Monday, December 06, 2004
Adult Superstores and Their Discontents
Back in April Vice Squad noted the grand jury proceedings in Dickinson County, Kansas, aimed at a Lion's Den Adult Superstore. A criminal indictment for violating obscenity laws ensued, and the Lion's Den counter-(en)sued Dickinson County in federal court. Today's Chicago Tribune includes a lengthy article out of Abilene, Kansas, about the whole rural adult superstore phenomenon. Why are such stores popping up in rural areas? Uh, because they are rural; this means limited competition, among other factors:
Rural locations also appeal to store owners because land and buildings tend to be cheap. There are few neighbors to complain about late-night hours. Potential customers stream by on the interstate, including long-haul truck drivers who are likely to stop anywhere that's open at 3 a.m. just to keep themselves awake.In April we noted that protestors had been reporting the license plate numbers of Lion's Den customers, but we couldn't imagine to whom they might be reporting these license numbers. Today's Trib article unlocks the mystery: "They took down the license numbers of truck drivers who went into the store and reported them to their companies."
And, perhaps most important, out-of-the-way counties like this one have few -- if any -- laws to restrict sexually oriented businesses.
I can understand how rural residents would be concerned about the sudden intrusion (the Abilene Lion's Den opened "without warning"!) of pornography into their lives. Wait, hold it, you mean they have had porn available for a long time now?:
Along with the standard Hollywood blockbusters, the local Video Junction used to stock a small -- but popular -- selection of pornographic titles. "We had them here 18 years and never heard a word about it," said owner Gary Sweatland, who stopped carrying them after protesters raised a ruckus about the Lion's Den.
Just over the county line, in a dingy old gas station reeking of cigarettes, I-70 Adult Novelty has operated without protest for a dozen years, selling pornographic videos and charging by the minute to watch X-rated movies in a curtain-draped booth.