The Sexist

Porno for Gearheads

The young man behind the counter at Rollin Bikes looks happy to see a potential customer until I open my mouth and ask him about the movies. That's when he sets down the part he's examining and places his hands flat on the counter.

"Movies," he parrots back to me without inflection.

I look from him to the other bike guy, who's suddenly very interested in stripping the wheel in his hands. I introduce myself as a writer from the City Paper and ask him about the movies again.

"Ugh, god," he says after he realizes I'm not only here for the movies, but I'm here to write about the movies. He cradles his face in his hands and mumbles something incoherent into his palms.

The shop is silent for a second.

"Yes," the man finally says. "This is the bike shop with the porn in the back."

But that's all he'll say. Clearly, bikes are his thing, not smut. Before going back to what he's doing, he points out that technically–technically–the porn is a separate business from Rollin Cycles. Hence the dirty white banner over the entrance that reads Video 2000. That's also why the movie section at the back of the store is cordoned off from the rest of the operation  by a graveyard of bike frames and tire carcasses. The man behind the counter (who won't give me his name) demands delineation.

But Charles–the heavyset man with the glasses who's currently cataloging DVDs and nonchalantly listening to our conversation–Charles "wouldn't be a business man" if he wasn't willing to talk about his video operation with a journalist.

"Hear that guys?" I say to the mechanics. "No such thing as bad press."

"Yeah. Right," says the guy behind the counter, aware, perhaps, that this is not an entirely accurate translation of what Charles just said. On cue, the other mechanic ignores me. (Later, as I'm leaving the shop, the mute mechanic will confide that he doesn't actually work at Rollin Cycles, and is there to use the shop's bike stand to replace his tire.)

"Exactly," Charles says, staring into the back of the mechanic's head before turning to me. "What would you like to know?"

Turns out, the shop sells and rents both adult and general release cinema. Some really good general release cinema, at that: Dawn of the Dead. Silence of the Lambs. A lot of Michael Douglas movies.

There are movies here that I would probably rent if I lived near Logan Circle and weren't in the 21st century and addicted to the convenience of Blockbuster Online. I look around a little more. An orange and black Ruskin Sport leans against what looks like the family section. A blue Iro frame with no wheels is propped up against the lower dramas. A Schwinn obscures a small portion of the extensive horror section.

Charles apologizes for the mess and explains that up until a year ago, Video 2000 was the only business in the building. But the market for in-store rentals, especially porn, which is cheaper and more accessible online, is disappearing. So he decided to let the surly mechanic out front, a friend of his, try running a bike repair store. The decision was a success, and they added sales after Fuji cut them a deal.

Then he shows me the porn room, which is respectfully separated from the two walls of general audience by a cheap red curtain. Inside the alcove are several racks of every-day porn: Pretty boys with pretty girls, pretty girls with pretty girls.

But there's a real drought of weird. Nothing for dwarf fetishists. No porn with pregnant actors. Maybe it's there, but I don't see anything for shitters, pissers, or frotteurs, either. Even the closest-but-not-quite thing to mainstream in the porn community–watchers of gay porn–get the short-shrift here. There's only a handful–literally, there are only 5 or 6 gay movies–of dudes on dudes. And you can just forget about chicks with dicks.

"Our customers are more heterosexual," Charles says, and adds that the few customers who buy gay porn normally buy a lot at a time, though he has no idea why. Also, gay porn costs him twice as much as straight porn, which means he has to rent a gay DVD twice as many times as a straight one to make his money back.

As we return to the front of the shop, Charles, who has been in the movie business for years, confesses that he doesn't think Video 2000 will be around much longer.

"It's dying," he says.

The surly mechanic looks relieved.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    So ... they sell lube there?

  • http://washcp.com Mike Riggs

    Bike lube, yeah. Sexy lube, no.

  • jules

    oh my gosh. one time i was wearing a skirt and i had to change into shorts, and i also needed the inner-tube changed on my bike. charles let me change in the porn room while he fixed my bike. pure love.

  • http://www.BikeSmut.com bike smut

    Portland and SF both have a variety of blended bike businesses. Coffee and bikes, brew and bikes, laundromat and bikes...

    this is something new and instead of being shameful they should pimp it as a unique bizness!

    course i am biased.

    reverend phil
    bike pornographer
    http://www.BikeSmut.com

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