Comment of the Day: Zone d’ Erotica Is a Symbol of Houston Freedom

COMMENT OF THE DAY: ZONE D’ EROTICA IS A SYMBOL OF HOUSTON FREEDOM Zone d'Erotica, 2626 West Loop S. Fwy, Galleria, Houston“I’ve always thought the Zone D’Erotica placement was one of the most charming things about Houston. Welcome to Houston: you own it, you use it, however you want. Other cities would be finding a way to declare the parcel blighted at Simon’s behest, but in Houston that would be rightly considered outrageous.” [Spoonman, commenting on Construction Set To Begin on the Luxury Jewel Box, the Galleria’s Chi-Chi Pad Site] Photo: Candace Garcia

52 Comment

  • It never fails that someone will sentimentalize about Houston’s “freedom,” or “vibrancy,” or “charm,” or “refusal to be like all those other cities,” whenever some obviously trashy feature of the city is pointed out.

  • It used to be a 24-hour hamburger joint, but I like this incarnation better.

  • Funny story my aunt work at a assisted living center which is over 2 blks over and thes old folks at this place wanted to take a trip to this place no joke most of them had no idea what it really is LOL

  • “…but in Houston that would be rightly considered outrageous.”
    Ummm, I doubt that. If you took a poll of Houstonians who live or work in the area, I feel very confident the majority would like it to close and that land be used for something else. At this point, I don’t think people pay much attention to it. We are used to the blight, the overhead power lines, the trash, the people asking for money on the street corner. This establishment just blends in.

  • I’m pretty damn liberal and even I think they need to put the smut store somewhere a little less conspicuous.

  • See that red car on the far left? Guess who was parked in that very spot a little over one hour ago ?

  • I’ve driven by that place a billion times and never paid any attention. I agree, you would NEVER see this in Dallas or even SA, in a posh area. It’s so very Houston. The nicest area of the city and here we have a former burger joint now a porn emporium. It’s actually embarassing and bizarre, but oh so Houston. And yeah, 80 percent plus would vote to bulldoze it right now.

  • I never understood how they could afford the property tax there.

  • Shannon, its much more of a “smoking accessories” store than a “porn emporium” No sticky floors there

  • Eric, perhaps some organization is laundering $$$ there ???

  • I’ve always thought the Zone D’Erotica placement was one of the most annoying things about Houston. Welcome to Houston: you have the biggest bag of money, you win, fuck everyone else. Other cities do not buy the Ayn Rand BS and have found fair and equitable ways to balance the interests of property owners and the community at large, while still having a vibrant economy. But in Houston, the boneheaded development community would consider that outrageous.

  • I liked it better when it was a Luke’s Hamburgers!

  • They have to sell a lot of rubber wieners to pay for that location.

  • @Eric – Me neither. The taxes must be insane. I’ve also never understood why the rich powers-that-be in that part of town didn’t band together to pay off the owners to close shop, then bulldoze the place to create more Galleria/Dillard’s parking.

  • I’ve always seen that Zone D’Erotica the way lots of developers see single family neighborhoods: as underutilized land that should be redeveloped at a higher density. I see the adjacent gas station and the Dillard’s parking lot that way, too. They should take out all three and build an extension to The Galleria, with high rise condos above it.
    Not that they will. People don’t realize it, but the question of scale is a huge deal in development here in Houston. Only a handful of developers have the resources to buy big pieces of land and do big projects. Most of them are much smaller. They can only do two or three spec houses at a time, if that – so they buy relatively cheap lots, which happen to be in single family neighborhoods, and they wreak havoc.

  • The taxes on the place are about $32k for this year. Not that much. Total value is $1.2 million. I bet the return on investment is darned good for that property.

  • Change it to “Houston Visitors Center” and watch millions of foreign tourists each year swarm the place unknowingly :)

  • I’m sure the owner would sell if he was given the right number. I mean, how much could that property make that couldn’t be replaced by another business paid for with the proceeds of a sale?
    So the question is, why hasn’t someone/group offered that number?
    Yeah, the place is tacky. But for whatever reason it’s worth more to the owner than any potential buyers.

  • @XCellKen I think they just legitimately rake in the dough based on the number of ads I hear for their store on the radio.

