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2010: April-June

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24th June   

Update: Soho Stripped of its Charm...

Now home to chain restaurants for tourists
Link Here

Soho is losing its unique atmosphere because of crackdowns on vice and an influx of chain restaurants, according to historians.

BBC presenter Dan Cruickshank is leading calls for Westminster council and police to stop trying to sanitise the district.

The council has announced a drive against drug dealers, street prostitutes and unlicensed sex shops, as well as drunken and anti-social behaviour, in an attempt to 'clean up' the area before the expected influx of visitors for the 2012 Olympics.

A police operation this month led to 50 arrests. More than 60 pedicabs have been seized and some £500,000 of illegal pornography destroyed following 22 raids on unlicensed sex shops.

But historians and residents say late-night revelry and all that goes with it are part the area's character. Cruickshank, who presented Around the World in 80 Treasures on BBC2, said: Soho is almost beyond recovery and I find it rather heartbreaking. Now it attracts chain shops, chain bars and chain restaurants and is no longer unconventional or curious. If the drunk and disorderly are people who come from outside as somewhere to hang out it's not on. But equally, a sense of wildness and inventive roughness creates some artistic individuals who do some interesting things.

Soho is still home to celebrated bars, clubs and restaurants, and is the hub of London's gay scene. Cruickshank said sex shops had long been part of the local scene.


22nd June   

Update: Hackneyed Councillors...

London's strip pub scene under threat
Link Here

It seems that officers of Hackney council have been visiting the some of the strip pubs in that borough telling them that they are going to close them down for no reason other than that they can under the Harperson laws.

London's strip pub scene is centred east of the City of London and much of it falls under the administration of the Borough of Hackney. Some of the pubs have been open for between 15 and 40 years.


18th June   

Update: Zero Tolerance of an Enjoyable Life...

Challenging Scotland's lap dance hating politicians
Link Here

A showgirl turned scholar is taking on the Scottish Government over new moves to ban lapdancing. Former dancer Sarah Vernon, 34, has just finished work on a PhD in striptease and strip club culture. She is using her expertise to campaign against the bid to allow councils to outlaw strip clubs.

She said a ban would infringe performers' human rights and damage Scotland's economy. Vernon, who runs an Edinburgh-based company specialising in burlesque and cabaret, said: I was a dancer for many years. I'm a big advocate of freedom within adult entertainment. Under human rights laws, if everyone is consenting, you have a right to dance around naked because that's your freedom of expression.

Vernon said there had been no long-term study in the UK which backed up the critics' claims that women were harmed by working as lapdancers.

MSPs are due to debate the issue later this month after Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill promised to table an amendment at the final stage of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, based on proposals from Glasgow SNP nutter Sandra White.

The Edinburgh-based Zero Tolerance Trust backed the call, arguing lapdance clubs are harmful to women individually, women collectively, and communities .

Ms Vernon said she understood Zero Tolerance's position, but claimed it did not look at the issue logically: The bottom line is some people don't like other people doing this for a living. They find it distasteful and they do not see it as a valid form of labour. The Zero Tolerance people think we are reinforcing patriarchy, permitting ourselves to be exploited and allowing the degradation of women. It's quite insulting to be told 'you might think you are choosing but you are not really'.

In a submission she wrote on behalf of the International Union of Sex Workers, Ms Vernon describes the proposed amendment as a form of censorship that does not fit with the image of Scotland as a modern, tolerant and diverse society: And she warns: Demand for this form of entertainment will not disappear. Closure of current adult entertainment venues will drive the practice into unlicensed venues, hotel rooms and domestic premises, greatly increasing the risk to dancers' safety.


17th June   

Update: Wrong Kind of Victim?...

Amnesty International falls for trafficking hype
Link Here

A new report by Amnesty International (and amongst others, nutters from Poppy) has revealed that no one has ever been convicted for human trafficking in Scotland, despite dozens of arrests of people in connection with prostitution.

