* Warning: Very NSFW. Sort of *
One of the first office jobs I took, when I was 21, was for an ‘adult’ mail order company. I’d just returned from getting my heart broken in a foreign land (Australia) and swore in the interview, which apparently made me a hot commodity because I was hired on the spot.
A little background: at this age I was still naïve and fairly innocent. The Australian Period was where I learned about sex, myself and the annihilation of the heart and soul. I returned a grown woman in my head but in reality I was still a baby, wet behind the ears.
My job at the ‘Porn Shop’ as it became known took care of any innocence I still had. Named after one of the more cheerful garden varieties (the common or garden Daisy), it was run by a couple who made the Brady parents look like Fred and Rosemary West. They were just so posh and nice.
Behind the façade, however, they had their fingers firmly on the pulse of what was big in the ‘adult’ world and as their Office Assistant, I quickly learnt too.
Of a morning I would come into the office and pack up orders for our customers, seeing way more than my fair share of swollen members before I’d even had my morning cup of tea.
I learnt about piercings in unique orifices, Japanese manga porn (Hentai, if you wanna know); bondage. I discovered The Marquis; Nin and The Story of O; read stories about bestiality that have never really left me (one in particular stands out, of relations between a woman and Silverback Gorilla). I saw a lot and in all that time I stopped thinking about finding a boyfriend because frankly, that much exposure of the carnal kind can kind of put you off.
Daisy’s speciality, their pièce de résistance, was corporal punishment. To me this seemed like the tamest of tame compared to what the Scandinavians were doing, but it was a big seller.
I only left the job when I decided to move to Brighton with my best friend. This coincided with my boss’ decision to start filming porn in the cavernous vaults of the old bank building our office was located within. I drew a line that day. Happy to read it, happy to pack it, happy even to speak to customers and take their orders but don’t make me stand on set while you film it. I shudder to think what my role would have been: half time orange slice, anyone?
Years later my lovely friend P took a job at an adult wholesaler and I found myself once again back on the side of sex. I’d do what I could to help out: review toys, write product descriptions. For a short time I maintained a problem page (think Dear Deidre with Dildos), even tried my hand at erotic fiction. The consensus on that was that it was supposed to be sexy, not funny – and all my romantic heroines were clumsy redheads.
(Note: romantic heroines).
Boxes of the industry’s most innovative products would turn up on my doorstep on a regular basis with my name on it. To most this would have been the stuff of dreams but they came during the height of my loveless and (mostly) sexless relationship and the last thing I wanted to do was ‘spice things up’. So I’d make it all up. I’d give it to my randier friends and get them to tell me about it. I’d hold items in my hands and daydream I was a sexier being. It’s amazing what you can come up with with a little imagination.
I did this for a couple of years. I was pretty good if truth be told. I’d do it again, I tell you.
My lovely mother, during both of these ‘assignments’, was equal parts horrified and delighted. You can’t spend an evening rifling through a box of butt plugs with your daughter and not get carried away in the hilarity of the situation, it’s nigh on impossible. I also used to photocopy amusing/shocking (to me) pictures and give them to Mum and she’d feign being appalled but we all know she showed her friends and colleagues. My daughter the Porn Baron.
What I learnt from both jobs is that now I can talk about anything. Nothing sexual is taboo really and I like that about myself. It means I know how to handle myself when one of my friends asks me (loudly) if I’m a squirter in a pub full of peers.
Sex isn’t all that mysterious, in the end. I may personally never feel the need to dress like a baby or allow myself to be hog-tied but I understand why people do what they do. Let them do it, I’ll be over here being the klutzy heroine in my own story.