  • There is absolutely nothing charming about a trashy looking sex shop in an otherwise prestigious shopping district with visitors from all over the world visiting the area. I have absolutely no problem with sex shops, I’ve been to them myself, but they have their place, the corner of 610 and Westheimer should not be one of them.

    I’m a native, and proud of my city, but Houston is just weird.

  • It’s where it is because “posh” people spend money there.

  • Since we’re on the subject of sex shops, — they demoed the old Carmen’s Boutique and Video on the Southwest Freeway near Gessner and Beechnut today. Anyone know what they’re putting there?

  • ” Welcome to Houston: you own it, you use it, however you want.”

    Really? I guess you don’t live in the same Houston that the developers of the Ashby highrise live in.

  • I happen to really like the Zone d’Erotica in this location. Its pisses off several varieties of assholes: 1) religious zealots, 2) people who want their environs to seem as ordinary as possible, and 3) people made to feel insecure by the prospect that visiting non-residents that fall into the aforementioned groups will think less of them.

    Actually, I’m even inclined to say that I take a perverse sort of pride in this store being where it is, selling what it sells, and being ugly. The juxtaposition of it and its environs pleases me over and over.

  • I hope it stays and if you don’t like it, shut your eyes — don’t look at it, or avoid the area altogether. It’s at least as high a “land use” as the new Simon “luxury jewel box” they have planned for the parking lot.

  • I think this is more of a class issue than a “smut store” issue. If that location were turned into an Agent Provocateur, everyone would be talking about what an improvement it is. Its funny how if a store sells $10 crotchless panties, its a smut store, but if it sells $300 crotchless panties (“ouverts” in Agent Provocateur speak), it becomes high class intimate wear. No one complains about the Agent Provocateur locations on East Oak Street in Chicago or Madison Ave in NYC.

  • Guys let’s be honest…. It’s no trashier than the galleria its self. Going to the galleria is like going to a third world country train station. It no longer caters to the upper tier Houstonians. It is filled with middle class and bottom of the barrel people…..very ghetto and very common…….can be a little scary too

  • @Niche – I guess you forgot the 4th category of *%&holes – people with families.

    I don’t think anyone with young children particularly likes driving right in one of the most heavily trafficked areas of all of Houston – right at Westheimer and 610 – which is let’s face it mostly unavoidable if you live or work in the area – and potentially have to answer “Hey Daddy (or Mommy) what is that Zone d’ Erotica?”

    I haven’t gotten there yet, but I guess in Houston the answer is “Try to find a smut-free route.” Perhaps Google Maps should add that as a feature for Houston?! It would be handy given that so many *&sholes with families are living in central Houston.

  • Or, more probably, “Why did they go with that ugly font, Daddy?”

  • Shhh Mike. According to Niche and a lot of other people here, parents are something akin to nazis. They shout us down if we say that we’d prefer not to have smut or liquor sold in front of schools. And heaven forbid we object to a halfway house or homeless shelter nearby – we’re really Evil then!

  • I don’t get the comment that parents will have to explain this to their kids. Tell them it’s a store that sell exactly what doesn’t excite them. Boys you can get away with saying it’s a clothing store, girls you can get away with saying it’s a tool store.
    It’s a very simple conversation…
    “Daddy, what is zone ‘d erotica?”
    “It’s a clothing store.”
    It’s not like you have to explain minute detail…
    “Well, you see son, when a man and a woman love each other, sometimes the sex can get stale after a few years and they need to buy strap-ons, various flavored lubes, or candy flavored banana hammocks, in fact, your mother and I have a line of credit there. When we get home, I’ll show you all of the stuff we’ve bought there and describe how each piece enhances sexual intercourse.”
    The comment of the day has it, it is a terrific reminder that this is Houston and that you should be able to build what you want on your land. The owners should get a key to the city.

  • The Galleria wasn’t always this posh. There used to be a dollar store in there. I’m with Niche on this. I love a tiny reminder of how this area used to be less pretentious.

  • @toasty:”The comment of the day has it, it is a terrific reminder that this is Houston and that you should be able to build what you want on your land. The owners should get a key to the city”

    An even better reminder that this is Houston is that someday in the probably not too distant future, this will be torn down and something different will be in its place. Because Houston is nothing if not constantly changing and making way for the new.

