New gay club?

Adult business see­ing ma­jor changes.

GA Voice - - Front Page - By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­gavoice.com

For those who thought own­ers of adult busi­nesses on Cheshire Bridge would lay low after dodg­ing a bul­let last year by nar­rowly avoid­ing a mas­sive over­haul to the cor­ri­dor’s zon­ing codes, think again.

Plans are in the works for a re­brand­ing and ren­o­va­tion of adult store Inserec­tion, adding a new space that in­cludes bondage rooms, pri­vate bed­rooms, a mas­sage area and a dance floor to the al­ready ex­ist­ing adult DVDs, toys and video booth sec­tion of the fa­cil­ity. The name of the store would also change to Tokyo Valentino; the first Tokyo Valentino opened in Mi­ami ear­lier this year.

But the owner of Inserec­tion, which caters to largely to gay and bi men, says city of At­lanta of­fi­cials are un­nec­es­sar­ily de­lay­ing the process, hold­ing up the ren­o­va­tions of the fa­cil­ity that pre­vi­ously was on track to be done and ready for a grand open­ing by late July.

MI­AMI LO­CA­TION OF TOKYO VALENTINO MODEL FOR AT­LANTA LO­CA­TION

Inserec­tion owner Michael Mor­ri­son, who is straight, says he ran into lit­i­ga­tion is­sues open­ing the Mi­ami lo­ca­tion of Tokyo Valentino and he’s quick to an­swer why.

“The same as al­ways. Peo­ple don’t want an adult store any­where,” Mor­ri­son tells the GA Voice. “But we won the fight and got it up there.”

The Mi­ami lo­ca­tion opened in April and spans 7,000 square feet. A $7.50 en­try fee gives cus­tomers free reign of the fa­cil­ity to play pool or video games, use the pri­vate bed­rooms, use the view­ing booths to watch movies (most likely not the Dis­ney va­ri­ety) and more.

“Once you be­gin to feel at home, make your way to the movie area where cou­ples, sin­gles and groups can par­tic­i­pate in a true view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” the club’s web­site states. “Our lock­ing booths and bed­rooms al­low you to be as pri­vate as you please.”

EVENT PRO­MOTER TO LEASE PART OF NEW SPACE

The changeover from Inserec­tion to Tokyo Valentino is just one of the many changes to that side of Cheshire Bridge and con­tin­u­ing south down Pied­mont Av­enue. Mama’s (for­merly Taco Ca­bana) and a neigh­bor­ing re­tail strip that in­cluded Artlite, Pot ‘N Pan diner and other busi­nesses were razed last year to make way for a planned mixed-use de­vel­op­ment with a seven-story park­ing deck.

“We’ve got some low-level bu­reau­crats hold­ing up the process. But we’re go­ing to win.”

—Michael Mor­ri­son, owner of Inserec­tion

Fu­ture in­hab­i­tants are sched­uled to in­clude Sprouts Farm­ers Mar­ket.

Mor­ri­son sold the Inserec­tion chain in 2010 but kept the Cheshire Bridge lo­ca­tion while on the hunt for a bet­ter con­cept and soon hit upon Tokyo Valentino.

Gay event pro­moter Chris Cole­man will lease out the newly ren­o­vated space (mi­nus the video booth and re­tail por­tion of the store) from Mor­ri­son, who de­scribes the new space as “almost like an LGBT non-al­co­holic health club. It’s like Man­i­fest but with a nicer pack­age.”

Man­i­fest, lo­cated off Faulkner Road, bills it­self as a “mem­bers only fra­ter­nal stu­dio for gay and bi­sex­ual men.” The club’s main draw is a back room called “The Ma­trix” which in­cludes sev­eral sec­tioned off rooms sep­a­rated by ply­wood with peep­holes and larger holes at waist level (known as “glory holes”), a sex sling and a view­ing area to watch porno­graphic movies pro­jected onto a sheet on a back wall.

Cole­man, who pegs the bud­get for new equip­ment alone in the five fig­ures, uses the term “megaplex” to de­scribe the space he’ll be leas­ing.

“There will be dif­fer­ent things go­ing on in there but it stays in tune with Inserec­tion and the new brand Tokyo Valentino,” Cole­man says. “Bondage rooms with in­cred­i­bly up­scale equip­ment, pri­vate rooms, porn stars are sched­uled to come. There’s all sorts of things hap­pen­ing over there.”

‘WE’VE GOT SOME LOW-LEVEL BU­REAU­CRATS HOLD­ING UP THE PROCESS’

But Mor­ri­son is frus­trated over what’s not hap­pen­ing yet, and that’s get­ting his build­ing per­mits so he can start ren­o­vat­ing.

“The city is still giv­ing us a hard time about our per­mits even though we’re en­ti­tled to ev­ery­thing we’re propos­ing,” he says. “This should have been done within a week but we’ve been go­ing on for three months now. We’ve got some low-level bu­reau­crats hold­ing up the process. But we’re go­ing to win.”

Mor­ri­son was among a group of Cheshire Bridge business own­ers who were tar­geted last year by gay At­lanta City Coun­cilmem- ber Alex Wan’s pro­posed leg­is­la­tion that would have changed the zon­ing or­di­nances and forced many adult busi­nesses to close or move from the cor­ri­dor by 2018. The leg­is­la­tion would have by­passed a grand­fa­ther clause that pro­tected many of the busi­nesses. The pro­posal passed in the city’s zon­ing com­mit­tee, but failed in front of the full City Coun­cil nine votes to six last June.

Mor­ri­son later briefly floated the idea of run­ning against Wan that Novem­ber for his City Coun­cil seat, say­ing of his own past le­gal is­sues in­clud­ing a stint in fed­eral prison for tax eva­sion, “I may not be electable, but a vote for me is a vote against Alex Wan.” He later de­cided against run­ning.

Mor­ri­son was also ar­rested in the mid 1990s on ob­scen­ity charges and po­lice raided his stores sev­eral times. Even­tu­ally he helped strike down the state’s ob­scen­ity law in a time known by some as the “dildo wars.”

Wan tells the GA Voice that he was not aware of the pro­posed changes hap­pen­ing at Inserec­tion. The three neigh­bor­hood as­so­ci­a­tions that abut Cheshire Bridge Road—Pied­mont Heights Civic As­so­ci­a­tion, Lin­dridge Martin Manor Neigh­bor­hood As­so­ci­a­tion and Morn­ing­side-Lenox Park As­so­ci­a­tion— did not re­spond to the GA Voice’s re­quest for com­ment as of press time.

De­spite the de­lays, Mor­ri­son says he is hope­ful to soon re­ceive the build­ing per­mit for Tokyo Valentino.

Inserec­tion is get­ting a makeover and will be­come a new multi-use fa­cil­ity called Tokyo Valentino. (Photo by Pa­trick Saun­ders)

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