Friday, March 30, 2012
Most people who have found my blog and twitter feed quickly realize why I have the nickname Jizzmopper, but what you might not know is that a lot of people called me Jizz long before I started sharing these stories with the world.
As far as I know, Kevin Smith’s Clerks was the movie that brought the term Jizzmopper into the mainstream. Since this movie came out in 1994, there was plenty of time for people to add this word into their vocabulary before I started working at the porn store in 1998. A few friends gave me a hard time for being a Jizzmopper, but it didn’t stick as a nickname until I moved to Korea.
When I was teaching English in Seoul, I became involved with the Southside Hash House Harriers, a drinking group with a running problem. We’d meet every Sunday at 10 a.m. to drink beer, sing dirty songs and run a trail laid by one of the “hares”. On their sixth trail, new members are giving an incredibly inappropriate nickname. By this point, the other members had talked with me enough to learn about my porn clerk past, so the hash name Jizzmopper was almost a given. I did come dangerously close to being nicknamed Whack Shack, and am glad that Jizzmopper came out as the winner.
You’d be surprised how quickly you can get used to being called Jizz. I have my nicknamed embroidered on clothing and a sharp-eyed reader of this blog even found a picture of the patch that was made in my honor when I moved away from Korea. (I can't find the link anymore, but I will post an image as soon as I can.)
I continued being involved with the Hash House Harriers when I returned to the United States and still attend trails set by the Minneapolis Hash House Harriers from time to time. This has kept me comfortable with being referred to as Jizz and my wife will even call me by this name in certain situations. (For more information about the Minneapolis Hash House Harriers and hashing in general, check out www.minneapolish3.com or www.grhhh.com).
Anyway, the whole point of this post was to give you an idea of how long these stories have been percolating in my mind and how long I’ve been known as Jizzmopper. It also explains why there are three h’s in my email address.
Hopefully it gives you a little insight into my background and encourages you to ask more questions about me. The Ask Jizz mailbag has been running dry lately.
firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @jizzchronicles
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Since starting this blog and connecting it to Twitter, I’ve been tremendously pleased with the number of fantastic people that I’ve enjoyed connecting with and receiving encouragement from. Just when I think I’m a little odd, my world view is thrown open to reveal an entire population of delightful freaks I didn’t know existed. (Please understand I use the term “freaks” with the utmost love and respect.)
The other day, I posted a tweet asking people for seductive and erotic suggestions for me to blog about. In return I would mention them in the Jizzmopper Chronicles and be forever grateful. Only @VilenaPose and @LilyCrash9 participated, but they did give me some great situations to start working from. However, I’m still a little uncertain about the quality of my erotic fiction, so instead, I used these ideas to examine how lines of reality can get blurred when working at a porn store.
When you surround yourself with any environment, it will eventually start to seem normal. Whether it’s the adult industry (porn stores, strip clubs, etc.) or working in a bar (alcoholics, sleeping in until 3 p.m.), sooner or later this population of people will start to look and feel like the norm. This isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve heard of (lucky) BDSM couples who are able to commit full-time to their lifestyles. But when you’re dealing with a section of the population that obsesses about pornography and drugs, your world-view can get incredibly negative.
While I’d love to be able to tell stories about crazy hedonism taking place in the store after-hours, with the exception of the attempted sex in the video booths, nothing like that ever occurred. Only two things happened that are worth mentioning. The first was being propositioned by a rather unattractive man buying a swinger magazine to meet him and his wife for a drink after my shift was over. The other was getting flashed by a woman in the passenger-side seat of a car while her husband sat behind the wheel and grinned. It was dark out and it took me a while to figure out what I was staring at inside the dimly-lit car window. I don’t know if they were trolling for potential sex partners or simply getting a kick out of flashing strangers from a distance, but I just waved, got in my car and drove off to make the daily deposit.
Being surrounded in this environment did make me look at things differently. There was once instance in particular when I ordered a pizza and found myself surprised that the woman delivering the pizza didn’t start taking her clothes off as I reached for my wallet.
The darker side of this skewed world-view was that I started looking down at anyone I thought used drugs. Ministry has taught us to, “Never trust a junkie,” but I think it’s unfair to look poorly upon anyone who uses drugs recreationally. I could just as well feel the same about anyone who drinks alcohol. Generally speaking, if a drug has taken control of someone’s life, it’s pretty obvious and you’ll know you don’t want them in your life. But as I continued to sell products to junkies and potheads whose lives revolved around getting their next high, I felt more and more glad my drug days of high school were long over.
Every once in a while, my assumptions and held stereotypes would get turned on their ear. There was the guy who I recognized from campus that always wore a suit and bought one-hitters a few times a month. (I don’t know if he was a professor or admin staff, but he certainly looked like he had his shit together.) Additionally, once in a while a couple would come in for some toys and movies to spice up their love life, and it was always reassuring to see people actually happy to be in the store.
One Thursday evening, I spent most of shift with a couple trying to find a vibrator to replace one they had purchased in the mid 80s and used constantly. They wanted an exact replacement, but after it became clear this product wasn’t produced anymore (I checked several catalogs), we spent the rest of the time testing out the vibration functions on products that interested them. This experience could have been annoying and long, but their enthusiasm and openness made me feel privileged to be helping them with something so intimate.
