Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Le Stag Magazine Shoppe




Must be 18 years old. Rated "R" for expletives

Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and may other Internet book sites
Retailers may order through INGRAM Book Distributors

ISBN  978-0-615-37758-2



      Le Stag Shoppe- My first bookstore in Flint

Back in Flint, I worked a couple of days a week for a paraplegic, Ray Woods, who owned a bookstore in downtown Flint called "The Book Nook." It was a rather large store. (I should have used that name for mine.) His store was right on the bridge over the Flint River. He ran an ad on the radio that said, "when down by the river, drop in."

I had returned from California and told Ray about the nudist magazines that were a big thing there. They were published by the Sunshine Publishing Company at Mays, Landing, New Jersey. I wrote a letter to them, for him, and received a large shipment of Sunshine & Health nudist magazines. They sold out right away. Of course they didn't sell for health reasons. The customers wanted to see the nude bodies. Nudity was often considered "obscene" in those days. Nudist books used to air-brush the pubic areas but these were all unretouched. Beaver shots never came along until years later. Even Playboy Magazine air-brushed the pubic hair on their models until Penthouse came along, showing pubic hair, and sales from that magazine cut into Hefner's goldmine. Then Larry Flynt came along and went further with Hustler, showing pussy shots, spread wide open, and his sales cut into the other two.

The Rialto theater, an open all night theater, had been remodeled and was called the Royal. It had been very popular with the homosexual crowd that would go there to pick up tricks. I managed the Royal for a few months but ended up leasing a small store next door for an adult bookstore called Le Stag Shoppe. It was a little over 300 square feet. I painted the walls lavender, installed a dark blue carpet and had customized racks built, painted black and splattered with white paint spots. I used fake leopard and zebra material for the window displays. It was small and with just four or five customers, it looked crowded and did quite well. I left the theater to operate the bookstore. Bookstores had always fascinated me when I went to the big cities. I saw magazines I had never heard of before and decided this is what I wanted for Le Stag. I was the only store selling "ONE," the homosexual political magazine. I was second with the nudist books, after getting them for the Book Nook. I also sold adult paperbacks called "Nightstand" and "Midnight Readers." These were the first paperbacks to have descriptive sex. I sold the Henry Miller novels, Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Nexus, Plexus and Sexus. I also carried the trade paper, Variety. George Jessel's advance man, George Maines, was from Flint and managed to get Variety for me. I also carried Billboard Magazine. I expanded into the basement and called it the Cave section. The walls going downstairs were decorated to look like the walls of a cave.

A drag show played Flint, called THE JEWEL BOX REVUE. It traveled across the country and had excellent production numbers, although it bombed in Flint. It was advertised as twenty-five guys and a girl. The guys were in drag as well as the girl, who dressed as a man. But, there were more people on stage, than in the audience. It played at the Michigan theater that had been closed for years, reopened, then closed again and half the seats were removed. (I mention this in the Larry Chene chapter). You overlooked a dance floor to see the stage. One of the performers had an album titled, "Queen for a Day." I bought a few and sold them at the bookstore next to my other party records, like Redd Foxx, Belle Barth and Rusty Warren. I also sold Aunt Charlie gay greeting cards, from a store by that name in Hollywood. I was the first store to sell the Athletic Model Guild books and the gay oriented Physique Pictorial. I also sold the Betty Paige bondage books from the Nutrix Publishing company and bondage books from the Satellite Publishing Company.

Girlie books were just coming into the market and later the beaver books. I dealt with Rubin Sturman, who at that time, was selling books from the trunk of his car and later started a distributing company in Detroit called Royal News. His main company was in Cleveland called Cuyahoga News and later Sovereign News. A few years ago he was serving time for tax evasion and died in prison. He was around eighty years old and a millionaire several times over. I could never figure out why he hadn't paid taxes on the coin operated movie machines? His competitor, Harry Mohney, went to prison for the same thing. The newspapers said Mohney was grossing over 80 million dollars a year. He is now living in San Diego and has all types of adult businesses and recently partnered with Larry Flynt for some new girlie clubs in Texas.

The State Bar was a skid-row bar downtown on Union Street, owned by lesbian, Melva Earhart. She had a country/western band and the place was packed. It was so dirty that you could smell the piss from the restrooms when you walked in the door. Across the street was Reese Jones, another skid-row bar, with a band. People would get kicked out of one bar and cross the street to the other. It was a mixed crowd, red neck hill-billys, gays, lesbians, and winos. She later moved it to Kearsley Street, into a new building she had built, and named it the "Poodle Lounge," and later, with no liquor license, "The Minor key." Then she got a liquor license and named it the "Major Key." To say it was large, would be an under statement. The waitresses were on roller skates. The electrical wiring alone ran $50,000 over the quoted price.

