Identity

The Men Who Still Rent Porn From a Video Store

Some men need to drive somewhere before they can get off.

by Bethy Squires
May 4 2016, 6:45pm

brandon bird

If you don't live in the Midwest, you'd be forgiven for not knowing that brick and mortar video stores still exist. Family Video has over 700 stores in the US and Canada. And despite the word "family" being in their name, they still rent porn. The burning question is, to whom?

"[W]hy go out and rent porn from a public place?" asks boredNbipolar, a Redditor and video store clerk. "You know it's free online and then you won't have to act all embarrassed that the sweet video store girl is seeing your strange fetishes and (possibly) judging you." BoredNbipolar went on to say that she rents out 2-30 adult films a day, and that sometimes they come back with... evidence that they were thoroughly enjoyed. "WHY do you jizz on the damn case and put it in the drop box all sticky?" she screams at the Internet heavens.

I used to work in an independent video store and I can attest to boxes coming back with all sorts of alarming fluids on them, but because I don't own a luminol kit, I could never determine what substance was making the DVD cases stick together (semen? lube? tears?). On the rare occasions that porns were returned to me by hand, I made a study of the customer. One man—older, pleasant voice, smelled like pipe tobacco, always paid in cash—would return two adult videos and immediately check out two more. He was honestly one of my favorite customers because he was polite and efficient. Two days later when the DVDs were due back, he'd be back to start the cycle anew.

"We also have Boob Patrol Vol. 7!" (image via Yelp)

I rang up Family Video and spoke with a clerk, who said this behavior is pretty common in people who still get their porn analog. "We have a small group of regulars," he said. At the Video Family store I visited, the adult section was sectioned off behind a surprising loud set of Wild West-style swinging double doors. Inside, the new porn releases cost $3.99 a pop, much more expensive than a general title like New Year's Eve or Battleship starring Rihanna.

While the audience for this costly porn exists, it is certainly definitely dwindling. A Clockwork Orgy hasn't been rented since 2014, Deep Throat since a year before that. Thankfully, there are some people still renting Edward Penishands, a classic in the parody genre.

"In my experience, very few people still rent porn," says Dave Walter, my old boss at the independent video store. "Those who do, however, are remarkably loyal. And what's weird is that they rent the same goddamn things every time."

So what kind of titles are these remarkably loyal few renting? "I try not to look at the specific titles," the Family Video clerk says. "But you can tell what rents well by what stays in New Releases." Family Video gets new porn in every month. Titles that do well stay on the top shelves with "New Release" stickers on them.

"We have a wide variety," says the Family Video guy. "From, I hate to say, 'normal' films to the parody ones that are just for a laugh." The MILF genre does particularly well at his store.

"You have to assume the renting has become part of the thrill," Walter muses. "Because it's definitely not cost-efficient." The repeat rentals also point to a pattern that's become so ingrained, it's a ritual. "Somewhere along the line, a wire got crossed," Walter says. "The renting has become fused with everything else."

We all have habits when it comes to our—ahem—alone time. For these older men (both Walter and the Family Video guy tell me it's 95 percent older men) who came up sexually in a pre-Internet porn world, the renting has become part of the ritual. Is it any stranger than a millennial's ultra-specific keyword searches? One guy can't come unless he's looking at "BBW lesbian cakesitting." Another guy can't come unless he drives somewhere first. Neither are hurting anybody.

Just don't jizz on the box.