People seem to like it when I talk about growing up in NYC in the 70s and 80s, so I thought I’d start a series.
I’m torn between Wayback Wednesday* and Frowback Friday.
My concern about Frowback Friday is that people will pronounce the “Frow” part like it rhymes with “now.” And if I spell it Froback, it should be all about ‘fros. Like, the hairdo. I have stick-straight hair, so I’m unqualified to write even about Jew ‘fros. And let’s not get started on the wrongness of me writing a series on any other kind of ‘fro. All I have to offer in a discussion of non-white hair (oh god, I think I’m treading in dangerous water already) is that from the Lexington Avenue bus I used to take down to Bloomingdales to buy too many pairs of Complements Jeans by Girbaud on my mother’s credit card, I would always spy a hair salon called:
Black Hair Is…
Black Hair Is what? Finish the sentence, please! Because I really don’t know, and I’d like to. I’m interested. Or am I not supposed to ask that? Maybe the rest of the name is …A Privileged Topic So Don’t Even. Whoops.
Another store I’d note from the bus window was a store for fat-lady clothes called…
The Forgotten Woman.
Who wants to carry a shopping bag with that on it? Like it isn’t insult enough that nobody makes cute clothes for your size, your chiffon caftan comes from a place that reminds you nobody thinks about you? “Oh, hey, big mama. Hilarious, I totally forgot you existed! How long you been standing there? Nice sequined top.”
I’m so slick. I segued right into what I wanted to write about, another store that no longer exists:
The Erotic Baker.
There were two of them, one on Amsterdam Avenue and one on 83rd between Columbus and Central Park West. This is the one I used to walk by, because it was on the same block as my synagogue and Hebrew school. I hated Hebrew school, but getting to walk past The Erotic Baker was almost enough incentive to go every Wednesday and endure the worst teacher ever, a woman named Rivka who threw chalkboard erasers at us and yelled “SHECHET!” which means “shut the f up” in Hebrew.
The Erotic Baker had curtains in the window which were never pulled quite all the way across. There was no subtle way to peek in, you really had to press your nose to the glass to get a glimpse of the titty- and penis-cakes. But it was worth it. Even if the rabbi caught you, which he once did. “Shalom! Window shopping?” he asked as he passed me and my friend, who were gaping at a hairy-balls cake. Instead of playing it cool, we ran away, which is always awkward when you’re double strapping it with a big, loose JanSport backpack full of textbooks on the Holocaust.
When we had Secret Santa in 10th Grade at my all-girls school, I gave my gift-ee a bag full of penis lollipops (both white and dark chocolate) from The Erotic Baker. It took guts to go in there, and I thought it was a gift anyone would love. But when she opened it, she gagged. I think I never revealed my identity. Let her Secret Pervert remain anonymous. She’s now a lesbian, which may or may not be at all relevant to her being grossed out by a bag full of candy dicks.
Both locations of The Erotic Baker are long gone from the Upper West Side.
I googled it just now, and found that there’s a place in Forest Hills, Queens, which I don’t think is connected but they make erotic cakes. The first review on Yelp is from a very pleased customer named Judy who had to get a butt cake for her boss. Because of course. She includes a picture of the butt cake, which has actual PORES. And who wouldn’t want to eat a closeup of ass made of frosting? Fine, I’ll include a screen shot.
Note where the finger in the picture is going. Judy, you need to talk to a rabbi.
As for the cake, all I can say is, they don’t make ’em like they used to.
*Did you think I was losing my mind titling a post Wayback Wednesday when it’s Thursday? Guess what, I am. I totally thought today was Wednesday.
What stores do you remember from growing up? Or what weird stores do you still see around?
Or, fine, just tell me anything. What did you do last weekend?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.