- Kim and Kristina Skokan (Photo: TBD Staff)
Last fall, Kim Skokan and daughter Kristina announced plans to open KK’s Temptations, an adult boutique offering lingerie, porn, and sex toys to Manassas’ historic Old Town district. Before the shop opened its doors, the city of Manassas clamped down.
In September, the city hosted a marathon town hall meeting granting hundreds of nearby residents a platform to air their grievances. It commissioned a $70,000 study [PDF] on the secondary effects of shops hawking “adult” materials. And it passed emergency legislation placing strict zoning requirements on businesses that trade in entertainment "characterized by an emphasis on specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas," including “less than completely and opaquely covered human genitals, pubic region, buttock, or female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola; or human male genitals in a discernibly turgid state, even if completely and opaquely covered."
But just down the road from KK’s, female areolas and discernibly turgid genitals have been on display in the city of Manassas for nearly 20 years. Before KK’s, erotically-minded residents of Manassas could snap up the latest in cock ring technology at Northern Virginia porn chain MVC Couples Boutique, or a Britney Spears-themed sex doll at nearby Fashion Fantasy Night and Day Attire (“three toxic love holes!”). Both shops lie within a mile and a half of KK’s.
For over a decade, surrounding Prince William County has made efforts to curb the proliferation of sex shops in the area, prosecuting MVC for obscenity in 1997 and enforcing its own sexually-oriented business zoning restrictions in 2003. But the independent city of Manassas didn’t take action until KK’s set up shop. The city is just now putting the final touches on a permanent zoning ordinance that would restrict sexually-oriented businesses from opening up within 500 feet of any homes, day care centers, schools, colleges, parks, libraries, museums, cultural centers, churches, hotels, or other adult businesses. “Basically, anything that moves or breathes,” Kim Skokan says. The regulatory shut-down would nix sex shops from most Manassas real estate, but won’t succeed in retroactively stamping out existing stores.
Which raises the question: “If you hate us so much, why did you let us come in?” Skokan asks. “Why do you let us in and then bash us?”
“They’re just in a snit because it’s Old Town,” answers Fashion Fantasy owner Barbara Cox. Cox has sold her eclectic collection of erotic lingerie, porn titles, and size-17 fetish heels in Manassas for 19 years without any trouble from the city. “This is not the best neighborhood where I am,” Cox explains. “I have a trailer park behind me.”
Since erupting last fall, the battle over KK’s temptations has unfolded conspicuously along class lines. In an appearance on Fox 5 last October, concerned neighbor Steven Thomas marked his territory. “There is actually an existing couple of stores, in the outskirts of Manassas, that do offer triple X videos,” Thomas said. “But not in the downtown section of Manassas. The showcase. Where we ask families to come. It’s supposed to be walkable. A lot of my tax money just went to a major face-lift for that area.” Thomas declined to speak against MVC and Fashion Fantasy—both equally accessible to his Manassas home—but urged KK’s to replace its stock with erotic aids more suitable to the Old Town demographic. “I’m a married man, and I’d go buy my wife a lacey frilly thing and a pumpkin spice candle and maybe some massage oil,” he said. “We’re not prudes.”
In an anonymous note addressed to the Skokans prior to the shop’s grand opening, one critic deepened the divide. “Please do not open your shop doors. We have desperately been trying to keep porn out of our quaint Old Town,” the letter read. “Your demographic is not in Old Town. There are not enough people who are looking for new diseases here to keep you store open. . . . I would highly suggest going back to the drawing board and looking for an area that caters to people who already have a strong interest in corruption.”
When it opened last October, KK’s enraged critics not for stepping over the line of decency, but for blurring it. The shop is the picture of family values, with a twist. Kim Skokan, 40, deferred her dream of opening her own sex shop while she ushered her young kids through school, dance, and gymnastics—then recruited daughter Kristina, 21, to help her stock the bras, panties, and strap-ons. This summer, the mother-daughter team will raise money for breast cancer awareness—with a bikini contest. The shop caters to clients suffering from medical complications like colon cancer and impotence—with strap-ons. In recent months, KK's has responded to customer demands for more dildo and fetish products, but the Skokans keep the atmosphere trending toward the mainstream. "We like the fact that we're not inundated with penises," Kim says. When the shop opened, its best-selling video was “Great Sex for Men Over 50.” KK’s Temptations doesn’t outright offend Manassas residents’ traditional values—it forces them to usher a little nuance into their worldview. “That freaks people out,” says Kim.
For the Skokans, though, the front line of morality has proven a convenient vantage point. Kim says her shop has converted a fair number of residents to the sex toy side. “People come here because we make them feel comfortable,” Kim says. “We talk about the weather.” One customer “cried when she bought a vibrator because she thought she was going to Hell,” Kim says. Another guy told her he had “never said the word ‘masturbation’ out loud” before he entered her shop. “Sometimes, six people will go out to dinner and drop in to get a laugh out of it,” says Kristina. “They’ll come in later alone.”
KK’s Temptations' presence in Old Town may help Manassas residents reconcile the town's family values with consensual adult sexual exploration. "It's a point of pride for us," Kim says.
Here's what critics of the shop may never see: Directly behind Fashion Fantasy, a winding gravel road splits two neat rows of trailer homes. On a recent Saturday afternoon, I count nine kids kicking around a soccer ball and swinging off front porches. A man with a Playboy logo sewn into his hat bounces a small child on his knee. Residents here are familiar with the sex shop located feet from their doorsteps, but they haven’t given the place much thought. No one is interested in sharing these thoughts on the record.
The sex shop report commissioned by the city of Manassas described this neighborhood as an “auto-oriented area," meaning that few actual humans "would have direct encounters with the store or its customers." By way of contrast, KK's critics have situated this community as a "demographic" that has "a strong interest in corruption" and is "looking for new diseases."
“Those people don’t count. You see what I'm saying?" Cox told me. “It’s all political.”