July 28, 2005

As the week comes to a close we’ve got a few tidbits of photobooth news from around the country. First, from the various boroughs of the City of New York, some photobooth-spotting. In a review of L.I.C., Joshua Bernstein of the New York Press reports, “In the overlooked borough, a photo booth makes a fine bedfellow.” We visited L.I.C. and tested out the photobooth there last month; unfortunately, it was out of order, though the bartenders were nice enough to provide an unsolicited refund. 

Mr. Bernstein seems to have a nose for photobooths in the City; earlier this month, he reviewed the Williamsburg watering hole The Bushwick Country Club, and described a walk through the bar: “Cradling my beer, I shuffle past dusty golf clubs and a three-dollar photo booth. It’s ideal for R‑rated pics, but licentiousness must wait.” We have yet to visit the Bushwick, but thanks to the review, it’s on our list for the next visit.

Moving down the coast to the Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Maryland, Julie Greene writes an article about unique proposals, including the story of Rob Slocum, who proposed (and showed proof of the father-of-the-bride’s permission) in a photobooth. Slocum apparently “suggested in December 1996 that they get their picture taken in a photo booth for their Christmas card,” and then proposed to his girlfriend, Kelly Boyer.

And finally, from the police blotter of the Lufkin (Texas) Daily News, a report of some photobooth indiscretion, though you have to give it a close read; the incidents are not separated from one another on the page, so it looks like one big, confusing crime:

A security officer at Lufkin Mall reported that two people were in a photo booth, and the girl was partially clothed and the boy was holding her breast. Police officers located the couple and found a photograph depicting what the security officer had described.

The boy was 19 years old and the girl 16. The incident is still under investigation, according to a police report.

Shades of the Kentucky amusement park affair of 2000…

July 24, 2005

hollywood_headshots.jpgPhotostrips are interesting for many reasons; one important reason is their one-of-a-kind nature. No negative means no duplicates can be made without scanning and re-printing, making a photostrip a unique item. If they are indeed authentic, then the nine photos of B‑grade celebrities being offered on eBay mark a mildly interesting find. The names read like a ‘who’s who’ of afternoon TV reruns: Barbara Eden, immortalized in a cut-off shirt and parachute pants in “I Dream of Jeannie”; Erik Estrada, “the brown-haired one” from “CHiPs”; Tina Louise, Ginger from “Gilligan’s Island”; and six others. The seller reports that the photos were taken in a photobooth at a “private studio in Los Angeles” in 2002.

The seller somehow manages to spell nearly every name wrong, but the point is there. The other six whose photos are up for auction are Drew Carey (not “Cary”), Dylan (not “Dillon”) McDermott, Shannen Doherty (not “Shannon Dougherty”), Jean-Claude van Damme (“Dame”?), Howie (not “Harvey”) Mandel, and John Mahoney (well done, though he was on “Frasier,” not “Fraiser.” Damn). These “CELEBERTIY” photos have an opening bid of $25 — let’s see how high they go.

July 16, 2005

samsunFootwear.jpgThanks to a tip from Elizabeth Cunningham and a list of possible Philly photobooths from Brian, I had a quick and painless afternoon of photobooth hunting in center city Philadelphia this past May. My wife Heather grew up in the Philly suburbs and we try to get back at least once a year to see her family. Heather kindly accompanied me on this particular booth hunt. As it turns out, the 3 booths I had on my list ended up being within 5 blocks of each other.

Our first stop was El Vez (not to be confused with the Mexican Elvis), a trendy place self-described as “gritty East L.A. meets a Tijuana Taxi vibe.” They have done a great job creating a unique and festive interior, a perfect spot for a booth. Just as suspected, a black and white 4‑pose photobooth sits near the back of the restaurant. Unfortunately the booth was broken and to add insult to injury, the staff was a bit salty. If you visit the El Vez official website, and are patient enough to get past the super-fresh splash screen and requisite techo beat, click on the piano icon (Restaurant Tour) to see a picture of some of the pictures (purportedly) produced by their photobooth.

Next stop: the Spaceport Amusement Center. The buildings on this particular block are not well marked, but we quickly realize the Spaceport Amusement Center is no more (and the crowd goes mild). In its place is a shoe store called Samsun Footwear (pictured at right).

Final stop: The Spaghetti Warehouse. This booth (a 4‑pose color unit) is not only exactly where expected, but it actually works. I sit for my strip of four, and call it a day.

Afterward, I realized another promising location was in walking distance of the other three: the K‑Mart at the Gallery (9th and Market) is said to have at least two. Next visit…

July 05, 2005

mopa.jpgOut in San Diego this weekend for a wedding, we had a little free time to see what four-photo magic San Diego has to offer. The verdict? Not too shabby, actually.

