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UK Sex Shop News

2012: Jan-March

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26th March   

Update: Dummies in Truro...

Cornwall Council ludicrously demand that sex shop windows are blacked out
Link Here
Full story: Sex Shop Window Displays...Sex shops, window displays and licensing authorties
In 2010 Braxton Reynolds opened Truro's first sex shop, Mrs Palm , on Little Castle Street. He has now been ordered to black out his window display or risk losing his licence.

Confusion ensued over the wording of the licence re window displays, but now Cornwall Council's licensing 'service' said it has clarified the position. According to the council, the window display with mannequins in lingerie is breaching standard conditions of the licence. The council is claiming that the window display is part of the interior and therefore must not be visible to passers by.

Reynolds said a blacked-out window would not only damage the look of the street but also harm his business. He said:

Rules are being enforced in such a way to the detriment of the street first and to the detriment of our trading viability.

This will be disastrous for trade and will affect the look of the street. Our lingerie is no worse than stock high street chains have on display in their windows.

Adam Hayes of Miller Commercial who manages many of the nearby buildings said:

If asked our view of what the effect would be on Little Castle Street to have a prominent and central shop essentially whitewashed or blacked out, I would say it would be detrimental to the street in terms of aesthetics and to adjoining businesses.

A spokesman for the Council said:

[Reynolds was] advised that Licensing Enforcement would arrange to meet him at the premises to conduct a licence check which would also enable the opportunity for discussion on the way forward and options available.

This is not as a result of any complaints from members of the public.


16th March   

Updated: Secretive Moralists...

Hull Council to reconsider sex shop application after it refused a previous application without even informing the owners of the council hearing
Link Here
Full story: Sex Shops in Hull...The usual trivial reasons cited to get sex shops banned
Hull councillors are set to reconsider an application to open a new sex shop at the junction of the Boulevard and Hessle Road in west Hull.

An application by Sheffield-based The Naughty Company was refused by councillors in January supposedly because of the shop's proximity to a special unit for schoolgirl mums.

However, that decision has now been rescinded after company owner Paul Darker complained he had not been invited to speak at the licensing committee meeting or even told by the council when it was taking place.

The same  licensing committee meeting will hear applications for two lap dancing venues. The Fantasy Bar and The Purple Door.

The Fantasy Bar application has attracted one letter of objection. Moralist Mike Brown said:

I don't feel the location is very suitable. It is on a main road in the city centre and is covered by a large amount of public transport. I have no negative moral beliefs towards these establishments ... BUT ... I do not feel this site is right.

A report for the committee says Humberside Police has raised no objections to either application.

Update: Local Monopoly Maintained

16th March 2012. From

A sex shop boss says he will open a new shop in Hull after being refused a sex shop licence. Paul Darker said he still planned to open the shop, selling lingerie and adult toys, which do not require a licence.

Licensing councillors refused Darker's application for an empty shop unit in Boulevard after arbitrarily deciding on a limit on the number of sex shops in the Hessle Road area. They decided that the existing licensed Private Shop across Hessle Road was sufficient.

Councillors also scraped the excuses barrel and said opening another sex shop directly opposite a memorial to lost trawlermen on Hessle Road and close to a unit for schoolgirl mums in Boulevard would be tactless .

At the same meeting, councillors granted new-style sex entertainment venue licences for two existing lap-dancing clubs in the city centre. Approval of the licenses for the Purple Door in Dock Street and the Fantasy Bar in George Street came after the committee agreed to set a limit of two venues in the city centre.


11th March   

Too Much Aggro...

Secret Desires closes in Port Talbot
Link Here
A Port Talbot sex shop owner has decided to start afresh with a new, less controversial business. Secret Desires in Taibach has been transformed into a Cash for Clothes shop.

Owner Simon Sternschuss said after four years of aggro from the local councillors he has decided to call it day and try a new business venture. He said:

I have closed it down because of the aggravation I have had.

The licence fee has also gone up. The council licensing officers have been very good, but the councillors have been against it from day one.

I feel like the business has been forced out.

Every time the licensing renewal came up it has been ridiculous. It has been bad publicity and people are scared to come.


9th March   

Summer Special...

Channel 4 commissions a documentary to follow an Ann Summers quest to design a new vibrator
Link Here
Channel 4 has commissioned Sex Toy Story , a one off documentary that will follow Britain's biggest supplier of sex toys, Ann Summers, in its attempt to create the first ever people's vibrator.

