Page 2 of 6
The county also now limits the booths to one person at a time, and a manager must be able to see inside. The new law requires owners, board members, shareholders and employees of adult-entertainment complexes to pass criminal background checks. It also bans felons from owning an adult bookstore — and that could pose a problem for Erotic City.
Until last month, a seven-member board of directors controlled the complex. The board included a convicted felon, a 12-year-old boy and an aspiring Hollywood actress. It was created after the death of Erotic City's owner, Elvin Lester Boone, in 1997. Video booths were the backbone of the sex empire that the scrap-metal dealer built on the outskirts of Kansas City. The glory holes, skin flicks and dildos made Boone millions and, after his death, would pay his eight children annual six-figure dividends.
Eleven years after his death, though, Elvin Boone's porn empire is crumbling under his children's control.
Erotic City would never have opened if Elvin Boone hadn't been busted for hiding money.
Sometime in the early '70s, he flew to Switzerland to open a bank account. Boone's oldest daughter, Debrah Lackey, recalls that her father took his then-girlfriend, Mary Lou Jacoby, to Switzerland with him. But when Boone dumped Jacoby for another woman, Jacoby turned him in to the Internal Revenue Service for keeping the secret account. (Jacoby could not be reached for this story.) Boone was sentenced on April 28, 1983.
That same year, behind the walls of Leavenworth's minimum-security farm, Boone met Theodore "Sugar Bear" Irving II. Together they dreamed up Erotic City.
Irving was serving a nearly two-year sentence for tax fraud. He had run massage parlors in the 1970s and early '80s, and still owned the VIP Health Studio and Massage Parlor, a trailer at 8603 Truman Road. Irving lived wild and dangerously. He wore canary-yellow leisure suits, drove a matching Cadillac and exchanged gunfire with a wannabe thief during a car chase, according to a 1998 story in The Kansas City Star.
Both men were released by October 1984, and they formed a three-way partnership to open an adult bookstore with Harold "Doc" Holliday Jr., an attorney, civil rights activist and then-Jackson County legislator. The county was about to pass a zoning ordinance regulating adult bookstores. Boone and Irving rushed to open Erotic City and its parent company, Enlightened Reading Inc., before the ordinance passed, recalls Sharlie Pender, Boone's longtime attorney.
Erotic City's beginnings were humble. Pender recalls Boone putting up a white canvas sign, on the roof of the old grocery-store building that he had owned at 8401 Truman Road, with red letters proclaiming: "Open 24 hours. Free coffee." The sign neglected to mention that the new coffee shop was really an adult bookstore.
"When you went in there the first week, he had a coffeemaker in there and some magazines thrown on the floor and a Super 8 camera running against the wall," Pender says. "And that's all it was."
Irving didn't stay out of trouble long. The police raided his VIP massage parlor in a prostitution sting, and a 1984 court order shut down his house of happy endings for a year. In 1985, he was convicted of promoting prostitution. He was released from prison two years later and returned to work as general manager at Erotic City.
"I had to go pick Ted up at the halfway house and bring him to work," Debrah Lackey says.