TOPHER TALK: Erotic Trade Only Magazine | July 2019

June has been a ride, as it always is. Summer is here (as well as rain – wtf?) and this means the preparation for Pride in London comes to fruition. I’m writing this a few days before turning 30 on June 21sts, so I am both excited and completely terrified. Starting a new decade and making my own plans for my own video content and podcast. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for this old tart with a heart, as my sex education stuff hasn’t even begun yet. I can’t wait to begin sharing it with you all.

I was thinking to myself… what’s a mature and elegant way to celebrate the end of my roaring twenties? I KNOW! Front row tickets to see The Spice Girls. On June 13th, I stood in the rain for hours dancing to songs that I grew up with and reliving memories of singing along and dancing in my bedroom. I’d always have to dance quite lightly as a kid as if I moved too aggressively, my cassette player would jump and it would skip parts of the song. As a kid, I adored Ginger Spice and not just for superficial reasons… I liked her because she was a poor kid who’d made it as a pop star. I grew up with money problems in my home so she represented something special for me. I got to see her in person! It was an amazing evening, so camp and so silly. Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) somewhat fixated on me throughout the show and would point and sing to me a lot – resulting in me screaming and wailing like a banshee. I went with two childhood friends, and the evening resulted in us all arguing and sitting in Uber home not talking… some things never change. Also, Madonna has released a new album (MADAME X) and it’s fucking amazing. Listen to ‘God Control’ immediately.

Work has been exceptionally busy, as it always is with the arrival of summer, as we have so many new sex toy and underwear brands appearing on our website and in all Clonezone stores. I seem to have been glued to the backend of Magento, whilst trying to keep up-to-date with what’s trending on Twitter. Being relevant and more importantly, STAYING relevant truly is a full-time job but I’d say I do a pretty good job for Clonezone. When I joined the company back in 2010, our reputation was a little fractured due to the company being hit by the recession and going into administration. Lots of stores closed and lots of gay people lost their job. So, I utilized social media to reach people directly and assure them that they’re welcome in our stores or to pick up the phone. This resulted in me directly educating people on sex, sex toys, and more vanilla kink stuff for years – hence my development into sex education and the audacity of calling myself a ‘sexpert’. My work has always been discreet as I deal with people directly instead of posting about it online.

There’s been a lot of discussion on social media about what’s appropriate in-and-around the LGBTQ+ scene at Pride and social events where members of the public will be present. It’s both educational and disheartening in equal measure. There’s been huge uproar regarding a member of the kink community in the UK who had hired Munroe Bergdorf, a famous trans woman, to front an NSPCC campaign. The guy in question, I won’t mention his name as he’s been torn apart enough already, was targeted by TERF groups (if you aren’t aware of TERF’s, they are trans-exclusionary radical feminists). I watched hundreds of thinly veiled homophobic people tear this man apart for hours, insulting his body shape, his interest in latex, and basically suggesting that he should not work for a children’s charity due to his interest in kink. Which is absurd. Hours after ripping into him, a video was found of him masturbating at work in a bathroom stall… so that kind of drew the line. It’s hard to defend something like that but when you’d witnessed hours of abuse which took place prior to that, it still feels unjust. I think he’s someone that did something quite stupid but I don’t think justifies the allusions made about his character and whether he should be associated with children in any way, shape or form. Working in this industry for so long, I’ve got to know very ‘hardcore’ people who appear a certain way as that’s their work character or the behaviour they get up to in their private time – but underneath it all, they’re just normal, kind people. I wish that people weren’t so quick to judge and didn’t latch onto ‘cancel culture’ so much.

Pride in London is coming! On July 6th, Soho and the surrounded areas turn into a vibrant, colourful, unapologetic celebration of queerness. Our Old Compton Street store is in the heart of everything, so we will be there to celebrate with our customers. I’m arranging appearances from gorgeous porn studs, our models and customers who’ll be handing out kitsch freebies and inviting people to pop into the shop and have a look around. Lot’s of people come into Clonezone on the day of Pride to grab themselves something ‘saucy’ to wear – as we are known for our naughty and colourful gear. I don’t view Pride as a day to make money at the shop, I see it as the chance to show up and show out for our customers. If you’re going to be in the area, come and see me! I’ll be at the shop all day, so come and have a dance with this thirty-year-old.