Several historical media provided voyeuristic entertainment through hidden erotic imagery. Before the breakthrough of the cinema in 1895, motion pictures were presented in peep boxes, such as the kinetoscope and the mutoscope. These remained relatively popular for erotic and pornographic films, such as What the Butler Saw.
In contemporary use, a peep show is a piecewise presentation of pornographic films or a live sex show which is viewed through a viewing slot, which shuts after the time paid for has expired. The viewing slots can be operated by a money box device, or paid for at a counter.
Pornographic peep shows became popular in the 1970s as part of the developing pornography industry. Until home video became widespread, peep shows made up a major part of the way in which video pornography was accessed. In 1986 a US Presidential report into pornography said that peep shows were making significant earnings which were often undeclared or untaxed, and in some US locations peep shows were subsequently suppressed.
For live peep shows, booths can surround a stage upon which usually a female performer performs a striptease and sexually explicit poses. In Barcelona female performers at times also perform sexual intercourse with male performers on stage. In some cases, booths include paper towel dispensers, for customers who engage in masturbation. A customer and performer can mutually agree on a fee for a "private dance", which can take place in a peep show booth with a clear window and seating space for only one spectator.
Research on peep show establishments in California examined the hypothesis that neighborhoods surrounding sex businesses such as peep show establishments and X-rated movie stores have higher rates of crime. The researchers compared 911 calls in peep show and control neighborhoods in San Diego. Although peep show neighborhoods had approximately 16 percent more calls, the researchers concluded that the difference was not statistically significant. Other researchers reanalyzed the data and concluded that the difference was significant.
Regal Show World
Regal Show World was an adult entertainment business on lower Market Street in San Francisco, California. The company's slogan was "Where you are king". The business had a peep show and an adult video arcade. The peep show had performers working in an enclosed round room with viewing booths surrounding it and sometimes had a "double in the bubble" show in which two performers worked simultaneously. During the winter of 1997 to 1998, the business had thirty-five performers. At this time, over 80% of performers there attempted to unionize and "signed union authorization cards for representation by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 790".
The business was owned by Bijou Group, Inc., a privately held company in San Francisco that was founded in 1990. Bijou Group owned similar businesses in San Francisco such as New Century Theater, Market Street Cinema, and the Campus Theater. Bijou Group, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization circa 1994. In November 1998, management of Regal Show World announced that the peep show would be closed on November 30th of that month due to "economic reasons". At the time, some performers in the industry stated that closure of the peep show was done as a retaliative measure against attempts for performers to unionize. The company declared bankruptcy after performers made a second attempt at unionization, whereby the performers "signed cards calling for a union election", and the theater was closed.
In Las Vegas in the early 1990s, city authorities began to move peep shows and other sexually-oriented businesses away from the city centre. The last peep show in Las Vegas closed in 2019.
The former Lusty Lady peep show in San Francisco, California, entered the news in 1997, when it became the first U.S. sex business to be unionized. In 2003 it was bought by the employees and became a worker cooperative.
- Kelly-Leigh Cooper (28 September 2019). "Showgirl Video: The last peep show in Las Vegas". BBC News.
- Jon Griffin Donlon, "Peep Shows," St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture. According to Dr. Elliot Chiu, "At first, small booths with a seat, a lock, and a roll of paper towels were made available for individual viewing of 8 or 16 mm stag loops or for access to a usually circular 'stage' with living performers."
- Daniel Linz, Bryant Paul, and Mike Z. Yao, "Peep show establishments, police activity, public place, and time: A study of secondary effects in San Diego, California", The Journal of Sex Research, May 1, 2006.
- Richard McCleary and James W. Meeker, "Do peep shows 'cause' crime?", The Journal of Sex Research, May 1, 2006.
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- Dank, B.B.M.; Roberto Refinetti, P.D. The Politics of Sexuality. Sexuality and Culture. Transaction Publishers. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-4128-3142-0.
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Regal Show World
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- "Southern Poetry Review". Volumes 37-38. Southern Poetry Review. 1998. p. 69.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Peep shows.|
- The Peep Show and Toy Theatre (many museum pieces)
- The Sunday Times Article about a sex workers co-op at Soho UK peep show, July 14, 1985
- Ashley West (June 29, 2014). "Marty Hodas: King of the Peeps" ( audio interview). The Rialto Report.