A Map Of London's Erogenous Zones

By Londonist Staff Last edited 17 months ago
A Map Of London's Erogenous Zones
Click to enlarge (ohh-err). © Steven Appleby

"In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast", wrote London dandy Quentin Crisp. "Those who once inhabited the suburbs of human contempt find that without changing their address they eventually live in the metropolis."

This a map of how morality shifts: of taboos old and new, of those who break them and those who reinforce them, of London stripping off and covering up.

Windchime [1]

It may be pure coincidence that the phallic wind chime in the British Museum is displayed in Room 69. This Roman charm was designed to ward off evil spirits and hails from a culture with little of our present-day prudery. Replicas are not currently on sale in the museum shop.

Lettuce [2]

Visitors to UCL's Petrie Museum often remark on the ithyphallic carving of Min, the ancient Egyptian fertility god. As well as his famous erection, Min is often portrayed with a lettuce, a phallic symbol and aphrodisiac.

Coin Toss [10]

Look for an unofficial blue plaque on Whitecross Street marking the home of Priss Fotheringham, who "was ranked the second best whore in the city" in a 1660 handbook to the city's prostitutes. Ms Fotheringham was particularly well known for reviving the acrobatic Roman practice of 'chucking'.

7 Meard Street. Photo: A Lads Club Escapette.

Whorsley [13]

The Soho dandy Sebastian Horsley frequented prostitutes for years and even prostituted himself for a period. "I saw it as a kind of sex rebate, having paid for sex all my life", he said. Visit his former address, 7 Meard Street. A sign beneath the knocker reads, 'This is not a brothel. There are no prostitutes at this address.'

Rude Moves [15]

The most celebrated London nude show of the early 20th century was part of the 'Revudeville' at Soho’s Windmill Theatre. The show's organisers outpaced censors by presenting nude tableaux vivants, following the guiding principle that 'if it moves, it’s rude'. The venue, on Great Windmill Street, is now the Windmill International strip club.

Pyjama Dramas [16]

Go to Walker's Court in Soho and look for a neon sign for Raymond's Revue Bar, set up in 1958 by one-time comb salesman and mind reader Paul Raymond. When the Revue Bar proved successful, he took over the Whitehall Theatre (now Trafalgar Studios) and backed risqué farces such as What, No Pyjamas?, Yes, We Have No Pyjamas and Let's Get Laid!

Shopophilia [17]

To be at the centre of your own striptease go to Coco de Mer in Soho. The changing rooms have built-in peepholes so that your shopping companion can participate more fully in the experience.

Photo: Tomas Burian.

Little Death [4]

Many thought that 2014 had sounded the death knell for London's last porn cinemas. The Abcat Cine Club and Oscars closed down, and then, finally, Mr B's. But the obituaries proved premature; at the start of 2015, the family who ran Mr B's relocated from Islington to Deptford and reopened in the basement of a print shop at 487 New Cross Road.

Iso-preening [25]

The dress code at Rubber Cult is strictly enforced: natural latex rubber only. Cheap lookalikes like patent leather or PVC are not permitted. This total rubber club night is held at Shillibeers, a former bus depot on Islington's North Road.

Watersports [28]

Scatological fetishes currently mark the outer limits of London's erotic edgelands. Who knows what lies beyond? PisSoir is a regular bisexual piss fetish party. Their Camberwell base has a BDSM dungeon, boudoir and wet play room.

Explanations for the rest of this naughty map can be found inside the magnificent Curiocity, an A to Z exploring every aspect of life in London. It's out now in hardback, rrp £30. Published by Penguin Books.

Text © Penguin Books.

Last Updated 12 December 2016