The chain's chief executive, Jacqueline Gold, has decided it's time for bold ideas if she wants to stay ahead of the competition. She has set her company the task of developing a range of vibrators.

A cross-section of British women will be called upon to create a panel of experts. Over a period of six months, they will road test the best sex toys on the market, take part in a range of experiments to determine exactly what turns women on, and then pitch their ideas to the Ann Summers design team.


8th March   

Model Censorship...

ASA strangely unprovoked by sexy Agent Provocateur advert
Link Here

A video on the Agent Provocateur website, viewed on 4 November 2011, showed a woman in a nightgown in her home. She was shown answering the telephone before several women, who were wearing revealing lingerie with stockings and long boots, appeared at the window. The women were shown dragging the other woman through the house and adopted a series of poses, some sexual, alone and with the other women. The group of women appeared to attack the woman's body; she then she re-appeared wearing similar revealing lingerie to the group. Issue

The complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive, because she believed it was disturbing and misogynistic.

Agent Provocateur said the video was produced in support of the online launch of their new Soiree 2011-2012 collection, because the limited edition range had previously been available only in global destination boutiques. The film was a unique take on the horror genre with a signature Agent Provocateur sensibility and eroticism. They said one of the gowns in the collection reminded the film's director of the type of gown that was worn by victims in classic 1950s Hammer horror films. The style suited Agent Provocateur perfectly, because in the past horror was the only way of showing sex in a film. Sex and horror had always been woven together but, they understood, had never been parodied in a film for a fashion label. They said the online video had been viewed over 450,000 times since its launch and there had not been any other complaints. They said they always tried to communicate with a sense of humour and did not condone violence in any form.

ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld

The ASA noted the online video appeared in the context of the website of a luxury lingerie retailer. We acknowledged some viewers might find some of the scenes distasteful but considered the highly stylised nature and clearly fictional content of the video meant it was unlikely to be interpreted by most viewers in the way the complainant suggested. We considered the ads did not demean women and were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to visitors to the Agent Provocateur website. We also considered the ad was unlikely to cause fear or distress without justifiable reason. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.


7th March   

Spouting Bollox As Usual...

Christian group fails to prevent sex shop licence renewal for the Richmond Private Shop
Link Here
Full story: Sex Shops in East Anglia...Pulse and Cocktails and others

A Christian group which claimed a sex shop could attract sexual offenders into the London Borough of Richmond has failed in its bid to stop the establishment renewing its licence.

Twickenham Christian Concern claimed unconvincingly that the Private Shop, in Kew Road, Richmond, may be encouraging undesirable people to visit the residential area.

However, Richmond Council's licensing sub-committee said that it had no evidence this was true and it could not make its judgement based on the group's moral objections.

Rosemary Jarvis, of Twickenham Christian Concern, seemed to doubt her own arguments saying:

It could well be undesirable people are coming to the shop which we perhaps prefer not to have in our borough.

I could show you pictures from the papers of people who police have arrested because they've committed certain sexual crimes.

I know you can't necessarily prove that because there's a sex shop in the vicinity that person has been into the sex shop and therefore committed that crime, but people concerned about sexual crime feel vulnerable when there's a sex shop or anything of that nature.

Councillor Brian Miller, of the licensing sub-committee, said no neighbours of the Private Shop or the police had complained about it since the authority first granted it a licence in 2005. The committee granted the Private Shop's application to renew its licence because it said it had no grounds to refuse.


7th March

 Offsite Article: Way To Go...

Link Here
Full story: Sex Shops in East Anglia...Pulse and Cocktails and others
Sawtry sex shop proposes more signage so as to avoid locals being embarrassed by requests for directions

See article from


23rd February   

Councillor Fudge...

Hull sex shop application rejected citing location and the preservation of a local monopoly for another shop
Link Here
Full story: Sex Shops in Hull...The usual trivial reasons cited to get sex shops banned
Plans to open a sex shop in west Hull have been rejected citing the usual bollox reasons about location.

Sheffield firm The Naughty Company had applied to open the shop in a terrace of shops in the Boulevard, west Hull.

However, licensing councillors unanimously turned down the plans for the shop overlooking Boulevard's junction with Hessle Road supposedly because it is about 200m from a library, close to the fishermen's memorial statue, a council-run Schoolgirl Mums' Unit, and St Wilfred's Church,

Councillor John Abbott spouted: You could not find a more tactless place for such an establishment if you tried.

