FEATURE

Sex talk
Speaking of Dirty Bookstores


Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

Need to pick up poppers, shop for a dildo, rent a porn video or two? Try your friendly neighborhood adult bookstore; whether in a spotless suburban strip mall or on a gritty downtown street corner, it can be an oasis of sexuality – be it ever so sleazy or crassly commercial – in an otherwise dick-free desert.

To the priggish, a dirty bookstore's a danger to children and an insult to the Almighty. But for many of us, it can be a liberated zone of lust. "I do a lot of traveling," says one businessman, "and when I get to a new town and don't want to sit in my hotel downloading porn, or to seek out a gay bar in the middle of the afternoon, I'll go out and find a storefront that advertises 'Adult Books and Novelties.'"

Dirty bookstores, reeking of Lysol and free of the rationale of relationships, are all about cock. As our business traveler observes, "It's one place I'm guaranteed to find other horny guys. Why else would they be there? To buy a birthday gift for their uncle?"

And then there's the inner sanctum of many an adult store: the video arcade. Once upon a time, it was a place to wander into with a few quarters and a hard-on. These days, the tumescent tourist is usually required to buy a bunch of tokens before he's let past the turnstile – businesses don't like loiterers, even if they're well hung.

The purported purpose of the video arcade is to watch porn, either short sections of full-length meat-beating masterpieces, or self-contained short subjects, also known as "loops." But many an arcade is also about the community of cock, replete with cruising and perhaps – depending on the permissiveness of the management – much more.

"I've spent many a pleasant afternoon on my knees," says one arcade-goer. "A guy leads the way, leaves the door of his booth open, and I'm there. I know it's kind of perverse, but I especially like it if a man is watching straight porn while I blow him."

Indeed, adult bookstores are traditionally places for the married and the closeted to get their rocks off with another man. A visit to Pink Pussycat Books doesn't entail the same self-exposure that a night at a gay bar does, and Mr. Suburbia can even leave his wedding ring on; not only does no one care, but in the dim light of the video booths, it's doubtful it can even be seen.

OK, it may not be a weekend in Palm Springs. As one horny guy says, "Bookstore action can be furtive, scuzzy, and even a little scary. Luckily, I get off on that." No, it's really not risk-free. The police have been known to come and call. Pickpockets may blithely ply their trade. And at the least, the man behind the counter is liable to cruise through to make sure everybody's plunking tokens into the little slots, and perhaps to ensure no hanky-panky's taking place. But at their best, adult bookstores and their video-enhanced, stand-up sex clubs can form a great democracy of dick: Anyone with a pocket full of change, regardless of his race, creed, or cock size can stop by, jack someone off or get blown, and pick up the latest issue of Titanic Titties on the way out.

Hey, are you going to buy that? This isn't a library, you know.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion



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