TOPHER TALK: Erotic Trade Only Magazine | May 2019
It’s not often that you find yourself in a latex corset, wearing 12-inch latex bunny ears, squatting on a coffee table in a rooftop apartment in Soho – but it’s me, so nothing really surprises me anymore. But that wasn’t even the weirdest part. An hour or so later, I was wearing Madonna’s eyepatch (from her upcoming music video) and pouring a bottle of Coconut milk all over myself. Why, you ask? I was modelling for fetish photographer Matt Spike. I’m not going to lie and say that I was at my most comfortable in the beginning, as I was not – and this had nothing to do with the 6-inch thigh high boots I was wearing. By the end of the shoot, I was loving every second and didn’t want it to end. Matt had asked me a few times to model for him and I had politely declined, but realising that I’m about to turn 30, I wanted something to remember the last few months of my twenties with – and I’m extremely happy with the results. What do you think?
I feel like I am always saying ‘wow, what a month!’ but again… wow, what a month! After hitting the ground from Mexico and unfortunately having to miss the ETO Show – I’ve been playing catch up with work, and post-wedding I’ve had romance on the brain. Do you know the potential love interest that I mentioned in the last column? Well, that’s gone horribly wrong. Who’d have thought that things would go so horribly wrong with someone that isn’t out-of-the-closet, used to lead a gang, and had finished a decade in prison? I hate a cliche, and I’m certainly not one to judge someone’s past, especially with my own colourful history, but sometimes I should read the fucking signs. It was not meant to be and alas, I have been ghosted by him. If you aren’t aware of what that means, it’s when someone just ceases to acknowledge that you exist anymore. Daily phone calls and a generous amount of affection have turned into radio silence. It stings, I must admit, and I have found myself distracted. So I am back on the market. Hide your son’s.
We are focusing a lot on the coming months at Clonezone HQ, with lots of big things on our colouful calendar for May – the first being the launch of the expanded Clonezone Manchester’s new basement ‘CZ Dark’ on the bank holiday weekend of May 5th. This will be a dedicated fetish location with a strong focus on bondage, leather, latex, neoprene, BDSM and all other naughty things associated. With an exploding kink scene in Manchester, we owe it to Clonezone customers to give them a dedicated one-stop-shop for their needs.
After the dust has settled with the store launch, we have the Prowler European Gay Porn Awards, of which I am the ‘voting chair’ on May 16th. I’m organising a mid-show fashion show with people of all sizes, shaped, genders dressed in Nasty Pig fetish and fashion, in order to encourage different types of people to feel comfy shopping with CZ for fashion and undies. I am so bored of seeing the same underwear models, body types, and skin colours on every single brand and shops campaigns, so I’m just doing my own thing now – with the help of our customer base. On May 18th, I have gay porn legend Rocco Steele doing an in-store appearance in Clonezone Soho, to promote his new toy line with Perfect Fit – which is going to be huge. A bit like the man himself.
The following week is Birmingham Pride, which is a really fun occasion for us – with the store being right at the entrance of the celebrations. The scene in Birmingham is quite intimate, where you’ll find many of the people know each other by name and the party itself is warm and welcoming. We have excellent working relationships with the local venues in Birmingham, mostly thanks to our store manager CJ’s hard work, and it’s just a really good occasion for everyone to acknowledge each other’s visibility as LGBT businesses. Plus, the drinks are very cheap.
Sex over a toy
There’s a lot of talk within the LGBT+ scene about inclusivity at the moment and representation, and this is something that I’ve been actively encouraging and promoting over the past few years. I feel it’s an important time for brands (and shops alike) to take a good look at what they are doing to be supporting and appealing to people that perhaps don’t fit into the ‘mould’ or look like the people on porn DVD covers and underwear ads. I’m always pushing this with underwear brands when they come to meet with us, as I feel it’s not just something that’ll help sales as much as it’s essential. Times have changed and people want to see how clothes, fetish wear, and underwear will look on their bodies. It really doesn’t take much to help your customer feel included, simple with the inclusion of different body types in your advertising. I also recommend encouraging them to send in selfies in your gear or even holding your toys.
Speaking of toys, I’ve just got back into the routine of testing toys again – with a special thanks to Mystim and Hot Octopuss for the Opus E and JETT. Toy testing used to be something that I had lots of time to do and would look forward to doing, but with life moving at 100mph at the moment – it’s sometimes quite hard to find the time to test things out. I usually find that I chose sex over a toy, unlike before, as I am getting a bit bored with the toy options available for men at the moment. I am looking forward to seeing what designs 2019 has in store for us all – because as far as I am concerned, we need it. I’m in the midst of redeveloping my own website and looking forward to hosting dedicated (and unbiased) product reviews, in the hopes of encouraging people to try new things and most importantly have great orgasms. I’ve reached a point now where my DM’s are jam-packed with people asking for advice, which is all I have ever wanted from the job.
See you in June! When I turn 30…