Judge to NYC Sex Stores: Stop Faking It

A judge has sided with the city in its fight to regulate adult bookstores and video stores accused of veiling their X-rated focus to skirt zoning rules.  
The Manhattan judge's ruling this week opens the way for the city enforce 2001"60/40" rules. City officials say an unknown number of businesses could be forced to change their emphasis -- or move.

A lawyer for adult businesses that sued over the rules didn't immediately return a telephone call Tuesday evening.
City zoning regulations limit where many sex-oriented businesses can operate. But the rules don't apply if at least 60 percent of the business is devoted to non-adult items.
The city says some X-rated enterprises made only "sham" efforts to comply with the 60-percent rule so they could avoid the zoning rules -- selling things like "marital aids" and lingerie which counted as non-adult products, along with a few Kung-Fu movies and Westerns hidden in the back of the store.

"No matter how many copies you have of Disney's "Bambi" on the bookshelves, if you've got a peep show you're an adult store," said Jonathan Feinblatt who is the city's Criminal Justice Coordinator.

“The evidence showed that many 60/40 video stores are wolves in sheep's clothing: pretending to be non-adult when they are anything but," said Robin Binder, the city's lead attorney on the case.

Stores like Show World on 8th Avenue, along with others in the Times Square area and the Village, will be given time to comply. But some say the changes can't come soon enough.

"I have a daughter and anytime I bring her out here [to Times Square] the first thing I do is keep her away from questions like this," said Duane Clark who lives in the Bronx. "Here on 8th avenue you're right next to Port Authority."

One store that's seen it all and outlasted several mayors is "Come Again" on Manhattan's Eastside.   It's an erotic boutique that's been following the rules for more than 30 years.

"We sell some porn but very little," says owner Helen Wolff.

Wolff gave us a tour of her store where she sells bondage equipment, erotic toys, and role playing costumes. She says she's stayed open because she doesn't sell sex she sells things that lead to sex.

"It help keeps their private lives in tact and if they're having a friend over they can come run and buy something to play with."

And some residents even sided with the sex shops.

"I kinda think there are too many rules and too many people being forced out," said Ian Lloyd who lives on the Upper West Side.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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