Friday Flashback (Shinders 1994)
2004-03-19 @ 10:21 a.m.
After I left the Comic College, I spent a year working for a “newsstand” in Mpls called Shinder’s. I worked in the downtown location. It was a people location, and there was always drama and excitement there, or at least something new to read. Shinder’s is the largest newsstand you could imagine. Newspapers, Comic Books, Paperbacks, Magazines, Candy, Soda, Smokes, Trading Cards, Collectibles, and Porn.
When you start, one of the jobs you do is packaging the porn videos and magazines to make them legal for display. You can bag something, you can cover images with a sticker, or you can bag and sticker. This doesn’t take skill, but good judgment helps. You learn efficiency- for instance, if the publication has penetration photos within, you bag it. If there’s an actual penetration depiction on the cover you cover it with a sticker. If you only legally have to cover the part of the image where the penis is entering an orifice, then don’t bother covering up the whole penile shaft. That would require a bigger, more expensive sticker after all. Bagging all this merchandise was essential in terms of profit margin, because if a customer wants to peruse the real porn, they would have to buy it. I mean, flip through Juggs and Barely Legal for free all you want fellas, but if you want the real deal- take it to go.
Also when I was new, I spent a lot of time putting Magik the Gathering cards in Mylar sleeves.
The contrast was surreal.
I eventually was promoted to Assistant Manager of Magazines, which meant I was the distribution boss of the hundreds of weekly and monthly titles. I put out the new issues and took the old ones to be returned for credit. I processed the returns either boxing up whole magazines, or more often, stripping them of their covers since that was all that was required to be sent back. My arms got really toned that year.
I also became skillful at entering the part of the store known as “the Porn Corral” through its swinging doors (you must be 18 to enter) with an armload of new porn and displaying it as business-like as you please. I was even clever enough to learn how to place a stack of heavy back stock (usually 50-100 magazines) on the floor tucked under a display without sticking my ass up in the air. Not that they were paying attention to me with anything other than concern that I might recognize or know one of them in the form they took in their actual lifestyles. I could’ve sent any one of them running with as much as a hostile glance in their direction.
The Queen of Porn portion of my job was alternately funny and sad. The magazines themselves were often hilarious- (Leg Show, Over 50..) I rarely saw any of them as titillating. The cloud of shame surrounding of most of the customers was pathetic. The regulars in the Porn Corral were doing everything possible to become invisible. The common vibe was repressed not lecherous.
After Shinders, I left retail to start my stint in the restaurant service industry. Everyone is always looking to feed something after all.