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"It's like, 'Oh, my God, he lived over a sex shop,' you know?" says Carla Dos Santos, the manager of Tic Tac Toe, an "exotic novelties" establishment now operating on the building's ground floor. (You can buy a book there, too—just not one about Bob Dylan.) "They'll do a little shopping, and, like, 'Oh, we bought something in the building that Bob Dylan lived in,' you know? You definitely do get the residual benefits of it. Definitely."
Bob Dylan did not, of course, live above a sex shop. Fifty years ago, even in the bohemian Village, there was no such thing as an exotic novelties store with West 4th Street frontage, but little else about the building has changed. In the fall of 1961, the basement was taken up by Bruno's Spaghetti, with an unfinished furniture store just above. Since then, the Pink Pussycat (another store for adults now relocated just a few feet further west) and a secondhand store took over the space, but Tic Tac Toe has held court for the past decade, welcoming, along with their regular clientele, the stray Dylan fan and/or tourist.
"On a regular basis," says Dos Santos. "You have a lot of tours that come through the city. They do van tours. You get independent tourists walking around. Literally, they have it mapped out. It's all about Dylan, Dylan, Dylan."
Though raised on classic rock, the shopkeeper has a limit to her empathy. "We're not part of the tour, you know. I'm a huge Bob Dylan fan. I love Bob Dylan. But, you know, people cry. It's like, seriously, he's a human being. He's an extremely gifted human, but he's a human being, you know? But you get people that just really connect to him in a different way."
If you drop by Tic Tac Toe, you can even ask Dos Santos about it, about a young Bob Dylan living in a building numbered 161. "It's really people just confirming that he used to live here," she says. "Do we have any contact with him? Does he come back to visit? You know, like, no, he doesn't. We wish he did. But no." There might even be a book in it for you.