Then there was the guy who smelled like shit and bought our molded fist dildo. He couldn’t stop giggling as he pulled out bill after crumpled bill from his disgusting trench coat pocket. For every warm fuzzy there’s a repulsive antithesis ready to creep you out to the core.
But these experiences were important for keeping me grounded and taught me that while some people are crazy perverts who only receive joy from shoving molded plastic fists up their asses, there are also people who use these products as an occasional treat in their lives.
Everything was put into perspective one day when I went to the mall and saw a group of young men hanging out in the Game Stop discussing video game news with the clerk behind the counter. This group was always there whenever I stopped by and I realized that the only difference between these geeks and the perverts at my store is that these guys were getting their sex fix virtually.
We all orgasm in some fashion, make sure you’re getting the most from yours.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
I’ve written several times about how the owner of the store likes hiring older employees. I’ve also explained why this is a bad idea because anyone over 40 who wants to work at a porn store is probably the last person you’d want handling money or working with customers. They’re either a burnout or a thief (sometimes both) and can’t be trusted with anything.
Despite this, our regional manager hired Carl to work our overnight shift and for some reason, I had to train him.
The first thing I noticed about Carl, as I arrived at 10:45 p.m. to work an unscheduled overnight shift, was that he shakes. A lot of shakes. Throughout the course of the evening, I eventually learned why he constantly vibrates.
Carl looks like a real-life version of the Big Lebowski’s The Dude, if he was completely fried, emaciated and always wore a dirty jean jacket. A child of the 60s and 70s, Carl had a rather rough experience when he went to school at Mankato State University. He and his brother were dorm roommates that were constantly disappointed at their classmates’ lack of debauchery. He never went to class, drank incessantly, got high constantly and eventually flunked out after his second quarter. During their last night in the dorm, Carl and his brother decided to take the rest of the acid they had left between the two of them. They had 34 hits!
This was a bad idea on Carl’s part. Now the walls melt on their own if he doesn’t remember to take his anti-psychotic medications. Drinking alcohol reduces his shakes, but if he has more than two, he usually has a seizure. (I would later learn that he has a large number of seizures.) He tries to stick to Mountain Dew, but the caffeine makes his tremors worse, so he’s usually stuck in limbo between almost falling asleep and shaking himself into oblivion.
I'm sure this trend of chemical consumption continued after college, but I didn't get much information about this time of his life.
In addition to working overnights at the porn store, Carl is a tattoo artist and a piercer. I learned this after I asked about the permanent artwork on his hands. My best guess is that these images are supposed to represent a castle and a knight, but it looks as if this was attempted by a child using jumbo crayons. He explained that he had done these pieces himself and removed his ever-present jean jacket to show me the other tattoos up his left and right arms. They weren’t any better and I found myself reminded of Picasso.
A few days after training him, I learned more about Carl’s failed tattoo and piercing parlor, and why he wasn’t allowed to operate this business in Mankato anymore. For years, Mankato Ink had been the only tattoo parlor in the area. Carl decided to start his own place and compete by offering much lower prices. He was able to achieve this by not paying for little extras, like proper lighting in his store or new needles for each piercing. He told me about two girls who came in to celebrate their high school graduation with belly button rings. Carl gave them a great deal by piercing them together, sticking the first girl, wiping off the needle and then immediately piercing the next girl with the same needle. (I hope they were really close friends because they’re now sharing a hell of a lot more than friendship.)
When the owners of Mankato Ink got word of what was happening in Carl’s shop, they made a deal with their tattoo and piercing supply vendor. They’d buy from this supplier exclusively if he stopped selling to Carl. The vendor agreed and Carl eventually closed his shop because he ran out of needles, ink and (I can only hope) cleaning materials.
Now his career is in flux, so he’s just working at the porn store until he can get his parlor up and running again. I pray that he’s never able to achieve this. I also completely expect to be called in to cover numerous overnight shifts because he’s had a seizure, his tremors are too severe to operate the cash register or he finally finishes what he started in the 70s and O.D.s.
Monday, March 26, 2012
I’ve been working at the store for a while and have managed to get a number of my friends hired. Because of this, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to start hazing new employees that we know outside of the store.
To be fair, working at the porn store is one of the least-taxing jobs on the face of the earth. Kicking out people trying to fuck each other in the video booths notwithstanding, there aren’t any demands other than ringing customers up and counting your cash drawer. I decided that this was too easy and added some spice to our newest employee’s first solo overnight shift.
Steve is the brother-in-law of Jeremy, an evening shift clerk who agreed to help make his in-law’s first shift memorable. We did this using a four-part method.
- We crank called the store from the pay phone located across the street of the store. We did our best to call only when the store was crowded and took pains to keep him on the phone as long as possible.
- A female friend was sent in to attempt to return one of her old sex toys and then act irate when he wouldn’t allow the return. (She refused to let us smear lint and facial hair on the device before bringing it in.)
- Since walking and cleaning the parking lot is required at the end of his shift, we placed a variety of surprises for him to find. These surprises were specifically designed to make him wonder what the hell was happening outside the store while he was working. For one, we put an entire roll of saran wrap balled up around a rubber chicken, wet naps and an empty jar of Vaseline. Along his car, we smeared Vaseline (obtained from the now empty jar) on his passenger side windows and wrote suggestive messages that were apparently only visible when he drove home and the sunlight hit the passenger side of the car. Next to the garbage dumpster, we drew a large pentagram in the dirt and threw a couple of raw chicken breasts in the center. (In retrospect, this was the dumbest part of the prank. Everyone had to deal with the smell of rotting chicken for days after throwing raw meat on the ground.)
