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A Different Kind of Charity


In 1991, I was 14 years old and I worked in a ‘Mom n’ Pop’ corner video store.
And like most pre-Blockbuster era video stores, there was a little room in the back. Mine had saloon doors, I remember others having curtains. In that little room were PORNO TAPES.
Four walls, ceiling to floor, papered with VHS covers of bare naked women and bare naked men.

There was a guy in a wheelchair (not a motorized wheelchair, just a do it yourself-er) who would come in on Monday and Thursday nights and go into that room.
I had to open the saloon doors for him.
He would sit in there (in his wheelchair) for about 25 minutes. When he was done, he’d call me and I’d open the doors for him, and then leave.
He never rented.

What was originally a cool job for a young teenage movie nerd, turned into this savagely human occupation of ‘jerk off chauffeur’.

And I can’t blame him, really. It was a free porn booth, his fortress of pornotude.
And it meant a lot to him, I mean, this guy would wheel himself in, on nights that were -30F, through two feet of snow.
And there I would be, 14 year old me in my leather medallion necklace with Africa on it. I’d be thinking,
“God, I can’t say no! He just self propelled himself through snow and wind to jerk off in a video store. I’d be a horrible person if I turned him away!” And so, I’d find myself standing outside a closet that inhabited (for 25 minutes) a masturbating dude in a wheelchair, twice a week, for 3 years.

And that, dear readers, is the story of a man and a girl.
Two people who would have been more grateful for internet porn than-anyone-else-in-the-world if it had been available in 1991.

Enjoy Kelly’s Tweetstream here

Image (not of the actual store in question): Eric Parker/Flickr

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  1. überRegenbogen says:

    I’ve never actually rented a smut flick. (Enough of them found their way into my possession by other means; so it’s never been necessary to spend money on ’em.) But i’ve ventured into the occasional back room over the years. If nothing else the titles are good for a laugh; some of them are mighty outrageous. ;D

  2. The Ragi says:

    That was fucking hilarious. Thanks for sharing.

  3. traci says:

    In 1992 some girlfriends and I were out to rent movies in a local video store that lacked the little room in the back. That meant desperate measures for some folk, I guess – while we browsed the horror section someone planted a glossy sex mag near us. At first we thought it was full of women, but then we saw big erect dicks peeking out under feather boas and cheerleader skirts. It was disgusting & hilarious. We thought it’d be funny to leave it on the bed of our uptight roommate so we took it, but on our way out a guy in a PANIC asked us where we got the mag, wouldn’t admit it was his, (tho we totally taunted him) & even slammed the car door on my leg as I tried to get in. He kept saying he knew who the mag belonged to and was going to give it back to them. We finally gave in to his psycho desperation and handed it over. He was off and GONE into the night (-30F as well).

  4. just b says:

    Awww. Sweet.

    Ironically, it WAS available in 1991. There was no world wide web, but there was an internet, and there were BBSs to call. Sure, it took like 15 minutes to download a single picture, but it was there.

  5. Boots33! You must be talking about the Shinders in Crystal. I used to go there often and that door was squeaky. I also remember the way people would come in and walk around pretending to look at other stuff and make their way to the backroom. But there was also another type of person that went back to the room. Sometimes a very bold man would just walk into the store and just walk right back to the squeaky door and step right in. Twelve minutes later, he would emerge with three mags and a dirty porno movie and go to the register without missing a beat. That store introduced me to comic books, roleplaying games and collecting Magic The Gathering cards. It basically sucked away just about every dollar I made from 1983 to 1993. Great memories man, thanks for that. I never saw a women enter that room though, I mean NEVER. When I was finally 18 and could enter the room, it took me at least three years before my desire outweighed my shame and I entered the room. When you did go into that backroom, you never looked anyone directly in the eyes, that was like an invitation to a reach around or something. But what I saw on the shelf kind of grossed me out actually. There were porno rags for people over 60. That means grandmothers doing it and that’s when I figure out just how sick that shit actually was. Mind you, that didn’t stop me from going in the there however. Again thanks for the memories. I might have to write an article for my blog about that. Thanks.


  6. Joel says:

    I too worked at a video store with a back room. Although, due to the very uptight nature of the city I live in, our back room was protected with a buzzer system. We would literally have to “buzz” the people into the back room. For me, however, the awkwardness was very short lived, because someone actually rented porn to a person under the age of 18 during a sting operation (I know… a sting operation for porn rental… I told you… VERY UPTIGHT) and the store was no longer allowed to rent it at all. Surprisingly, the store survived for quite a few years after that, until the Blockbuster moved in on the other side of town. Some few months later, we bid adieu to our “Clerks-esque” after school experience. Ahh, those were the days.

  7. Gene says:

    That’s not unlike the time we rented A Clockwork Rape and the clerk looked at us like we were oranges.

  8. anthony says:

    hahahah, holy shit. i remember visiting a small video store like that in winter park, colorado. we rented a clockwork orange on vhs and the lady at the counter looked at us like we were rapists.

  9. Boots33 says:

    Here in MN, we used to have a chain of hobby shops called Shinder’s and they all had a back room that the public lovingly referred to as “The Squeaky Door Saloon”. The fun was in watching people pretend to browse through the merchandise throughout the store, slowly making their way toward the wooden door that always led to the den of debauchery. Eventually, these shoppers would reach the door, do a quick eye scan to make sure they weren’t watched (why, I do not know), and then attempt to discreetly enter the area. However, the stealth tactics used up to that point were always for naught, as the door would let out a blaringly loud “SKWEEEEEEEEEEE”, no matter how slow you tried to open it.

    I miss those stores. It was a huge part of my comic-book childhood, but the most recent owners of the franchise got into debt trouble and got busted for illegal financial practices, which led to the stores being closed forever.

  10. stubby says:

    That guy was probably a war hero and you couldn’t even give him a hand? 14 seems very young to hate your country so much, Kelly.

  11. this sounds like some kind of lifetime movie, if only the girl was some how abused and the man in the wheelchair turned out to be her long lost dad.

  12. Spider says:

    I used to own an anime store and had “Adult Material” for sale and rent. I only ever had to ask one person to leave. I felt justified due to his equipment being out and pressed against a glass display case. I would have loved to have had a set of swinging saloon doors between myself and that sight. The soap burns when you scrub your eyes.

  13. saviaj says:

    @giggleloop, I bet you $50 they have coin slotted sneak and peaks in the back. that’s why they’re in business. quarter slot wank closets

  14. Giggleloop says:

    There is still a video store that looks very similar to the one pictured above, about 2 blocks from my house. I’ve never been inside it, but I have to assume that renting porn is the only way they are still in business. Their front windows have huge console tv sets in them, and I swear they still only rent VHS tapes, from what I’ve seen driving by. So it’s either a front for a drug dealer, or else a thriving porn rental place. I’m too afraid to go in and find out.

  15. Heather says:

    Ah, the porn closets! My first boyfriend worked in a bookstore that had (if this can be believed anymore) a porn corral with “pre-enjoyed” old magazines and knee-to-chest-height saloon doors. It wasn’t even a separate room. Nobody wanted to mop the floors in there.
    And kudos to you for your humanity