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Houston Councilman said visitors to “Robot Brothel” would be recorded by cameras

October 3, 2018

Greg Travis, the councilman of District G where a so-called “robot brothel” would be located in Houston, said Tuesday that patrons visiting the adult business would be recorded by cameras directed at the location.

“I already have cameras (around the area) and whenever this starts, we will see all people coming and going and we will post it on social media,” Travis said at a City Council meeting where community members, mostly from religious groups, expressed opposition to the business.

The councilman said the news that a Canadian business called KinkySDollS was going to open in Houston the first “robot brothel” in the United States “stunned everybody… it’s gross.”

Travis expressed his concern after Davis Gamboa, a director of the local religious organization Elijah Rising testified against the sex dolls business. He argued that this type of business “will ultimately harm and dehumanize sex and humans.”

Gamboa asked council members to block KinkySDollS opening in the city because it “would exacerbate the risk of sexual assaults for women” as men accustomed to using the human-like sex objects could transfer the behavior to real people.

Four other community members spoke about the sex-dolls business, among them, Allaudin Abdulla, from the religious nonprofit Love People Not Pixels which focuses on negative impacts of pornography, according to its website.

Abdulla voiced concern about sex trafficking in the city and criticized men who “purchase dolls or women.” He called upon Travis to put cameras “where these people are going to buy dolls; let’s put it also where people go to buy women.”

Travis expressed interest in the idea and said that he can work together with the handful of community members present at the hearing. None spoke in favor of the adult business.

City Council members agreed with the opponents. Mayor Silvester Turner confirmed that an ordinance amending Chapter 28 for Sexually Oriented Businesses will be voted on Wednesday at City Council.

Small revisions proposed to the ordinance are intended to include current and emerging technologies in the adult entertainment business, such as the robot brothel, and the modifications that would expand the definition of an arcade device to include “an anthropomorphic device or object utilized for entertainment” of sexual nature.

A city document indicates that the proposed changes would “prohibit entertainment with one or more persons using an arcade device on the premises.” .

“Robot brothels,” function like a showroom where dolls are exhibited and available to customers for rent and use at the place, or for sale.

The Canadian business hasn’t registered in the city as of Tuesday, according to Roberto Medina, senior analyst at the Houston’s Public Works office.

The office issued a stop work order last week when inspectors found that construction has been initiated at the place where the business would be located without required permits. Records show that the manager at the location expressed the intention to correct the violation and file for permits.

Elijah Rising, whose mission is to fight sex trafficking, initiated a petition in Change.org collecting signatures against the business to be presented to Turner. Gamboa said. But the issue has also sparked controversy on social media questioning the right of city government to decide what kind of business people should or shouldn’t have access to.

At the City Council on Tuesday, however, the public opposition to the business was unanimous. “Today is the day to say don’t mess with Texas,” said Tex Christopher, the owner of a studio and conservative activist. “We have to send a message loud and clear” to stop this “unethical, bad, morally wrong” business from coming to Houston.

olivia.tallet@chron.com

Twitter.com/oliviaptallet

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