    And then you can look back proudly at the Houston Chronicle photos of days gone by, at this wondrously misplaced Zone d’ Erotica, and you can say to YOUR kids, “Before that was a posh (insert hotel / business name here), I remember when I bought strap-ons, various flavored lubes, and candy flavored banana hammocks there!” Ah, those were the days!

  • Zone D’ is a step up from the skeezy smoke shop that was there. Now if they could just turn it back into a Whataburger everything would be ok in the world.

  • i agree with Mike. i mean do people even consider the consequences of their actions and all of the uncomfortable things they might cause Mike to imagine needing to talk to his kids about hypothetically at some point in the future?

  • @spiteful:”i agree with Mike. i mean do people even consider the consequences of their actions and all of the uncomfortable things they might cause Mike to imagine needing to talk to his kids about hypothetically at some point in the future?”

    Yeah – in some places, the local question you ask when you meet someone is:
    What high school did you go to?
    What do you do?
    What part of town are you from?

    In Houston it is “What strip club do you live close to?” Silly me I forgot. This Zone D’Erotica is perfect for Houston! Better yet if it were a strip club! Or if they could just have pole dancing INSIDE the Galleria! Now wouldn’t that be something?!

  • MIke: You’re having an argument you can’t win. There is no baseline of agreement to then argue the details. You argue it’s not family friendly, expecting they’ll change their mind from thinking “sure it’s family friendly” but there is a lack of agreement on what ‘family friendly’ is or even if the concept of ‘family friendly’ has merit in today’s progressive world. Thus, your arguments are fruitless.
    You’re an ‘out of touch old fogie’. Likely a straight white male, likely conservative. Thus, a dinosaur in the eyes of many.

  • Is nobody else disappointed by the cheapness of the sign? If they really want an SOB at that corner, they ought to trad places with the Colorado Strip Club down in Sharpstown – for no other reason than that big, flashing sign that the Colorado has is so much nicer than the cheap, dated thing that the Zone D’Erotica has.

  • What the fuck planet are you on?? The Galleria has never had “dollar” stores. I think you’re thinking of Greenspoint, surely. I dropped my phone when I read that. I suppose you also ridden in a Rolls Royce with vinyl seats…bizarre.

  • @ Mike: I am a parent, and I got that way from having steamy hot sex with my wife, which I enjoy; Zone d’Erotica does not offend me. If and when I get those questions from my kid(s), first of all I’ll be quite relieved that they feel comfortable enough to ask me about something of that nature, and second of all I’ll explain it and any other questions that they have about human sexuality in clear and level-headed terms. They need to know that they can trust in me and confide in me about anything.

    Seriously, what kind of an asshole parent can’t explain a simple frickin’ sex shop? Maybe we should revert to the values of 1956, when husbands and wives were depicted in film as sleeping in separate beds. Hell, maybe we should dig up and redevelop cemeteries so that kids don’t ask about their purpose while driving by; because if sex and reproduction makes us uncomfortable then the death and physical disposal of a family member in the ground should be absolutely off-limits. Right!? I mean, let’s be consistent with your thoughts about this. Or not. Please not.

    @ ZAW: Different subject matter, but yeah, if you object to something being in your neighborhood without objecting outright to its existence, thereby implying that you’re perfectly fine with it being in somebody else’s neighborhood, that is asinine. I’m not saying that externalities don’t exist from homeless shelters (although with liquor stores, I think its a harder argument), but there are better and more responsible ways to mitigate them than to merely foist your problem on somebody else…and actually, I think that doing so would be in your kids’ best interests, too.

  • I never once had one of my children ask me what this place was. If this gives you the vapors, try to imagine 20 years ago when there were billboards for gentlemen’s clubs looming over along every frickin’ highway. Get your kids an ipad and they will never look up from their laps while you’re driving by. . .

  • Oh come on. While my daughter is 1 at the moment, I’m fully aware she’ll ask uncomfortable questions later on. That’s part of being a parent and it isn’t anybody else’s job to make our job easier.

  • @Cody:”You’re an ‘out of touch old fogie’. Likely a straight white male, likely conservative. Thus, a dinosaur in the eyes of many.”

