then after the

blessed event, they feel bad. They don’t want to take the evidence with

them. What’s the demeanor of people when they come here?

It depends. If it’s their first time here, they’re wide-eyed. It

catches them by surprise — all the rubber dicks and whatever on the walls.

I don’t know what they were expecting to find here!

I always wondered . . . why do they make those dildos that are so big it

looks like you could kill somebody?

I don’t know. Look at those anal beads by the door.

Oh my God!

We’ve never sold a pack. They’re as big as baseballs. Bigger.

Have you ever made a friend of a regular customer?

Sure, I’ll shoot the shit with ’em. I won’t go out and do stuff with

’em. I try to keep a certain amount of separation. One of the guys, they

said there’s karaoke at the gay bar down the street, let’s go. I sing in

a band, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to show them I do

something other than sell porno — I’ll sing some tunes. So we went down

there one night, and I brought the other kid I worked with. To make a long

story short, that kid ended up closing down the store early the next night,

entering the Wet Jock contest, moving in with some dude and we never saw him

again! After that, I said, “Well, if that’s what they want, I think I’ll keep

a certain amount of separation!”

It’s a dangerous life, the porno booth business! Do you ever use the

booths when it’s slow?

Nah. It’s just not my thing, I guess. If I gotta do something like

that, I’d rather do it at home, you know?

Yeah — I used to work at Dunkin’ Donuts, and after a while I couldn’t

even think about eating the doughnuts.


Have you ever had to throw people out?

Sure. One guy pissed in the booth one time.

You think he did it because he was excited, or was it an accident?

Definitely some sort of fetish thing.

How did you say it to him?

Well, one guy come out saying, “Listen, there’s a guy pissing back

there.” So I went back there, I didn’t know who it was, but I said, “Listen,

whoever did that, you gotta get out of here right now.” One guy comes out

with his head down.

[laughing] How humiliating! He’d offended the other masturbators.

Yup, I guess so. I immediately proceeded to mop. We mop all day here.

The other place I used to work at, they said just mop at the end of the

night. We mop about ten times a day here. You don’t want to leave that stuff

hanging around. We use disinfectant, stuff that kills HIV and staph

infections, things like that. Spray it all down and let it sit for a while,

then wipe it all up.

You take pride in your work.

Sure. More so than the other stores around here. There was this other

guy we used to call the Baby Oil Bandit. He’d get completely naked and cover

his body with baby oil and stick like toilet paper and stuff all over him.

We didn’t know who it was at first, ’cause he’d come out with all his clothes

back on like everybody else. But then we’d go in there and there’d be the

empty baby-oil bottle and napkins stuck to the wall. When we found out who

it was, we said, “Listen man, we don’t care what you do, but just don’t make

a mess, ’cause we don’t want to clean that up!”

You should just give him the rag when he comes in.

Yeah. “The mop’s right outside the door, Bandit.”

You know how in some bathrooms they have those tissue paper things in

the shape of a toilet seat you can put down before you sit? Ever thought of

having something like that here for the benches?

You’d just need a sheet of . . .

Butcher block paper!

Yeah, have a roll hanging there. Pull it off when you need it.

This is your lucky day! I’ll give you my brilliant idea for free!

Well, probably only girls would care about that, and you probably don’t get

many girls.

Sometimes they come in, usually with their old man.

Do women tend to be neater?

Yeah, definitely. Much more so than the single guy who’s just looking

to do what he has to do and get out of there.

Do you have like a Saturday night special here for couples or

anything? The Fifth Wheel does that.

Nah. The place I used to work at, they had Ladies’ Night on Tuesday,

and they’d get twenty percent off.

But it’s only like two dollars to use a booth, so that only saves you

forty cents.

Well, it’s a three-dollar minimum here — you gotta buy tokens. You

get about one minute per token.

How much do people usually buy?

Three dollars’ worth.

Lisa:&nbsp That’s twelve minutes. Fast work.

John: [to a customer who just handed him a packaged vibrator and a Visa

card] You want batteries for that? Make sure it works?

Customer: I know you! You’re Lisa!

Lisa:&nbsp Ack! [everybody laughs] I won’t tell if you won’t tell.

Customer: I won’t say nothing. I’m buying this for my girlfriend. It’s for Valentine’s Day. We broke hers last week.

Lisa:&nbsp That’s nice. Well, have a good night!

Customer: Oh God, this is too funny. Bye!

John: That was funny. When people see people they know here, they say, “What

are you doing here?” And the other one says, “Well what are you doing here?”

That was my father’s roommate! So, uh, what’s the most anyone’s ever

spent on the booths?

Probably twenty bucks.

That’s eighty minutes! And how long does it take you to clean up?

About ten, fifteen minutes. I do it about ten times a day.

So that’s two hours a day you’re in there! Do people ever hit the

screen with their business or . . . has anyone ever hit the ceiling?

[laughing] No. They hit the screen, but not the ceiling.

New England is a pretty polite place.


I bet in other parts of the country they’re hitting the ceiling!

I bet they’re doing all kinds of things out there.

[a little overexcited] Do they ever start an orgy in there and they

all spill out into the aisle, naked?

[laughing] No!

In New Hampshire, you’re not allowed to have doors on the booths. How


In Portsmouth you’re not allowed to have doors. It’s a town ordinance

of some sort.

They’re thinking that if the booths are open, people won’t . . .

There will be less . . .

But actually, it just makes cruising easier!

There’s people that are going to do it no matter how private or

unprivate it is, and then there’s people who want people to see it. They

used to have doors, but when this place opened, it caused a stink.

I remember that — that was around ’91. The retail stores were upset.

It was front page news!

Yup. It said “Smut Alley Turns the Corner.”

It is strange that there are four adult stores within walking

distance of each other in such a conservative part of the country.

The town of Portsmouth does run a tight ship. They’ll come in and do

their inspection, and you never know when that’ll be.

Do you ever get tired of hearing people in there, using the booths?

I don’t really hear much, honestly, and if I do, I just yell. I say,

“Hey, if the moans of ecstasy are reaching my ears, it’s much too loud.”

What does your girlfriend think of your job?

At first she was a little weirded out by it. We both grew up real

religious — born-again Christian. But she likes it now. She can come in and

say, “Oh, I want one of that!” She gets hundred-dollar vibrators for free.

Do you clean the bathroom at her place, or have you had enough

after a hard day here?

Oh, I still clean the bathroom at home. I’m the guy, I figure that’s

only fair.


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© 2002 Lisa Carver and, Inc.