- The coup de grâce was a condom filled with Campbell’s chicken and stars soup thrown against the wall of the back, corner booth. This was accomplished during one of the long prank phone calls and we were able to get the soup to explode all the way up to ceiling. I was tremendously impressed with the results of this part of the prank as it's incredibly difficult to get condensed soup into a condom.
The most difficult part about this prank was playing it cool. It was several days before I was going to see Steve again and every ounce of my being wanted to call him up the following night to ask him about his first overnight shift by himself. This wouldn’t be completely out of the ordinary because I’m an Assistant Manager, but I’m also terrible at keeping a straight face/voice while talking to someone about a joke. I felt that for the good of the mission, I would simply wait until Steve chose to tell me about these events.
Eventually, Steve told Jeremy what had happened and wanted to know if this sort of thing was normal at the store. That’s when the prank was exposed and after about 10 seconds of deciding whether or not to get pissed, Steve burst out laughing. This prank was quite literally over the top and we made it up to Steve by taking him out for drinks and dinner.
The only problem now is how to top ourselves the next time another friend gets hired. Also, I'm a little worried about what Steve will pull in retaliation.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Despite upper management’s obsession about it, shoplifting at the store is pretty rare. I’ve only experienced it once and there has only been a handful of other incidents that have occurred when my coworkers were working. This doesn’t mean we’re catching everyone who steals from the store, but considering the diligence we’re expected to watch people with, customer theft should be one of the lowest items of concern for the owner. Employee theft is much more common and I’d estimate anything stolen is ten to twenty times more likely to have been stolen by someone who receives a paycheck from the store.
Having said this, we are a target for college hazing rituals.
Some of them are pretty tame. One group of guys came in with a fraternity pledge and took photos of him picking out a video and attempting to punch the 350 pound Bill (who couldn't understand why the photo was so funny). A small group of young women once came in and each had to purchase a vibrator. They were all beet-red and the chattiest of the group explained to me that they all had to return to the sorority house with something from the store.
Other times, it’s incredibly annoying. This week, two guys came in during a particularly busy Friday night. They looked suspicious and I spent the entire time staring them down. When the line of customers was three people deep, one of them grabbed a vibrator off a display close to the door and ran out, setting off our incredibly loud security system. A group of his friends were already in the car, but couldn’t get junker started before I grabbed the thief.
If you really want to know how tough someone is, you need to see how they react when they get caught breaking the law. The would-be thief was close to tears when he explained that this was part of his requirements to join the frat and that his future brothers in the car had made him shoplift as a part of joining the frat.
Baring a full-on robbery at gunpoint, we’re instructed to avoid calling the police at all costs. In situations like this, we’re supposed to make the thief pay for what they tried to steal and tell them they'll be arrested if they ever come back to the store.
Unfortunately the young thief in this incident didn't have enough cash to buy the vibrator (he had expensive taste). I told his “friends” that one of them could pay for the vibrator or I could call the cops. After a few tense seconds, one of the frat boys came out of the car and said he’d pay. The best part of this story is that there was still a line to check out and everyone in the store had seen the guy run out of the store after he set off the alarm. The two of them had to stand and wait for everyone else to finish checking out, and then we slowly ran the card while Bill lectured the guy about how lucky he was that we weren't calling the cops.
I don’t know if this hoodlum pledge made it into the fraternity, but part of me hopes that he withdrew his application. If not, he most certainly has a terrible frat nickname related to the shoplifting incident.
Never cry at a porn store.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
You might call it a personal flaw, but I tend to get really competitive about everything. If there’s the potential to turn something into a contest, I’ll do it and I want to win.
At the store, I’ve turned catching people trying to fuck each other in the video booths into such a contest. (For more information on video booths, see this earlier post.) After my first taste of power kicking someone out of the store, I was hooked and developed some really bizarre instincts.
Now, I can hear the sound of a belt buckle hitting a tile floor through all sorts of competing noises. This sound is the biggest giveaway that someone in the video booths is attempting to slide under a wall through a river of semen to jerk-off, suck-off or fuck another patron. Why these guys don’t just wear sweatpants is beyond me, but this familiar clang always sends me into motion. I grab our trusty Mag-Lite and baseball bat, and head into the dark porn arcade, ready to crack some skulls.
Do you know how after a while, you start to hear your cell phone ring all the time in unrelated sounds?
This obsession on my part has caused me to start hearing the belt buckle clang everywhere, from the grocery store to lying in bed. Intellectually, I know there’s no one on all fours trying to give a stranger a handjob in my closet, but my instincts kick in and I receive an immediate kick of adrenaline every time I imagine the sound. At three in the morning, it’s hard to fall back asleep and I’ll admit, most of the time I end up checking my closet just to make sure.
I've also decided I can tell who is going to mess around in the back rooms just by looking at the person. When they come up for change, I eye them carefully, deciding whether or not I'll be escorting them to the exit in the near future.
