When Cupid shoots his arrows, are they properly sheathed in an envelope of rubber? We all know that CONDOMS are vital for safe sex, but are they fun? The List recruited five couples to find out.

Words: Thom Dibdin

have a you

EVEN THE STEAMIEST 0F EROTIC FICTION HAS STARTED putting a rubber between the covers: ’He eased up closer to her and rubbed the tip of his rubber-clad cock against her clitoris . . .' This little quote from a recent book in the Black Lace imprint shows just how deeply the humble condom has penetrated the maw of popular culture. Now that the gay porn Video Oscars include an award for the best scene depicting the application of a condom, it would appear that condoms really have become acceptable right across the sooal spectrum.

The UK market for condoms is rismg more steadily than a pecker in a posing pouch. Sales have increased from 112 million in 1986, through 148 million in 1991 to reach an estimated 160 million in 1997. And this figure does not include those given away free by schemes such as Lothian Health's C—Card.

But while the market is steady and the number of condom styles is rising, use of condoms is actually dropping. In 1991, Durex estimated that a years'

108 THE LIST 4—18 Feb 1999

Come and go if flunk

supply for the average user was 104 condoms; they now reckon a years’ supply Is only 71. That’s a figure which is open to question as it is exactly equal to the number of times your average Londoner makes love a year but rather less than your average Scot.

Not everyone is equally at ease With the engorged condom market. The Daily Record's Joan Burnie would not be the loan Burnie we know and love if she did not create a little friction by pumping up her column With the Opinion that a condom is not a suitable present for Christmas.

But of course The List knows that a condom is the perfect present for your loved one. And With Valentine’s Day love in the air and lust on the brain now is the time to push that Scottish average up and give your partner the perfect prOphylactic.

HaVing decided to take the plunge and go equipped, as it were, the next question IS which one to take along. We asked five intrepid couples

if they were fit enough to devote their evenings and weekends to the cause of research and bed- test a variety of the most popular condoms available.

All the condoms tested are teat-ended and all, apart from the Avanti, are made from latex -— Which means no Oil-based lubricants. Three kinds of condom broke during tests With one or more of the couples: Boots Extra, Safex Fantasy Ribbed and the Durex Fetherlite. Keith and Alastair had been wanting to test the Mates Extra Strong, but none were available due to 'range rationalisation'. The Safex brand are available free through Lothian Health’s C-Card scheme All condoms tested, apart from lvlcCondom, have the kite and CE marks to show they conform to British and EC standards. All star ratings are out of five, and have been marked according to personal preference.

Thanks indeed to the c0uples who put it out beyond the call of duty. Names have been changed to protect the exhausted.