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Licence to Print Money Revoked
Bradford, you might want to check your old bank statements.
£495 while other licensing authorities have revised down to a figure of £3,500. If your local authority wants much more, it should be able to justify, in writing, its charges [see boxout]. This will be good ammunition for any future court case. If the council refuses to give a breakdown of costs, this will also be good ammunition for any future court case. Given Westminster City Council’s expensive lawyers’ experience, it would be an unwise council which would want to defend clearly inflated charges in court, especially if you have evidence (previous letters, pages from its website, etc) that show the council has included costs associated with managing unlicensed businesses - this has been many authorities’ stated policy for years and now only goes to show they’ve been overcharging since (at least) 2009. Tim Hemming has been the public face of the campaign against Westminster City Council’s inflated charges for several years. As previously mentioned, with a group of other retailers he successfully won a case against the council last year, which it appealed and lost - in May. But it’s not all over just yet... Hemming explained: “Obviously the case for us was won in the Appeal Court, but now Westminster have
Erotic Trade Only October 2013
variation £1,022 and transfer £202. The lady I spoke to did seem a little unclear though. Hemming continued: “The new fee has been set, BLUE DERBY even though they may be appealing again, because they had to comply with the original verdict of the Richard Eaton, communications officer at Derby City High Court. I’m not sure if it could go up again next Council, said charges had been revised to reflect only year if they’re successful. If they do somehow get the the cost of processing licences, and not the cost of OK to add enforcement back into their figures, that pursuing unlicensed retailers. He went on to say how might make the actions of these other councils who’ve much this was in real terms. Annual licence fees have decided - rather than been forced to by a court case been dropped, “from ‘new licence £5,700 and renewal to drop their fees, suddenly look a bit premature.” £4,380’ to ‘£495 for both new applications and With the situation still not resolved, Hemming is renewals.’” That’s a whopping 91% reduction for new left waiting for closure, and the benefits that could applications and 88% for renewals. bring to his business. He explained, “We [the Derby is one of the higher-profile cases of a council consortium of adult retailers, not Simply Pleasure rethinking its policy. Indeed, local newspaper, the alone] have a cheque from Westminster City Council Derby Telegraph, reported in July that the council had for over £1.4 million sitting with our solicitors at the already put £8,775 aside each for Simply Pleasure and moment. They had to give us that cheque as a part of Private in the city, to repay for years of overcharging. the original ruling by the High Court but until the Frank Harwood, who is a member of Derby legal process is declared over, we can’t be given the council’s general licensing committee, said the money - back. It’s not confirmed as ours yet. It may overcharges being returned to the retailers was have to be returned to them, or a fraction of it might. “money the council can ill afford.” He added the “Hammersmith have told us they intend to reduce situation could have been worse for the council as a their fees,” Hemming added, “but as far as I know, third licensed shop, which that’s not happened yet. went into liquidation in It’s being reviewed. I think A SUGGESTED SAMPLE LETTER FOR SHOP OWNERS: September 2011, would every council with a It may be that you own one or more of the licensed shops in the UK paying what could be otherwise have been due a licensed sex shop policy will called a ‘reasonable sum’ for your licence, based on the 2009 EU law’s wording. However, if refund too. He said: “They be aware of the case and you’re not one of the lucky ones, perhaps it’s time to take the matter up with your local council. are all considering their went into liquidation so I This could work: don’t think they could position. Even within the come back and demand figures Westminster Dear [name of your licensing officer] any money.” As any supplied us, there are financial problems the anomalies, which we’re As I’m sure you’re aware, the recent court case of Hemming v. Westminster City Council has shop had would only have asking questions about. It’s established that the 2009 European Directive limiting sex establishment licensing charges DOES been exacerbated by being a shocking state of affairs apply in the United Kingdom. This went to appeal but the court found in favour of Hemming, overcharged by the adult licensing in this who represented a consortium of UK licensed retailers, based in Soho. The Directive prevents council, this seemed a country - and I’ve been UK licensing authorities from charging fees that go beyond the actual, direct costs of the particularly cold-hearted aware of just what a mess licensing process. comment. it’s been for years. We have As always, the two shops in Westminster, In light of this, I’d like to request a meeting with you to