TOPHER TALK: Erotic Trade Only Magazine | August 2020
Hello Erotic Trade Only family, I hope that you’re well and the reopening of brick-and-mortar stores has been a success! I’m glad you made it through the Satisfyer adverts to my column. Once again, it’s been quite the month and I’ve been incredibly busy trying to keep up-to-date with work and getting things back to normal at Clonezone – alongside my other writing work and the ‘Sex with Topher’ podcast. Like I said last month, this pandemic has more than doubled my workload – which sometimes I enjoy, and sometimes I do not.
It’s a very strange time for our industry, as we are in the midst of cancel culture and being made aware of some of the political and/or social stances that our brands and influencers take. This can have a major effect on who chooses to shop and associate with us. The queer porn industry exploded with tweets and social media posts made by adult performers using racist language, sharing xenophobic and transphobic rhetoric – all in the wake of the Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter protests. I found myself paying very close attention to this, as I’ve always worked (extremely) hard to make Clonezone as inclusive and friendly as can be. I want everyone to feel welcome to walk through our doors or shop with us online, so I’ve had to – in good faith and as a good person – sever ties with many models and influencers. I’ve never been a person to wrap myself in cotton wool but I do think it’s correct to take the public statements and posts of people we work with seriously when we are considering our morals in business. Perhaps I am a bit corny, but I wouldn’t want to promote something that made anyone feel ‘less than’ for their skin colour, genitalia, gender identity or kinks. Our industry is incredibly unique as we cater for the underground and outcasts alongside the mainstream and I try to apply that to each decision I make professionally. It costs nothing to be a nice person, especially with dealing with one of the most intimate topics surrounding a person – sexuality.
On a positive note, it’s lovely to see new toys coming out even though we are in the middle of a very uncertain time. I’ve been loving the new arrivals from Nexus Range (the Eclipse), WeVibe (The Nova 2 which makes me wish I had a vulva), Cherry Banana’s (Lipstick and Veggie vibe lines) – and of course the ‘Automoblow’ from Autoblow (which is fabulously ridiculous). There’s obviously lots more but these have really stood out to me. I am really going to be dedicating more time to reviewing sex toys from now on, as I do get a huge amount of engagement from them – so if you’re a brand with a toy that you think I’d enjoy, hit me up. I’m particularly interested in products that can be used by ANY body, as I’d like to create content that’s for everyone going forward. My female-bodied friends are extremely interested in the Fantasy for Her ‘Ultimate Pleasure’ sucker that graced the cover of ETO a few months back, by the way. That seems to have really got their attention. Also, if brands want to get involved with the ‘Sex with Topher’ podcast like Nexus and Doxy have, hit me up – the ratings are going up and I’ve hit top 5 on Apple Podcasts a few times now. Therefore, hopefully you’ll see a decent benefit from being involved. We are seeing a big rise in sex toy brands using reality tv stars to promote their products, but don’t forget about the underground tarts like me – I may be shadow banned but my work is read worldwide and my DM’s are always full of questions.
Our stores re-opened at the beginning of July with strict social-distancing guidelines in place, to keep both our staff and customers safe. We provide customers with hand-sanitiser, gloves and a clearly marked ‘route’ around the store with distancing lines clearly placed on the ground. Our shops have always been merchandised well, so there’s a natural flow to shopping anyway – so it’s not something we’ve really struggled with. It’s nice to have the brick-and-mortar stores open again and giving our loyal customers a chance to shop in person, as many much prefer this to online – especially with certain fetish garments and sex toys. For me personally, it’s a sentimental thing as I know that many of our customers see Clonezone stores as their safe space to express themselves and explore their sexuality. It’s good to be back! I just can’t wait to start doing store events again with our sex worker influencers and models. I miss them terribly.
Other than all of my 10am – 6pm work stuff, my post-6pm life with sex education work is very busy. Since the Channel 4 mini documentary (now at 4-million views), I’ve been getting lots of inquiries from people with different ideas etc. The truth is, I’m not a fame-whore, so I’ll only really commit to something that I can use to communicate the topics that I care about through. I’ve learned the hard way with editing now and I certainly have a good grasp of what the mainstream wants from someone like me and how they react. The dream is to launch something avec- ‘Euro Trash’ or ‘Sexcetera’ (the golden days of late-night TV) and to be the middle person between the camera and the erotica. Yeah, it’s ambitious but you’ve got to dream big. I am a big believer in two sayings: ‘fake it till you make it’ and ‘positivity is contagious’ – thanks Geri Halliwell. I actually have a phone call with a potential agent in an hours’ time, so let’s see how that goes! I’ve had very superficial offers on-and-off over the years, therefore I am taking it with a grain of salt. It would be great to bring cleverly curated sex education to the masses though… watch this space!
Wishing you all a very successful August in business. If I can help in anyway, let me know – I’m ALWAYS down to promote and support sex shops.
Lots of love,