Secret Revealed

A sexually oriented business in DeSoto? Nah, really?

Is a shop that sells condoms, lubricants, risqué novelties, lingerie and, um, "massagers" a sexually oriented business? Sara Lee Goff, owner of Condoms to Go, doesn't think so. The city of DeSoto begs to differ.

Goff opened her seventh Dallas-area shop in DeSoto in September, though this time she called her new store Sara's Secret in deference to suburban sensibilities. Apparently folks in the hinterlands don't care for the word "condom," especially when it's spelled out in a lighted sign on a storefront. Getting rid of the bad word wasn't enough, however. A week after opening, Goff received a letter from DeSoto officialdom telling her she must seek a license to operate a sexually oriented business or close.

DeSoto police Chief Mike Brodnax says he expects to meet with Goff and her lawyer this week, but if she refuses to seek an SOB license from the city, police will start issuing citations. Then a court can decide what exactly an SOB is.

Goff is weighing her options but says she's reluctant to seek the license. To her, and perhaps to most people in Dallas, "sexually oriented business" has a negative connotation, and getting an SOB license in DeSoto could set a bad precedent for her other stores.

"I'm about the novelty, the fun, the romantic stuff," she says. Traditional SOBs such as adult video and bookstores, strip clubs, porn theaters and arcades offer more sleaze, less romance. (Call it a tie on the novelty and fun, depending on your personal tastes.) "My concept is totally different. I don't want that kind of clientele," Goff says. Her customers tend to be women and couples.

"I might save some marriages," she says.

It's one of those po-tay-to/po-tah-to things, obviously. For instance, we asked Goff if Sara's Secret sells vibrators. Nope, she said. They sell "massagers." "You mean vibrators, right?" Buzz said. "We don't call them that. They're massagers," she replied.

Well, we suppose both help you relax. Whatever.

"I think you can call it what you want, but put it before jurors and they're going to know what it is," Brodnax says. "We're not interested in what she's selling, per se. We're interested in her being in compliance with our ordinance."

The massagers and other goodies for sale conceivably could fall under the ordinance. It refers to businesses that sell or--ugh--rent "instruments, devices, paraphernalia which are designed for use in connection with specified sexual activities." Of course, under that definition, drugstores, novelty gift shops, pet stores and the produce department at your local grocery store also might be considered sexually oriented businesses--though perhaps not by design. In fact, judging from some of the e-mail spam Buzz receives, there's not much that's insertable, edible or lickable that isn't on the ordinance's list.

But then Buzz lives in Dallas, about a two-minute drive from a number of adult video stores and strip clubs. If Goff were to seek an SOB license from DeSoto, it would be the city's first, Brodnax says, which probably goes a long way toward explaining why a fairly innocuous condom shop has run afoul of the law in DeSoto. They're behind the times there, we suspect, and probably very happy to stay that way.

 
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