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Macry proudly shows off a newly completed VMAXX. The booth is battleship gray with a user-friendly control panel and generous monitor screen. There is a comfortable, form-fitting chair made of plastic and colored to match the subtle, no-nonsense decor of the VMAXX walls. The chair is close enough to the panel to allow easy access, yet far enough from the screen to eliminate any potential retina damage during prolonged viewing. For a fully installed, 12-booth bank of VMAXXs--that includes monitors, players, housings and 60 channels--you're looking at a price tag of $55,000.
According to Macry, that investment will pay itself back in no time.
"The adult video and novelty business is the fastest-growing business in the United States. Something like 90 percent of the stores report a profit in their first year." And most arcades are still a solid bargain at 25 cents per minute, a fact that is not unappreciated by certain viewers.
"We got a call today from Tucson that someone was having trouble because they couldn't program more than 256 minutes," says Macry, shaking his head. "There was a guy in San Francisco who'd go in a booth for 13 hours, from the time the place opened to the time it closed. He'd hawk his personal possessions to afford it."
For those unfamiliar with the arcade world, Macry takes us through the process:
"You go in the little booth, you slide your dollar in, then you channel up or channel down until you find something you want to watch. If you're not sure what you want to watch, you hit the 'quad' button, which takes the volume out but shows you four different previews and switches through however many channels they have, in blocks of four at a time. It switches about every 15 seconds."
If you're saying to yourself, "Hey, when I want to enjoy a porno, I just go down to the video store and rent one, then return to my home, whip up some fondue, break out the stoned wheat thins and watch the tape in privacy. Why would anyone want to do this in public?" here is one explanation.
"Some people are arcade buffs," Macry states. "They like to go in and flip through all the movies, then rent the one they thought was cool."
Macry reveals that he actually entered an arcade or two before he got in the business.
"Oh, yeah. I was in the Navy 13 years." I ask him how the booths he saw stacked up against the VMAXX.
"No comparison. But that was mostly 10 years ago," he says. "They were old movies, bad audio. Here, as good as what comes out of the video is what we get. The owners pretty much use the best videos, and with the computers, they can keep an eye on the statistics, what movies are being watched the most, and keep those in and switch out others."
In terms of upkeep, the Phase III machines "don't need much," Macry explains. "Once these things get up and running, they run really well." Still, the job has taken him far and wide.
Gee, work on sex arcades and see the world.
"It's almost like the Navy," agrees Macry, "except I don't have to salute."
In keeping with its cutting-edge reputation, Phase III is always on the lookout for new advances in wares hard and soft. Here, Macry speaks openly about what the future may hold for personal booth viewing of dirty movies.
"We're going more into previews and being able to fast forward through videos, and more channels," he says. "But you get to the point where it's overkill. And a dollar does not get you through 96 channels."
It's safe to say that the segment of the world population that likes its porn-by-the-quarter is unaware of the steadfast work produced by Phase III; Macry and his colleagues receive little stroking. Yet he knows this is all down to the nature of the job. And that's okay.
"It's amazing," says Macry with a patient smile. "It's one of those things that you see everywhere, but you never think that somebody's got to make 'em, or that there's any thought that goes into them."
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