discuss the current (2013-14) licensing comments section Soho Original Books have charge [your business name] is paying, as well as historic payments back to 2009. This is to following the story on the four or five... the establish what a reasonable charge for the future will be - under applicable law - and to ThisIsDerbyshire.co.uk anticipated refund, builtnegotiate repayment of any past overcharges. website contained both wit up since 2009, works out at and wisdom. With user about £100,000 per licence. I hope you’ll be able to spare me some time in the next fortnight. PeterKnight summing up We’ve challenged several people’s views Westminster City Council Kind regards, regarding ‘money the on behalf of over a dozen council can ill afford’. He shops. I’ve spoken to other [Your name, and confirmation you’re the co/owner of the above business] said: “It’s money the licensees up and down the council should never have country and the advice I’ve had in the first place. It is the shop which could ill asked for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. We’re given them, based on our experiences, is just to hold afford to pay.” in limbo at the moment, waiting to hear if they’ve fire until we know exactly where we are with the In a follow-up article in mid-August, the Derby been given that approval. The fight hasn’t ended until court case. Whether it’s all done and dusted or Telegraph reported on that third licensed shop - the we know what that decision is. If they’re able to take whether it’s a fresh round of fighting. We’re waiting now-closed Bargain Pleasure - with John Foster, its it further, then onwards we go too.” to see.” former owner, saying the “huge” fees had been a Speaking of the broader impact of the case, Should Westminster City Council fail to be granted factor in it being forced to shut. The shop, which Hemming said: “I was quite surprised when I heard a Supreme Court hearing, or get one but lose a second stood on Monk Street from 2003 (it was opened by that Derby City Council had reduced their fees, to be appeal, it could perhaps ask for a Judicial Review - not Ben Dover no less) went into liquidation two years honest. We’ve a shop in Derby. It’s great that various of the case, but of the law itself. Which would spell (at ago, but Mr Foster told the paper he intends to pursue councils have already ‘bitten the bullet’ before the least) a further year of legal wrangling and result in Derby City Council for the money he was overcharged case has reached its ultimate conclusion. Our solicitors happy lawyers. for his 2010-11 licence and plough any refund into a are expecting to hear if it’s ongoing at the end of Hemming remains confident though: “I believe the new store on the city’s Abbey Street. Speaking of his September or the beginning of October. If it doesn’t outlook for licensed retailers is good. We remain very reasons for closing Bargain Pleasure, he explained: progress to Supreme Court then that’s it, over. If they positive that it’s right that a legal business isn’t “The council had put the charge up from £1,500 to want to spend tax payer’s money appealing an appeal, persecuted, the inflated charges of the past are not £4,380 and I couldn’t pay it that year. I could have that’s something for them to justify. They had to justifiable and fairness will triumph in court. The law is afforded it, had the charge been £1,500, as it’s the sort produce budgeted figures, as a requirement of last there, the case has been won, and won again. It seems of sum I could have borrowed. I had bills coming up year’s High Court judgement, and they have done to me that if it was an individual person’s money that around my ears and suddenly the council was asking that, leading to a review of their fees. I think it’s fallen was being spent to pursue this, rather than tax payer for £5,000.” to £2,500ish.” funded, the fight would have been dropped a long At the time of writing, Westminster City time ago. Perhaps the public purse is bottomless? My THE BOTTOM LINE Council’s website still shows a figure of £19,973 for a hope is all licences in the UK are going to get new application and £18,737 for a renewal, as of reviewed and shop owners will see a reduction in their The figure of £1,100 given as part of the Westminster March 28th 2012. Later I called up and was told a new fees.” case seems approximately right. Derby has placed it at application would be £5,479, a renewal £3,863, a Sounds fair to me.
Ceramix Pleasure Pottery
give a hot massage. They feel different too. Ceramic is an earthy material that us humans have been connecting with for thousands of years and infusing it with Yttrium ensures it’s also incredibly robust - we saw a Pipedream representative demonstrating this at ANME by banging a sample repeatedly against a wall. Another box that Ceramix ticks is that marked ‘appearance’ - the singular designs have an almost Alice in Wonderland vibe going on, while still retaining strongly suggestive overtones of sexual pleasure. There are six non-vibrating models in the range, which feature hollow shafts so they can be filled with water, and six vibrating models. The latter, while not offering temperature play, still benefit from ceramic’s insulating properties by being virtually inaudible in operation yet also remarkably powerful. YOU’RE FIRED!