Aptly named committee chairman Councillor Nadine Fudge said: Some of the remembrance services at the memorial can attract up to 200 people. [Er once a year on a Sunday when maybe the shop would be closed anyway].

For the first time, licensing councillors also based part of their decision on a sex shop licence on the number of similar premises in the immediate area. The Private Shop, the city's longest-established licensed sex shop, is 50m away in Hessle Road. [a reprehensible use of council powers to enforce a local monopoly].

Naughty Company owner Paul Darker said he planned to appeal against the decision. He said I am shocked because I was not even told about the meeting. I would have liked to put my case to the committee in person.


4th February   

Update: The Olympic Sport of Shop Shutting...

London campaign to close unlicensed sex shops aims to complete by the start of the Olympics
Link Here
Full story: Sex Shops in London...God created sex shop whingers in Islington

Another unlicensed Soho sex shop on Walkers Court has been warned to cease trading as part of Westminster Council's long-running campaign against unlicensed shops selling hardcore DVDs.

Westminster Council allows a limited number of vendors of adult DVDs, magazines and sex toys to trade in the West End, but such businesses are obliged to pay extortionate licence fees that cost about 30,000 per year.

Enterprise chief Councillor Brian Connell said licensing council staff were working hard to put the remaining unlicensed sex shops in the streets and alleyways around Brewer Street out of business. Connell told the West End Extra:

 In my view, cleaning up the worst excesses of this trade is good for London and good for Westminster.

It's what we said we would do prior to the Olympics, so it is delivering on a commitment, and it also has the effect of making sure that legitimate businesses don't run the risk of losing market share.

In 1999 Soho had 61 unlicensed sex shops. It now has nine, and of these, the courts are set to hear three closure hearings in the coming year. The council's declared intention is for no unlicensed sex DVD shops to remain operational by the start of the Olympics.

Update: Meanwhile in Islington

3rd February 2012. See  article from

Islington's last unlicensed sex shop has shut after a council raid found unclassified DVDs on the premises. Trading SubStandards and licensing staff visited DJD Retail, trading as Bookshop, at York Way in May last year, and seized DVDs and videos.

The sole officer of the company, David Darbo, pleaded guilty to eight offences under the Video Recordings Act 1984 at Highbury Magistrates' Court last month.

Darbo was fined 3,150 and ordered to pay 1,449 costs. DJD Retail admitted eight offences and was fined 100 for one offence.


23rd January   

Miserable Plymouth...

Baptists argue that lap dancing should be banned from the vicinity of such 'sensitive' buildings as petrol stations
Link Here
Full story: Lap Dancing in Devon and Cornwall...Newquay, nightlife capital of Cornwall

Plymouth Council has proposed suffocating restrictions to prevent adult fun and the chance for local people to make a bit of money.

Repressive new licensing laws will mean that only one sex shop or cinema and two lap dancing venues will be allowed in Union Street.

The city centre will be allowed just one sex shop and no lap dancing venues.

All other parts of the city will be generally considered out of bounds.

A one-year licence will cost 3,900, and the annual renewal fee will be 3,200 under proposals agreed by the Cabinet.

The licensing policy will go to the full city council at the end of this month for approval.

A total of 46 responses were received during a public consultation.

Hooe Baptist Church called for premises such as supermarkets and filling stations to be included as sensitive buildings.


7th January   

Simply Asking...

Requesting a Judicial Review to ask if Westminster Council is really spending 30,000 to administer a single sex shop licence?
Link Here

A sex shop owner hopes to mount a court challenge against Westminster Council in what could be a landmark case for Soho's erotica retailers.

Tim Hemming, who owns Simply Pleasure in Brewer Street, fears the cash-strapped council may be exploiting sex shop licence fees as a way of filling its coffers. He is seeking a judicial review.

A Westminster licence to operate a sex shop costs nearly 30,000 a year. Hemming, who owns 35 licensed sex shops nationwide, said:

This is supposed to be a non-profit-making fee, so they should be spending all this money on enforcement and administration. We don't believe they have got the evidence to prove they have been doing that.

I pay somewhere in the region of 200,000 yearly in licence fees. It's a strain on our bottom line.

He said the fees should be capped at 1,000 a year.

A decision on his review bid is due later this year.

The West End Extra understands his bid is being backed by five other central London adult DVD retailers who have attended summits on the issue over the past months.