    Ooh – ad hominem attacks! I like it! Generally made by the losing side of an argument, speaking of arguments you can’t win.

    I’m entitled to my opinion and happen to agree that – between the 4 categories of *%$holes described by Niche, we probably comprise 60-80% of the population who think that Zone d’Erotica and its location are an embarrassment, not something to be proud of. So call us what you like, but I think Swamplot aside, there is pretty clear consensus that this is not a good location for a sexually oriented business.

    Nobody is suggesting we take away the owner’s property or force them to change anything. But given that the vast majority of us find the business tacky / inappropriate, and the land being very highly valued and right in between the Galleria and Highland Village, I’d still put my money on it not being around in its current location 10 years from now.

    As for people stating I cannot explain this to my children, I am fully aware that I can and will explain SOBs to my kids. However, as a matter of personal preference, I would prefer that this business not be so tacky, cheap, and tawdry looking, and in such a prominent location.

    BTW – notice I didn’t resort to personally attacking you or anyone else on this board? Wasn’t that considerate of me?!

  • I have to wonder, if Mike anticipates his kid asking this question about only this store, or every store they pass? I mean, does his kid know that the container store is a store where one can buy containers? Does his kid know what erotica is?
    If the answer is no, then why would his kid think to single out Zone ‘d Erotica and not what the purpose of every other building they travel past is? It makes no sense.
    If the answer is yes, then the real question we should all be asking is, why does Mike’s kid know what erotica is at such a young age as to be uncomfortable with answering the question of what is Zone ‘d Erotica?
    If your kid makes a big deal over it, they are doing so specifically because you have drawn attention to it by making it a big deal yourself. If they are just learning to read and want to know what the word erotica means I think you’re safe cause schools don’t even teach cursive writing any more, so it’s very likely they won’t be able to piece together the letters.
    At some point though, you will be able to rest easy, as the Zone will go away, it is part of what makes Houston great, but we’ll all have the happy memory of how a smut shop was right next to the galleria. We can also now have the happy memory of some guy named Mike stumbling over an explanation to a doe eyed child answering the question of what Zone ‘d Erotica is. Thanks for that Mike.

  • Porn used to be a huge business and now it is free. You can get as much porn as you want on the internet and it won’t cost you a penny. Soon everyone will be making their own sex toys on 3D printers and once that happens they won’t need places like Zone D’ Erotica.

  • @toasty:”We can also now have the happy memory of some guy named Mike stumbling over an explanation to a doe eyed child answering the question of what Zone ‘d Erotica is. Thanks for that Mike.”

    The families of Houston thank you toasty – for realizing that we exist and are not as interested in buying candy flavored underwear as you are or explaining SOBs to our kids just because we wanted to take them ice skating at the Galleria! And that if we do want to buy banana hammocks like you, we can take the short drive to one of 10000 other SOBs around this city!

  • I always like to think that somewhere in the late hours of the night that this shop joins forces with the church to battle and keep the dark side of the galleria in check. considering all the other activities that go down on a daily basis in the uptown area, this smut shop should be the least of our worries. at least they’re honest about what they do and sell.

  • I remember the old tenant, Luke’s and they absolutely the BEST breakfast tacos. Dang I wish they had another location

  • @Shannon: “The Galleria has never had ‘dollar’ stores.”
    Sigh. You don’t know what you’re talking about. I believe it was called “Everything’s A Dollar” and I’m pretty sure it was located on the 3rd floor of Galleria I. I bought trinkets there in the 1990s. I know it was at the Galleria because I worked across the street.
    I also remember the movie theaters, the Magic Pan crepe place, the post office, The Fun Shop, the Pipe Pub, See’s Candies, Sam Goody, and a ton of other closed Galleria shops. I’ve been going there since the mid 70s. It used to be a more plebeian experience, and that made it more fun.

  • Future In & Out Burger

  • I think it fits right in with the rest of the Galleria…and the gas station as well. It’s now part of the “scene”. Oh, and it used to be a Roy Rodgers Roast Beef shop.
    I think the “developers” are just waiting for the city to condemn it; then they won’t have to buy it, just like that little “Park” off San Felipe which is where some pesky hold-out property owners were bucking the “trend”.