HOST INTRO: As New York City tries to curb sex shops, adult entertainment giant, Pornhub, opened up a pop up store in the upscale neighborhood of Soho. Local sex shops with a long history in New York City talk about what their work is about and some of the challenges they face today. Lorena Rios reports.
RIOS 1: New York City is no longer the city of peep shows, porn theaters, and adult video shops of the late 80s. Since 1995 the city has passed legislation that makes it hard for adult establishments to exist. James, Bure, owner of AJ Lingerie on West 28th street has been operating a sex shop alongside his 81 year old mother since 2001.
BURE 1 : I mean, lets be serious. Some of these drug stores chains have started to open an aisle of toys..one of those chains and even walmart started thinking of starting to carry adult novelty. I mean its 2018 in another 3 weeks so this is here to stay, one way or another.
RIOS 2: At least five sex shops in Greenwich Village have shut down in the past seven years.
BURE 2: I think one of the biggest problems in Manhattan is the high rent. That’s what is going to do most of small businesses in NYC and put them out of business. You either have to be very high end or very big otherwise you are not going to succeed.
((SOUND: Bure talking)
RIOS 3: Zoning laws designed to clean up neighborhoods prohibit adult establishments from being 500 feet of schools and religious establishments. But Porhhub, the online adult entertainment site with 64 million daily visitors came in challenging the city’s efforts to curb sex shops. On Black Friday it set a pop up store in Soho offering mostly branded clothing like hats, underwear, hoodies, socks and the occasional handcuffs. Bure is impressed of their marketing but not of their products.
BURE 3: I don’t think that Pornhub is going to affect my business in any way. It was very intelligent marketing on their part. They are selling their name which everyone immediately knows. I ve heard it. I’ve seen it and most mature adults have seen it every once in a while.
RIOS 4: Boutique sex shops still dot high end neighborhoods in Manhattan. Ryan Di Martino is a manager at the Pleasure Chest, a sex shop on the Upper East Side that has been opened since the 70s. She says Pornhub’s pop up store is not really a competitor but a starting point for the Pleasure Chest to promote a sex positive culture and sex education.
DIMARTINO 1: Sometimes you are a little bit of a therapist, sometimes you are a coach or a cheerleader, sometimes you are a troubleshooter. Sometimes they feel we are like tech support when people can’t figure out what’s going on with their body or this object they are trying to use in a particular way and are not reaching their end goal… um, its different every day.
RIOS 5: Sex shop today are very different from the old, seedy adult novelty businesses. Di Martino sees the open and welcoming façade of today sex shops as an opportunity to talk about sex and the power dynamics that shape gender roles and women’s status in society.
DIMARTINO 2: First of all, you know? Whether we are ready or not to have conversations about sex or nuanced conversations about sex and power, we have to. We are not going to get ready or we are not going to get any better by avoiding it or waiting for readiness, because it doesn’t just come unless you work towards it.
RIOS 6: America makes up about 40% of Pornhub’s viewership and many are making their ways into sex shops. Long gone are the days in which tinted windows and giant XXX signs kept people away from exploring their sexuality.
Lorena Rios, Columbia Radio News.