Springfield Republican: “Ryan shuts adult shop booths”

Capital Video must close the porn viewing booths at its Springfield store, Mayor Charles V. Ryan ruled on November 20. The store is located at Apremont Triangle. NoPornNorthampton mailed over 1,700 letters to this neighborhood on April 30. We asked residents to encourage the Mayor to address problems caused by this store.

Northampton attorney Thomas Lesser tried to convince Mayor Ryan that Capital Video had addressed the city’s concerns and should be allowed to retain the viewing booths. He did not prevail. The Republican reports today:

Ryan’s 13-page ruling was dated Friday. It came more than a year after an Oct. 11, 2006, inspection by the city Health and Human Services Department found “deplorable conditions within the booths,” said a press release that accompanied the mayor’s ruling…

Police and city health inspectors found problems that included dirty video booths, holes in walls between booths, inappropriate contact between individuals in booths and various health-code violations, Ryan’s ruling said.

Police and neighbors also have blamed Amazing.net for being a magnet for loitering, prostitution and drug activity…

“I think it’s a real strong move to improve the quality of life for the neighborhood,” [Police Commissioner Edward A.] Flynn said.

…inspectors found “repeated and persistent evidence of illegal activity and complicity and reckless disregard of Capital Video’s management over a long period of time which is sufficient to constitute a nuisance,” Ryan’s ruling said.
Capital Video’s Apremont Triangle store is located at 486 Bridge Street in Springfield. While its 16 viewing booths must now close, Capital Video may continue to sell books, magazines, videos and sex toys at this location. It may also apply for a new viewing booth entertainment license for the 2008 calendar year.

Capital Video initially planned to install 20 viewing booths in its new Northampton store, which is not yet open. As residents became aware of bad experiences with these booths in Kittery, Maine and elsewhere, they convinced Northampton’s City Council to pass legislation in November 2006 that forbids these booths to operate within 500 feet of homes. As a result, Capital Video’s Northampton store is not permitted to have viewing booths, as it is near to numerous residences.

Here is the press release distributed yesterday by the City of Springfield:

See also:

Full Text of Springfield’s Decision to Revoke Capital Video’s Viewing Booth Entertainment License
Here is the full text of Springfield’s Findings and Decision in its revocation of Capital Video’s viewing booth entertainment license. These Findings may also be downloaded as a PDF.

The Findings constitute a case study in “secondary effects”: the crime, blight and prostitution known to atttend many adult enterprises.

Gazette: “Porn store’s viewing booths raise stink in Springfield”
During the hearing, Nota himself said one of the holes in the Springfield viewing booths had been made with a drill, something that we presume would make a lot of noise. More generally, Internet comments from patrons suggest that Capital Video’s stores in Springfield, Kittery, Maine and elsewhere can be popular places for people to meet up for sex, at least when the store management chooses to be lax. And being lax is profitable. As one patron puts it, “theres more money going in the machines with lights off and holes in the walls…”

Springfield Republican Reports on Apremont Triangle Mailing about Amazing.net
“Residents…told The Republican that they believe the store draws prostitutes as well as vagrants who publicly urinate on their properties….

Springfield Police Commissioner: “…it is fair to say that ‘Amazing’ constitutes an attractive nuisance that contributes to blighted conditions there”
“We…would work with any group that has innovative ideas for dealing with this condition, particularly if they transcend the inherent limitations of an enforcement only approach.”

Gazette: “Porn store opening delayed”
One of Capital Video’s own patrons suggests an awareness that lax periods follow restrictive ones: “I agree that it is not really worth the time with the bright lights and no holes but they will be back eventually. Be Patient!” It’s time to break this cycle and win permanent gains for Apremont Triangle with viewing booth health regulations, better adult-use zoning, and shutting down Capital Video’s Springfield store as a public nuisance.

