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City Council moves to block sex doll rental shop

October 3, 2018

Houston City Council on Wednesday updated its rules on sexually oriented businesses, instituting changes that could bar plans for a store that allows customers to try out sex dolls on the premises from opening near the Galleria.

Toronto-based KinkySdollS had planned to open a Houston branch where it would sell “adult love dolls” constructed of synthetic skin and highly articulated skeletons. The company intended to sell the human-like dolls, and rent them out so customers could use them in private rooms at the location.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the council expanded its definition of an “arcade device” — which is used to view adult content — to include an “anthropomorphic device,” or one with human characteristics.

The city bars sexually oriented businesses, which include “adult arcades,” from operating within 1,500 feet of churches, schools, day cares, parks and residential neighborhoods. KinkySdollS’ proposed location is located a few hundred feet from the city-owned Anderson Park.

The council also prohibited customers from using arcade devices on company premises, though it still allows companies to sell them.

City inspectors already have halted construction on the KinkySdollS’ storefront at Richmond and Chimney Rock, citing permitting issues.

Councilman Greg Travis, whose District G includes the proposed location, said Tuesday that patrons visiting the business would be recorded by cameras. On Wednesday, he said most people are “appalled and insulted” by the business.

“We’re not legislating morality,” Travis said, adding that people can use the robots at home if they want.

“It’s weird, but that’s fine,” he said. “But this is a business, a commercial enterprise in our city. … This type of enterprise degrades our city.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner said the amendments are intended to update “loopholes to make the ordinance more current.”

“The focus is not on any one business,” Turner said. “It is on any businesses that fall within this category.”

jasper.scherer@chron.com | Twitter.com/jaspscherer

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