We’re supposed to walk the video booths every once in a while, shining the flashlight along the floor so the patrons know we’re keeping an eye on things. But now that I want to catch people, I’ve stopped doing this and walk as quietly as possible back and forth, hoping to catch someone with their pants down (quite literally.)
During slow times at the store, when no other customers are around except the booth crew, I’ll even kneel on the edge of the doorway so they can’t see or hear my feet. Holding my breath, I’ll wait anxiously with my thumb on the flashlight button, hoping to flash the exact instant someone’s head appears below the booth wall.
My success percentage has lowered greatly recently. We really don’t have that many people trying to mess around in the video booths and I suspect the ones who do have figured out that I’m waiting to kick them out. But every once in a while, I’m still able to catch someone looking completely ridiculous with their pants around their ankles and their eyes as large as saucers.
These guys are hilarious when they get caught. The most common response is that they dropped their dollar and were kneeling down to pick it up. Apparently their money had caught an updraft and floated all the way into another video booth and into another patron’s pants. It’s amazing.
Some people try to act really tough when you catch them and refuse to leave. During one shift with Ogre, he caught someone in the act and told the guy to leave the store. The customer just stood in his booth and said, “Just a minute, my time’s almost up,” in a low, tough-guy voice. After a few reminders, Ogre kicked open the door and grabbed the guy by the scruff of his neck to help guide him to the exit. This formerly low-pitched man was now screaming in an incredibly high-pitched voice, “Get your hands off me! Don’t touch me! I’ll call the police.”
“You do that,” said Ogre as he threw this foiled pervert across the hood of a random car in the parking lot and slammed the store’s door closed.
In actuality, we could call the cops when we catch people engaging in sexual acts in the video booths, but the owner doesn’t want the extra attention brought to the store. (Same principle as explained in my shoplifting post.) Anyone who puts up too big of a fight is threatened with police intervention and this usually causes them to leave immediately. To my knowledge, we’ve never had to call the cops because of an amorous backroom incident, but if things every got too messy (pun intended) we certainly could.
Video booth shenanigans is just one of the realities of running a porn store, so during my time here, I will remain an ever-vigilant, covert cum ninja.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The wonderful thing about the sex industry is that, providing you’re not a drug addict or an idiot, it’s a pretty easy area to make money in. The markup on porn is insane (the numbers I’ve seen suggest anywhere between 100% and 1,000% depending on the product) and if you’re able to move into strip clubs, you may as well add another zero to the end of your earnings for the year. Based on my diligent internet research, a well-run club can earn between one and four million dollars a year, which is almost enough to make it worth dealing with strippers as employees.
The store I work at is one in a chain of four spaced out in small towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The owner earns a lot of money in these stores and decided that his next big investment project was to construct a strip club outside of Saint Cloud. This was actually his third attempt at building a strip club. Twice before, small-town city councils had gotten wind of his plans to turn his newly constructed pole barns on the edge of town into dens of filth and debauchery, and quickly passed ordinances that outlawed strip clubs in their city. Either Saint Cloud was too big to notice or simply didn’t care, because his first strip club just opened there last month.
I had expected someone who owned multiple porn stores to be savvier about strip clubs, but I've learned a lot about strip club management and operation through his mistakes. First, he didn’t understand that most clubs charge dancers a fee to perform at their club for the evening and then allow the dancers to keep what they get from customers. His original idea was to offer dancers a 50-50 split of their earnings and soon found that no one wanted to strip at his club. Not only are the logistics of this plan insane (can you imagine trying to settle up with a dancer at the end of the night?), he shouldn’t have let his ego get in the way of researching industry trends. He finally agreed to charging dancers a standard fee for performing at his club for the evening.
Secondly, he wanted to sell booze. Unless you’re in Vegas or Florida, most laws completely forbid the consumption of alcohol in the same location as a strip club. The only reason St. Paul’s Lamplighter club allows alcohol is because they’re technically at two different addresses and there’s a sheet of glass between the drinkers and nude dancers. I understand that the owner is a flag-waving, give-me-all-my-rights capitalist, but even he should have known this plan was going to fail. So now they’re a juice bar strip club.
Lastly, he has no idea how to control employees, let alone strippers. At a porn store, you can pretty much bully your employees into doing whatever you want. Most of them are students and don’t care enough to do anything other than quit if they get pissed and there’s a steady stream of people who apply to be glorified cashiers. The worst thing you have to worry about at a porn store is employee theft (and I’ve already written about the extensive efforts he’s employed toprevent that from happening.) But employing strippers opens up a whole new level of problems like prostitution, drug rings and sexual harassment. Within days of opening, half the strippers were fired for either getting caught snorting coke or giving blowjobs in the private dance rooms.
Worst of all, at least for me, is that he’s talked one of the strippers into coming down and covering open shifts at our Mankato store.
Stephanie is a stripper through and through. She thinks she can talk her way out of anything with an arm rub, soft voice and bedroom eyes. This technique works great in a strip club, but it’s a huge pain in the ass when this person is your coworker. She agrees to everything when it’s discussed, but as soon as it’s time to sweep the floor or take the garbage out to the dumpster, she suddenly lays down behind the counter, rubs her feet and complains about how much her legs hurt from working at the club the previous night.
