Hands Off The Merchandise: A Guide To Adult Boutique EtiquetteBy Shawn Baker / Friday, April 23rd, 2010
We all have our limits in life.
I can’t add in my head. I can’t sleep in an unfamiliar place. I will never get the appeal of Glee.
Also, I have a problem with frequenting adult retailers.
I don’t know how common a situation it is for others, but it’s not unusual for straight men in my life to ask me to purchase porn on their behalf; apparently, having a gay guy act as their procurer mollifies the guilt many straight men associate with buying smut. Though I’m partial to mail order myself, I personally get a kick out of going to a newsstand and paying for a copy of Barely Legal or Juggs and having the vendor look at me before his gaze wanders to Torso or Honcho. And yes, it’s hard not to laugh as I choose a title like Sex-Starved Fuck Sluts, H.R. Muff ‘N Stuff, or Big Trouble In Little Vagina that fits his/their specifications.
The problem is other men. Please — please — don’t try to pick me up in a sex shop.
The first time it happened to me, I was vaguely bemused, as this setting is ironically the least sexy locale for me. When a man puts the make on me in the heart of 42nd Street, I can’t help but think the worst, wondering if he’s a serial killer, a furloughed ex-gay, an Amish guy on his Rumspringa, or a Family Values politician. So even though I know I have exactly T minus ten minutes and counting from the moment I step under the neon sign to the time he starts to circle, I’m still going to offer some sage advice for that guy who thinks the intersection of Eastern European wrestlers and West Hollywood musclemen is the ideal place to make his move.
1. I really don’t need to know about your personal collection.
Porn really is a rather private thing, and though we may bandy it about with close friends, it’s never the best way to break the ice. I’m not suggesting it’s anything to be ashamed of, though. Just don’t offer unless asked. When a strange man approaches me about his porn cache, it’s not a revolving DVD shelf I picture in my mind. Frankly, what I envision immediately is a basement rape den.
2. Please presume that I’m in said establishment for the prescribed purpose of buying pornography only.
A sample conversation elapsed over eight seconds I experienced with a man a mere month ago while in the straight section, specifically standing in front of the tarty teenage babysitter subgenre:
“What time is it, man?,” he asks.
“Ten,” I politely reply.
“You see anything you like?”
“Just looking,” I deadpan.
“You got a place nearby?”
“We can’t go there! I only just managed to slip out of that electronic monitoring bracelet on my ankle.”
But thanks, mister. Now as I walk home, it’ll be your face I picture as I look over my shoulder and feel just like Dee Wallace in The Howling for at least the next seven blocks.
3. I am not a Scandinavian model, a slutty college student, a farm boy, or an aspiring starlet.
Those people are stock characters in porn movies, you see, and a sex shop is only ever a great set piece for getting it on in that universe. It’s fab that you think you hit the jackpot and that I’ve stepped off of a DVD sleeve in some XXX variation of a-ha’s “Take On Me,” but an adult store is the sort of milieu where men need their space to roam in quiet anonymity. It can’t work any other way. Vignettes that function seamlessly on DVD — think propositioning a police officer, laying into your gym teacher, or trolling truck stops– tend to fail to execute in reality.
Even if you’re a debonair, well-heeled brunet stockbroker, you might as well be wearing a name tag that reads “Hi. My name is Patrick Bateman,” and I should have “Eigil Vesti” stamped on my forehead. Should I accept your offer for a moonlit stroll through the park or a quick drink, when I wake up days later in a factory in Argentina and find myself involuntarily headlining a snuff movie alongside my cowled co-star Mega-Scourge while handcuffed to a pipe, all I’ll be able to tell myself is, “Well, I walked right into this bitch, didn’t I?”
4. Yes, I am too young, too pretty, and too innocent to be in a place like this.
Or am I? I could be a 21 Jump Street-style undercover rebel cop – too hot-headed for the captain to rein me in, too pretty for the other officers to take me seriously. Maybe I’m like Sara Pezzini and mouthed off to the brass one too many times, or got sexually harassed by my Irish-Italian brethren — fuckers — and as punishment, my tight little ass has to patrol the red light district, busting would-be johns who just happen to have a few sawbucks burning holes in their pockets. Maybe I’m this close to nabbing the Smiley Face Killer, who killed my best friend a year ago, thereby causing me to seethe “You crazy basssstard!” over his half-frozen corpse.
So when I arrest you after you offer me twenty bucks for a rusty trombone, you suddenly get all classy and claim entrapment down at the station, causing me to go all Olivia Benson as I scowl, “I’ve got you over a chair now, you little freak!” Then my partner Elliot Stabler intervenes, taking me firmly but gently by the arms and saying, “You don’t have to prove anything to me, Blue Eyes. I know you’re more than just an incredible set of dick-sucking lips and legs that won’t quit.” Then I’ll get all up in his face and sneer, “Stay outta my way!” before I storm out and call my bureau-mandated anger management therapist, who thinks I have a problem with profanity and male authority figures.
And I hate that cocksucker even more than I do my father.
5. Don’t exceed the recommended occupancy of the video booth.
Please don’t invite me into the booth you’re entering with a cock of your eyebrow and and arch of your neck. It sickens me. You’re talking to a claustrophobe and a mysophobe, man. I got more symbolic, rooted-in-childhood neuroses than you can handle, and I don’t want to cut in on your action with the spooge mopper. I’m gonna take my Hungarian paratroopers and my gang-banging firemen and I’m gonna go home, turn on my Febreze Scentstories Player, break out the Fleshlight, and slowly edge my way through a quivering series of twenty to thirty injaculations over a two to three hour span before finally spraying all over my own face in a full-body eruption, that, like an Icelandic volcano, has a way of shutting down the tourist trade indefinitely.
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