The Lower Mainland’s top adult store operator says he may have been too quick to shut down his porn theatre in Surrey.
Tony Perry believes a Vancouver neighbourhood group has taken the Surrey concession as a sign of weakness.
The Dickens Community Group in East Vancouver now wants Perry’s Fantasy Factory store at Kingsway and Fraser shut down, saying it’s a family-oriented neighbourhood.
“I’m on a major throughway with 70,000 cars a day going by,” Perry says. “That’s a neighbourhood?”
Community group coordinator Peter Wohlwend says the store is in everyone’s face. He says people might not be upset if the store’s advertising were more discreet.
Perry opened the store, one of seven in the region, last fall. It advertises adult videos and magazines, lingerie, performance enhancers and sex toys.
Perry says the store conforms to zoning guidelines and doesn’t display anything graphic on the street.
City guidelines only require sex shops be further than 305 metres from a school or community centre.
“I think we’re within firing distance of a primary or a daycare,” he says, adding the space was zoned to sell adult videos 15 years ago.
Perry says his opponents simply can’t accept the fact that he’s legally allowed to operate there.
“You’d think a UFO just flew over and dropped an adult store,” he says.
Wohlwend acknowledges the store before Perry’s also sold adult materials.
But “it was totally not offensive,” he says. “The ads this guy has are totally offensive. A lot of people are upset.”
Perry says he’s willing to fight the community group in court if need be.
“They’re living in the 19th century,” Perry says.
“I’m fed up but I’m not giving up,” he adds. “It’s like using a nuclear bomb to blow up a chicken house.”
The Dickens Community Group was initially formed to find solutions to neighbourhood problems stemming from street-level sex and the drug trade.
“We closed down flophouses and drug dens. It was horrendous,” Wohlwend says. “We don’t want to go back. We feel this highly visible porn shop is a step back for us. This is so in-your-face.”
Perry doesn’t buy the line that community standards are being violated.
He also questions the Dickens group’s use of a survey to find out if people are opposed to a porn shop.
“That’s a hatchet job,” he says. “Can you imagine anyone saying, ‘I like porn?’”
City of Vancouver spokesperson Wendy Stewart says Perry opened without a licence.
She says city staff are now backing up the licensing process to get the needed work done.
Sex shops cannot open within 305 metres of a similar store, school, neighbourhood house, daycare or community centre, she says.
Sex objects or pornographic publications cannot be visible from the street, and signage for minimum age of entry must be clearly posted, she adds.
But, she says, Perry can remain open.
Stewart says 700 letters have been sent out to neighbours in a two- to three-block radius around the store, and the zoning details are being checked with regard to schools and churches.
This isn’t the first fight Perry has confronted in his decades of running adult stores.
But he thinks the situation in Surrey, in which he walked away from a licensing dispute, may have given some people in the Kingsway and Fraser area the impression that he’ll walk away again.
This time, he says, he has no intention of walking away.
Perry decided it wasn’t worth his while to keep fighting the city of Surrey after it set its sights on an area a few blocks from his new store to redevelop into a revitalized city centre.