Rudy Giuliani

Rudy's Gone, and Sex Is Back

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If you resent the Disneyfication of Times Square and miss the old, sleazy version, take heart. In a story that I'd like to think was inspired by its editorial staff's lunchtime porn shopping, The New York Times reports that the number of "sex shops" on Eighth Avenue near the Port Authority Bus Terminal and on 37th and 39th Streets near Sixth Avenue has tripled, from six to 18, in the last year and a half. Rudy Giuliani tried to banish peep shows, strip clubs, and X-rated video outlets from the neighborhood with an ordinance that restricted the proximity of "adult entertainment" establishments to churches, schools, and each other. But as a result of court challenges, the definition of such businesses was narrowed to include only those where more than 40 percent of the merchandise is sexually explicit. "If they stock their shelves with enough copies of Bambi," a city official explains, "they can come within compliance."

It turns out there is such a strong demand for dirty DVDs and sex toys that businesses selling them can afford to pay higher rents than other tenants. "People always think it's the creeps and bums who go to these stores," says the former head of the mayor's Office of Midtown Enforcement. "But if you go there after lunch or after work, you'll see all these guys in suits. It's usually family guys who stop on their way home."

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  1. Micky sticking it to Pluto? Hmmmmm

  2. “If they stock their shelves with enough copies of Bambi,” a city official explains, “they can come within compliance.”

    lol

    Tooshay!

  3. I would think the internets has so much one-hand material that one need never go to a store to purchase such nowadays . . . maybe people want the ambiance? Odd.

  4. Maybe its for fun in numbers

  5. “But if you go there after lunch or after work, you’ll see all these guys in suits.”

    I don’t think the street scene from 1 to 6 PM was the issue.

  6. I shouldn’t be, but I am surprised. I should have thought the internet would have reduced the brick and mortar sex shop’s profitability. Maybe it’s an NYC thing. (i.e. broadband is unaffordable/unreliable, shipping too costly/slow)

  7. I would think the internets has so much one-hand material that one need never go to a store to purchase such nowadays . . . maybe people want the ambiance? Odd.

    Well, in defense of the people who frequent the actual stores: there’s something about pop-ups that are just not sexy. At all. In fact, I think they are so annoying, that they could entirely kill the mood.

  8. You guys are missing the point. The suits that show up after work aren’t the one-handers, they’re the married guys getting sex toys and renting videos to take home and watch with thier wives. Buying sex toys online just isn’t the same as being able to spend time with one before purchase. If these guys were smart, they’d bring the misses along for the trip: If she digs it at home, she’s bound to get turned on by being surrounded by it in the store. At least my wife does.

  9. Is your wife busy this weekend?

  10. Yes, she’ll be with me. Care to join us?

  11. Yes, she’ll be with me. Care to join us?

    Yes.

  12. Maybe it’s an NYC thing.

    Well, when the store is a two-block walk from where you work, it’s a *lot* more convenient than mail-order. In that sense, I guess it’s a NYC thing.

    Anyway, the tone of revulsion throughout that entire Times article was making me sick. And I am *not* one of those poseurs who resent the “Disneyfication” of Times Square. It brings in the tourists, and tons of money. I *do* however, resent the city government wasting untold tax dollars shuffling around legitimate businesses for “moral” purposes, all of which ultimately has approximately *zero* effect on the quality of life. (Amazingly, I’ve never been harmed while passing a sex shop on 8th Avenue!)

  13. (Amazingly, I’ve never been harmed while passing a sex shop on 8th Avenue!)

    Rhywun,

    Really? I usually have to carry a lead pipe filled with concrete to fend of rabid sex-shop patrons and stray dogs.

  14. “…a lead pipe filled with concrete…”

    That has to be a Yosemite Sam moment. Down, down, down, ya little varmint. And stay down.

  15. Methinks these “suits” who frequent these shops are:

    1) Too stupid to figure out you can get really good stuff for free on the Internet

    2) Too mousey to buy DVDs on the Internet using their credit cards because:
    a) their wives will find out
    b) don’t want an electronic record of their “crime”

    Amateurs.

  16. Mr. Nice Guy –

    I have never been able to find any “really good stuff” on the ‘Net for free, at least not for the last few years. Got a few links to share?

    I personally have real qualms about sharing my CC numbers with online porn purveyors, and its got nuttin’ to do with getting caught (that happens when the wife searches the cache anyway).

    Besides, you can check out a much wider variety of porn in a shop much more efficiently than you can on-line.

    Or so I’m told.

  17. I take issue with Rhywun’s ode to 8th Avenue sex shops. I live in that neighhborhood (somewhat north, actually) and was very glad for Guiliani’s efforts. Now some blocks have four sex shops. They are all ugly and repulsive and drive out other businesses. They definitely degrade the neighborhood. If you don’t agree, perhaps you might want to take the kids and browse some good “rubber” or “family” or “european” DVDS. I hope the City Council changes the 60% law to a 90% law. I’ll bet Bloomberg will sponsor something soon.