Observing her is like watching a drug dealer. If she works int he store the day after dancing, she appears with a new outfit, bags of stuff from the mall, a new cell phone and a ton of newly purchased crap she doesn’t need. She brought in a huge box full of candy (which put Bill in her back pocket) and has started getting really friendly with one of the morning clerks. I’ve told him to be careful with her since he’s such a nice guy, but now that she’s started spending the night at his place, I’m just waiting for the impending disaster. I just hope he doesn’t get her pregnant.
I know what’s going to happen. She’ll call in one too many times (you can only use the, “I’m too tired from working at the club,” excuse so many times) and the owner will cut her lose. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just take note of her stripping stories and post anything worth mentioning here.
If you want to go see the club, it’s just north of Saint Cloud near the intersection of 45 and 35. I have no idea how long it will remain in existence, but I’m sure it will make the owner a bundle of cash.
Monday, March 19, 2012
The store I work at is a head shop in addition to being a porn store. This means that I get to deal with addicts as well as perverts. Not that all of our customers are sex-fiends and druggies, but selling related products brings them out in droves. Also, these are the customers that are most fun to write about.
Our store isn’t the only place in Mankato that sells “smoking supplies,” but it used to be. Years ago, when they first attempted to sell pipes and rolling papers, the local police came into the store and confiscated the entire stock. The owner had to take the city to court to get his merchandise back and eventually won the right to sell these products within city limits.
For legal reasons, we’re required to explain that these pipes and papers are intended for tobacco use only. Any assertion that these products will be used to smoke an illegal substance will result in the customer being ejected from the store. Because of this, bongs are called “water-cooled tobacco pipes” and one-ies (aka pinchies) are called, “single-use refillable tobacco pipes.” We even have a display up that explains the health benefits of smoking tobacco through a water pipe located next to a three-foot gravity bong. Theoretically speaking, all of the pipes we sell "could" be used to smoke tobacco, which is why it’s legal to sell them.
What I find most amusing is the legal explanations we have for far less innocent products. We sell nitrous oxide cartridges for the supposed purpose of recharging homemade whipped cream dispensers. We even go so far as to display an incredibly expensive reusable whipped cream dispenser for sale next to the cartridges. (So far, no one has offered to purchase this $150 device.) But at the same time, we also sell balloons and ‘crackers’ that allow you to fill the balloon with the contents of the nitrous cartridge. (“Novelty use only” apparently covers a gigantic array of products.)
Digital scales are displayed in the same case with a similar culinary explanation. Why anyone would buy electronics from a porn store for twice the Office Depot price with absolutely no warranty is beyond me, but I suppose dealers have to go somewhere when they need a scale at 3 a.m.
The nitrous and pot products don’t really bother me. They may kill a lot of brain cells, but I’ve never really thought of them as dangerous substances in most cases. However, even in the world of "novelty products" I’m amazed that we get away selling some of the products we stock.
Recently, I started my shift and found a new item available next to our glass pipes. It was a box of little, glass tubes with a tiny rose inside. At first, I thought this was a cute, romantic gift that we kept in the case to prevent shoplifting. But after seeing the clientele who regularly purchased these these roses in large quantities (and their lack of teeth), I realized we were actually selling crack pipes. As far as I’m concerned, we may as well sell little baggies with Brillo in them as an accessory.
We’ve also started selling “incense” pipes, that are basically a glass tube with a large glass bulb at the end, packaged with a little vial of incense. It had been a while since I had seen a meth pipe in person, but I recognized what this product was immediately. I don’t know if anyone actually inhales the included incense for a buzz, but I (almost) think it would be safer to inhale meth.
(*Author’s note: This took place long before smoking incense and bath salts became common intoxicants for high school students.)
Once I started ordering merchandise for the store, I realized how common products like these are in head/porn shops. The warehouse catalog we order from has a large variety of products aimed at illegal activities. In fact, they even sell razor blades packaged to resell in single-use containers. (I don’t know what legal explanation is given for selling razor blades with smoking accessories, but I’m sure it’s hilarious.)
Ultimately, people are responsible for their own lives and most of this stuff could be purchased at the hardware store down the street, so I don’t feel particularly bad when I sell these items. Still, part of me feels like we may as well sell special velvet ropes to customers who enjoy auto-erotic asphyxiation.
On the bright side, we don’t sell cigarettes or tobacco.
Friday, March 16, 2012
I never saw the original pictorial of Type O Negative lead singer Peter Steele that appeared in Playgirl, but I heard all about it. The well-endowed rocker didn’t realize that the magazine’s readership was mostly male and was incredibly embarrassed by his photo shoot after her learned that his nude photos would be viewed mostly by men. (He also received no end of shit from his band mates about this fact.) Despite the strong male readership, I’m sure the number of goth women who purchased Playgirl skyrocketed the month his pictures appeared.
Original issues of Playgirl from this month are quite rare and expensive, but the shots were so popular that Playgirl decided to run Peter’s photos again in a compilation issue. This “rerun” issue contained the same pictures as the original issue, but is a lot easier to find. So easy, in fact, that I started noticing it popping up in the store’s gay mag packs.
For the uninitiated, mag packs are back-issues of porn magazines shrink-wrapped together and sold as a bundle for less than the cover prices. This method allows magazine publishers to make money off past issues they didn’t sell and customer to get a pack of nudie magazines at a cheap price. Generally, more recent or desirable magazines are placed on the outside of the pack, visible to customers, while magazines inside remain unseen. These “center mags” are usually foreign publications with models who don’t always measure up to western porn standards (missing teeth, visible scars, open herpes sores, etc.)