My first stop was the The Museum of Photographic Arts, located where every other museum in San Diego lives, in Balboa Park. Next to the San Diego Historical Society and above the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the MoPA is an interesting, if small, museum dedicated to photography. The gift shop features a wide array of photography books, picture frames, gifts, and not one but two photobooths. Side by side near the front entrance, a generic black and gray striped color booth and a beautiful rounded-end Model 11 B&W booth provide museum-goers with the opportunity to take both black-and-white and color photos, each for only $2. The photos aren’t perfect, but they’re certainly unique, and the price and convenience of these two booths in one place makes the MoPA a photobooth haven. On the outside of the black-and-white booth, a plaque tells users that the booth is similar to ones that they may have seen at a variety of California five-and-dime stores years ago. On the outside of the color booth hangs a photocopy of a San Diego paper article mentioning the booths (the article that had clued me in to their presence in the first place), as well as a mention from a school magazine about a photography class that took a field trip to the museum (and the booth).

Next up on the list was the Corvette Diner in Hillcrest. The only diner I’ve seen with valet parking, the Corvette was by far the busiest business around at 11am on a Saturday. Decorated with everything ’50s, neon, and retro, the diner is more than just a dining experience: a waiter throws a handful of straws at a table of children as a way of saying “hello,” waitresses in poodle skirts wear vests covered in flair, and portraits of every ’50s and ’60s icon from Sinatra to Buddy Holly to the Beatles, rendered a la Warhol, hang from the walls. In the lunch counter area in the front of the restaurant, just to the left of the stairs up to the main eating area, sits another gorgeous rounded-end Model 11. It takes crisp black-and-white photos, and looks to have been serviced a little more recently than the similar booth at the MoPA.

belmont_park.jpgThe next stop was Belmont Park, an amusement park in Mission Bay, just north of downtown San Diego. Home to an 80 year-old roller coast named the Giant Dipper, Belmont Park is a small amusement park with perhaps three rides in addition to the coaster. An indoor arcade features a digital photobooth, and I found two traditional booths located outside as I walked closer to the beach itself. The first booth is located in front of Waves Beach and Sportwear, and though it sounded like it was working, the green light wasn’t on, and the bill acceptor wasn’t accepting any bills. The booth was open on both sides, and a nice breeze blew through, brushing the curtains against me as I sat and unwisely dropped a quarter in the slot, just to see.

On the other side of the boardwalk, in front of the Krazy Kars building and under the shadow of the spinning pendulum ride, I found another outdoor color booth, with its little peaked roof and curtains on both sides. This booth was working, and came with the bonus of an abandoned strip in the drying slot. I took a few strips as the wind blew the curtain into the frame — not a problem you usually have to deal with — and called in the broken booth to Photo-Me.

The next day, I followed up on a rumor about a photobooth in a Kmart on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in San Diego; unfortunately, the Kmart has become a “Sears Essentials” store, and I didn’t bother going in to check whether they’d retained their booth.

The last day of my trip to San Diego, I had a half hour to kill before brunch, and stopped in a used cd store to look around. A cd caught my eye: both the front and back covers were made up of a grid of old photobooth photos. Cool, I thought, and I held onto it while I browsed some more. Five minutes later, another album caught my eye: this one had five strips of photos, assembled together as a grid forming a single image. Same only different on the back cover, and more inside. What are the chances? I looked around for another, and came close with a few images on a Best of Everclear disc, but it only had one or two images, not enough for my newly-high standards. The DJ Shitbird and Wannadies albums will be posted in the Music section as soon as we create one. Well done San Diego!

June 27, 2005

CNN reports on an interesting feature of the latest “Dead” film from director George Romero. Edgar Wright and Shaun Pegg, the director/co-writer and star/co-writer, respectively, of last year’s zombie homage Shaun of the Dead, have cameo roles in Romero’s new film Land of the Dead. Carrying on the long tradition of the “photo booth cameo,” Wright and Pegg have a brief moment on screen as zombies at a photo booth. The IMDb entry for the film helpfully lists their official credited character names, both “Photo Booth Zombie.” We’ll be looking for the DVD release for screen captures.

Brian | 11:47 pm | Movies
June 27, 2005


California artist Rebecca Bailey (aka Baby Smith) has put out a call for submissions to a photobooth related art project. Visit her website to read more about her project:

blogging has become a cultural phenomenon in our society, where virtually anyone can acquire web space to express everything from political rants to poetic ramblings and everything in between. posting intimate accounts and/or pictures of everyday life has become commonplace in this ever increasing cyber world. in this body of work, i will incorporate photobooth images of individuals onto painted and embellished 2nd hand purses. encased in the purses will be 1–3 minute looped recordings of bloggers reciting excerpts from their online journals. each piece will stand alone, but viewed in whole these sculptures will create a tapestry of random thoughts and passages revealing a broad spectrum of unique personalities, intellects and lifestyles. my intent is to present a slice of life, reveal human emotions and vulnerabilities, and give voice to those sharing their lives, both extraordinary and mundane, via the internet. this body of work will convey a common thread — that bloggers are driven by a simple, yet very human, desire to be heard. 