6th January   

Lingerie Sales...

La Senza lingerie shops up for closure or sale
Link Here

Lingerie specialist Triumph International is negotiating the acquisition of UK stores owned by ailing underwear retailer La Senza.

The Times said the German company was planning to establish a network of stores in the UK, but was not interested in the La Senza brand name.

It is understood that La Senza is still poised to enter administration in the next few days. The company is also planning to close 81 of the nearly 150 La Senza stores across the UK, but the others are set to trade normally for the moment.

Update: Remaining store bought out

10th January 2012. See  article from

Lingerie chain La Senza collapsed into administration on but its 60 remaining stores were bought immediately by Arabian retail group Alshaya, report the Press Association.

Some 1,100 jobs are believed to have been saved. However, more than 100 outlets are still likely to be closed, triggering around 1,300 redundancies. Administrator KPMG said that it had closed 84 stores and 18 concessions, resulting in more than half of the workforce losing their jobs.


4th January   

Update: SEXy Shopping...

ASA clears Pulse and Cocktails sex shop posters...again
Link Here
Full story: Sex Shops in Stoke...Whinges about Pulse & Cocktails advert

Three posters for Pulse & Cocktails sex shops:

a. A large poster sited on a road in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, seen in September 2011, stated in large text SEXy ADULT STORE . An image next to the text showed a woman in a bunny girl outfit, posing with her finger to her open lips.

b. A large poster, which replaced ad (a) sited on a road in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, seen in October 2011, stated in large text SEXy ADULT STORE . An image next to the text showed a woman dressed in a French maid's outfit, holding a feather duster.

c. A large poster sited on a dual carriageway in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, seen in October 2011, stated in large text SEXY SUPERSTORE . An image next to the text showed a woman dressed in a French maid's outfit, holding a feather duster.


  1. A member of the public and a local councillor challenged whether ad (a) was unsuitable to be seen by children.

  2. The local councillor also challenged whether ad (a) was offensive.

  3. A member of the public challenged whether ad (b) was offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children.

  4. Two members of the public, who considered ad (c) was demeaning to women, challenged whether it was offensive and unsuitable to be seen by children.

Cocktails Ltd said that all their advertising was done in-house and they had used various forms of media including radio, press and billboard since starting the business in 1997. This advertising had always followed a similar format, promoting a sexy shopping theme, including their company name Pulse & Cocktails and also wording used on the store signage to describe the store as either a Sexy Superstore or a Sexy Adult Store instead of the traditional Sex Shop . They said they had always used the word sexy to describe their stores as it was less harsh than the word sex .

They said that the images used on their posters and in the press were of models dressed in fancy dress costume and these varied slightly, depending on the season and had ranged from a Bunny Girl costume, Miss Santa, a Sexy Maid and a Cow Girl. These costumes were not skimpy and were now so mainstream that they could be purchased from general, high street clothing stores and supermarkets. The images used in their advertising were direct from the costume manufacturers and in addition to the advertising, the costumes and images were displayed on their store windows and mannequins.

Cocktails Ltd said that their posters were intended to have a sexier edge because they were advertising their business but they were not intended to be offensive, demeaning to women or overtly sexual , so as to be harmful to children.

Cocktails Ltd stated that they selected the sites for the posters based on proximity to local stores and had not taken into consideration whether or not they were likely to be seen by children. Cocktails Ltd finished by saying that they had seven billboard campaigns at sites in Leeds, Hitchin, Cheltenham, Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle and Gloucester, which were all within close proximity to one of their stores. These sites had run continuously for several years and had been chosen specifically because of their locations. They said that they did not run generic billboard campaigns randomly throughout the country and the posters advertised specific stores and were purely used for directional purposes to guide customers travelling by car, on to the correct road. '

ASA Assessment: 1, 2, 3 & 4 Not upheld

The ASA noted the complainants' concerns and we considered that the images on each poster were mildly sexual. We also noted that the text on posters (a) and (b) highlighted the letters SEX in the word SEXy and taking into account the service advertised on each of the posters along with the text and the images, we considered that the main message of the posters was of a sexual nature. However, we considered that the posters were not overtly sexual and were therefore suitable for outdoor advertising.

We did, however, consider that because the posters were of a sexual nature they were unsuitable to be seen by children and should be subject to a placement restriction and should therefore not appear within 100m of schools. In the case of each poster, we noted that this was already the case.

We investigated the posters under CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find them in breach. Action

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