As a clerk, I was privy to when our new gay mag packs came in and always looked for the Playgirl that contained Peter Steele’s pictorial. I’d find them quite regularly (the compilation issue, not the original), bundle three of them into a $6.99 pack, use my employee discount to purchase them and then resell them individually on eBay.
I didn’t make a ton off these sales, but buying a magazine for $1.17 and reselling it online for $20+ is a hell of a profit. I kept doing this until eBay began requiring Playgirls be sold in their “adult” section. After this happened, no customers could find my listings (since most people don’t search eBay’s separate adult listings) and I stopped making any money selling the issues.
It was fun while it lasted.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
When people learn that I work at an adult bookstore, one of the most common comments is, “You must have a ton of porn at your house…” The funny thing about this assumption is that I don’t. (Begin your “sure you don’t comments” now.)
But with so much free pornography on the internet (in every conceivable genre, I’m looking your way fans of My Little Pony Dress-Up Fisting Parties), I’m surprised anyone spends much money buying pornography. But the bigger point is that watching porn at home is like taking work home with me.
As employees, we’re allowed to rent movies for free. The owners recently cracked down on the number of movies we can take out at a time and we’re now limited to one per person. It used to be that there was no defined limit, so everyone had at least five movies out at a time. I’ll admit that most of these rentals ended up being crazy fetish videos to freak out my roommates, but now I don’t take anything home. Given that I don’t have a TV in my room and that I see porn as mainly a masturbatory aid, any videos I rent now are focused on freaky things that I can weird people out with at parties.
I’m a voracious reader and during the downtime at the store, I’ve gotten to know all of the magazines we carry in incredible detail. Nudie pictures get really old, really fast, so I’m on the search for something of merit to read. Playboy as a porn mag is completely worthless and I don’t understand why people buy it from the store. They have some great, well-written articles, but each issue is limited to just three, heavily airbrushed pictorials. Penthouse is pretty much the same, but with more explicit photos. Hustler has lots of naughty photos and some entertaining political rants, but it’s disgusting. (Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t get turned on by a woman pulling apart her genitalia like she’s ready to be stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey.)
Furthermore, even with my 50% employee discount, I haven’t purchased any sexual devices from the store. It’s not that I’m against the idea of fucking a synthetic vagina. I’m sure it feels great, but what turns me off is the fact that I’ll have to clean it afterwards. Considering my general aversion to cleaning, I expect I’ll put off washing it out after each use and my spent semen will eventually start to attract bugs. At that point, I’ll be embarrassed to throw it away, so I’ll end up throwing it out the window, some dark, lonely night on a stretch of barren highway.
Hey, at least I’m honest.
I won’t even buy condoms at the store after I went through our stock and found that more than half of them were expired. When I mentioned this to the warehouse and suggested we throw away the expired prophylactics, they told me to keep them and that everything we sell is intended for “Novelty Use Only.” With our gigantic mark-up, even with my half-off discount, it’s still cheaper to purchase condoms at a drug store.
So far, the only items I’ve purchased from the store were a few movies for single, male friend’s birthdays, a box of nitrous cartridges and a cracker for a friend who wanted to try it out and a lot of greeting cards. (Cards are one of the few things I like going into adult bookstores for. You simply can’t find cards this hilariously offensive at Hallmark.) It’s not that I feel I’m above porn, it’s just that I haven’t found anything that I actually want.
Anyone have any recommendations?
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Don’t forget, you can email all your questions about porn, the adult industry or me to email@example.com. Or tweet me a message @jizzchronicles.
Today’s question asks, “Was the store open 365 days a year?”
Thankfully, no… for the most part.
We closed early on Christmas Eve and were closed on major holidays like New Years Day, Easter and Thanksgiving. However, we were open pretty much every other day of the year.
Not surprisingly, this “doors-always-open” attitude interfered with my participation in a lot of common drinking holidays. I didn’t get to start swilling down Guinness until midnight on most St. Patrick’s days and Labor Day ended up being a celebration of watching those without families buy porn and try to fuck each other in the video booths.
And sometimes, people seemed completely oblivious to the fact that there was a holiday going on.
One Fourth of July, the store was absolutely dead during my 3-11 shift. My total for the day ended up being something like $200, when a normal daily total was around $1,000. Even the normally busy road in front of the store didn’t have much traffic. I ended up using the day to get a lot of textbook reading done and started hoping I’d be able to see some fireworks if I stood in the store’s parking lot.
At dusk, I left the long empty store to sit on my car and watch fireworks. The show began and I saw a lone set of headlights coming towards me on Mankato’s main drag. I thought to myself, “I really hope he doesn’t do a U-turn and drive to the store.” I was relieved when he passed the main intersection, but then heard him slam on the breaks at the next break in the median pull an illegal U-turn. He drove into our parking lot and I reluctantly left the fireworks to stand behind the register.
He asked if we had novelty playing cards and I showed him where they were, eager that he might leave before the grand finale was over. Instead, he looked through the cards for TWENTY GODDAMN MINUTES before finally making his $4.95 purchase. At this point, I was so irritated that I didn’t even offer him a bag.