Two years ago, 35 people were arrested during raids in which 15 suspected trafficked women were discovered. However, the report, Wrong Kind Of Victim? , says: Of the 35 who were arrested, 18 were convicted but for offences related to immigration or prostitution. [Presumably because they weren't actually being coerced, but were working consensually and had taken liberties with prostitution law and immigration procedures]

The rather selective human rights organisation has now called for closer examination of the reasons behind Scotland's failure to secure any trafficking convictions. Amnesty's Scotland programme director, John Watson, said more than 100 people were convicted of trafficking in England and Wales.

The UK-wide report said measures to protect victims of people smuggling are not fit for purpose and accused the British Government of breaching its obligations under European law to protect trafficked people and uphold minimum standards of care.

The report recommends that information-sharing protocols between the UK's police and law enforcement agencies be developed to improve the likelihood of securing convictions of traffickers in Scotland. And the Scottish Government should establish protocols with the UK Government to collect and publish data on the extent of human trafficking north of the border.

The organisation also called for the provision of safe accommodation and support for trafficked people across Scotland.


8th June   

The Sex Toy That's Good for Lawyers...

US court case examines patent claims for prostate massager
Link Here

A Houston inventor whose medical device turns out to have more market value as an adult sex toy was in federal court fighting against what he claims are sex toy knockoffs.

Our business took a major detour when men started using our prostate massager for recreational purposes, said Amy Sung, executive director of High Island Health.

The product in question is called a Pro-State massager on the company's medical website, which features a happy-looking, fully dressed middle-aged couple and promises better health. Massager starter kits start out at $78.50.

The massager is also called Aneros on the company's adult novelty website, which features younger naked people and promises great orgasms. That starter kit goes for $49.95 with the slogans: The sex toy that's good for you.

Takashima and High Island have sued British company Libertybelle Marketing, also known as Pleasure2Me, and others claiming infringement of the 1998 patent of the plastic massager designed to massage a man's prostate without the use of electrical power. The design was intended to relieve fluid congestion, but it apparently does more than that for some.

She said he's in court because he feels the copies have cheapened his work and also might be dangerous because they aren't carefully crafted.

Houston lawyer Charles Rogers was in court defending Libertybelle and others by attacking in preliminary motions whether Takashima's patent was ever properly approved and ever specific enough to be patentable. Rogers said his clients have not infringed on Takashima's work in any way.


18th May   

Update: No Fun in Scotland...

Glasgow council 'shocked' by nudity at lap dancing club
Link Here

Mean minded licensing chiefs in Glasgow have secured a legal victory over a lap-dancing chain in a ruling that could have ramifications for the entertainment and leisure industry throughout Scotland.

In what was viewed as the first real test in the courts of Scotland's new liquor laws, Glasgow Sheriff Court threw out an attempt by Spearmint Rhino to overturn a decision from last year against it getting a licence.

The decision, which was made by Sheriff Craig Scott, will send shockwaves through the licensed trade and local authorities. It effectively gives licensing boards carte blanche to determine how venues are run, and gives them more power than they have had in more than 35 years.

Spearmint Rhino, based on Glasgow's Drury Street and now called Platinum Lace, is expected to appeal to the Court of Session but will keep on trading for the moment as allowed in the previous licensing laws.

Glasgow Licensing Board heard how CCTV footage showed two dancers at Spearmint Rhino stripped naked, breaching repressive local policies.

Fun prevention officers also witnessed several dancers making considerable contact with patrons while performing. In addition, an employee was alleged to have exposed her breasts while handing out flyers in Glasgow city centre.

The application was refused as it was supposedly inconsistent with the licensing objectives of preventing crime and disorder, and protecting and improving public health. The premises were considered unsuitable for the use of alcohol , the board said.

Brightcrew, the licence holder for the club's owners, argued in court that the board had introduced a non-statutory basis for the decision, insisting it should be concerned only with issues directly related to the sale of alcohol.

