You probably never guessed what is taking over the former Silver Dollar Hofbrau on Shaw Avenue: a Hustler Hollywood store.
It’s a store selling lingerie, sex toys and T-shirts run by the company behind Larry Flynt’s adult magazine Hustler.
The Fresno Hustler Hollywood store is scheduled to open in October and the remodeling has just started. The store has 16 locations nationwide, including one that opened in Bakersfield in March.
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The city of Fresno issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon stating that no plans have been submitted for tenant improvements, construction or demolition on the property, or for zoning clearance. The property is zoned as commercial general. “The new Development Code does not permit an Adult Oriented Business in this zone district. The City is sending a building inspector out to the site to stop work.”
Evan Roosevelt, senior director of marketing and public relations for Flynt Management Group, said the Fresno store would not be an adult business. That’s because it will have less than 25 percent of its display space devoted to adult product, which is the city’s standard, he said in a phone interview.
Hustler officials checked with city planners before signing a lease to make sure they understood Fresno’s regulations.
In an earlier interview, Roosevelt described the store as part Hustler merchandise, such as T-shirts, hats and “Larry Flynt for President” T-shirts, referencing his 1984 bid for the presidency.
Another section is adult sex toys in a room that customers must be 18 to enter. The rest is Hustler’s brand of lingerie.
We don’t want to ruffle any feathers, we want to open some minds.
Evan Roosevelt, Hustler
The lingerie is “classy,” and “it’s a little edgier than Victoria’s Secret,” said Roosevelt.
A grand opening event will be held later this year.
“I’m hoping Mr. Flynt will be able to attend. He attended the Bakersfield opening,” Roosevelt said.
Aside from the magazine featuring politics and pornographic photos of women, Flynt has made headlines for fighting several high-profile legal battles over obscenity and the First Amendment. One case went to the Supreme Court and was featured in “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” with Woody Harrelson playing Flynt.
The Fresno store will also have a “Hustler Honey” search where local women audition to be in the magazine and win a shopping spree at the store. The winner will be chosen by Flynt, 73.
In a city like Fresno, with its fair share of churches and conservatives, such a store is bound to raise some eyebrows or inspire opposition.
The news was a surprise to Tommi R. Saghatelian, whose father and his brothers built the Silver Dollar Hofbrau with woodworkers and craftsmen.
She’s not upset so much that Hustler is moving in, but at the loss of the piece of Fresno history.
“There is so much craft and heart in that place that it is a Fresno treasure. A place almost everyone has a story about,” she said in an email to The Bee. “This is a concept that ties one’s head into a pretzel. For now all I could think of to say to the new owners is, ‘Please, be gentle with our heritage.’ ”
In Bakersfield, some people voiced complaints and one lone protester showed up at the store’s grand opening.
“Some people will hear ‘Hustler’ and they see the Hustler logo and they get scared,” Roosevelt said. “I’d invite those people to come into the store and see for themselves.”
We’re experts within the field and we want to leverage that.
Evan Roosevelt, Hustler
He said the store is not dark or creepy, but bright and tasteful. There won’t be any centerfold-style photos on billboards or sex toys in the window of the shop.
“Our whole focus is always to create a welcoming, bright [luxurious] space to explore your naughtier side,” he said. “Any sort of nudity is all in the back of the store, where you have to be 18.”
The store’s core customers are women in their 40s.
Hustler Hollywood isn’t the first of this type of store in Fresno, though most adult stores tend to be located farther south in the city.
The store will also host workshops, some on explicit and specific sexual acts.
Dr. Emily Morse – a sort of modern-day Dr. Ruth, said Roosevelt – regularly hosts workshops with Hustler Hollywood. She also hosts a radio show called “Sex With Emily” and stars in the Bravo TV series “Miss Advised.”
The workshops “talk about a variety of subject matter, sexual freedom, body positively,” he said. “For us sex isn’t something that should be left in the back room. It should be explored.”