Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Adult store a spiritual 'mission'

        It proved to be a day of bitter disappointment. I had heard I was on some sort of sex bulletin board at a downtown store scheduled to open today. As intimates know, I am sexy as all get-out when I put on my chenille bathrobe. And when I add tube socks in the winter, it's a dangerously erotic moment.

        But how did strangers find out?

        I asked Elyse Metcalf, professional pornographer. I feel sure she will not mind my calling her that because she is the proud merchant of erotica and “people who are very hip know there's no difference between porn and erotica.” As one who is tragically un-hip, I was grateful she was willing to take the time to enlighten me. As it turns out, I am not alone, hip-wise.

Uptight, repressed
               “Cincinnati is very backwoods,” she says. Uptight. Repressed. Ignorant. Luckily, we are Ms. Metcalf's “mission on this earth.” If education is her mission, she has chosen the right location. She'll be just a hop, skip and a jump from a school.

        And wouldn't you just know people around here would be uptight about it?

        Parents, teachers and the principal of the School for Creative and Performing Arts are asking her to relocate. “Anyone who has a child would prefer the city not allow a store selling these items 100 feet away from a school building,” said Jeff Brokamp, principal of the Pendleton school.

        The store, Elyse's Passion, formerly of Northside, sells adult videos, books and sexual aids. Also magnets, books and greeting cards not of a sexual nature. If most of her merchandise is sexually oriented, she'll violate a Cincinnati zoning ordinance prohibiting businesses of this kind within 1,000 feet of a school.

Realizing her gift
               “I'm trying to do a good, positive thing for this community,” the owner said. “I want to make mainstream what used to be considered deviant sexual behavior.”

        Ms. Metcalf said she quit her job as a court reporter to open a store because she wanted to work in a “more spiritual realm.” She said people confided their sexual problems to her, and she realized this was her calling. “I think we all should find out what it is we're gifted at.”

        As I understand the thinking behind the zoning, it's not that most of us believe a fourth-grader will run out and buy a dildo on his or her lunch hour if it's available nearby. (And, by the way, Ms. Metcalf gives her solemn word that no one under 21 will be admitted.) It's just that some people suspect a store that sells adult videos and sex toys might draw clientele whose aims are not always spiritual in nature.

        And indeed Ms. Metcalf has announced her dream to make the store just down the street from SCPA “Cincinnati's sexual epicenter.”

        But, enough about you, Elyse Metcalf. What about me? How did I get on your bulletin board? Did you hear that I was some sort of sex goddess? “Somebody just suggested your name,” she said. Along with Phil Heimlich, who pushed for the city's sexually oriented business ordinance, Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen, businessman Carl Lindner and Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

        “It's, uh, kind of a competition. And you only got one vote, so I took your name down.” Very disappointing. Worse, she said the bulletin board is called “The Hall of Sexual Shame.” Which seems kind of uptight to me. Kind of unspiritual.

        And, frankly, not very educational.

        E-mail Laura at lpulfer@enquirer.com.


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