  18. RC:

    One can find a ton of free video clips and still pictures on peer-to-peer sites like limewire.com If you want to download large files you will need, of course, DSL or cable..

    The downside of using these free sites is having to deal with spyware. I personally haven’t had any problems, since I scrub my computer every once in awhile with spybot (a free utility available for download at cnet.com)

  19. Oh, and one more thing.. be sure to disable the “kid friendly” screen, which is on by default, I believe. Otherwise, you won’t be able to find anything in your searches.

  20. Peer-to-peer is the way to get your porn for free. I use WinMx, and have amassed a large collection. You have to exercise some patience, especially if you are on dial-up like I am. I’ve been trying to complete the download of “Insatiable” for almost a year. But that’s because most of the available downloads are a copy of a broken file.

    Anyway, there is an amazing amount of material available in the peer-to-peer world. Give it a try.

  21. Bah. Trying to get anything bigger than a few mp3 files over p2p becomes a part-time job. For $10-20/month you can join one of the many porn Netflix-equivalents and have hot, fresh porn DVD’s delivered to your door regularly. p2p is OK if you’re broke, but not the way to go if you value your time.

  22. SMACKY…you can avoid porn-related popups if you adjust your Security settings prior to ummmmmm, action.

    In MSIExplorer that means TOOLS>INTERNET OPTIONS>SECURITY>CUSTOMIZE

    Check the following

    DISABLE COOKIES (both permanent and temp)
    DISABLE JAVA
    DISABLE the three forms of SCRIPTING

    Then remember to reset it all afterwards or you won’t be able to post to Hit&Run.

  23. Oh, and while I blushingly reveal my cyber tricks for improved porn surfing, I’ll say that I pretty much gave it up a couple years ago until such time as I can reset my living room with the computer monitor positioned in front of the couch or in the bedroom facing the bed.

    I do have a $400 computer chair that kicks ass for typing, and hey, it even leans back real good, but come on…..it ain’t exactly the prime position for what should be a relaxing experience…..

  24. But as a result of court challenges, the definition of such businesses was narrowed to include only those where more than 40 percent of the merchandise is sexually explicit. “If they stock their shelves with enough copies of Bambi,” a city official explains, “they can come within compliance.”

    Huh! I wonder if a similar ordinance explains an odd phenomenon in my neck of the woods.

    There is an (adult) bookstore in an neighboring city that has basically two big rooms. The front room is full of regular books and magazines, tons of them, all obviously used, and stacked all over the place — on the floor, sidways on shelves, etc. The front room is always empty of customers or even a salesperson. I don’t think anybody has ever perused the books in the front room except me, because I’m such a book-nerd. There is obviously no serious attempt to sell the stuff in the front room, and I don’t think the inventory has ever changed or been physically moved (or dusted).

    In the back room, there is a lot of adult magazines and videos. They call it a “private club” and you have to have a card to get in.

    I now believe all the used books and magazines in the front room are “filler” that is stocked solely to satisfy some “X proportion of non-adult to adult merchandise” requirement.

    I’ve always wondered why the owners even bothered with the front room. Now I think I know.

  25. I once met a fellow in the course of making my living (seriously) who said he was the closer at one of the local adult ‘bookstores’ here in Arizona. Apparently it takes him over two hours to clean up the place.

    Let’s just say I didn’t offer to shake his hand when he said adios.

  26. Seymour Paine wrote: “They definitely degrade the neighborhood. If you don’t agree, perhaps you might want to take the kids and browse some good ‘rubber’ or ‘family’ or ‘european’ DVDS.”

    Seymour, two thoughts:

    A) You know alot about the kinds of DVDs these places stock for someone who’s disgusted by them;

    and

    B) I don’t have kids, so could I borrow yours to take them shopping?

    (For the benefit of the FBI agents monitoring this blog, in the words of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, “I keed you!”)

  27. Douglas Fletcher: One of my current co-workers used to work in a “regular” video store back before Blockbuster came to dominate the market. The store had a special adults-only room, behind a closed door, where the adult titles were kept. They had a “hazardous material spill” in there once.
    ————-

    Personally, if I crave porn, I prefer to get it online. Visiting a store and perusing the materials therein usually makes me feel a bit, well, sticky and grubby afterward. (I mean that in a mental and psychosomatic sense. I hope.) Plus, I have an irrational fear that I’ll run into my pastor or my dad there or something.

