Sex and gender at work, in bed, and on the street

Sex shop in Manassas inspires town hall on dangers of pornography, pedophilia, ice cream

September 8, 2010 - 11:30 AM
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Manassas residents think of children for hours on end. (Photo: TBD Staff)

This is why a sex shop can never, ever, open among the quaint storefronts of Manassas’ Old Town district: It’s a “slippery slope.” It will attract “real perverts.” It will tempt “pedophiles.” It’s too close to the candy store. It’s too close to the arts center. It’s too close to the playhouse. It’s too close to the school. It will drive businesses away. It will corrupt the innocent. It’s evil. It threatens to turn Old Town into a Las Vegas, or an Amsterdam, or “a seedy part of D.C.”

But above all, the shop would force Manassas to discuss “it.” “I have a ten-year-old visual being. I don’t want to explain to him what this is,” local resident Mary Magerkorth said. “My parents did not raise me next to a porn shop so they could have a reason for explaining what sex is,” David Daulbert added. “This is not what I want to have conversations with my friends about,” Cindy DiRenzo told the crowd.

Which is why it’s odd that DiRenzo and hundreds of her neighbors would elect to spend four hours of their Tuesday evening chatting publicly about the imminent opening of KK's Temptations, a store hoping to offer Manassas “adult DVDs, lotions, lingerie,” and “more.” The standing-room-only crowd spilled out of the council chambers, into the hallway, and out to the sidewalk, just blocks away from the proposed establishment. Sixty-four of them spoke for three minutes each; all but two of them opposed the shop.

Similes were fashioned. “There’s a lot of euphemisms being thrown around here,” Stephen Thomas said. “They want to compare it to a lingerie store, to a Victoria’s Secret. That’s like comparing a lawn dart to a squirt gun.”

College educations were employed. “We do know that “child molesters and rapists have a history of using pornographic materials,” said Erin Fisher, who added that she studied sexually-based offenses at Penn State. “And they have to get them somewhere.”

Aspersions were cast. “Who’s going to be brave enough to walk in to make sure there’s no child porn in there?” Sue Reynolds asked. “What’s going on in the back door where all these items are going to be put?” Rae Brady charged. “Phone calls? People showing up? Visitors? Money changing hands in various ways?” Brady said. “Why don’t they go open up next to Harris Teeter?”

Future leaders emerged. “I want. This place. To be a place. Where we can be real men,” a fresh-faced Brandon Howard told the crowd.

New hobbies were discovered. “Just as we pray at the abortion clinic on 234, my family will be praying outside this store until it closes,” said Mary Kelly, mother of 12.

Old hobbies were retired. “When the Victoria Secret moved in, we stopped going to the mall,” said Joan Dutta, mother of six. George Dodge prepared to cease bringing his grandchildren down to the farmer’s market to “watch the trains go by.” This has happened before, when the Lorena Bobbitt trial made the evening news in 1991. “We unplugged the television and we never plugged it back in,” Dodge said.

Family roles were cemented. “My 17-year-old daughter came home and gave a report of what she saw in the windows and said, ‘Well, Dad, what do you want to do about it?’” Nathan Loew said. This is what he did: “The conjugal act is a diamond glowing silver. It’s the sunshine that shines down on a man and a woman in marriage. . . . It’s our greatest treasure.”

Sex jokes were made. “Now that’s a sex shop!” Kelly Kuhn announced, after listing off the names of each sibling he grew up with in Manassas. But seriously: “Videotape [the store’s patrons] and put it on the Web,” Kuhn advised the council. “Stream them on the Internet. Is that something that we’re allowed to do? Because I’d be happy to do that.”

And battle lines were drawn. Mark Hempen, a gold earring glinting from beneath his blond curly hair, said that the store would help “foster a lot of discussions about sex in this city.” Besides, Old Town has greater threats to worry about. “Less than a block from here is a gun shop,” Hempen said, adding that Old Town’s bars could kill kids from drunk driving, while the ice cream shop could lead to child obesity. “If Old Town Manassas is really worried about being family friendly, it should have a carrot shop,” Hempen said.

“Stupid,” one man replied. “I can’t take anymore,” a woman said as she headed for the exit. “Gentlemen,” Hempen continued. “When Valentine’s Day rolls around, and you want to do something really nice for your wife—when you want to show her how you really love and appreciate her—are you going to go to the gun shop?”

“Yes! Yes!” One woman exclaimed. “I’d love for him to go to the gun shop!”

The meeting concluded with the city council passing a cautious resolution to investigate the “negative secondary effects” of sexually-oriented businesses across the United States before making a decision about KK’s Temptations. In the meantime, the issue gives Manassas residents an excuse to talk. Even about sex. “I had to explain to my 12 year old,” Lynn O’Neill said. “He said, ‘What does that mean? Why does a video store have lotions? Why do they have lotions?’ I don’t want to have that conversation with my son.” But she did have it—and she even came away with a story to tell all of her friends.

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  1. Julie Sunday Julie Sunday

    Julie Sunday

    Sep 08, 2010 - 02:20:14 PM

    wait, someone "studied sexually based offenses" in college? that's what they call them on "law and order: svu." which i watch religiously, so i guess i'm an expert, too.

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  2. Garland Grey Garland Grey

    Garland Grey

    Sep 08, 2010 - 01:11:31 PM

    It's like they've learned so much from Glenn Beck: just ask a series of unfounded, ridiculous questions, and whatever you don't like will go away.

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  3. trian1 trian1

    Trian One

    Sep 08, 2010 - 11:47:54 AM

    Why do people who have children produced from the act of sex get so worried about the sex other people may or may not be having?

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