Lucy Sparrow’s sex shop is fun, to dismiss it as just frivolous fun is to do Lucy a disservice though, this is fun, of course this is fun, but Lucy Sparrow’s complete take over of a sex shop in the heart of Soho deep in the west end of London is far more than just fun.
Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium is an inspired piece of art installation that asks questions about Soho, about gentrification, about sex workers and the porn industry, about so many things, and squeezed in between the other sex shops, you need to take a second look to actually spot it. What a delicious people-watching experience she must have had, what did the prospective customers just wandering wanting to buy a new whip or their latest copy of Gimp Monthly made of it? A felt dildo? Surely that won’t work? Of course this is fun, and so much of it, how much work has gone in to this!? She must have been stitching all year! So much of it A whole shop full of felt, everything made of felt! Felt magazines, felt chains, felt buttplugs , felt madness, felt, felt, more felt, a felt cave full of artistic perversion and textile subversion, “only in England” said a slightly confused tourist. We didn’t spot it at first, it really did look like just another sex shop, a whole shop full of art… absolutely brilliant Lucy Sparrow…. (SW)
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While London’s Soho undergoes sterilisation with old strip clubs and seedy sex shops being swept away in favour of trendy wine bars and hipster coffee shops, so Britain’s laws on pornography are also being cleansed, with the prohibition of the depiction of practices like face-sitting, female ejaculation and even spanking. Now British artist Lucy Sparrow is hitting back at the growing influence of the neo-Puritans and prudery with her latest show: a Soho sex shop created entirely from felt.
In a stinging comment of the hypocrisy of third-wave feminism, Sparrow seeks to challenge the rights of sex workers, fetishists and consumers of porn with the creation of a complete sex shop which, were the exhibits not made from felt, would be illegal. Sparrow’s latest works seeks to test the boundaries of legality. Does a porn magazine created from felt and hand-stitched break Britain’s new porn laws?
As a former worker in the adult industry, where Sparrow earned money to launch her art career through lap dancing, she revisits her past to make a comment on the increasingly prudish attitude towards sex workers and adult entertainment. Her concerns are that increasing restriction drives repression and promotes a Victorian attitude towards what is a natural bodily function.
To illustrate her points, Lucy Sparrow has taken an entire shop in Soho from October 7th to 17th where the public can visit free of charge to view more than 5000 sex products ranging from condoms and lubricants, all the way to S&M bondage gear and Fuzzy-Felt peep shows.
Sparrow has spent the past six months stitching felt porn mags, DVD covers and various sex aids. The show gives the opportunity for those who know little of the sex retail industry to satisfy their curiosity without the need for floor-length trench coats and dark glasses.
Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium is in stark contrast to Lucy Sparrow’s family friendly Cornershop installation which opened in 2014 in Bethnal Green. The Cornershop showed Sparrow’s playful and ingenious side and delighted thousands of visitors and was greeted with great acclaim by London’s art scene. Madame Roxy’s may not be suitable for small children but it’s sure to be as thought-provoking and to create as much a buzz as The Cornershop did.