    Also, to be honest, 90% of all porn is either banal or gross. Only about 5% is really hot. And most people feel the same way. Or at least that’s what writer Spider Robinson says. The thing is, individuals disagree on which 90% is gross and which 5% is hot. It’s easier to find the 5% that appeals to you online (either as jpegs or on DVDs for sale or whatever). In a store, with a relatively limited selection compared to the Internet, it’s statistically likely that most of what you’ll find in the store is the gross kind, and it may not carry your personal hot-button stuff at all.

    That’s how it is for me, anyway. Other people may be more “pornographically omnivorous,” but Spider Robinson’s assertion makes me think a fair number of other people have a viewpoint similar to mine.

  28. SD has a really good point about the narrowcasting advantages of online distribution. (Take it from somebody who literally earns his living supporting online merchants who sell a particular variety of “porn” that never makes it into brick-and-mortar stores, because even though there are enough fans of it to keep dozens of producers profitable, they aren’t concentrated enough geographically to make stocking the content worthwhile for a store. It’s the Long Tail effect as applied to porn.)

    But I do have to wonder why people would think that only “creeps and bums” would patronize a NYC porn shop. Or, more accurately, how they could possibly think that a business catering only to creeps and bums could ever afford NYC storefront rent.

    Not being interested in miscellaneous porn (not to mention living hundreds of miles from New York) I’ve never been inside one of them, but anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of economics would have to know that the customer base can’t be _all_ creeps and bums.

  29. Stevo:

    You are so right, man. When one goes into one of these shops, they better be ready to see some stuff that will be a real buzz kill. I mean, who is really into all that skank porn? And I won’t get into the “specialty” material.. ick..

    And what I hate the most is going to the checkout. Of course, there are kids running around behind you if you’re in one of those hybrid shops. One time, an old clerk actually tried to start a conversation about my selection.. I was like “Dude, just put the fucker in the black plastic bag”

  30. I tried pulling up one of those porn sites one time. Then I couldn’t get off the damn thing. Click off one and another popped up! damn, how many times do they think I need that stuff in a 10 minute time frame? I mean, once is enough for the short rows. Finally had to turn off the “you committed a fatal error” piece of junk to get rid of it.

  31. GUYK:

    Yeah, some of those pop-up sites are downright predatory. I can’t see them doing anything but massively pissing off people at the least, damaging computers at the extreme.

    I wonder if there are any vigilante hackers out there who strike back? Truly, Allah will bless them and their sons a thousandfold.

  32. One time, an old clerk actually tried to start a conversation about my selection.. I was like “Dude, just put the fucker in the black plastic bag”

    ROTFL! Gotta love those oblivious old folk.

  33. Mr. Nice Guy, you have sparked …

    Stevo’s Porn-Shop Reminiscences

    Growing up, my town was pretty “clean” of adult book stores and such because St. Louis County Prosecutor George Peach persecuted them something awful. He was death on them. As a counsequence, to go to a porn shop, you either had to drive way out to neighboring Jefferson County or go over to Illinois and the crime-ridden East Side.

    As a consequence, I didn’t see a real porn shop until I was in my late twenties, traveling on business. There was a shop near one of the main malls in Columbus, OH. But everything was wrapped in plastic so I couldn’t do any browsing.

    Shortly afterward, I found a big porn shop in San Diego, without the plastic. It was here that I discovered the amazing variety of niche-marketing within the porn industry. I spent about an hour browsing but I was too embarrassed to buy anything.

    That’s another downside of the brick-and-mortar shops, by the way: The irrational fear that the guy behind the counter will think you’re some kind of pervert.

    Meanwhile, things liberalized a bit in my hometown after George Peach the Anti-Porn Crusader and County Persecutor lost his job. Undercover cops running a sting operation busted him for soliciting prostitutes near the airport. Savor the irony.

    For a while, there was a kind of mom-and-pop porn shop in my current neighborhood. Speaking of “those oblivious old fold.” I’d slink in, and the 60-ish owner would call out cheerfully, “Oh, hello, young man! Haven’t seen you here for a while!” from his seat behind the counter, next to the display rack of harnesses and leather bikinis.

    Yes, thank you. I’ve been trying to limit my porn intake. But I didn’t really came to be friendly. I came here to be lustful and furtive. I came here to find something relatively mild and halfway classy, yet politically incorrect and embarrassing nevertheless. Oh, good, a new issue of Glamorous Bondage Portraits by Jay Edwards. That could not be more perfect! Thank you. I’m outta here!

    (I used to be pretty repressed until a few years ago.)

  34. More Oblivious Clerk Comments….

    How about when you go into your regular outlet, carry a half dozen DVDs to the counter for rental and when he’s scanning the bar codes, he announces so all can hear, “Did you know you already rented College Schoolgirl Confessions last month??”

    YES, I KNOW…just because I rented it before doesn’t mean I actually got to see the whole tape at the time…..

    I mean, usually I’ll get a handful for variety, but as Ben Stiller reminded us in Something About Mary, “A little dab’ll do ya”

    S

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