Love and law at the drive-in, kissing, and telling

Charles at Large: A fifth-generation Atlantan explains the city

Q: Is heavy petting legal at drive-in theaters? What about making whoopee? I hear they look for rocking cars at the Starlight.

Having fogged up a few windows in my day, I share your concern—though
not your fondness for outdated sex slang. I’ve consulted three lawyers
(well, two eager law students and one retired attorney) and have
concluded that, as one member of my crack legal team says, “It looks
like you could get away with a fair bit.”

The key is determining whether or not what you and your sweetie plan to
do is “lewd” or “indecent” (sexual intercourse, genital exposure, and
mere fondling all qualify in Georgia), and then whether that act will
occur in a “public” space. The latter condition is the heart—or loin—of
the matter here, since I assume you intend to do more than neck in your
Nissan at Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
According to the Georgia Jurisprudence encyclopedia, the following
places have been deemed “public” by court of law: massage parlor
cubicles, shopping-center parking lots, and the visible interior of a
car. It’s a distinction the jury will decide, but be warned: No matter
how much tinting you’ve done to your vehicle, the front windshield
remains transparent.

“I’m not voyeuristic,” says Jim Stacy, manager of Atlanta’s Starlight
Six Drive-In, the last of its kind in the city. “And we’re pretty
laid-back here. But this is still a family-oriented place.” To that
end, Stacy employs a few off-duty DeKalb County cops to patrol the
Starlight, to make sure that everyone has “respect for those next to
you.” But, he says, he rarely runs off foggers. “They’ve been doing it
since your folks were kids.” I wouldn’t take a convertible, though.

A member of my legal team concludes: “If the [experience] is worth a
misdemeanor . . . go for it, buddy! Chances are you can get it thrown
out with a pimp-ass attorney on your side.” Contact me for this
soon-to-be pimp-ass attorney’s phone number. He graduates from law
school this May.

Q: Where is the best scenic make-out spot in Atlanta?

Conventional wisdom says that our gently rolling piedmont landscape
doesn’t offer classic “lookout points” like in the Hollywood Hills. But
there are a few semiromantic vistas I discovered in high school that
I’m willing to reveal. The Dusty’s Barbecue parking lot on Briarcliff
offers a view of the Atlanta skyline. More importantly, it emits the
arousing scent of pulled pork. It’s also a bone’s throw from the Pitch
and Putt where I bought my first underage booze, which led to my first
. . . well, enough about me.

A casual poll reveals these amorous locales: the hidden bench by the
lake on Piedmont Park’s east side, the Carter Center pond (“great for
skinny-dipping at night”), the gardens of Decatur’s Columbia
Theological Seminary (blasphemy!), the upstairs terrace at the
Virginia-Highland Ben & Jerry’s (“take the stairs from the terrace
to the top of the building, which is secluded”), the Stone Mountain
Park hayride, the lower canopy of the magnolia at the north end of Winn
Park, and the red light at the west end of Freedom Parkway (“view of
the city, and the light stays red for a real long time”).

Got an Atlanta question? E-mail Charles Bethea at