TOPHER TALK: Erotic Trade Only Magazine | June 2019

It’s June. I turn 30 on June 21st. I am somewhere between excited for a fresh decade and half terrified of being written off. My twenties have been a rollercoaster, and as much as I’m sad to say goodbye to them… I’m sincerely ready for a fresh start. 

Here I am again talking about how crazy my month has been, but May truly has been madness. I knew it would be, though. Every year my May-August is intense due to the build-up to, and then Pride season in the UK. We have Clonezone stores in 3 of the largest cities here; London, Manchester, and Birmingham – so I am always beginning the plans and making sure we are there for our customers. As a representative of a gay business, I need to show my face and I need to make sure that we, as a brand, are showing face in the best way possible. I always describe May as when I’m pushed into a cannon which fires me all-the-way to mid-July, where I get a little break before Manchester Pride. Consider the match lit and my ass being propelled at speed, through (fabulous) chaos as we speak. 

” I can’t remember too much other than falling through a velvet curtain at the side of the stage, which isn’t the best ‘look’ when you’re wearing a neon pink latex thong. “

I appreciate being busy more than ever at the moment. Many aspects of my personal life have been in tatters, so it’s been rewarding to have something positive to focus on. I’d love to put a positive and sassy spin on it, but I haven’t had a fun ‘run’ for a few months now. These situations do stand to remind me how lucky I am to do what I do and appreciate the unique situations that I find myself in. I have total admiration for those who don’t enjoy their work, have so much ‘go wrong’ and manage to get on with their lives. As Ali G famously said: Respect. 

Anyway, back to the FUN stuff. The month began with the launch of Clonezone Manchester’s new dedicated fetish floor ‘CZ DARK’ on May 5. The floor was developed within the basement of the store, which used to be a sauna. If those walls could talk. The sauna used to flood be store every few weeks so I can’t say that I’m personally sorry to see it gone. Our manager, Stu, planned a launch event to promote the new store, which includes fetish staples such as Mr. S Leather, Boxer Barcelona, alongside incredible options from the luxurious Mister B Amsterdam. I got some gorgeous guys to wear the new gear and hand out drinks, sushi as well as vegan options. We are very 2019. Then there was the after-party at Cruz101 – a vibrant gay at which were there was a Clonezone fashion show. I can’t remember too much other than falling through a velvet curtain at the side of the stage, which isn’t the best ‘look’ when you’re wearing a neon pink latex thong. I wasn’t even tipsy at this stage. Oh, and I did it twice! Ass-over-tit.

Vauxhall viva

Next up was the Prowler European Porn Awards on May 16th, which was held in the iconic gay club – FIRE in Vauxhall. I was in an hour-long Skype call with the judging panel to finalise the winners, which was my first-time experience with this type of thing. Having to remove emotions from my decision making and pick fair winners, with everything taken into consideration. I was happy with the final 19 winners, with the inclusion of an award I asked to add, the ‘Panels Choice’ award. I’ve worked with porn performers for close-to-a-decade now, and have seen them come, go, come back, work hard and make names for themselves. This went to a very deserving winner, Curtis Edwards. 

The evening itself was intense, boiling hot and so packed that it took 10 minutes to get to one side of the venue to the other. I was working from open (8 pm) until midnight as I had a mid-show fashion event happening at 11:30 pm. I don’t like to make things easy for myself, so I invited 23 models to walk the runway. With the help of my colleagues and the fabulous James (aka Mother) from JAMIE HP, the famous sex club, we round the troops up and got the show running smoothly. It was an inclusive representation of our customer base – with a mix of all ages, genders, body types all sporting gear from Nasty Pig. The show lasted for 20 minutes but felt like it went in 2, all the adrenaline ate me alive. I felt like a proud parent at the side of the stage seeing everyone strut their stuff and feel good about their individuality in-front of an adoring crowd. That’s what it’s all about. 

The evening itself was just pure joy for me, as I was surrounded by toy brands, models, colleagues and friends that I’ve gained over the years. It’s so rare for us all to be under one roof and I was just reveling in the love. I’d like to say a special thanks to Nexus and Bathmate for their generous support of the event. The evening started in a way which I’ll never forget, my boots kept coming undone so my female friend and I wandered into the ‘darkroom’ (if you know, you know) next to us so I could sit on a sling whilst she helped do them back up. As she was lacing a buckling me, a gang bang started to take place next to us. Unphased by this, we carried on sorting my boots and then slowly made our way back into the main room to explore.

Then on the Saturday, gay porn legend, Rocco Steele appeared at Clonezone Soho. The visit was to promote his new line of sex toys ‘ROCCO by Perfect Fit’. These toys are actually great – a standout and the somewhat simple-yet-innovative product is ‘The Breeder’, check it out. He’s the sweetest guy and was so gracious being surrounded by adoring fans. And when I say adoring, I mean adoring. We had guys hanging around for the whole 2-hour visit just lustfully making eyes at Mr. Steele. We had nice chats in the office as he was dressing. My advice to international retailers: Get Rocco into your stores. The crowds come. 

I hope you all enjoy the month of June, and that you think of me on June 21st, the summer solstice, as I enter my thirties. If everyone in the industry would like to put their money together and collectively purchase a meet-and-Greet with Anthony Joshua, I’d be incredibly grateful.