COLUMBUS, Ohio—Clintonville, the unincorporated north-central area of Columbus, Ohio is about to get its own Hustler Hollywood store, and residents are not exactly jumping for joy at the prospect, according to local media. Still, there seems to be little they can do about it.
Hustler founder and publisher Larry Flynt was actually in the area Tuesday. According to the Columbus Dispatch, “[Flynt’s] stretch limousine stopped at nearby Mozart's Bakery and Piano Cafe. Flynt visited the bakery and restaurant in his gold wheelchair.”
"I thought I recognized him," said Mozart’s owner Anand Saha. "I went back to the office, Googled his name, and it was him."
The new retail store, which is currently being renovated and is supposed to open sometime this summer, is located just north of the Ohio State campus, on the site of a former Tan Pro, at 2761 N. High Street.
Saha, whose bakery is a few blocks from the site of the new store, said he has mixed feelings about the new neighbor. "As a business man, anybody is allowed to do what they want. This is America," he said. “But as a resident of Clintonville, obviously I'm not happy. We've all invested so much in this community; we are a little afraid.”
There is nothing to fear from a Hustler Hollywood store, of course, unless you are a competitor. The upscale shops, which sell lingerie, swimwear, sex toys, glassware and other adult novelties, are the antithesis of the dark and dingy adult book stores that many people still envision.
The first Hustler Hollywood store opened in1998 in West Hollywood, Calif. Other stores are in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; San Diego; and St. Louis. The most recent opening in late March of a Hustler Hollywood store also was in Ohio, on 7th Street in Cincinnati.
According to the Dispatch, Flynt’s roots in Ohio are deep. “[He] began his business in 1965 when he opened his first bar in Dayton,” the paper reported. “He opened Dayton's first go-go bar, the Hustler Club, in 1968. The success of that bar prompted him to open a string of Hustler Clubs across the state, in Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo. In 1974, he published the first issue of Hustler.”
That history of successful business in the state notwithstanding, one Clintonville city commissioner expressed his concern that the city fathers had failed to enact zoning provisions to prevent the opening of a Hustler store.
"It doesn't look like they need any zoning variance," Commissioner Mike McLaughlin said. "So I think Clintonville needs to look at its zoning. The development plan is promoting Clintonville as a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood where you walk with your children and get ice cream. I don't think this is conducive to that plan."
Another commissioner thought the choice of location curious. "Good old Clintonville, Ohio, next to the old White Castle," said Commissioner Jim Blazer. "It's kind of a strange place for Mr. Flynt to come and set up shop. It's not necessarily what I would pick, but I guess it takes all kinds.
“I'm not sure how it's going to improve the neighborhood,” he added. “What are they going to do to enhance the lifestyle in Clintonville? I think it's kind of unfortunate."
Unfortunate or not, maybe the location was chosen for reasons having less to do with the town's geography than its name. Considering the fact that Flynt has just published a book on the sex lives of presidents titled One Nation Under Sex: How the Private Lives of Presidents, First Ladies and Their Lovers Changed the Course of American History, putting a store in Clintonville may have been something the Hustler chief simply could not refuse to do.