A QUESTION OF TEMPERATURE Moving on to the temperature play aspect, Broms says this quickly became fundamental to the range during the design stage: “When we decided to embrace the material we pretty soon figured out that it would be amazing for temperature play. From that point it became an integral part of the development process
and is now even reflected in the range’s slogan, ‘feeling is believing’. There is not really an upper or lower temperature limit - the nonvibrating pieces can all be filled with water and heated or chilled as the user see fit. You can fill them with warm water to give your lover a soothing hot massage or put them in the fridge or ice bucket for a titillating chill. We do, of course, recommend caution with extreme temperatures.” Pipedream has followed previous company practice of giving all the models in the Ceramix range numeric designations rather than names. We asked Broms whether anyone at the company lobbied to give these colourful, imaginative designs individual soubriquets rather than numbers. “No not really. We have found that our customers like the numbers. Is it a little corporate and unimaginative? Perhaps. Can it be confusing to tell one number from the next? Maybe, but calling one Alice and another Angela isn’t really any less confusing for a range like this and at least our numbers coincide with our item numbers. For some of our other ranges, like our Dolls, Fetish Fantasy Series, or Pipedream Extreme, we take great pride in being incredibly descriptive and creative with our names.” Broms says the reaction Ceramix has had so far has been “incredible”. He adds: “When our customers feel these they are blown away. It really is a very tactile experience. They are so amazingly polished and sleek, and so exquisitely coloured and textured. The vibrating models are incredibly quiet and powerful and the non-vibrators are so hot and so cold and so anything you want them to be! We feel that this range will be great for all customers, but especially so for consumers that enjoy a green or organic lifestyle or are concerned with safety of materials.” The response to the initial range has been so good that Broms confidently expects there to be a next generation of models in 2014. He ends with some final words of advice for retailers - get your orders in early if you want to have the Ceramix range in stock for the holiday season. For more information visit www.pipedreamproducts.com and search for Ceramix or contact your favourite Pipedream distributor.
Erotic Trade Only October 2013
Ceramix Pleasure Pottery must surely, therefore, be the highlight of designer Kristian Broms’ time with Pipedream? “It’s one of many highlights,” Broms, who is Pipedream’s VP of creative, replies. “It is a product line that we have spent a lot of time and effort on and are very excited about, but in the end that is true of everything we do. I’m equally excited about the new Pure Aluminium line and our incredible new range of anal toys, Anal Fantasy. We worked on Ceramix for close to two years before we released it. It was a challenge from start to finish. From getting shapes that work to finding the right glazes it was quite a trip. Along the way we encountered more production issues than I care to recount. For example, different clay bodies differ in the way in which they respond when fired in the kiln. Finding a clay composition with just the right amount of plasticity and malleability was very important for us in order to control the amount of shrinkage that occurs during the firing process. The calculations have to be very precise for the vibrator assembly, caps and silicone plugs to fit just right inside the finished pieces.” So presumably each individual item takes significantly longer to get from raw material to finished product compared to conventional silicone lines? “Yes! Let’s just say that there are no injection machines in the world capable of spitting these out. The art of pottery is more than 25,000 years old and involves forming clay into shapes and heating them to high temperatures in a kiln. To create this line we had to go back to the beginning of time in order to move
forward. While we have more refined raw materials and better kilns these days, the process of producing these is still very much the same as it always has been. There is a lot of labour, a lot of drying time, handpainting, handling, more drying time, firing in kilns, and tons of quality control. And this is all before these items even reach the assembly lines.” The Ceramix range is hand-painted, which Broms says further enhances the line’s appeal: “We look at these as functional works of art. The super smooth surfaces and raised textures are designed to stimulate every curve and contour of the body. The glazes are applied by hand, by dipping and brushing, and they give the pieces that organic feel that we all love about ceramic objects. By putting the glazes on by hand we have been able to create a new product range that is truly unique - there is nothing out there that looks and feels like this.” When asked if the decision to hand-paint was a result of choice or because the material is unsuited to mass production painting techniques, Broms replies that it was a bit of both: “While the organic shapes of the range are unsuited to mass production painting techniques there certainly are some techniques we could have used. When we started working on the range we soon realised that while pottery has some really new and awesome advantages over other materials, it also has some serious restrictions and limitations. We decided early on to really embrace everything that makes the material amazing and take any limitations out of the equation. One of those cool things is the fact that we can make unique and multi-coloured handcrafted vibrators that look great and work even better.”
