HOUSTON – There has been a temporary setback to a Canadian company's efforts to bring a sex robot brothel to Houston.
Mayor Sylvester Turner's office confirmed code inspectors noticed work had begun on a building in the 5600 block of Richmond Avenue without a permit.
The work was ordered stopped. The business will need to apply for a demolition permit and submit plans before continuing work.
Houston could soon be home to the first robot brothel in the country as long as Mayor Sylvester Turner grants his "blessing," the company owner said.
Yuval Gavriel operates KINKY S ROBOTS in Toronto, Canada, where customers can rent life-like sex robots for $80 an hour and buy them for $2,500 to $10,000.
"We're ready as soon as we get the get-go," Gavriel said. "We're legal people.
"We want to open peacefully and without opposition from any group,” he added. “We want the blessing of the mayor.”
Gavriel said his attorney assures him he doesn't legally need the blessing of the mayor. Houston was chosen, in part, because it doesn't regulate sex robot businesses.
"We don't want to bother anyone," Gavriel said. "We really just want to do everything clean."
Thousands of Houstonians have signed an online petition to "Keep Robot Brothels Out of Houston," sponsored by Elijah Rising, a nonprofit working to end sex trafficking.
"Houston doesn't need any more strengthening of the sex industry that will lead to more purchase of real women real children," executive director Micah Gamboa said.
"These rape bots are mechanized pornography and everything we know about porn fueling the demand for real women real children in the sex trafficking industry is going to apply to this robot brothel," she said.
Gavriel strongly disagrees, promising to open 10 KINKY S ROBOTS locations in the United States over the next couple of years, starting in Houston.
"We're doing the exact opposite of prostitution," he said. "We're here to prevent prostitution."
"We entertain men, women, transsexuals," Gavriel added. "I think it's a great thing."
He said he fully expects to receive Turner's blessing, who on Wednesday said Gavriel's sex shop was "not the sort of business that we advertise for or seek to attract or quite frankly that I want in the city of Houston."
Turner has instructed his legal department to look into how the city can "limit," "regulate" or in some way "restrict" Gavriel's planned business.
Gavriel said he plans to open "right next to" a few strip clubs off Richmond Avenue in the Galleria area.
"They're using humans," Gavriel said. "We're just using robots."