Entry deadline: postmarked no later than July 31, 2005

June 20, 2005 was on a mission this weekend, hitting four photobooth locations in three boroughs in one long afternoon, with a net result of twelve dollars spent, nine dollars refunded, three broken photobooths, one threat of arrest, and one photostrip. Not a bad haul, but not exactly what we were looking for.

Having met Bill from Photo-Me a few weeks ago, I called him up and asked him to leave me a message with some photobooth locations in the City, which he kindly did. I’d been to a few before, but most were unfamiliar, and I headed out to Long Island City in Queens to tackle the bar known, coincidentally, as L.I.C.. Great bar, well-placed photobooth, but no luck getting a strip of photos to come out. I went through everything twice, heard the blow-dryer come on, but no photos came out. The bartender was nice enough to give me my money back, without me even asking, and I think they’ll be getting someone in there to take a look at it for future bar-goers.

From L.I.C., I walked to the G line station and hopped the train down to the Atlantic Center in Brooklyn, in search of a color booth I’d heard they had. I passed a digital booth near the entrance, and came upon a traditional booth in the center food area at the base of the escalators. The booth itself was broken, and I snapped a photo of its ‘out of order’ sign. When I stepped back to take a photo of the booth itself, a security guard approached and asked me what I was doing. He told me it was “against the mall” for me to take photos, and even after I dropped the “Photo-Me” name and showed him my list (albeit scrawled on the back of a grocery list) he didn’t budge, but even went so far as to warn me I could be arrested for taking photos of mall property. Oh well.

From Brooklyn, I headed back into Manhattan and stopped off in the West Village to check out the booth at The Fat Black Pussycat. The bar was open but the lounge area wasn’t, but when I asked the bartender if the photobooth was still around, he let me into the lounge to take some photos. Like a bad case of déjà vu, the booth went through the motions but produced no photos. Rather than throw more money at it, I let the bartender know it wasn’t working, and felt around on the top of the booth, where I came up with some discarded strips from an evening sometime in the past. The bartender kindly refunded my money, again un-solicited, and I stayed to drink a Yuengling’s and watch Derek Jeter’s first career grand slam in an otherwise empty bar.

Up the West Side I went, heading for location number four, The Door Lounge. I had a little time to kill before it opened, and enjoyed watching traffic for the Lincoln Tunnel go absolutely nowhere for ten minutes on 9th Avenue in front of the bar. I also watched the legendary Wallace Shawn get unceremoniously honked at by some clod in an SUV before getting into a taxi. He looked like any other somewhat old New York guy clutching a plastic bag and minding his own business. It was a moment.

Once I got in The Door, so to speak, the booth worked fine, nice crisp color, and I had my first legitimate success of the day. The other booths in clubs and bars around the City will have to wait until the next trip; if any of our readers would care to visit Crobar, Lot 61, or Southpaw, take a photo of the booth and some photos of yourselves and send it our way.

June 20, 2005

americanamusement.jpg American Amusement Co. seems to be selling a color photo booth again.

We reported on the sale of the booth in April, and the auction ended successfully with a winning price of $872.55, but for whatever reason, the booth is back on the market. Hopefully, the sellers aren’t selling a different booth but using an old set of photos.

Once again, the sellers have set a five day auction, beginning with an opening bid of one dollar, and featuring no reserve price. Bargain photobooth hunters could get a real prize with this one, unless there’s something we don’t know. The other stuff featured in the photos doesn’t seem to be included, but it might be worth asking.

Brian | 4:13 pm | In the News
June 20, 2005


We have often lamented the lack of simple, properly-sized frames for photobooth strips. Someone could make a killing with a nice, clean frame that perfectly fits the traditional four-pose strip.

So it was with some interest this week that we came across a raft of frames on eBay, purpose-made for individual photos from photobooths. These classic designs, featuring reverse-painted glass and printed messages above and below the photos, date from the 1940s. The frames, many of which feature a period photo still inside, are made of glass and metal, and measure approximately 3″ x 4″. The items for sale include a frame with a floral theme, and frames with messages that include “Remember Me,” “Thinking of You,” “Long May It Wave,” “For Victory,” and “Victory” (at right). With a starting bid of $9.99 each, these unique, striking frames are sure to go.

June 14, 2005


The Sims 2: Nightlife, the new module for the popular Sims series, features a photobooth as part of its nightclub environment. The game, recently released for a variety of game consoles as well as Mac and PC computers, lets players take their characters out on the town. “Whether they’re dancing until dawn, romancing that special someone, or striking out at the bowling alley, it’ll be an unforgettable night! Let your Sims loose to enjoy their favorite after-dark activities as they pursue a life of pleasure.” If anyone has the game and can send us a screen capture of the Sims’ photobooth, we’d appreciate it.

Apparently, The Sims 2 is not the only video game to feature a photobooth. In a list of hints concerning the game Zoo Tycoon, a Tycoon fan writes, “Don’t use the photo booth. It competes with your gift shop/stand unnecessarily as the photos count as souvenirs. If a guest has a photo, he won’t buy a gift and vice versa. Gifts cost more, so encourage that.” Point taken.

Brian | 5:18 pm | In the News