DPS - Pipedream
In conversation with KD Grace and Kay Jaybee
is everywhere else, romance is always the biggest genre in terms of sales, so you had that combination of the word getting around that it was shocking, it had BDSM in it and then people realised it was actually a romantic love story.
ETO: On a different subject Kay, you recently wrote a blog post saying that the success of Fifty Shades of Grey has been bad for authors of erotica. What did you mean by that? KJB: When Fifty Shades came out we were really hopeful. It was mainstream, it was everywhere and we thought people would read it, enjoy it and hopefully they’d find us. And for about three months that was exactly what happened. We were both getting emails from readers who had discovered us after buying Fifty Shades, saying our books were much hotter etc. It was great. There was an upsurge in sales, particularly for BDSM and heavier kink books. But it took a few months for people to twig that Fifty Shades wasn’t actually BDSM, it was erotic romance. You could read the first third and have no idea there was any sex in the book. KD: I read it to see what she had done right, because obviously she had done something right and maybe it was something the rest of us could learn from. I believe it was about page 95 before there was any sex. I think it got so much coverage because the sex that was included was a little bit kinky. But based on what I had read previously, if I was to give it a mark on a scale of one to ten for being graphic I would only give it a four. There’s the discussion of the red room of pain and all the implements but there’s not really... KJB: There’s no real substance to that side of the story, which is what you would expect if you were buying an erotic book. That’s why you would buy an erotic book. You want a good story but with a sexual plotline running through it.
ETO: So you began browsing in estate agents’ windows? KJB: No, but I managed to pay the bills without worrying for three months.
ETO: But weren’t people buying it because they thought it was an erotic book? KJB: That’s how the marketing worked and it did a very good job. They sold it as ‘you will be shocked’ which got people to buy it in the first place. KD: You have to remember the biggest seller of all time is romance. It doesn’t matter how bad the market
ETO: Did the success of Fifty Shades mean your royalties increased also? KJB: Definitely, for a short time.
ETO: So what went wrong, as far as other erotic authors were concerned? Did people think ‘an ordinary woman wrote this book and made lots of money and I could do that’? KD: You’ve hit the nail on the head there but there were two elements to it. They knew she was not a writer and there was a huge rise in self-publishing. Suddenly you don’t have to go through an agent or a publisher, the gatekeepers, anymore. You just have to follow Amazon’s step-by-step instructions and then you’re in. So there was this huge surge of stuff that would never normally have crossed a publisher’s doorstep... ETO: But that only applies to electronic books - you’ve still got to go through the gatekeepers for physical books... KJB: That was the second element. The big publishers suddenly decided that they needed to get on this bandwagon, and I can’t blame them for that, it’s their trade, but they... how can I put this... KD: They looked at Fifty Shades as a formula. So all they were interested in was billionaire and virgin combinations. How many ways can you do billionaire and virgin? There was even one, I don’t remember the actual title, which was about an alien vampire billionaire and a virgin. I don’t want to badmouth anyone but if you had taken out the alien and the vampire aspects it would have been Fifty Shades of Grey. But that was what publishers wanted. That was all they wanted. KJB: What you’ve basically got is four or five authors doing phenomenally well and writing the same story over and over again but in a slightly different style. That’s not sour grapes, I wouldn’t want
to do that because it would get quite dull, but that is what has happened to the market. We all expected people to explore other erotic fiction but it seems they just want the same thing but packaged in a different way. KD: It was bound to happen because people look for formulas as to why something is selling. Our PR person has told us that anything with the words billionaire or virgin in the title will at least have a fighting chance because that’s what people are looking for. ETO: Would it be too strong to say this has resulted in something of a crisis in the world of erotic writing? KD: No, that sums it up quite nicely. KJB: If you’re starting writing now and your dream is to see your paperback on the shelf, it ain’t going to happen. I’ve written six novels and this [The Perfect Submissive] is the only one you will see in a shop apart from Making Him Wait, because Sweetmeats has a contract with WH Smith travel shops. Other publishers are only doing POD [Print On Demand] for Amazon so you are unlikely to see any more of my books beyond this one in shops. Thank God for shops like this because publishers cannot afford to pay the stocking fees demanded by the big book chains. KD: The other thing is that almost everybody has an ereader now and that has changed the face of publishing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it has affected sales of physical books. I won’t buy a paperback now unless I know it’s something that I really want to have because I can download a whole library to my ereader and I think a lot of people are like that now. You can have a dozen titles out there, with none of them having a physical presence. As Kay said, shops like this have been a godsend for both of us because they promote our work and they sell our work. ETO: Has what you earn, as writers of erotica, dropped in recent times? KJB: I calculated that what I earn per sale equates to around 10p an hour. ETO: [gasps] KD: I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving you a figure because I honestly don’t know what I make and it’s better for me that way because we writers have very fragile egos. KJB: I am currently looking for work - a proper job.
