Photo booths were a popular arcade attraction at the resort, where smiles were almost guaranteed in every picture on the strip of images.
The booths were located in the arcades owned by Pera’s and Joe’s Fun House, where Tom Miller and his two sisters often had the task of maintaining the machines.
“We had the oldest operating machines in the United States at that time,” Tom says. The machines dated from 1948 and 1960 and were still being used in the early 1990s.
Users sat the booth in front of the camera; curtains which covered the top half of the booth, could be drawn so the user would have some privacy for the photo session.
Photo booths prior to digital photography booths used a direct positive and wet chemistry system to produce a strip of image several inches wide. The pictures were usually ready in under three minutes and were black and white. No negative was produced, so the booth owner had no physical trace of what went on in front of the camera.
Nevertheless, it was given that women would strip and couples would engage in sexual activities for the lens. What they didn’t know is that the lens had a fixed distance for focus and, well, unless the couple were contortionists, the areas they hoped to photograph would be out of focus.
“If you saw pants on the floor or nobody in the booth but it is flashing, that was your signal,” Tom says.
He calls one time he heard some banging on a machine; the machine had not spit out their pictures. Later on, the photos came out, and they were of the woman performing oral sex on the man.
“I thought of posting in the (front window of the arcade) with a sign, ‘Your pictures are ready,'” Tom says.