Melva had tried to make it. She still drove her Cadillac but was caught stealing steaks from Hamady Brothers, a large grocery chain. She had put them into her girdle and after she was caught, they let her go when she gave them passes to see her stage shows. She had booked Dinah Washington and when the receipts were low, Dinah said she would work for the cover charge. Then Betty, Melva's lover, said to Dinah, "Maybe you're not as good as you think you are." Dinah got back on the stage and in the microphone she shouted, "they can't pay me. The mother fucking place is mine." The next day she had the club closed by a court order.

Melva paid Dinah and then turned it gay again and booked a female impersonator named Val deVere. Val was advertised as the man with two voices. He would sing in his own, low voice and then go into singing soprano. Val was a big man, nearly 300 pounds. We became friends and he told me about the gay clubs in Toronto, Canada. We ended up visiting them. The first one was Studio 511, on Yonge Street, the main street in Toronto. It was located next to the cruisy Y.M.C.A. The club was beautiful, painted all white with white, glass topped tables and white chairs. It was very elegant and they featured female impersonators. They were packed and there were no fights, just a group of people having fun. I had gone to Detroit to the Diplomat Club to see similar shows. The famous Ray Bourbon had appeared there. He would later die in prison, of a heart attack, after having been sentenced for murder. He had left his poodles with someone to care for, when he went on the road, but the guy had them put to sleep. So, Ray put the guy to sleep, for good.

I later opened another store in Saginaw as well as leasing a theater. The bookstore was across the street from the Greyhound Bus Station and called Bill's Magazine Shoppe. That ended quickly with more obscenity arrests. Robert F. Leonard, the Genesee County Prosecutor, said that these books were "obscene" and arrested me and took me to trial. He also closed the store without a court order. The Judge dismissed the case and gave him hell. This was six years before hardcore publications were printed. I only had nudist colony books. He was (is) obsessed with adult oriented books. Of course hardcore movies can be subscribed to today, on cable and satellite.

The decision from the Circuit Court riled the prosecutor. He caught hell for raiding the bookstore and arresting employees and confiscating books and magazines. The following is excerpts from the Judges decision:

While Judge Parker said that the magazines were not obscene he did describe them as coarse and vulgar. Cleared was William Dakota, 25, owner of Le Stag Shoppe, 310 S. Saginaw Street. Confiscated in the raid were primarily, so called, girlie and nudist magazines. Ruling on motions by Ronald. L. Joseph, attorney for Dakota, Judge Parker held that a search warrant used in a raid at Le Stag was illegal and defective, under the Constitutional guarantee. The Judge ordered the seized merchandise be returned to Dakota. He also held that the evidence presented in Dakota's Municipal Court examination "Is insufficient evidence of obscenity, lewdness, or indecency."

The Judge said that the warrant, in effect, was an order to search for and seize books and magazines "which would create and excite improper thoughts in the minds of the average people in the community," he quoted from the warrant. Such an order, Judge Parker continued, "is so vague and indefinite that it provides no standard. It is a blank check to be used by law enforcement officers at their whim. It is a physical impossibility to determine what goes on in the mind of another, not to mention the further impossibility of determination with respect to the minds of the average people and who is to Judge what is improper even if the workings of other's minds could be established? The warrant authorized ex-parte (one sided) censorship, pure and simple. Our constitution guarantees prevent it."

The Judge pointed out that the magazines seized include pictures of some partially clothed and some nude individuals, some written articles and a few advertisements. He said, "books and magazines must be judged as a whole and not separate portions and that the right to freedom of the press is a constitutional right not to be treated lightly or to be gradually eroded and that censorship in any form is abhorred in this country."

He continued:
"In an era of bikinis, of cinemas showing females swimming in the nude, with many TV commercials concentrating on undergarment ads, with headlines detailing the actions of the prominent and sexually aberrant, one must legally conclude the pictures and literature here involved, in the mores of our days, do not constitute hard core pornography. Coarse and vulgar they may be, but so is much of our civilization. Judge Parker said that the failure to comply with the predominate taste or customs of the community is not yet a criminal act. He pointed out that the freedom-of-the-press section in the new State constitution has been broadened to include the provision: "Every person may freely..publish his views on all subjects..."

The Judge then became critical of the manner in which the search at Le Stag was conducted. The shop was padlocked for a short time. "The power to close any business, be it a public nuisance or otherwise, is reserved for the judiciary where there is machinery to preserve the individual's rights. If the prosecutor can padlock a small store at his whim, he could do the same for General Motors. He clearly does not have this legal power. And when he couples such conduct with a search warrant so vague as to be meaningless, we have, in effect, censorship by intimidation: the books in any home library or school would be unsafe if such practices were permitted."
(The Flint Journal-4/10/64, page 15).

(link:the-gossip-columnist-23.blogspot.com) Leaping Larry Chene, Michigan wrestlers