5 Things 'Pawn Stars' Doesn't Tell You About Auction Hunting

Auction Lesson #4: Sex Dungeons The third auction I attended was a smaller one I found on Craigslist, and consequently sparsely attended. Only myself and one other hunter arrived, Ed, who'd I seen hate me at other auctions. I gave him a friendly nod. He ignored me a little less hatefully than before. So: some progress. We stood standing on the threshold of the only storage unit up for bids. "What's that in the back?" I asked, standing up on tip toes. Ed, who had been looking around warily the whole time, craned his neck to look. "Dunno," he said, biting his lip. "Oh shit!" he added, as we both heard footsteps behind us. Before I could see who was coming, I was shoved to the floor of the locker, Ed stumbling to the ground beside me. The shutter doors slammed down, sending us in to darkness. "Ahh dammit." Ed's voice somewhere beside me in the blackness. His face lit up as he illuminated it with his cell phone. "No reception." "What? What's happening?" I asked, my voice a little more cartoonish than I would have liked. "Fucking Craigslist," Ed said. He bit his lip. "It's another damned sex trap." "A what?" "A sex dungeon." "You say that like it's a thing. It cannot be a thing. Please tell me this isn't a thing." "Relax newb. You're an auction hunter now. Gotta roll with the big boys." "This has happened to you before?" "I'd say about one time in ten these auctions turn out to be sex dungeons, yeah." Ed shrugged. "Lotta lonely dudes operate these storage facilities." "And how long have you been doing this?" "About 20 years." "And you hit what, one-two of these auctions each week?" "About that." I did the math. "You've chosen a career where you're getting raped 5-10 times a year in corrugated steel buildings?" "I guess when you put it that way it sounds like a lot." "I could put it a lot of ways and it would sound like a lot." I stood up and tried to move towards the door, stumbling over something. "Calm down. I'd suggest you just try and enjoy it. You need to roll with life's little ups and downs a little, newb." "You mean you just let them sex dungeon you? This is one hell of a down to roll with." I found the door and began searching it, looking for a release or something. Behind me I could hear Ed banging around, the dim light from his cell phone casting eerie shadows. "Found em," he said. "You found what?" I asked, turning around. Something black and strappy came flying through the air and hit me in the face. I caught it before it could reach the floor. "What is this?" "Ball gag. Put it on." "Ed, do you think you might be giving in to this a little too easily?" "Mmmmmeghghmph."

The problem is not that I don't know where it's been. The problem is that I do know where it's been.

On the other side of the door, I could hear footsteps. "I hope you guys er ready!" A click, and the door rumbled upwards, a spreading sea of light silhouetting our sex-captor. "Bam! Mouth-Punch!" I said, doing just that as I ran past the villain. He fell to the ground, and I stopped a few yards away. It felt a bit too easy. Although I've often told people that I have "the eyes of a Van Damme" I can't say the same for my arms or chest or any other parts of me. How did I escape from this sex dungeon so easily? "Ow! That really hurt!" my prospective rapist said from the ground, rubbing his jaw. He was the owner of the storage complex, a sweaty man, with the name Daryl stenciled across the breast of his shirt. "Then I did it right." "I don't understand," Daryl said, looking hurt. "I tried to explain things to him," Ed said, emerging from the locker, his ball gag hanging around his neck. He shook his head. "Fucking newbs." "Get the hell out of here you fucking newb," Daryl said, standing up. "It's all money, money, money with you, isn't it, never sex, no, its never dirty clutching sex. We got no need for your ivory-tower sorts 'round these here storage facilities." "How about the police? You got need for the police round here?" Daryl looked worried. "You wouldn't." He was right, I wouldn't. I went through a bit of a crying wolf spell a few years earlier, claiming outlandish crimes were occurring and seeing what happened. Regicide, that kind of thing. Now I need my parents permission to call the police. Wordlessly, I left the strange storage folk, letting them stew in fear for awhile, before they got around to stewing in other, worse things. Auction Lesson #5: Even When You Win, You Lose The next day I was visiting a pawn shop, trying to offload a crate of the green shorts by claiming they were part of the Munchkin costumes from the Wizard of Oz. The owner looked at me disdainfully over the rim of his glasses, before slowly sweeping the entire mess off his counter and on to the floor. "I take it that's a no?" "Fucking newb." I turned to go, reaching the door when I heard him say, "Wait, what's this?" I watched him extract the ball gag from the heap of shorts, where I had evidently dropped it after my narrow escape. "It's not mine." "Are you sure? Because it was with your stuff." He winked at me, and picked it up to examine it closer. He let out a low whistle. "What is it?" "Well newb, based on this stamp here on the underside, I can see that this is a 1918-model Oral Humiliation Restraint, from the Edison workshop." "As in Thomas Edison?" "He freaked with the best of them it is said." The pawn shop owner shook his head. "Very few of these have survived to this day." "Wow. Is it worth anything?" "Oh my yes. I imagine a collector would be willing to spend $5,000 for something like this." My eyes barfed tears. Collecting my breath, I gasped, "You've got yourself a deal." "I'm sorry?" "A deal. I'll sell it to you for $5,000." "I'm afraid you misunderstand me. I don't collect these. I don't want anything to do with the people who collect these." And that turned out to be the biggest catch of all. At the end of those auction shows, when the value of the goods is tallied up on screen, that's all just estimates. No-one's given them any money for that stuff yet. This isn't a video game, where every store is willing to buy all your shit off you at a fair price.

"Yes of course I keep $50,000 on hand in case someone comes in here looking to offload two tons of herbs and forty Druish staves."

The auction hunters on these shows all own their own pawn shops, and can sit on the mundane goods for months until they sell. As for the exotics, the people willing to pay a fortune for them are often as rare as the object itself. With my vintage Edison ball-gag, I was stuck with something possibly very valuable, but with no way to capitalize on it. I tried putting it on eBay, hoping that word would spread amongst the freaks that it was out there. But the bidding stopped at $18, and the emails I got concerning the auction were the worst things I've ever seen on the Internet. Trawling around sex shops and the back end of Craigslist looking for parties interested in vintage ball gags felt like a good way to actually meet parties interested in a vintage ball gag, which no sane man should ever want to do. I don't want to throw it away, but don't want it anywhere near me, because if seen, it will cause problems in my community. So I'm going to put it in storage until I can figure out what to do with it, along with several cases of green shorts which can't go anywhere but up in value. This will mean going back in to storage land, so if no-one sees me in a couple days, please, please come looking for me, with your most sympathetic, least judgmental eyes. _____________________________________________

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