How My Affair With Porn Was Born

Confessions of an adult-bookstore clerk

My first exposure to in-your-face exhibitionism came from a regular I'll call "Tiny." He chose to show me exactly how much he loved himself by standing in front of my register, dropping trou and getting busy in a matter of seconds.

Another time, I caught a man speaking into another customer's pants. Typically, he denied his behavior vehemently—and lamely—insisting he was "just talking" and "I dropped my pen." His "don't tell my wife" plea set him apart from the run-of-the-mill freaks. But then he blew it by threatening to call the police on me. Half an hour later, as I watched a cop write him a ticket for indecent exposure and public nuisance, I wondered if he asked them, too, not to tell his wife.

Sexual orientation is not much of an issue once a person passes through the doors of an adult bookstore. Gender identity loses its boundaries. The "girls" are often convincing, from their mannerisms to their clothing. Some of the obvious rush jobs are mesmerizing, however. Tip to cross-dressers: a brown wig, Nerf balls, a bomber jacket and 5 o'clock shadow do not a trannie make.

FETISHISTS ARE FAMILY, TOO

By now, some customers have become good friends who keep me laughing—like Monique when he's describing one of his lesser-hung sexual encounters. One patron even brought me a complete Thanksgiving dinner once because "porn doesn't take a holiday." Others confess their sexual desires and inhibitions when they no longer feel embarrassed about being in a bookstore. In porno veritas.

Sometimes these guys just need someone to talk to without feeling dirty. Sometimes they need someone to talk to because they want to feel dirty. I oblige when I can, but I had to apologize to the customer I was unable to assist (clerks cannot demonstrate penis pumps on the clientele) and the woman I had to hang up on during an impromptu phone-sex session (we have only one line).

But it's not just the customers. Anyone who chooses to work in a place like this usually has idiosyncrasies, too. One of my co-workers blasts trance music and gives the bird to the surveillance cameras while dancing. I caught another contemplating logarithms when the store was empty. A younger employee finds enjoyment slamming his body into the doors to scare unsuspecting customers. And another swears he can make a bong using just three ordinary items.

I SEE NAKED PEOPLE

The main attractions of a sex shop are the movies. Obviously, the caliber of porn-film acting won't win Oscars, but directors often strive for some artistry anyway. Bi-tanic almost reaches the status of American Beauty (American Booties, $23.99) or Saving Private Ryan (Shaving Ryan's Privates, $27.99). And, of course, we carry the classics—Debbie Does Dallas is stocked right alongside The Sixty-Ninth Sense: I See Naked People.

Thankfully, I have been able to bone up on different titles both to educate myself and to help finicky customers who don't want to spend another evening watching Dawson's Creek (Dawson's Crack, $36.99). Customers who want to dine in can take in a private viewing at the store. For that, the arcade provides a nice—albeit sticky—area to catch a movie. Rental memberships are provided for those who prefer takeout smut.

HOW TO CHOOSE A SMUT FILM

Developing a pornography program takes as much caution and consideration as developing an exercise regimen.

First recommendation: start slowly. Diving too quickly into concepts like golden showers and girls who butt-ball guys might leave a person comatose from overstimulation. Get used to the lesbians and movies with "plots" before partaking in the unbelievable. By then, chicks with dicks won't be so strange.

Second recommendation: temper your intake. Frequenting an adult establishment every night runs the risk of immunity and diminished libidinal response. Try to limit your fetishes by looking at still images first, such as magazines or box covers.

Lately, I've taken to looking at all the new trannie video boxes (Cocks 'n' Frocks, $49.99) to compare pre-op and post-op genitalia. I still cannot grasp the concept of actually cutting off the penis. Getting tits, sure, but amputation? That seems anti-erotic. Even I have a long way to go, I suppose.

CLOSING TIME

Monique returns to my store to make one last round before heading home. He certainly has a knack for snagging the cute ones. He's been cruising a hottie in a baseball cap who's busy browsing through the gay video section. Despite my persistent urging (fueled by my desire to see some live man-sex), Monique declines. "I already had my piece tonight, honey. I'm just window-shopping."

He follows Mr. Baseball outside, leaving me alone. Before closing my shift, I peruse a few monthly magazines and come across a pictorial featuring an elderly, bald woman and a tattooed, black midget.

Yeah, I wouldn't trade this for the world.

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