But Sheriff Scott, who ruled against Glasgow's refusal of a lap-dancing application at a court hearing several years ago, ruled that under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 boards are required to set out policies and objectives which are very broad in nature .

He said that Glasgow was entitled to refuse a licence if it felt an application was inconsistent with those objectives. However, he disagreed that the club was unsuitable for the use of alcohol.


16th May   

Erotic Awards Winners 2010...

Best Film
Link Here

Congratulations to the makers of Uncle David

UK film directed by Gary Reich, Mike Nicholls and David Hoyle, the film has only two characters: the charming David Hoyle and the gorgeous Ashley Ryder. Their improvised dialogue works, the setting is creepy, the sex warm, kinky and intimate, the landscape unexpected for nude gallivanting, and the plot totally scary.

Runner Up: Honey Bunny

This bright tongue-in-cheek US film, directed by Vena Virago, is a three-fold project: an art exhibit that serves as a porn set; a DVD release; and an experiment video collaboration with 13 other artists. The porn film is funky, realistic and features romping sex.

Runner Up: Handcuffs

Spanish film written and directed by Erika Lust and photographed by Gustavo López Mañas, It's very short but blisteringly hot, non-explicit but visually compelling. This is partly thanks to the dashing slick operator male actor who is obviously oh!-so capable of capturing women's lust (so sadly lacking in most sex movies) and the women submit to him beautifully.


15th May   

Erotic Awards Winners 2010...

Dr Petra's Blog
Link Here

Congratulations to Dr Petra

Innovative and outreaching, intelligent and entertaining and becoming more and more authoritative. In fact, despite being about sex, it's been named as one of the Top Ten Bloggers of the Year 2008 by The Pod Delusion. Petra's blog discusses the sexual issues on the current news agenda in a supportive way. It is regularly updated with interviews, clippings, advice and really great links.


4th May   

Update: Amendment 516...

Restricting lap dancing in Scotland
Link Here

On 13 April 2010, the Justice Committee from the Scottish Parliament decided to issue a call for evidence for amendment 516 [pdf] which equates lap dancing licensing with that of sex shops.

The amendment was put forward by Sandra White MSP (SNP) for Glasgow.

Amendment 516 changes the 1982 Civic Government (Scotland) Act   of control of sex shops. The original act states that local authorities can decide how many sex shops can be in their authority and that the potential sex shops must advertise their intention to apply for a license. The effect that this has had is that some local authorities rejecting all applications for a sex shop license. In Glasgow, for example, the guidance notes for sex shop applications reads:

Be advised that, in the past, applications for a sex shop licence have been refused on the grounds that the committee felt that the number of sex shops for the locality (ie. Glasgow) should be nil.

It's also worth noting that the licence costs £12,000+.

The Scottish Parliament's justice committee will consider the plan this week.

Glasgow Council's Community and Safety Services arm has urged MSPs to accept White's amendment, saying lap-dancing was a form of violence against women . The letter said: Intelligence would suggest that these venues are in fact linked to, and part of, the sex industry and selling of sexual services does occur in some clubs. The council said the current licensing regime was ineffective , and added local authorities must have the option to refuse to license such establishments .

The bid is reported to have backing from Scottish Women's Aid, the Scottish Coalition Ag-ainst Sexual Exploitation, and Scottish Women's Convention.

Councillor Jim Coleman, acting head of the council, said: We view lap-dancing as a form of sexual exploitation which degrades women and also contributes to public nuisance problems.


20th April   

Update: Dancing to European Court...

UK lap dancing clubs to argue for the right to run their businesses without interference from moralistic whingers
Link Here

Lap dancing clubs could use the Human Rights Act to oppose legislation allowing councils greater freedom to turn down lap-dancing licence applications, venue owners say.

The Policing and Crime Act forces existing lap-dancing clubs to apply for new licences and allows councils to close venues for moralistic reasons.

