Every major U.S. city has its Santa Monica Boulevard. In Chicago, it is called Wells Street. In Minneapolis, it is Hennepin Avenue. San Francisco has its Broadway, and New York City its Times Square. Santa Monica Boulevard is neither the busiest nor the worst. It is only typical.

As it knifes through Los Angeles' West Hollywood residential district, Santa Monica becomes a garish, grubby, milelong gauntlet of sex-book stalls, theaters and 8-mm. peep shows for voyeurs, and massage parlors and sexual encounter centers for those who want direct action. The Boulevard is a flexible ribbon of smut that expands...

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