I’m not a particularly big fan of fireworks, but the situation had turned into a matter of principle. He most certainly saw me watching the display, but still decided to come into the store and spend an extremely long time looking through our selection of five different varieties of nudie playing cards. It’s almost like he was intentionally trying to make me miss the fireworks.
The following year I had the evening off, but I didn’t even bother watching the fireworks. I guess it’s one of those things you only want to do as soon as you’re not able to.
Cinco de Mayo was a particularly annoying shift to work through simply because people came into the store absolutely wasted. The official store policy was to kick out anyone who appeared under the influence, but it’s not always easy when it’s an entire group of drunks who think everything you say is absolutely hilarious. It’s a complete mess when your store is filled with 20 trashed customers who won’t end up buying anything, but take their time to examine and laugh at every product in the store.
Thankfully, no one ever got sick during these drunken holidays, but I always expected it.
These are the joys of working retail.
Monday, March 12, 2012
One of the best things about working somewhere for a while (and becoming assistant manager) is that it greatly increases your ability to get friends hired. When I stopped working the overnight shift and needed someone to cover the late nights, the first person who came to mind was my friend Ogre.
A perfect candidate not only because he had the mentality and physique of a bouncer, but also because Ogre doesn’t sleep (at least much… I’ve never seen him with his eyes closed.) Getting paid to stay up all night while kicking people out of the store who annoy him sounds like an ideal situation for him. And so far, he seems content.
Perhaps more than in other retail jobs, lonely people try to connect with you when you’re a clerk at a porn store. Certain customers will come in much more often than they need to and try to start awkward conversations as they buy fishnets and herbal Viagra. Ogre is particularly adept at putting a stop to this phenomenon immediately.
I once watched a pathetic customer attempt to engage him in a conversation about Iron Maiden for over 20 minutes. During this time, Ogre didn’t so much as look at the guy as he rambled on and on about how good their new album was. In the middle of a particularly long sentence describing his favorite track, Ogre simply stood up, sighed heavily and walked into the back room leaving the customer speaking to no one. (This customer, thankfully, decided to stop coming back.)
My favorite Ogre story, which I feel speaks the most about his love of his friends and his disdain for everyone else, happened a few weeks after he started working overnights. I was just about to finish my 3-11 shift and Ogre was waiting to take over the register when I finished helping a particularly needy customer. I had spent the last two hours helping him find videos of Chasey Lain in our unorganized video selection. (Ogre will tell you the fact that I helped the guy do this was incredibly stupid.) I was bored, so I really didn’t mind helping, but the guy wouldn’t shut up. Even as I rang up his final purchase, the customer (who was probably on meth considering how much he was rambling and sweating) kept talking on and on. Eventually, he noticed Ogre standing at the side of the counter, giving him a disgusted look.
The customer seemed annoyed by this and said, “Your friend over there doesn’t seem to like me much. You’d better shake my hand.” And he reached over the counter and shook my fist with his overly-moist hand.
Ogre’s expression darkened.
Determined, the customer said, “That didn’t seem to work. You’d better shake my hand again.” Ogre became more irritated as a second awkward handshake was completed.
Sensing this, the customer walked to Ogre and said, “You’re definitely someone I don’t want mad at me. Here, shake my hand friend.”
Ogre’s deadpan response will be forever etched into my psyche. “No. I’m not your friend. And if you reach over the counter and touch my friend again, you’re going to get hurt bad. REAL BAD.”
Now, most people would back down when they heard this from a 300 pound hulk of a man with a shaved head towering over them, but meth is a hell of a drug. The customer threw his money at me and started ranting about how he was the customer and that he didn’t have to take this kind of shit. He grabbed his bag, rambled angrily for a few minutes and then stormed out of the store (I thought) for good.
Ogre sensed there was more trouble coming and stepped out the front door to make sure the customer left without further incident. What happened next was something I was certain I’d eventually be called to describe in front of a judge.
The customer peeled out through the parking lot and just about made it to the main road before noticing Ogre standing in the store’s entrance. He screeched in reverse, past the entrance and then slammed the gas while driving directly towards the store entrance. His car skidded to a stop mere inches away from the concrete barrier, erected to prevent incidents like this from becoming tragedies.
Ogre remained impassive throughout this rather idiotic driving display. His face displayed a visage of annoyed indifference as the customer, now drenched in sweat, ran up to him screaming, “Who do you think you are?!?”
I have to hand it to him, while I knew there’s nothing Ogre would rather do than to destroy this annoying little man, he stood his ground and waited for the other to make the first (if any) move. Fortunately, the customer eventually stopped screaming, went back to his care and tore out of the parking lot (again) for good. We both stood and watched as he backed up repeatedly to get his car facing the right direction to leave.
We went back inside, switched out registered and never spoke of the incident again.
I could write a separate blog about the adventures I’ve experienced with Ogre, but I’ll leave (most of) these stories for him to tell. I just wanted to give readers a good overview of what it’s like working with this tremendously loyal, and slightly scary, man.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Due to the nature of our business, we don’t have a mailbox or a listed phone number. Thanks to 411 (and probably a loose connection of junior-high-school student word of mouth), prank callers regularly get access to our phone number. But thanks to Star 69, we’re usually able to turn this slightly annoying occurrence into an incredibly amusing experience.
