NOW SANITIZED BY RIDE-HAILING APPS LIKE UBER & LYFT
The New York Times' Alex Williams wrote a style piece with the headline, "Taxi Flings Take a Back Seat to Uber." The article uses the image above from Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill to help illustrate "the strange erotic power of the New York taxi." Here's the opening few paragraphs of Williams' article, which appeared in today's print edition of the newspaper:
It started innocently enough: Rachel Rabbit White, a journalist in her 20s who writes about sex, was hailing a taxi with her boyfriend at the time and a female friend after a Lower East Side party.
But “as soon as we got into the cab,” Ms. White said, “it became clear that this was going to be a threesome.” Within moments, the taxi ride turned into Plato’s Retreat on wheels, a montage of hair pulling, collar tugging and bodies writhing in darkness.
Far from being an impediment to passion, the unglamorous setting was an enabler. “It was as if being in the space of the cab decided it for us,” Ms. White said.
Ah, the strange erotic power of the New York taxi. On the surface, these utilitarian urban people movers that sometimes smell like old gym socks would seem about as sexy as a Yankee Stadium bathroom. But for countless reasons, some New Yorkers long considered the taxi back seat a pay-by-the-hour love shack.
But that illicit tradition is under threat of late, as ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft sanitize yet another dark corner of New York night life. Unlike traditional taxis, where anonymity is the rule (and the attraction), these services know exactly who has been naughty or nice in their back seats. Not only do drivers know a passenger’s name and mobile number, but they are also asked to review a passenger’s behavior.
These customer reviews, which function like a credit score that is based on conduct rather than financial standing, have put a damper on back-seat shenanigans. Indeed, acting out under those circumstances is a bit like streaking through Grand Central Terminal with a “Hello, My Name Is ______” tag plastered to your chest.
With some users feeling motivated to limit their back-seat behavior to job-interview politeness, the raunchy back-seat hookup — immortalized in films like “Dressed to Kill” and shows like “Taxicab Confessions” — suddenly looks like a vestige of a Lost New York, doomed to go the way of peep shows, streetwalkers and Al Goldstein’s “Midnight Blue.”
Later in the article, Williams writes, "While 20-somethings might regard such four-wheeled misadventures as just another instant-gratification indulgence of the Tinder generation, cab hookups have a storied legacy in the city, a point made clear in countless movies. Perhaps the most famous taxi sex scene is in Dressed to Kill, the 1980 Brian De Palma thriller, in which Angie Dickinson’s character, a sexually frustrated middle-aged woman dressed in virginal white, unfurls herself across the queen-bed-size back seat of a Checker cab with a sideburned stranger she picked up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, her shrieks of pleasure drowned out by blaring horns as they roll down Fifth Avenue. In the free-for-all ‘70s, it seems, back-seat sex occurred nightly, at least if Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s hollow-eyed hack driver character in Taxi Driver, from 1976, is to be believed."