A few decades later I was invited to the Strangers' Gallery by a lobby journalist friend and again, I watched someone make another dullish speech to an almost empty house, only this time I was a bit more grown up and less easily impressed by Pugin’s imposing interiors and the aura of institutional power. Later we ate lunch in a cosy cafeteria, although whether this was in Portcullis House, where the security seems even greater than that of any large airport, or in the Palace of Westminster, I don’t remember. The Houses of Parliament have that effect on you. Not labyrinthine, perhaps, just very, very big and easy to get lost in.
Okay, let's do the technical stuff first: it's a state of the art clitoral stimulator that simulates… an intense sucking sensation. Which, of course, may or may not be your thing. But if it is, it's v. handy for when your partner just isn't prepared to pucker 'n suck or when you fancy a bit of me-time. It's made by a German firm called Satisfyer Pro 2 who, in ever-efficient fashion, have designed it to be waterproof, rechargeable and stroke-ably smooth.
I’ll admit, there was a time when I had never really considered what I wouldn’t expect puppets to do. Reared on Thunderbirds and seaside Punch and Judy, my conscious puppet repertoire was defined by International Rescue missions and sausage-themed domestic abuse. A diverse enough spread, you’d think. But, had I thought about what I wouldn’t call ‘puppet territory’, knife throwing, striptease, and floating through the air while masturbating with an aubergine would have been high on my list. How wrong I would have been. Thank goodness the Sex and Puppets/Puppet Cabaret double bill hosted by Moving Parts, Newcastle’s new puppetry festival, was here to set me straight.
It’s official: Sade is part of the canon. Thanks to a blistering new translation by Thomas Wynn and Will McMorran, the 120 Days of Sodom now sits merrily alongside War and Peace and Little Women in a restrained, matte black cover. A familiar little bird in an orange bubble is posed directly under Man Ray’s Monument à D. A. F. de Sade, a close-up of pert buttocks framed by an inverted cross. Fifty years ago, anyone who published Sade faced prosecution. Now, ‘the most impure tale ever written’ is a Penguin Classic.
Gardner’s vision of eighteenth-century sex work is the perfect mix of romanticism and realism. For every silken gown, rococo pleasure garden, and champagne-fuelled masquerade, she offers a sobering glimpse of the indigence, cruelty and inequality on which eighteenth-century society was built.
Originally titled The Erotic Oscars until the Hollywood proprietors of the eponymous statue objected and forced a change to The Erotic Awards, this annual recognition of libidinous creative talent is now in its twenty second year. It was conceived by the extraordinary Dr ‘Tuppy’ Owens, ‘onlie begetter’ of The Sex Maniac’s Diary and The Sex Maniac’s Ball. Both productions fell victim to political correctness (the well-researched and informative diary died), although the Ball survived for over twenty five years including a name change to Night of the Senses.
Only the Visible Can Vanish, Anna Maconochie’s debut collection of short fiction, crackles with an electric energy. It’s extremely present and the humour is trenchant. Eleven stories, dealing with big city themes: urban alienation to the point of wanting to vanish; internet romances; pressure-cooker media jobs; trying to connect with the opposite sex; encounters that could succeed and bloom into fuller, more permanent relationships only to be destroyed by their creaky foundations.
This is the somewhat predictable story of Melanie, a young woman working hard to gain credits in the banking world and doing her best to be taken seriously for her brain, rather than her body: a seemingly simple, but obviously unrealistic, goal.
Here at Erotic Review we are nothing if not champions of good sex: the expression of it, the reading of it, the writing of it and indeed the having of it. So when an erotic novel takes the world by storm, well: we want a piece of the action. Hell, we’ve been wanting a piece of the action since 1995, and Belinda Blinked; 1 A modern story of sex, erotica and passion. How the sexiest sales girl in business earns her huge bonus by being the best at removing her high heels.does the job very nicely indeed. Welcome to the Steeles Pots and Pans industry, where women always come first, and where a humble charity tombola can end in a horsebox.