Selling Porn

Accessories and in-store appearances help keep retail relevant

by Yusef Najafi
Published on February 12, 2009, 12:00am | Comments

It's all just a click away on the Internet, but local stores selling adult videos say they're not too worried. After all, the visuals might be instant, but the accessories are subject to shipping if going online is your bag. You can't get your hands on a ' ''Feeldoe' in short order without walking into a store like Night Dreams in Bethesda.

''I know a lot of lesbians that come in here and they love it,'' Night Dreams manager Shannon Sescoe says of the popular toy.

It's just one of the many items on offer along with the adult films.

''We do everything from the older gay movies to the current movies, like Chi Chi LaRue and Raging Stallion, to the L Factor. We have a wide variety.''

The Leather Rack off Dupont Circle also doesn't rely solely on adult videos. The store sells clothing, underwear and toys, for starters. And since December, the Leather Rack has marked down all the used videos by 60 percent, having exited the video-rental business.

''We started noticing the decline in rentals,'' says the Leather Rack's Vice President Russwin Francisco, adding that the store surveyed customers, as well as patrons at local gay bars, and learned most were going online for porn. Sales, however, have remained lucrative enough to stick around.

Video Plus in College Park decided to join the Internet rather than try to beat it, giving customers in-store Web access to help them find the movies they'd like, so that they might buy the hard copy from Video Plus.

And Video Plus is also pulling out the big guns, offering a meet and greet with Forbidden FUNK Media star Foxx on Feb. 21. Beat that, World Wide Web!

''He'll be signing photos, posters and DVDs,'' says Jerry Goldberg, assistant manager at Video Plus, adding that a producer from Forbidden FUNK Media will also be on hand, possibly scouting for new talent.

Capitol Video Sales, which has locations on Capitol Hill and in Dupont Circle, offers both mainstream and porn movies, featuring two-for-one rentals Mondays through Thursdays, numerous adult films for sale at $5.99 each, and lots and lots of accessories.

''We sell magazines and adult toys and novelties,'' says Angelo Fennell, manager of the Dupont Circle store. ''We carry lube, vibrators, dildos and a lot of masturbating sleeves.''

With all that non-visual inventory as well as movies, Fennell predicts a long future for the retail outlets.

''We're concerned with online stores, but I think brick-and-mortar stores will be around renting and selling movies because of the discretionary factor,'' he says, pointing to a potential virtual paper-trail with online billing. ''Most people want to be discreet about their adult stuff.''

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