The calls all begin the same, “Thank you for calling _____________, how may I help you?”
(Spoken in an attempted, fake low tone.) “Aaaaahm…. Yeah. Do you guys sell _________.”
To be fair, legitimate customer questions can begin this way too. Whether or not the call is legitimate usually depends on what the caller asks for.
The following product requests ensure a prank call:
- Boobie Movies
- Naked Ladies
- Anything involving the word “wiener”
- Anything involving the word “humping”
- Playboys (without asking about a specific issue)
- Excessive Laughter
The following product requests may or may not ensure a prank call:
- Masturbation Sleeves (actually a common request, see earlier post about this)
- Condoms (the more specific the question, the greater likelihood it’s a prank)
- Beta Movies (this only happened once, but they sounded sincere)
- Marital Aids (the more elderly they sound, the more likely it’s a legit question)
- Anything involving the word “vagina”
- Anything involving the word “anus”
- Gay Porn
Once I know the call is a prank, I like to keep the caller on the line for as long as possible. First, I’m bored and extending this conversation amuses me. Second, this happens most times when the caller doesn’t hang up, they start to feel like a complete jack-ass and usually end up apologizing. Last, the longer they stay on the line, the greater the chance that one of their parents will pick up the phone and catch them in the act. This happens surprisingly frequently and when the parent starts asking questions, I calmly explain that someone from this number has called the store asking for movies about “butt-sex.” Then I sit and listen to the parent chew their kid out.
The real fun comes after a prank caller hangs up on me. I take this as a personal challenge and always dial Star 69 to get their number and call them back. If an adult answers, I explain that someone from this number has been calling and harassing us. If the prankster answers, I let them know that we take phone harassment VERY seriously and that if this continues, we will be contacting the police. Additionally, I say we’ll be calling back sometime in the next few days to let their parents know what has been happening.
The last threat always brings panic (sometimes tears) and results in the prankster begging me now to tell their parents. One time, I must have made my threat to someone who didn’t live at that house. Shortly after hanging up, someone else from this same number called back and begged me not to tell his parents or the police. “My friends put me up to this,” he said through restrained sobs. “You know how it goes… man.”
On a number of occasions, I’ve had extended conversation with people who I thought were pranksters, but eventually realized it was a legitimate customer calling. Once, I was on the phone for two hours with a guy, who I later discovered was a woman, discussing what products would best help a woman in her late 50s achieve orgasm. (Don’t laugh; we’ll all be in a similar situation someday.) By the end of the call, I believe I helped her, but I never saw anyone matching what I imagined she looked like, come into the store.
Our store name is remarkably similar to the name of a boating supply store in town. Because of this, we often get callers looking for a different store. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “You want a 50 foot COCK?” Only to be embarrassingly corrected by the caller that they’re looking for a “dock.”
Games like this certainly help the long shifts fly by.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The store has always had several security cameras covering the store and register. These cameras weren’t there to keep an eye on the customers; they were there for the owner and warehouse staff to keep track of the store clerks. A few times a week, a touring manager would pick up the money out of the drop safe and switch out the security tapes (stored in a locked container) and bring the used tape back to the warehouse.
This week, the store’s video security system was completely upgraded to include ten cameras around the building that captured everything happening at the store on tape and could also be viewed remotely through an internet connection. In addition to cameras covering the store’s merchandise, there were new cameras surrounding the cash register at a variety of different angles as well as back room, where we count out our tills at the end of shifts.
We were assured that if anyone stole any money from the store, the owner would know immediately, we would be fired and legal action would be taken. Everyone was instructed to place money received from a customer on the top of the register, make change for the customer and then finally place this new money into the register at the end of the transaction. This way, the cameras could easily record what money was coming in and what was being handed back as change.
One of the touring managers told me they had hired some “local ladies” who lived near the warehouse to spend eight-hour shifts watching these videos looking for thieves. I don’t believe this for a second. Realistically speaking, this would be impossible. Since the store is open 24-hours a day, they’d need to hire three people per store, per day that would have to cover 10 different video feeds at the same time. Considering there are four stores, hiring 12 people per day just doesn’t seem feasible, particularly when I know how cheap the owner is.
My assumption is that they occasionally do spot checks with the videos, but so far, no one has been busted or even reprimanded for not following procedure. They are doing something though. I’ve heard the warehouse connect to the store through an old-school modem to download the video feed, but who knows if they’re just storing this on a hard-drive or actually watching it. The only true benefit I can see in this elaborate system is being able to cross-reference recordings if the store was robbed or something terrible happened.
Given the history of clerks stealing form the store, I’m not surprised they’re going to such great lengths (and expense) to discourage theft. Still, it doesn’t make the store a particularly upbeat place to work when you know you’re always suspected of something. It’s clear no one is trusted and that the owner wants us to know this.
In all fairness, the owner also needs to take a closer look at the people he’s approving for hire. I’ve explained in older posts that the owner likes to hire older clerks and why this is a terrible idea. The college student working overnights is (probably) less likely to steal than a 45-year-old burnout just one hit away from a complete relapse. They’d be better served to run a detailed background check on potential employees rather than spending thousands of dollars on video feeds from the store.
Now, we have a twisted version of 1984 filled with porn, drug addicts and perverts. I wonder what George Orwell would think of all this.