What was once considered a pastime for the most chronic of couch potatoes has become a fact of life at the University. Every weekend, dozens of students carrying petite blue bags can be seen around 40th Street, carting home their favorite flicks. "We have dinner and make popcorn," said Lisa D'Angelo, a second-year Nursing graduate student as she returned a copy of Dune to a video store. "I have crafts I do while I'm watching. Hate to waste time!" In student rooms, the videos have found a place alongside the traditional popcorn maker as a way to lure hallmates into one's dorm. "We watch them on the weekend because we want to blow off work on the weekdays," said Engineering senior Liz Penades. She was returning The Fabulous Baker Boys. In nearly every dormitory across campus, weekly movie nights showcase recent releases. And at fraternities such as Theta Xi, watching videos often serves as a warm-up for an evening's activities. "We have a couple beers and [then] go out to a party, since the social scene doesn't start until later," College junior Rich McCloskey said. McCloskey had rented I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka!, which he was returning to Houston Hall's video rental store, The Movie Ticket. "It's a much dryer campus now, so video renting is a nice alternative," Movie Ticket Co-Owner Howard Gensler said. "You can't go get smashed at a fraternity anymore." The Movie Ticket shares the campus video market with the Video Library, a store located in the Warehouse at 4040 Locust Street. The Movie Ticket is frequented by students in the Quadrangle and Hill House, as well as employees of the University Hospital. Video Library caters to residents of West Campus, and West Philadelphia in general. "They tend to recognize the store as part of campus," Video Library Manager Ron Watkins said. "They come in and tend to socialize." Watkins listed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings as the busiest rental times. In addition, Campus Corner, located on 38th Street between Locust and Walnut streets rents videos, as well as an Erol's Video chain store on 43rd and Chestnut streets and a West Coast Video chain store on 46th and Baltimore streets. Getting in on the "Video Revolution" doesn't require a VCR. Stores which rent tapes lend out VCR's as well, and many dorms have VCR's in their student lounges. Still, many students have bought and brought their own players to campus -- and said they feel some guilty pleasure from the extravagance of their purchase. "I had a little extra money," College sophomore Dan Gouger confessed. "I bought myself a gift." But for many on campus, video rentals have become a relatively cheap way to entertain a date. One female College freshman selecting movies at the Video Library this week described her weekend rentals: "Pornos." She was returning the adult title Deep Throat and said that that she watched the movie with her boyfriend. Her choice for video rental is a popular one on campus, according to Video Library's Watkins, who added that soft porn movies have a great appeal to the younger campus audience. Still, most patrons stick with more conventional titles of the action-adventure, drama, and comedy variety. The future of the video rental industry remains unclear, according to the store managers. The industry as a whole reportedly failed to achieve any growth last year, and some campus retailers say that trend has been reflected here. "It was a fairly low-key year. It wasn't unbridled growth like in the early eighties," the Movie Ticket's Gensler observed. "The campus is fairly saturated." Apparently, though, some renters dispute that claim. A window sign in a vacant storefront on Walnut Street between 39th and 40th Streets heralds the site as a future location for "USA Video/Mega Video."Comments powered by Disqus
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