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Sex Studies

10 Things I Learned From Working in a Porn Store

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Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 5:53 PM

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Before becoming a writer, I had many trades: Steelworker, warehouse clerk, advertising salesman, boutique manager. But the most educational job was clerking at a porn store across the street from a middle school in Portland, OR.

It wasn't just a porn store. It also featured an arcade in the back -- a series of booths where people (mostly men) meet to have anonymous sex. Whether slinging sex accessories or policing booth activity, porn store life was educational. Here are 10 things I learned during my tenure:

Lesbians Love Dicks

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Lesbian couples typically bought two things: strap-ons and gay porn. The porn store wasn't the first time I'd encountered the lesbian affection for gay male porn. Living in the lesbian Mecca of Northampton, Mass., I knew a group of butchies who got together every week for ladies porn night. Their preferred genre? Hot twink-on-twink action. Any time two young Justin Bieber-looking ladies came into the store I would just motion them toward the twink section. They always smiled before happily trotting over.

Gay Dads Defy Stereotypes

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It's one thing to intellectually acknowledge that gay stereotypes are just that -- stereotypes. It's a whole other matter to know it. Our client base often looked like they spent the day doing construction, and not in a Tom of Finland sort of way. Most of the dudes in the store presented like my father, a 60-year-old retired iron-worker from Boston.

The "100 Yard Boys" (as in, you can tell they're gay from a football field away) were only about 10 percent of our booth business.

The Drugs Sell Themselves

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Behind the counter we had a lovely little pharmacy: Male enhancement pills, poppers (er, I mean, "video head cleaner") and nitrous oxide. On Saturdays, Lewis and Clark kids would come in asking if they should get one box of 50 nitrous chargers or two. I'd gruffly respond "I thought you guys were trying to party. What the fuck?" Invariably, two boxes would go out the door.

Every day, I sold about 20 to 50 bottles of poppers. Guys would come in looking for cheap $10 bottles. I'd pull out the $30 bottle and say "We just got these in. Some guys think it's a little too intense, though." Want to get a man to buy cheap, shitty legal highs? Question his manhood.

Can Pissers Exist & Are Gross

Apparently some men like to end a night of anonymous sex by unleashing a nice, warm stream of piss into a trashcan. A lot of them, actually. I can count on one hand the nights I didn't find a wastebasket full of piss at closing.

Straight Dudes Love Dicks

All I know is, tons of single dudes came in to buy "Monster Cocks Vol. 19" or whatever. I can't remember a single instance of a lady buying big dick fetish porn. That shit is for dudes, dudes.

Nothing Sells Like Gonzo

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Our store boasted a lovely selection of top-quality adult films. No matter what you were into -- big tits, interracial, bukakke, teens -- we had it. For about $50 you could have a date with five lovely ladies and their studs...or you could hit the gonzo section.

Gonzo tapes, for the uninitiated, feature tons of thrown-together footage, often featuring no-name talent or women at the beginning of their career, and sell for a fraction of the cost. For $10 - $20 you can get eight hours of anal or whatever else you fancy.

Apparently most guys are into quantity, not quality, because gonzo outsold everything else by about 10 to one.

"There's Porn Of It"

Especially in the age of XXX parodies, if you want to see porn of your favorite films and TV shows, you aren't going to have a hard time finding it. Ditto on whatever weird shit your perverted little mind can dream up. Don't believe me? Google "cake farts." Or don't. I'd recommend the "don't" option.

Racism Sells

Whether it's black thugs who want to violate your wife and daughter, submissive Asian geisha girls looking to serve, or lusty Latin ladies craving guero verga mas caliente, racism is the bread and butter of the porn industry. Based on my anecdotal experience selling the stuff, I'd imagine it's San Fernando's most effective marketing angle.

People Actually Think They Can Return Dildos

Don't worry, we never actually let people do this. It never stopped anyone from trying, though. Really people?

Some Guys Just Want To Hang Out

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The booths are called an "adult arcade." To that end, we had a coin-operated vintage Centipede machine and a bar-style video game machine. Some guys used them to kill time while waiting for hot anonymous cock to come their way.

Other dudes just liked to soak in the ambiance, drop some quarters in the machine and take off. There were at least two guys who I never saw in a booth, but would come in every night with a roll of quarters.

It takes all types.

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