Once again, sex and controversy is proving to be a potent combination at the cash register.
The evidence this time is in the brisk local sales and rentals for Madonna's steamy new "Justify My Love" video, which gained notoriety last month when MTV executives decided it was too hot to handle and banned it from the cable channel.
The five-minute video, which retails for $9.98, was officially released at the beginning of the week, although some local outlets have had copies for the last two weeks.
"We're sold out of it," said Mike Richman, president of Recordmasters. "I went to get more from the distributor and they're sold out of it."
Mr. Richman wouldn't divulge how many copies his chain had sold, but said it was "a very large quantity.
"It's incredible that [MTV] gave her an incredible sales promotion," he said. "It's good merchandising by Madonna again.She's the best artistic merchandiser in the business."
Waxie Maxie's on Falls Road has sold a dozen copies in the last several days. "It's selling better than any other video right now," said sales associate Donna Lyons.
At Blockbuster Videos in Timonium, 10 copies were put on sale at the beginning of the week and all are gone, according to customer service representative Ken DeGruchy. All eight of the store's rental copies were also out yesterday, he said.
"It's very hard to keep on the shelf," he said.
At Erol's in Waverly, assistant manager Rob Simmons was still awaiting the store's first shipment yesterday afternoon, but said the outlet had gotten a "huge response" from customers wanting to know when "Justify" would be available.
Not all reports were as glowing.
At West Coast Video in Millersville, for example, which is renting the video for a buck a night, store clerk Dave Wilson said yesterday only three of the five available copies "are out right now."