Thursday, September 4, 2008

Coworkers: Part 14 - Two Live Crew

   Bromo allowed store managers discretion as to whether they would stock Two Live Crew or not. The group had become explosive. As Nasty As They Wanna Be had drawn the wrath of politicians, press, and pulpit. Stalwarts of freedom. National and local.
   The album had been ruled obscene. Authorities threatened to prosecute stores which stocked it.
   The album carried a Parental Advisory sticker, a big one. There was also an As Clean As They Wanna Be version.
   Still, retailers were being arrested. Drivers, playing Nasty in their cars, received tickets.
   A lot of stores pulled their cassettes and CD's of the offensive title until the ruckus cooled. Chainwide, most stores opted for discretion.
   Not Camp Bowie, however. As Nasty As They Wanna Be was an absolute, fucking smash. We could barely keep the sucker in stock. Truck Day, Todd and I searched it out, typically 100 tapes and 50 CD's and rushed them to the floor. This title wasn't even sale priced. Seasoned or older employees manned registers. No newly hired, still living at home, high schoolers. There were potential dangers, and The Boss's neck was exposed, but we were all on board.
   Customers went insane. Everyone bought this thing. Country types, businessmen, head bangers, sorority sisters, and geeks. If asked, we'd truthfully tell folks, "Yeah, it's OK. But there are better rappers, funnier albums, better party records." No matter. Nasty was dangerous, possession might pose criminal implications. Who knew? Aside from the local free press rag, the storm was ignored by our main newspaper. Free speech, censorship, or profits?
   Eventually, the controversy ebbed. Sales slowed as the reality check hit. Nasty was only a porn party album, after all.
   Our store received a lot of lasting good will from this. During the bleakest period, we were one of the few large stores that carried it. Customers remembered that. They remembered employees who gave honest appraisals, or who simply said, "Yeah, we got it. I'll sell it to you."
   Strange, selling that silly title would be such a collective good moment.
   Yet, it was.

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