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Bins of vibrators and other sex toys sell for 50 percent off. A clothing rack offers "gently used" clothes. Back issues of Playboy sell for $2. The magazine racks look ransacked. Most of the inventory appears to have been marked down to sell off.
Times appear to be tough at Erotic City. The days of six-figure dividends for the shareholders are over. Lackey received her last dividend in December. "If it makes a profit," she says, "all that money is going to go to attorneys' fees."
The owners have hired their father's longtime attorney, Sharlie Pender, to review the recently passed Jackson County ordinance. "Obviously, a bad thing happened, and they wanted to make it as rigid as they possibly could," Pender says. "And I think they went a little bit overboard in some of the aspects." Pender declines to elaborate, saying he is only just beginning to review the new rules.
Pender says "without a doubt" the county's new ordinance targets Erotic City. If he's right, that could make the law invalid.
Ron Boone adds: "Mike Sanders and the Jackson County prosecutor . . . have taken it upon themselves to become the masturbation police."
The county will begin enforcement of the ordinance on July 1. The decision whether to grant an adult-entertainment license will be made by Ron Hilliard, chief of environmental health for Jackson County Public Works.
To get into compliance, Erotic City would require remodeling. The stage in the strip club needs to be raised. The doors on the video booths need to be removed. And the booths need to be set up so that a manager can see inside them at all times.
"It would be some major renovations," says Hilliard, adding that one of the store's owners told him Erotic City would not reopen the strip club or video booths. If that's the case, the business would not be subject to the county's new rules. "That would make them a retail establishment, and we would not regulate retail," Hilliard says.
According to Pender, the owners have yet to decide whether to file for the license.
Back at Erotic City, a man walks in and heads directly to the counter.
"Do you have the Number One?" he asks the clerk. The clerk reaches behind the counter and grabs a rainbow-colored box with bolts of lightning on it. The customer hands over $50.
About 10 minutes later, another guy comes in and asks for Number One. Another $50 sale.
Times are tough when the biggest moneymaker at Erotic City isn't dildos, nudie magazines or video booths. It's synthetic urine.