By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
So Kitty's South is a survivor, and it's got a colorful ancestry of its own. The store and its sister outlet, at 735 East Colfax Avenue, are the property of Chicago's Capitol News Agency, a company once owned by Reuben Sturman, the acknowledged king of porn who was profiled in Eric Schlosser's book Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. Sturman "started out as a successful upper-middle-class businessman in suburbia, and by the end he was almost a Scarface-like gangster, totally drunk with the hubris of thinking he could defeat the federal government -- and he almost did," Schlosser says.
Sturman died in prison more than seven years ago, and today Capitol News Agency shares many of the values associated with successful mainstream enterprises, including attention to detail and strict quality control. Despite Jeff Dahl's absence, there's no dust on such merchandise as the Vibrating Dual Bullets, the Silicone Pleasure Orb, the five-piece Hog Tie & Cuff Set, or a dildo known as the "Impulse Gyrating Bearded Dolphin." Moreover, a placard leading to the arcade-booth area notifies customers that they must maintain strict hygienic standards: "No individual occupying a booth shall at any time engage in sexual activity, bodily discharge or littering." Granted, some people may not heed this warning, but at least the carpeting near the booths is free of foreign substances.
The young woman working the counter at Kitty's South politely declines an interview; talking to the press is against "corporate policy," she says. Then she goes back to opening the mail, unboxing explicit DVDs while the stereo plays a song by Morrissey, who's been making people feel depressed after orgasm since the days when the Ballpark was in full swing and Kitty's South was an affront to morality, not a quaint anomaly. Takes you back, doesn't it? -- Michael Roberts
1:15 p.m.: Civic Center Park, Colfax and Broadway
It's an unseasonably warm February day, but only a few office workers are enjoying the sun in Civic Center Park. A woman sits propped up against one of the many barren trees, reading a paperback novel; the discarded remains of a Subway sandwich and a pair of sensible shoes lie by her stocking feet. A gaggle of squirrels chatter at her, demanding that she toss them her leftover crumbs, and she absentmindedly complies as she continues to read.
Across the park, a homeless man named Hank drops trou and takes a piss on the Greek Amphitheater.
The woman catches sight of the show, then quickly averts her eyes.
The family jewels are a common sight in what could be -- should be -- the crown jewel in the Queen City's tiara. But by day the park is used less by government and office workers and downtown dwellers than it is by drug dealers and the homeless, and after dark, things just get worse. Still, Civic Center Park is as much the emotional heart and soul of the city as the intersection of Colfax and Broadway is the physical heart of Denver, and for the past year, it's been the subject of intense therapy sessions with the city's Department of Parks and Recreation. Planners are assessing the damage left by years of neglect, trying to exorcise the park's demons and replace them with visions of stroller-pushing yuppies.
Next month the department will release its master plan, laying out a blueprint for the twelve-acre commons that integrates the park's classical structures with the Denver Newspaper Agency's massive new building. But Hank doesn't care about monuments to the past or the future. He has just one request: bathrooms.
"I just wish they'd put in some goddamned toilets," he says as he zips his fly. "Would that be so much? A little privacy?" -- Amy Haimerl
1:15 p.m.: Gates Rubber, 999 South Broadway
There are plenty of reasons to stay away from the abandoned Gates Rubber factory. Rising gloomily between I-25 and Santa Fe Drive, the fifty acres of brick, steel, glass and asphalt are surrounded by a fence topped with barbed wire and dozens of "No Trespassing" signs. Dog pawprints dot the snow below the old conveyer belts, giving credibility to the claims of one urban explorer who says he was mauled by a German shepherd while sneaking around the property one night; his friend got arrested on that same foray. And still, the derelict building is strangely compelling, haunting in its emptiness. With demolition impending, every possible entrance of the main building has been sealed against curious intruders. The metal doors are welded shut and all the windows wired closed -- except for one.
A heavy black dust clings to everything in the silent interior, even the sign that reads "Cleanliness Benefits Everyone and Hurts No One." A clock is frozen at 12:24. A chart on one wall details the levels of risk associated with certain hazardous chemicals; below it stands an eyewash fountain.
In 2001, the Gates Company sold the property to Cherokee Investment Partners. The land was recently rezoned to allow an urban-village-style redevelopment with lofts, restaurants and shopping. Maybe a few espresso shops, definitely a martini bar. For the city's most prominent industrial landmark, it will be a very symbolic transformation: Denver shaking off the most visible vestiges of its blue-collar past to make way for a project aimed at luring the creative class.