Saturday, June 11, 2005


One of my old haunts, busted. (Jeez, I remember when it first opened in the mid-80s on Avenue A, in the back of a dry cleaners -- you had to brush past the plastic-wrapped shirts and jackets to get to the vids.) Via Steve Gilliard.

I'm not surprised. In my day, Kim's was filled with bootleggish vids, esp in their Hong Kong and Japanese sections. But who cared -- it was the only store in Manhattan where you could find Ringo Lam's most obscure efforts, and all of Beat Takeshi's work. They carried racist cartoons from the 30s-40s, porn classics from the 70s (in "Pee-wee's Room," christened after Paul Reubens was caught jerking off in a Florida adult theater), and every extremely bad comedy and musical from just about every period. They stocked British comedies that were never shown stateside, like "Bottom," with Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson, a low-rent slapstick Beckett sitcom featuring two extremely crude losers.

It was through Kim's that my wife and I began our Bad Movie New Year's Party, which we still honor (though in this part of Michigan it's harder to find that one deliciously awful film that helps ease us into another year). If it wasn't for Kim's, I doubt I would've seen "Roller Boogie" with Linda Blair or "Viva Knievel" with Evel Knievel as himself, Lauren Hutton as his squeeze, and Gene Kelly as his alcoholic mechanic/mentor. It was at Kim's where I first discovered "Can't Stop The Music" starring the Village People, a lovely and hilarious disco disaster flick my family watches every Thanksgiving (much better than the Macy's parade).

Kim's staff was famous for being smug, aloof assholes who'd openly comment on your choice of film ("Oh, you prefer that version"). An old friend of mine, Justine, worked there between writing gigs, and while she fit right in, hers was a subtler form of contempt. Justine was very smart and funny, and she could take apart someone without them even knowing it. And of course she had to fuck with me. After a dry spell, she started writing TV pieces for the Sunday Times, then joined the staff of US magazine. But before she quit Kim's, she messed with my membership file card so whenever I rented something, the clerk in question would stifle a laugh at my expense. One day I finally asked a clerk why she was laughing.

"You really wanna know?"


She showed me my card. Justine had scrawled in big black letters under my name, PORN FREAK!!!

You don't get that kind of service at Hollywood or Blockbuster.

Locally, there's Liberty Video, which is as close to Kim's as I suppose I'll get. It's a U-Mich cineaste scene, and they do carry some obscure stuff ("Cool As Ice" where Vanilla Ice fights crime, and a video from 1970 where Charles Bukowski reads for a bunch of hippie college students in SoCal.) The Liberty clerks do the Kim's pose as well, but it's not quite the same. More bootleg than original.