The tone is understated: dark wood paneling, white globe lights and a large glass display case. A dropped ceiling and thick carpeting are planned.
It's the newest adult bookstore in town. But this one is different, not just because its interior decoration is subduled but because it is in the heart of Georgetown's business district. And it doesn't even have a name yet.
The store at 3225 M St. NW. opened March 17 and has since become a major topic of conversation among the residents and merchants of Georgetown. Most of them feel that the establishment is not in keeping with the character of the community.
"It's a classic confrontation between the community and free enterprise," said Olcott H. Deming, president of the Georgetown Business Association, whose organization has been trying to drive out the new shop.
People have a right to do business and make a living." Deming said, "they don't have a right to have any business in any area that they want to."
But there appears to be growing realization that under existing law, nothing can be done about the bookstore - or about any others like it that want to open.
"There really isn't anything that we can do." COuncilwoman Polly SHackleton (d-three) said.
David Fleming president of the Business and Professional Association of Georgetown, also expressed pessimism about the situation.
A zoning change is about the only thing that will prevent other places like that from coming in (but it) won't do a damn thing about this one," he said.
Fleming and Shackleton both declined to discuss of whatever moves they had in mind.
But about 1,500 Georgetown residents and merchants have signed a petition to Shackleton objecting to the store as bing wholly inconsistent with our community standards." Shackleton has introduced a resoultion in the City COuncil asking that it appoint a committee to study the effect adult bookstores and movie houses have on the residential areas in which they operate.
Responding to a letter from Shackleton, the Coning Commission has requested the Municipal Planning Office and the Corporation counsel to consider recommending changes in zoning laws that would prohibit similar stores from opening in largely residential areas of the city.
The Wisconsin Avenue and M Street corridors in Georgetown are zoned c-2a which categorize the area as a community business center of medium density.
"I'm all for free speech, but I don't think we have to put up with the destruction of a residential neighborhood." Shackleton told a reporter. She echoed the complaints of residents who feel Washington should set up a special zone for adult entertainment as Baltimore, Detroit and Boston have done, and as New York is now attempting.
The community biggest fear is that if the M Street bookstore is allowed to continue to operate and if zoning regulations are not changed, such enterprises as topless bars and adult movie houses may flock into the area. Residents believe that pimps and prostiutes would be bound to follow.
Art Dufraine and Ted Nicely are listed as the only two directors of M Street Enterprises Inc., the Delaware-chartered corporation that operates the bookstore and was granted permission by the city's recorder of deeds to do business in the District.
In an interview in the store is lined with shelved displaying magazines that portray explicit sexual activity in all sorts of male-female combinations as well as assorted paraphernalia. Dufraine defend his right to be there and said he was only trying to make a living.
"I'm trying to run a business," he said. "I'm not trying to put any moral value on them (the community) and I don't want them to do it to me."
He said Georgetown was a good area to operate because of the large number of potential customers who flock there. And he noted that he was decorating his store in good taste.
"It's going to be a nice comfortable place where people who want this type of merchandise can come in and feel comfortable and buy if they want." Dufraine said. "It's not going to be a 14th Street-type bookstore.A lot of people want to believe that , but it's not going to be that way.
The store's window displays feature red curtains to mid window and marquee-type digns with flashing light bulbs and the inscription: "Newsstand Novelties, Erotic Art." A small cardboard sign in one window is reflective of Dufraine attitude about the controversy. It reads:
"If sexually explicit material offends you PLEASE keep your feet on the sidewalk. Thank you."
Dufraine, who sports a small earring on his left ear, said he has been in the business five years and that he had spend most of that time in Michigan, where one of his enterprises was a massage parlor and adult bookstore in Ann Arbor, which he said encountered no opposition from the community.
The possibility that the area may be rezoned doesn't worry him. "Rezone Zone everybody else out." he said. "I don't care. It'll be better for me, I'll be sitting here with a monopoly (since no similar business could open, but his could continue to operate)"
Original plans called for peep-show machines to be installed in an enclosed section of the store, but that issue has not yer been settled with the city. Opponents hope that without the machines Dufraine will not be able to meet the $4,300 a month rent. But Dufraine France assorts that he is doing fine without the machines.
The man who leased the store to M Street Enterprises. Inc., is John Dashtara, who previously operated a shop called "Dash's Western" on the site. Dashtara still owns two other stores in Georgetown, the larger of which is only a few doors from the adult bookstore.
Dashtara has come under heavy criticism from business in the community, who contend that he has done Georgetown a disservice by renting the store to Dufraine's corporation. Despite repeated to answer questions about the situation.
A spokesman for Dashtara sais Dashtara did not know that an adult bookstore would be opened on the site. He said the application for the lease stated that "a modern amusement center with a boutique , books and newsstands and any general business of attraction to the locally" would be opened on the site.
"John doesn't want this next to his store, it's not dong him any good . . . We've simply been bamboozled." the spokesman added.
Asked if this was the reason why Dashtara refused to answer questions or explain his position to the Georgetown community, the spokesman said that approach would not have been productive in the case of people who already had decided to put the blame on Dashtara.