Erotic Trade Only October 2013
ETO: Have you enjoyed today? KJB: Yes it was fun. We’re leaving soon to go to another event - the annual Sh! Reading Slam. Everyone gets five minutes to read and I stand up front with a stopwatch and a paddle. If anyone goes over their allotted five minutes I smack their arse. KD: When Kay is standing there with a whip and a paddle, everyone goes over their five minutes! I’m definitely planning to go over my five minutes...
Lies Camera Action
Mainstream Mov Lies, Camera, Action! With biopic Lovelace recently in cinemas, it seems an opportune time to look at how mainstream moviemakers treat the ‘adult’ world. Paul Smith went looking for an anonymous source willing to speak out. An informant to be known only by a shadowy pseudonym... Deep Throat. The title of a porn film that pervaded US culture in the early ‘70s to such an extent that during the Watergate scandal no better name could be thought of for Mark Felt. This FBI official spilled the beans to The Washington Post, leading to the first resignation of a US President when Nixon stepped down in ignominy to avoid
impeachment in August 1974. 41 years on, it’s hard to imagine the brouhaha caused by a humble porn movie unexpectedly catapulted into the big time. Or it would be if we’d not recently experienced the Fifty Shades phenomenon. Lots of the criticisms of Deep Throat as a narrative could equally be
applied to Fifty Shades, but in the same way EL James’ sudden elevation to multi-millionaire status says ‘whatever’ to critics of her prose, Deep Throat may be the most profitable film of all time, when measured against cost of production. Estimated at a mere $22,500 to make (plus a reported $25,000 for its soundtrack of catchy tunes) Deep Throat made something between $100m and $600m, depending on which figure stated online you believe. Either way, not too shabby for an hour-long film shot in just six days, with some serious audio issues in places. As a downside its star Linda Lovelace - aka Linda Boreman - was paid just $1,250 for her performance, was undoubtedly damaged by her experiences in the porn industry, and died in 2002 after the second serious car crash in her 53 years of life. There seems little doubt that her husband when Deep Throat was made in 1972 was a controlling bully, so just how consensual her involvement in the adult industry was is very much open to discussion and interpretation. In a morally dubious set-up - organised crime being closely linked to the porn industry at the time, even in Florida where Deep Throat was shot - it’s hard to identify anyone involved in its production as ‘the good guy’. Perhaps that’s why Hollywood keeps returning to the adult industry as a rich hunting ground for bad guys. Everyone loves a good movie villain...
Erotic Trade Only October 2013
POP SHOTS! PART DEUX
Deep Throat made something between $100m and $600m, depending on which figure stated online you believe. Either way, not too shabby for an hour-long film shot in just six days, with some serious audio issues in places.
I was talking with a retired call girl the other day - as you do - and she told me what I’d suspected all along; that the 1990 film Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts was a factor in her decision to become a prostitute. The same thing has been said about lots of ‘pro-sexwork’ books, TV and films over the years. More recently, Belle de Jour’s author (and retired bodyrentee) took a battering over her books’ positive portrayal of the art of hooking. Most people only know the world of prostitution through the filter of a salacious newspaper story or the lens of a camera. A Hollywood camera, not one of Jay K’s Real Punting ones. Thanks to Jamie Lee Curtis in Trading Places, Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite and even Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver, the idea of ‘the tart with a heart’ has become a Hollywood staple. The main gangster in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) - Hatchet Harry - is both a dangerous thug, and a Soho sex shop owner who once beat a man to death with a 15” black rubber dildo. Dragnet (1987) - the bad guy’s a pornographer. The really bad guy’s a Reverend though; prophetic. The Big Lebowski (1998) - a bad guy, Jackie Treehorn - is a pornographer. 8mm - the bad guys are pornographers (and