‘Pleasures by Kasey’ seeks acceptance, TV show

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 449 views 

For the last time, Pleasures by Kasey is not a sexually oriented business, as it would be defined by the City of Fort Smith.

But it could be a downtown Fort Smith business in the center of a future reality television show. (More on that later in the story.)

That’s what owner-operators Kasey and Richard Valdivia want to communicate to city officials, particularly those with the city’s Central Business Improvement District (CBID). That’s also what Fort Smith City Administrator Ray Gosack confirmed for The City Wire in February.

To date, the Valdivias do not feel the group that oversees downtown Fort Smith development has gotten the message in spite of previous conflicts.

As of Wednesday (May 9), Kasey Valdivia said Pleasures by Kasey, a business that sells sex toys, how-to-in-the-bedroom books, and other items classified as “adult novelties,” had not been added to literature discussing the businesses located in downtown Fort Smith, in spite of efforts to be included that “date back to January (2012).”

She also noted she had “yet to be added to the Downtown Fort Smith website.”

Jayne Hughes, city employee and liaison to the CBID, responded via email Thursday afternoon (May 10) to a phone call from The City Wire on Wednesday.

In her response, Hughes notes Kasey Valdivia contacted her “last week” about being excluded from the downtown brochure and website. Hughes allegedly told Valdivia that “I was glad she wanted to be a part of our marketing program and that I would have her listed sometime this week.”

Hughes did not acknowledge previous contacts regarding the issue, but as of Thursday, Pleasures by Kasey is included in the online business directory from the downtown Fort Smith website.

Hughes also did not acknowledge Kasey Valdivia’s allegations of an “unprofessional” attitude towards the business, which were leveled in an e-mail sent on May 9 to city directors and media outlets.

“I know they say bad advertising is good advertising, but I’m sick of being targeted, having the fingers always pointing at us, when we never had one single problem until we moved downtown,” Valdivia told The City Wire in a follow-up to her e-mail.

Particularly inflammatory for the Valdivias is that “we carry no more — in fact, in a lot of cases, we carry much less — than Spencer’s Gifts in the mall, yet no one says a thing about them, and no one said anything about us until we moved downtown,” Kasey said.

Hughes, in her e-mail, did acknowledge that Pleasures by Kasey is not a sexually oriented business. To the Spencer’s “double standard” that Kasey Valdivia points out, however, Hughes wrote: “Downtown is a historic district. It is closely watched by our community. Where a business in the mall or a building somewhere less prominent than Downtown can go unnoticed, we know that more citizens are watchful when it comes to buildings and businesses downtown.”

The e-mail continued: “There are many positives that come with being located in Downtown and the Garrison Avenue Historic District. However I guess some may think of it as a negative.”

The Valdivias do not see their location as a “negative,” but Kasey, in particular, has allegedly had some negative issues with Hughes in the past. She describes having been “yelled at” by Hughes, who later called and issued an apology, a call that Valdivia claims to have on recording.

Pleasures by Kasey came to the Fort Smith region from Nampa, Idaho, “around four years ago,” Richard Valdivia said.

The business operated from 5213 Rogers Ave., near Central Mall, until the Valdivias signed a lease with Westphal Properties to move to downtown Fort Smith in January.

Since that time, the Valdivias have installed 10 14.5-foot poles and launched a series of “pole-fit” fitness classes, exclusively for women, which are held behind the retail portion of their store on 504 Garrison Ave.

At the back of the building, there is a lounge area, where female customers can throw “bachelorette, lingerie, get-over-him parties; that sort of thing,” Kasey Valdivia said, noting Freeze Frame Photography would offer “sexy photo shoots” soon.

Kasey Valdivia wanted to open the store on March 1, 2012, to honor her mother, who died of cancer on the same day in 2010.

“Richard and I worked hard to make it happen, and just missed the day. We officially opened on March 2.”

But in a short time, Pleasures by Kasey has attracted the interest of local radio personality and cinematographer Tommy Mouton, who on Monday (May 14) plans to shoot preliminary footage for the consideration of James Murray at North South Productions (NSP), the company behind “Say Yes to the Dress” on TLC and “Impractical Jokers” on Comedy Central.

According to Mouton, who has placed projects with NSP before, Murray will review the footage to determine “if there is a pilot there,” and from that point, the show could be proposed as an ongoing series.

Mouton and the Valdivias both understand nothing may come of the footage, but for the Valdivias, it’s another example of how they’re “doing good things” for a city department that “has been nothing but unkind” to them.

Still, for Kasey Valdivia, she doesn’t plan on allowing the turmoil to stop her or her husband’s business from succeeding.

“What matters most to me is supporting healthy marriages through this business, and giving women and couples a place where they can feel comfortable exploring healthy sex lives and just improving themselves,” Valdivia said.

Valdivia continued: “Sex is not a sin. It's a good thing. Other than communication, it's one of the biggest keys to a relationship."