Remembering Kim’s Video, Raids

August 25, 2014 | Marina Galperina

For more than 25 years, Kim’s was a legend, an oddity, a staple, a community. Today, the last of its locations at 124 First Avenue closes its doors at the end of the day. There’s a lot to be said, and it’s all better said in Bedford and Bowery’s “The Story of Kim’s Video & Music, Told By Its Clerks and Customers.” Here, Christopher Pravdica (ex-clerk, Swans) remembers many things very fondly, like Kembra Pfahler trying to “date him” in the freezing, squirrel-infested porn room back when he was 19. There were also the raids, both official and… local.

I was working that day the FBI came in with machine guns because we had some Chinese bootlegs that they didn’t like. They went right to the Chinese section, grabbed specific tapes, and went right out. I don’t know what that was all about.

We used to sell movie T-shirts, and one of the T-shirts had a print for The Born Losers, the original Billy Jack movie — it was Billy Jack with his shotgun, with bikers behind him. They kind of look like Hells Angels, even though they’re just some generic biker gang from the ’60s. One day while I was working the day shift about five Hells Angels, from Third Street, came out. They just went right up to me and pointed to the T-shirt without looking and said, “You gotta take those down. We don’t allow you to sell images of Hells Angels.” And I made the mistake of trying to explain to them, “It’s not the Hell’s Angels… it’s some Billy Jack movie.” It was the first and last time I ever pissed off a Hells Angel.

Kim’s survived notorious copyright infringement raids for burning hip-hop mixtapes and cease and desists for precious Cremaster art video bootlegs. All these legal risks, just to provide New Yorkers with the most essential and obscure media, finally done in by digital and the internet. We’re on our own. RIP. (Photo: @workinpana)