I stopped in the Hustler Hollywood Store at Sunrise and 15th Ave. to shop for a straight friend's bachelor party gift. You know, located on that most wholesome corner of Walgreen's and Publix. It was the logical choice.
Larry Flynt's Hustler store is the iconic heterosexual emporium known for all things sexual like lingerie, videos, vibrators, and a very wide selection of sex toys. Hustler also publishes several magazines including Hustler, Barely Legal and Busty Beauties plus produces some porn. It’s the go-to store for straight sex.
That's the Hustler I thought I knew.
Looking out of my element and after confessing that as a gay guy I wasn't quite sure where to start, I received some shopping help from a laughing Lance, the new store manager. Turns out I was in good hands. Lance is gay himself and understood where I was coming from.
Gift selection made, Lance went on to share some surprising to me information about Hustler in general and the Fort Lauderdale store in particular. To be sure Hustler is indeed the store for straight sex "things," but who would have known it has a rainbow side.
First there's Larry Flint, Hustler's founder and owner and long time free speech advocate who has already come out backing Hillary Clinton for President in 2016 and has been a long-time supporter of marriage equality. In fact Flynt's corporate vice president of Hustler Retail was recently engaged to his long-time boyfriend!
Second, a quarter of the local Hustler store's employees are gay.
Third, the local Hustler store is a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and will be actively participating with booths at Wilton Manors' Stonewall Pride and the Fort Lauderdale Pridefest. In addition to these key events, Hustler sends out weekly Street Teams on The Drive to pass out condoms and "goodies" as well as partnering with clubs such as Progress Bar for special drag events, again with condoms, coupons and "goodies"!
The plan is to join with more bars for events such as participating in the May 20 Bachelor and Bachelorette LGBT Auction at The Village Pub benefitting Deliver the Dream. Also coming are monthly "Wednesdate Nights " for the gay community when a special champagne and snacks party will be held at the store for LGBT couples (and "date-looking singles") with exclusive discounts, drawings and prizes. The first will be June 10th, 7-9.
And who would have thought you will see a big Pride Window at The Hustler store during June with displays of special Pride clothing and towels, flags, linens and other "specialty items" unique to the gay and lesbian clientele. Biggest sellers to gays and lesbians are the "jewelry" and various toys and wearables. Hustler will be donating a portion of their June proceeds to local LGBT organizations and HIV clinics. Speaking of those specialty items, I was in for an education. "Who would have thought" takes on an even broader meaning. Amazing what some porn stars will lend their names to. And yes, Hustler very successfully advertises on Grindr!
Lance said Hustler wants to build its gay and lesbian customer base. They clearly have the products to fit anyone's buying niche from pure vanilla to all fetishes. He hopes that by greater participation in the gay and lesbian Fort Lauderdale community, the Hustler store will attract more customers through its doors to better appreciate the Hustler corporate tag line of "Relax, it's just sex." Gay sex or straight, Hustler Hollywood is there to help.
Who would have thought! Really.