Tuesday 23 January 2001
PAGES OF FUN 2
Whsmith in Victoria is horrible. It's 1pm and the aisles are crowded.
I keep accidentally banging people with my bag as I try to squeeze
through. A man crouches down on the floor looking at 'Stuff for
Men', and his trenchcoat pools round his feet like a muddy puddle.
I look up above his head and see Parade, Men Only, Playboy, and
Whitehouse. On the cover of Men Only a tanned, yellowhaired girl
leans forward, dressed in red shorts and a white vest. I start to
read the straplines. 'Tracey Lee - addicted to sextoys'... 'Stripper
gang-banged by her fans'....
I feel someone staring at me looking at the magazines. Trenchcoat
guy has stood up and is glaring at me. Glaring, or, leering, or
Whatever. I quickly look down at Mixmag then walk off; not looking
at him. I feel like I've been caught with my hands in the till;
seen dumping an old chair beneath a 'no tipping' sign; or picking
still-edible fruit up off the pavement after Berwick Street market.
Somehow porn in Whsmith is far more bothersome than porn in Pages
of Fun over the road, with its array of Euro hardcore cumshot mags,
its SM novels, its TV spanking magazines. In Pages of Fun you must
step through a curtain made of yellow hanging plastic strips. It's
like a curtain between the nomal world of Ann Rice paperbacks and
books on old British motorcars, and pornoland, with its orgasmic
pots of gold at the end of long, fleshcoloured rainbows.
It seems too simple to pick up your porn at Whsmiths, to purchase
your easy orgasm along with the Evening Standard and a packet of
Polos. It almost feels like cheating. Like you should have to walk
through the golden curtain at Pages of Fun and be forced to confront
the reality of what you're doing, rather than brushing it under
the carpet of respectability. Maybe I feel orgasms are special enough
that you have to earn them.
Or, maybe I'm just jealous.
There's an Annie Lawson postcard that has a stick-figure man saying
to a stickfigure woman: 'Oh, if I was a woman, I'd wear mini-skirts
and stockings and suspenders and everything!' and the stick-woman
goes 'grrrr!' But I'm just as bad as the stickfigure man. Because
if I was a man, I'd buy porno every day, I think.
Every time you buy or look at porn, if you're female, you're making
a 'statement'. Every time you cross a porn shop threshold and look
shyly around with your boyfriend, getting tutted at by the man behind
the counter if you stray from his side; every time you 'casually'
discuss vibrators with the nice lady in the woman-friendly sex shop,
you're being transgressive, breaking some rule laid down years back.
In fact, you can't even say you enjoy porn without first reeling
off some huge feminist justification.
Sometimes life's too short for that. I don't want always to make
a statement. When I went to the peep show, was I making a statement,
or just peeping at pussy? The boyfriend had never been to a peep
show either, so why was it transgressive for me but re-gressive
I'd love to be a man, to browse the shelves, avoiding eyecontact
with my fellow man just like I'd learnt at the urinal. Choosing
my kink, selecting my material; furtive, but compelled. It'd be
understood that this was a 'man thing', an itch I have to scratch.
If I go to a sex shop, it has to be a big thing. I'm perceived to
be performing, showing off, demanding attention, doing something
unnecessary. People look. At the peep show I was performing in a
way, nearly as much as the girls, grinning at them, consious that
I was, as the dancer said to us through the glass, part of a 'cute
couple', not just one of the 'creepy guys'.
I want to be a creepy guy!
I want to be a man, to embrace porn and depravity. I wouldn't take
the cowards way, perusing Men Only behind the Financial Times before
returning to my chintz wife in Chislehurst, prying open frigid thighs
while dreaming of Lusty Lavinia who loves to be watched... I'd go
to Pages of Fun and spend 80 quid on magazines with little stickers
(which I'd peel off) over the best bits, and on magazines that are
so naughty they're not even illegal, a plump clothed behind and
a hairbrush poised just so, and magazines on stuff I wasn't even
into, golden showers and bestiality and incest, just because I could.
And I'd go to Amsterdam and - why not? - I'd just have a whore,
and it'd make me feel guilty and compassionate and human, and I'd
leave extra guilders because it'd make me feel better about myself,
and then I'd see her wave to her mates outside the window as I passed
by later and I'd realise she didn't even feel bad, and that'd make
me feel worse.
My boyfriend squanders his maleness. He has no porn stack. He'll
only go to sexshops if I'm there, then we'll pore over the mags
together. But I don't want to be a girl, a naughty girl, a kinky
girlfriend, a transgressive laddess. I just want to be a man. I
want to be invisible.
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