Angry Logan Circle residents protesting the opening of a sexually oriented business in their neighborhood heard its operator say last night that he would operate it as "Hugh Hefner would run the playboy mansion."
The shop, marked by a sign that reads "Met Personals -- Models Wanted," opened last week in a commercial area a block from Logan Circle and featured women dressed in bikini outfits posing in the front window.
The business was closed by D.C. police yesterday because it lacked a commercial certificate of occupancy. However, operator Dennis Sobin said he intends to reopen as soon as he secures the required permit.
Last night, as about 100 people filled the sidewalk in front of the small shop at 1320 14th St. NW, Sobin made his way into the crowd and told them: "Anyone is invited in my house to have sex or anything else they want to do."
Minutes later, as the protesters pressed around him, Sobin motioned for police to escort him from the area. He left soon afterward in an unmarked police car.
D.C. council member Frank Smith (D-Ward 2), who joined last night's protest, told the crowd, "There are laws on the books that prevent these sexually oriented shops from opening, and the mayor shut this place down this morning by enforcing those laws.
"When this institution opened it was illegal," Smith said, "and it will remain closed until he gets a certificate . . . . And as long as we understand his [Sobin's] intentions, he will not get his certificate."
A sign placed in the front window of the shop read: "Closed Tues. and Wed. for repairs." Jim Smith, president of the Logan Circle Community Association, said he and his neighbors have signed petitions protesting the shop's location in their neighborhood and said the petitions will be sent to the City Council and the mayor's office. "We are urging people to write to the corporation counsel," Smith said, "and we will watch very closely so that [Sobin] will not be allowed a certificate of occupancy."
Sobin, who later described the crowd as "a crazy mob," said he has applied for a certificate of occupancy for a sporting goods store and a publishing company and that he expects to receive certificates soon.