Chris Knight, president of the Lap-Dancing Association (LDA), said clubs could take their appeals to the European Court of Justice. If local authorities don't give us new licences, they are effectively taking away our right to property and to do business, as outlined in the Human Rights Act, and we will consider taking it as far as we have to in the courts, he said.

Local councils are likely to vigorously defend the legislation. Richard Kemp, vice-chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), said: If they want a legal showdown, then we're going to test the depths of their pockets, because we're certainly going to test ours.

Club owners argue that the legislation could infringe their right to property protection. The issue involves article 8 of the Human Rights Act which concerns the right to protection of private property, and activities pursuant to that property, said licensing lawyer Richard Arnot. If an existing lap-dancing licence is your property, then you have the right to run a lap-dancing club, and the new legislation is arguably an infringement of that right.

Julian Skeens, head of licensing law at Jeffrey Green Russell and the LDA's solicitor, said appeal cases were likely to take a long time, and clubs could remain in business for some time.

The situation has angered nutter groups that pushed for the new law. Anna van Heeswijk, campaigns co-ordinator of Object, said: Human rights legislation exists to safeguard against discrimination and to promote principles of local democracy, not to protect the rights of club owners to make a profit.


16th April   

Amendment 516...

Scottish amendment to restrict both lap dancing clubs and private sex with one's own partner
Link Here

On 13 April 2010, the Justice Committee from the Scottish Parliament decided to issue a call for evidence for amendment 516 [pdf] which equates lap dancing licensing with that of sex shops.

The amendment was put forward by Sandra White MSP (SNP) for Glasgow. The amendment is one of several hundred put forward to the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill , which also contains the extreme pornography law and amendment relating to the criminalising the purchasing of sexual services.

Amendment 516 changes the 1982 Civic Government (Scotland) Act   of control of sex shops. The original act states that local authorities can decide how many sex shops can be in their authority and that the potential sex shops must advertise their intention to apply for a license. The effect that this has had is that some local authorities rejecting all applications for a sex shop license. In Glasgow, for example, the guidance notes for sex shop applications reads:

Be advised that, in the past, applications for a sex shop licence have been refused on the grounds that the committee felt that the number of sex shops for the locality (ie. Glasgow) should be nil.

It's also worth noting that the licence costs £12,000+.

Glasgow in particular has had a long history of making life difficult for adult entertainment venues and it should come of no surprise that Sandra White had spoken out against lap dancing clubs in the past . Opponents of lap dancing issued a £7000 report by Julie Bindel in 2004 to prove lap dancing was bad. But in the past, Glasgow's prejudices did not seem to affect other cities, such as Edinburgh. This new amendment will drag all of Scotland into Glasgow's sex-negative way of life .

What is most disturbing about the lap dancing amendment is that, like so many other laws, it is so poorly written that it could potentially extend beyond its original intent. Sandra White and Glasgow Council are quite obviously dead against adult entertainment venues. But this law could potentially call your own bedroom an adult entertainment venue!

In the amendment, an adult entertainment venue is defined as any premises, vehicle, vessel or stall used for a business with an audience of one or more that any live performance or display of nudity (which includes breasts on a woman or pubic area on either sex) that is provided solely or principally for the purpose of sexually stimulating any member of the audience . Where this gets tricky is the little bits of (whether by verbal or other means) and ignoring financial gain.

Women taking their clothes off and dancing in an erotic way in front of a paying audience of men is the target. Ideally, I should be able to put on a strip show for my partner in the comfort of my own home. But is this allowed here? I'm not doing it for money, but we are ignoring financial gain . I'm only doing it for my partner, but audience includes an audience of one . I'm doing it in my own home, but the location is any premises. In other words, every time I expose my breasts to my partner, I would be committing a crime under this law. Even worse, I can't even verbally describe an erotic fantasy or read a published (and wholly legal) erotic story to my partner because it would count as a live performance of the verbal kind that is sexually stimulating.

Another bit of brilliant legislation from the Scottish Government in an effort to stop people from enjoying sex.

This news has been brought to you by CAAN Scotland.

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