Capital Video’s Springfield Porn Shop Repels Sought-After Businesses
“The [potential grocery] market is really the key, we think, to the whole building. The people that come, the market operator–their issue is number one, the Video Expo [Amazing.net] across the street, and the crowd that you see around it…”

Capital Video Springfield: Secondary Effects Extend to Prostitution; Actions the City Can Take
[Fred Rowe:] Outside, we have both male and female prostitutes standing across the street, by our building, and we have a vacant lot that we use for parking. They stand there, and they wait for [customers] to come out, and they solicit them, and they try to take them out behind our building, and do their business. It’s unbelievable.

Springfield License Commission to Review Alleged Capital Video Violations for Drug Sales and Lewd Activity On or Near the Premises

The Gloryhole FAQ (explicit language)
Understanding the glory hole phenomenon is useful when evaluating statements made by commercial sex shop operators such as Capital Video. For example
, at Capital Video’s license violation hearing in Springfield on June 18, they made much of the fact that they recently installed metal sheets between the viewing booths in their Apremont Triangle Amazing.net store. However, Lilfuzzyg, “an avid attendee of gloryholes”, suggests above that metal partitions can be holed just as wooden ones can…

When Capital Video general counsel Lesley Rich declares that some Capital Video viewing booths have retractable “buddy windows”, glory hole devotees can reasonably infer that Capital Video welcomes sexual activity in their booths. Glory holes have been such a distinctive feature of Capital Video’s Springfield store they are mentioned prominently in its citation on Squirt.org, a website that helps members cruise for casual sex:

Most booths in arcade have glory holes, many times you can share a booth, have recieved some of the best blow jobs in my life here. Always some action going on. It’s got 20 booths, 3 large glory holes, several peep holes
Viewing Booths and HIV: An Open Letter to Thomas Lesser of Northampton, Attorney for Capital Video
It is remarkable that while the fate of Capital Video’s viewing booths in Springfield hangs by a thread, glory holes, sexual activity, foul conditions and management laxity remain hot topics of discussion by patrons of Capital Video stores around the country. Even metal plates between viewing booths, promoted as a key part of the recent improvements in the Springfield store, appear to be easily defeated…

Lesser Newman: Capital Video Has Seen the Light and Will Make its Springfield Viewing Booths Safe
On Squirt.org, Capital Video’s Apremont Triangle store gets the most comments of any location in Springfield. It is plausible that it is one of the leading centers for HIV transmission in the region.

We do not believe you intend to do the gay community any harm. However, by defending Capital Video’s viewing booths you are protecting a significant route for HIV transmission. Understanding the health issues at stake, US courts have ruled that private viewing booths do not merit First Amendment protection. For example, when ruling against Capital Video’s attempts to stymie viewing booth health regulations last year in Kittery, York County Superior Judge Paul Fritzsche wrote: “There is no fundamental liberty interest to view sexually explicit materials in a closed viewing booth at a business.”

…The time has come for Mayor Charlie Ryan and the city of Springfield to look past a well-paid lawyer’s easy assurances and rely on the truth of its experience with Capital Video over the past 15 years.

“Court upholds N.J. law discouraging sex in video shops”, AIDS Policy Law, 3/21/97

Many Porn Shops with Viewing Booths Likely Fall Short of OSHA Standards

In 2006, compliance appears to have been an issue at Capital Video’s porn shop in Kittery, Maine. This porn shop contains 16 viewing booths. We recall last year’s testimony from Kittery’s police chief (emphasis added):

The Chief said their informant told them that on numerous occasions he had tried to clean but had not been given any information on how to wash the areas properly. Police Chief Strong said he believed the collection of material they made, along with the lab results, showed beyond a reasonable doubt that there were body fluids being exchanged or deposited that other people were exposed to…
“Homosexual encounters in different venues”, International Journal of STD and AIDS, 1997
…the number of partners practising unprotected anogenital sex was highest in (semi) public venues.

Commercial sex venues: a closer look at their impact on the syphilis and HIV epidemics among men who have sex with men, Sexually Transmitted Infections, 8/2/06

…commercial sex venues are one of the focal points of syphilis and HIV transmission and acquisition.

“No Turning Back: HIV and Gay Male Sexuality”, The Body, Winter 2005/2006