Sex, Lies, and Zoning Laws


We may have used them from time immemorial, and sophisticated modern repackaging may allow them to go where they've never gone before, but after all these years of cultural and biological evolution, the humble dildo is still taboo. It's still a risky business, despite millennia of market demand.

But forget the Rabbit and its progeny; the hot part of this story is zoning laws. In the Twin Cities, Tim Holden is opening a sex toy shop across the street from a playground and recreational center in defiance of flip-flopping city zoning governance.

Originally he intended to open his plot on St. Paul's East Side as a bland Dollar Store. But then the city claimed, post-purchase, that the property wasn't zoned for commercial use, that the documents they'd sent while the sale was pending were outdated, and that though a beauty parlor and a video store were previously operated there, the city intended to quietly rezone the area according to its own caprice. Ever the bold entrepreneur, Holden responded by opening Risky Business Adult Outlet in June.

Though a judge issued a temporary injunction in early July, all the documents seem to back up Holden. However, according to Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Holden also owns a building on University Avenue where another adult novelty shop, The Love Doctor, opened last summer just blocks from a similar store. The Love Doctor's arrival in the Midway area prompted a yearlong moratorium on new adult businesses in St. Paul. The City Council passed a revised ordinance governing adult enterprises in May.

Looks like it'll take a powerful new thrust to save the mom-and-pop porn shops.

NEXT: The (Federal) Case of Hot Coffee

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  1. I believe "Humble Dildo" was the name of an XTC album...

  2. Jeff-

    In another thread Jennifer is claiming that you have real work to do today.

    Me, I can only calculate if I keep taking mini breaks.

  3. Well, that's what I get for presuming to speak for my boyfriend.

  4. Penetrating journalism.

  5. There's nothing I do at work that os so important I can't take some time out to chat about dildos. Or is it 'Dildoes?'

  6. Jeff-
    "Dildeaux." It's French.

  7. When sex toys are used wrong, it's called "dil-D'oh!"

  8. Dilldough.
    Similar to sourdough, only firmer and with a heady aroma.

  9. Dilldough

    Watch out for the cream-filled ones...

  10. In case you missed it:
    Another Hard, Hot Pink Shave
    Ladies! Facing a long, lonely night alone with your stubble? You need a vibrating razor
    By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

  11. "Dildeaux?" Sorry, no french names allowed.
    How 'bout "Freedom Phallas?"

  12. Dildoi? I think it's greek.

  13. Are dildoughs made using yeast?
    If so, how long does it take for them to rise?

  14. Ah, is there anything as sweet as a long-running dick-joke? Some things never get old.

  15. Dale Doe (male), Dell Doe (female)
    (1)Lost with no recollection of name or home address.
    (2)Entrepreneur caught in city zoning purgatory.

  16. Looks like "dildo" is actually from Latin. The Greeks had another word for it I think...and a really really big one was called something having to do with the Isle of Lesbos. (No, really!)

  17. Just more brilliant political commentary by the readers of the Reason's Hit & Run blog--and plenty of prurience...

  18. olisbos. I think that's it!

  19. Olisbos?

    linquist, you're wonderfully cunning.

    /Yeah, I'm sure *that* joke hasn't been done to death.

  20. This is intersting. Adult uses are the only uses that a city must zone for (Playtime theaters at el) so cities try to carefully zone spots that are inapproprate or otherwise unavailable for these uses. I suspect that is how this site ended up being zoned for adult use in the first place. I love it when someone calls a govemental agencies bluff, now if only a state would do the same thing with driver's identity cards

  21. "Looks like it'll take a _powerful new thrust_ to save the mom-and-pop porn shops."

    HEH HEH! I just noticed that. Nice one!

