For years, Rusty Greasebeard Kowalski operated a roadside tent on Exit 184 off of Interstate 24 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Rusty’s tent, known to locals as Davy Jones’ DVD Locker, sold a variety of items, including tube socks and fried pork skins. But local Chattanoogans know Rusty for his pirated movies. From 1995 to the present, Rusty has sold more illegally-recorded DVDs than any other pirate below the Mason-Dixon Line. However, the recent rise of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and whatever Paramount Plus is has done a number on the DVD Locker’s business. We at The Record sent reporters to see how this cultural shift has impacted Rusty’s business, and how he has attempted to adapt to the times.

Interviewer: So Rusty, for years you have operated the DVD Locker with much success. When would you say your peak was?

Rusty: In 2004, me DVD schooner was riding the highest of seas. I was moving more DVDS of Shrek 2, Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban, Spider-Man 2, and Passion of the Christ than I could keep count of. But that wasn’t even the best part. People were still exceptionally horny from the emotional rush that came from capturing Saddam in December of ‘03, so we did more porn sales in the first quarter than my next best quarters combined.

Interviewer: Hmm, I don’t seem to recall that same sensation during the Bush years. How has streaming impacted your business?

Rusty: Originally, I saw a short bump in me numbers. When Blockbusters started dropping like flies in 2012, I was able to sell me Bitcoin to buy out Eastern Tennessee’s Blockbuster inventory during their liquidation sales. Unfortunately, when adjusting for the rise in Bitcoin prices, I spent $85 million cleaning out the legal DVD shops. The one segment of me business that has stayed consistent are me tube sock sales. I’d like to see ‘em streaming socks. Argh, even me pornos don’t move like they used to, but I’m working to remove incognito mode from computers.

Interviewer: How have you coped with the move to streaming?

Rusty: Video has changed a lot in me days. The end of the VHS wasn’t too bad because I could just burn more DVDs to replace the stock, but it’s been much harder for me to move online. Don’t get me wrong, streaming isn’t all bad.  I laugh me socks off at that Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime. Have ye seen that one?

Interviewer: Well that was certainly fascinating and puzzling. Thank you for your time, Rusty, and I wish you the best of luck.

Davy Jones’ DVD Locker would close for good two months later. Rusty won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Walmart after a sleep deprived trucker ran off the road, and leveled Rusty’s tents. The settlement allowed him to retire, and trade one hook for a prosthetic hand. 

—E. Bohannon