Body Language

in Businesses and Stores

Body Language, a LGBT+ adult bookstore, opened at 3291 West 115th Street in 1984. Body Language co-Linus Herrell and Ray Burton, Body Language co-owners, sought to differentiate Body Language from other contemporary LGBT+ adult stores, instead envisioning a space that would “adult and clean,” with “no tacky displays, no video booths, and – most importantly – no flashing lights” to be found. Billed as the “thinking person’s adult store,” Body Language soon established itself as a popular fixture in Cleveland’s LGBT+ communities. Body Language sold a variety of products, including “gay and lesbian erotica, books, magazines, and videos.” The store’s main lobby area featured an assortment of items on display for sale, including “the best in current gay and lesbian reading, national magazines, and international photo books…cassettes and CDs…lubes, condoms, greeting cards, and gift ideas.” Beyond the lobby, Body Language’s leather room, “designed for the more sensually and sexually adventurous,” featured an array of adult toys and sexual equipment for sale. In a third area, an assortment of “magazines and videos” could be found for sale. Herrell, a piercing enthusiast, also operated a piercing parlor in one of the store’s back rooms. (An array of body jewelry was also available throughout the shop). Though Burton later left the business, Herrell continued to operate Body Language until AIDS-related health complications forced him to pass ownership of the store on to his partner, Steve Schochet, in 1990. Schochet operated Body Language for several years following Herrell’s death in 1990 before selling the store to Paul Zietzew in 1993.

In 1995, two years after purchasing Body Language, Zietzew relocated Body Language from its original 3291 West 115th Street location into a much larger retail space at 11424 Lorain Avenue. Like Herrell and Schochet, Zietzew continued to emphasize Body Language’s role as an “educational store specializing in issues of sexual orientation.” In this new location, Zeitzew expanded Body Language’s well-known lobby, leather, and video rooms and product offerings. The new location’s extra square footage enabled Zeitzew to establish a “community corner” for patrons to post and view posters, notices, and flyers related to local LGBT+ community organizations and events. Though a retail store, Body Language provided LGBT+ patrons with an accepting, educational environment that doubled as a “safe space for people to come and explore the issues around their sexuality.” Body Language hosted a variety of events, like the annual Porn Fair, that provided patrons with deals on goods while providing opportunities for education and discussion topics related to sexual identity, exploration, health, and safety. For nearly 30 years, Body Language remained actively engaged with Cleveland’s LGBT+ communities through its fundraising activities and broader community outreach. In 2012, Zeitzew retired after selling Body Language to Darian Porter, owner of Inz and Outz (a southern-based LGBT+ retail chain). Body Language closed permanently in 2017.

Additional information coming soon.


  • Berg, Rick. “Store Celebrates First Anniversary.” Gay People’s Chronicle. May 1, 1985. Page 3.
  • Boone, Bob. “Clevelander to Take Pride In.” Gay People’s Chronicle. July 1990. Page 7.
  • Cudnik, Doreen. “In Box.” Gay People’s Chronicle. March 24, 1995. Page 11.
  • Cleveland SGS. “Body Language.” YouTube. September 15, 2009.
  • “Gay Ohio: Cleveland.” The Guide. October 1989. Page 37.
  • Glassman, Anthony. “Body Language to be Sold.” Gay People’s Chronicle. July 18, 2008. Page 3.
  • Glassman, Anthony. “Body Language Sold to Owner of Southern LGBT Stores.” Gay People’s Chronicle. June 1, 2012. Page 2.
  • Glassman, Anthony. “Gay Bookstore is Still Going Strong After 17 Years.” Gay People’s Chronicle. Pride Guide 2001. Page C-2.
  • Herrell, Linus. “Body Language Celebrates its Fifth Anniversary.” Gay People’s Chronicle. June 1989. Page 11.
  • “Linus Herrell, 1952-1990.” Gay People’s Chronicle. October 1990. Page 1.
  • “New Head and Hands to Guide Body Language.” Gay People’s Chronicle.
11424 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, OH 44111 (Body Language).

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