  22. The next big thing: Teledildonics. (It's a word.)

  23. Folks should check out:

    Rachel Maines, The Technology of Orgasm - "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction

    One of my favorite portions of the book deals with how the Sears catalogue carried vibrators. 🙂

    I have been told that Maines got a shitload of flack from the academic community over the book, BTW. Plus, though it was published in 1998, I never saw it for sale at the 1999 or 2000 SHOT conferences (academic conferences tend to have these rooms where folks set up tables to sell books at a reduced price).

  24. He's got a beef with the city, so he puts a porn store across the street from a playground?

    What a dick.

  25. Nothing to say, but I wanted to make a post in this context because I'm feeling unusually highbrow right now.

  26. joe: Would you feel better if he put in a smelter? Is there anything other than prejudice and hysteria to suggest that a porn store categorically makes a bad neighbor?

  27. Dynamist - I thought everyone knew that porn stores attract tigers, which eat children.

  28. Jennifer,

    Highbrow? Hmm, did you know that Plato thought that the uterus was a seperate animal inside a woman and that Plato felt that lack of sex would make the uterus "wander" about the body? 🙂 Indeed, he argued that such wanderings would lead the uterus to the throat and thus to a woman's demise.

  29. Dildoi? I think it's greek.

    Everything good and right in the world originated there... except for beer.

  30. I'd like to see the particulars on a parcel whose characteristics limit its use to either adult emporium or smelter.

    There was a guy in the town I grew up in who had a piece of land. The Planning Board wouln't grant the Special Permit for his shopping center without some changes. So he dunuded the multi-are lot in the downtown of every tree, shrub, and blade of grass. He was rich enough to indulge his grudes. He was a dick, too.

  31. There was a guy in the town I grew up in who had a piece of land. The Planning Board wouln't grant the Special Permit for his shopping center without some changes. So he dunuded the multi-are lot in the downtown of every tree, shrub, and blade of grass. He was rich enough to indulge his grudes. He was a dick, too.

    But a dick in the right.

    - Josh

  32. Oh, if only we had a city planner to tell these dicks the proper ways that they can and cannot use their property.

  33. If any of you are ever wondering why libertarians have so little credibility, why you're always being accused of not caring about people and reflexively siding with business and rich people against the public, just go back over this thread.

  34. You don't need a city planner, Jennifer. Any vaguely reasonable person would realize immediately that what the dick did wasn't right.

    OK, maybe YOU need a city planner to tell you, but most people wouldn't.

  35. Joe's right. I had to walk past a porn shop with blacked-out windows when I was a little girl going to school, and that's why I. . . uh. . . well, I don't exactly know what terrible things resulted from this, but rest assured they were terrible. I mean HORRIBLE.

    My mian complaint with the "think of the children!" mentality is that nobody used it when I was a child myself.

  36. In sixth grade, I copied the definition of the word "dildo" out of a dictionary and passed it secretly around to my classmates. I was detected and received a small scolding from the teacher.

  37. You deserved a BIG scolding, Dave. Why oh why didn't you think of the children? And "I was one myself" is NO excuse.

  38. joe: The tree chopper was a dick for destroying assests that take decades to replace. The porn guy merely adjusted his plan to meet a different need of the community for a category of legal products. The porn guy is only a dick if you buy into the anti-porn hysteria (which you might, since you have no facts of your own about smelter v. dildo).

    Your time spent advising libertarians of their political perception problems might be better spent helping the lefties with their problems. A few decades of pandering to perception has found the dems in control of exactly how many branches of government?

  39. The People, Joe? Yes, I'm absolutely sure that city councils and planners and other government agents are the perfect representatives of The People, and would never abuse their power in any way. But of course, if they did abuse their power, why The People can simply vote them out in a year or two, eventually, assuming there's anybody else worth voting for.
    Or who knows, mabye even The People might get sick and tired of governments telling them what they can and can't do with their own property, instead of subjecting everything to representative 'majority' rule...

  40. Joe,
    Dr. Laura Schlessinger objects to Fredrick's of Hollywood in the mall because people take their kids there. Is that different?

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