Notes on sex shops

These establishments must show more imagination if they are to stimulate our sated appetites

From time to time, writes Dalrymple,

in far-flung places, I catch a glimpse of pornographic films on cable TV in hotel rooms. These mostly German films are almost as widely exported as Mercedes cars; yet they are about as unerotic as it is possible for pornography to be.

The films appear to consist largely, he says,

of overweight men and women running naked into muddy ponds, where they thrash about naughtily, giggling.

Dalrymple reports that the queen of German pornography, Beate Uhse,

is preparing to open a chain of her sex shops in Britain. Not only are cities such as London and Manchester in her sights, but small country towns. She feels the need to bring leather to Leamington and dildos to Devon.

Will this be the end of civilisation? Dalrymple doubts it, if Uhse’s Berlin sex shop and erotic museum — billed as the largest such establishment — are anything to go by. Both the shop and museum, Dalrymple says,

are as sexually provocative as a C&A store.

The displays

are dusty and unenticing. A plastic mermaid with a blue tail sits in one window, apple-green scallop shells demurely covering her nipples; while in another, a plastic woman in red underwear and white suspenders lies curled up in a Champagne glass, a toucan sitting on its rim. It isn’t so much sex that Miss Uhse peddles as barely titillating kitsch.

In a sex-saturated age, Dalrymple argues, the stores are tame.

We have become so used to the most explicit sexual images that stores dealing in pornography are bound to seem not merely uninteresting, but old-fashioned.

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