Sex sells but how healthy is Scotland’s SEX INDUSTRY? Allan Radcliffe trawled shops, saunas and call boxes in search of answers.
Director Ruth Morgan-Thomas has been with Scot-Pep since its inception. ’In Edinburgh, a progressive sex industry has evolved where the majority of women work indoors, drug-taking is low, there are few prostitutes under sixteen and the street area is well policed. There are still arrests and police will respond to every complaint made, but they also take the view that prostitutes are citizens with rights who require support and protection.’
In terms of strategy, Ruth believes each city’s sex industry has to be looked at individually. ’You couldn’t take the Edinburgh model and dump it on Glasgow where there’s 80—90% drug use and higher incidences of serious assault.’
Unsurprisingly, organisations like Scot-Pep and Glasgow’s Base 75 suffer from lack of funds. ’We hear a lot about social inclusion but not all prostitutes fall into categories like homeless person or drug-user. The government hasn’t come up with a national strategy dealing with the range of problems which prostitutes face.’
Jam manager Kate Dykes
Concern for a masseuse friend first brought Kate Dykes to Edinburgh's Paradise Healthclub in 1982. Accepting a Saturday reception job, she earned the queenly sum of £10, a welcome r boost to her single mother’s income. ’We had to be careful,’ she says. ’People phoned in asking if we did extras and we’d say "Yes, tea, coffee and fresh orange".’
Kate took over as manager after becoming romantically involved with the owner, now husband, David. Meanwhile, the sauna business was burgeoning. Word got around that
Edinburgh was a hassle-free place to work and prostitutes began flocking from the north of England. Drugs and pimps emerged and Kate found her role changing to that of full-time social worker. ’I remember finding one woman trying to commit SuiCide and abort her baby at the same time. It was heartbreaking but these problems
began affecting my own health and I had to stop.’
Someone suggested that Dykes ’90 gay’ and the revamped, fully licensed Number 18 sauna opened its gates in 1995. ’lt’s more of a sooal club now,’ she says. ’No money changes hands between customers, the atmosphere's great and business is better than ever. I think people are intrigued because it’s the only gay sauna run by two straight Dykesl’
J/topkeeper Vince Delicato
Vince Delicato, the power behind Edinburgh’s Leather And Lace, began his sex retail empire renting out videos from a Drummond Street basement in the early 1980s. By 1995, with his business being undercut by big companies like Blockbuster, the time was ripe to diversify.
The transition to sex shop turned out to be harrowing because of the objections Vince came up against on applying for his licence. ’It was like the Joan of Arc syndrome,’ he says. ’The papers set themselves up as the vanguard for decency and I was up there to be crucified. It’s ridiculous. People worry about this word “sex” that never happens. Everybody just appears from nowhere.’
Nevertheless, he got his licence. ’l persuaded the council that people had grown up, the sex industry was growing and there was a need for what we do.’ Vince has now opened a second shop on Easter Road which is unlicensed, trading as a lingerie store with no sex toys or videos. He plans to expand in Edinburgh and beyond but still
finds advertising virtually impossmle. 'The only way I advertise is by getting slagged to death by the press. Even after five years, peOple still don't know we exist.’
Quin/nath Mistress Lucy
Mistress Lucy, aka Ms Whiplash, first cut her spiked heels as a prostitute in Glasgow's Blythswood Square twenty years ago. Eager to stop haVing full sex, she began investigating alternative career possibilities. As a lifelong fan of role- playing, fetish work seemed ideal.
Business started booming last year when Lucy discovered the lucrative world of the internet. ’I give sex instruction and domination by e-mail and webcam. I’m discreet because a lot of my clients are married. I instruct them to use deep heat on their genitals or to shave their pubic hair, then pull gaffer tape across it. They'll reply With photos showing me what they’ve done.’
At £100 an hour, Mistress Lucy makes a good living despite an expensive outlay. ’Boots and equipment have to come from London because the stuff you get up here is rubbish,’ she says. Her regular clients viSit her at home. ’The average age is 19—25, but my oldest regular is 58. Most of them are lightweight cross-dressers, submisswes or have boot, leather or PVC fetishes. Others will go for heavier whipping or spanking, gagging and humiliation. If they’re very good, I put them on a lead, pull them across the floor and let them have a drink from the bowl.’
l-iS Feb 2001 THE LIST“