This store was advertised once 0ff the highway, with a faded billboard missing half the letters. I could barely make out the words A-LT- ST-RE and the numbers 283. I couldn't see the stop at first, so after stopping to take some pictures of this ADORABLE PUPPY and creepy shack, I was about to head back to the road. Then, I saw it. Rising above the bushes, like... slightly ominous invitation to murder... I drove forward. The outside was a converted gas station. I wanted to take a photo for y'all, but people get nervous when you photograph parking lots in adult stores, so I just got these ones of the entrance and... lobby?
The entrance had a lot of rubbish, and a hand printed sign on the fridge door advertising soda and water. It reminded me of entering somebody's 80's dad's basement. I cautiously went through the white door.
The inside was unremarkable, littered with dust and dirt from past projects. There was a bachelorette party kit from the 80's that I contemplated buying, had it not been $50. There was your average porn selection, a small collection of lingerie and various toys, penis extenders, and a huge selection of performance enhancers.
The man behind the counter was neither particularly helpful nor upsetting. He greeted me, and returned to looking at his computer screen. I asked him if I could take pictures of signs and he consented, so I wandered back to the arcade to see what it was. I didn't make it there... 2/3 of the video rental booths were in use and the sound and smell was too overwhelming with moaning over the speakers and a musky, manly scent. I poked my head in one not in use, noting the metal chair, small TV screen, and tissue box, and returned to the main store.
I was about ready to leave then, but didn't want to rudely photograph and take off. As I stared aimlessly at a row of low-end butt plugs, thinking about my budget for the next few days, a cat came out to greet me.
The store owner introduced me to Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty came to the store as a stray 3 years ago, and immediately endeared herself to the owner. This explained the faint clay and litterbox basement smell.
Miss Kitty was very sociable, making all the normal "I'm a happy tortishell!" noises and purring against my hand. The owner of the store told me about how a feral Siamese tom cat has been coming by lately for food, and while he is increasingly friendly, he still is skittish about being pat.
The owner talked about his pet cat(s) with the same adoration as most of my friends talk about their cats, therefore proving that love of cats transcends age, geography, job, sexuality, and life interests.
I left, feeling confused about my overall experience. I had gone in there expecting to come out with a story of a creepy store run by creepy people full of creepy customers, because lets be real, the outside was pretty creepy looking. While the contents weren't really my bag, and the interior wasn't up to my standards of cleanliness or quality, the owner was respectful and friendly, loved his cats, and he had a business for which there is a demand.
I wondered who exactly is using porn video booths, in the age of the internet. Even my grandpa, prior to his passing, had figured out Facebook, it's not a technology thing- is it? Or, is it the excitement of an experience ingrained into the sexual histories of truckers, who as young men in the 70's only had these kinds of stops for a virtual sexual release? Has the experience of driving up, pulling in, walking through the lobby into a familiar closet in and of itself become a part of the sexual experience on the road? Who uses these stops? I want to understand!