Tab Tries: Working in a Sex Shop

ROSA ROBSON uses The Tab as an excuse to flex her voyeuristic muscles and venture into the secretive world of ‘the sex shop’.

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9:00 am It’s a beautiful day; suits scurry to offices, Mums on the school run stride affront their reluctant counterparts and the elderly are…well, old. I, however, am late for my first day at work…in a sex shop.

9:30 am One discreet ‘Apocalypse Now’ commando-roll and some shifty side-eyes later, I’m an alleyway, behind Spoons, between the burnt out garage and a dumpster.

9:31am “DON”T BE SHY” is one of the few things that is not more persuasive in neon. As, Jez, the shop manager, greets me, his Mohican is, momentarily, perfectly framed between two ‘XL’ rubber fists.

Rosa doing her research

9:50 am We sell everything from fetish porn mags to astronomical, ‘insertable,’ vibrating planets, which Jez informs me are “out of this world”. ‘Ten Ton Tessie’: an inflatable obese doll with thoughtfully placed hollows becomes a personal favourite. Keen to exude respectful professionalism, I perfect a squinting technique that stops me identifying what I’m looking at and therefore laughing. This works until we reach a life-size mannequin in a “hooded full body binder sack” at which point I melt into a pool of nervous hysterics. Jez tells me to get over it before customers arrive. I do a mad cackle-wobble-dance. I’m not cut out for this…

10:45 am I’m assigned to porn shuffling duties…“Get the piss ones towards the front, they’re a best seller”…My phone rings. I pick up as Jez is knee-deep in Heat. For the sake of sheer inappropriateness it’s – “Grandma!” She’s just ringing about the sunshine: “vitamin D y’know.” I don’t have the heart, (only some prosthetic balls), to tell her that I am in a window-less room surrounded by hardcore pornographic material, with Jez, a stout blow-up chick and a gagged mannequin for company. “The sunshine’s wonderful! I’m at the park”. Jez- don’t look at me like I’m crazy.

11:00 am Turns out Jez’s girlfriend owns the shop. She’s in a local punk outfit and was, it transpires, a previous band compadre of mine…I was an angsty teen, okay? Jez and I place bets on the first customer of the day. We scan the CCTV screens outside the shop. Yeah, it’s pretty much just me and Jez.

11:27 am On screen my head is directly above a poster on the counter of a decapitated bikini-clad woman with breast artillery (sexy). So now I look like a decapitated bikini-clad woman with breast artillery. This is funny.

11:36  am Jez has a go. This is also funny.

11:51 am Jez ditches his firearm-babe alter-ego to disperse a crowd of kids loitering in the doorway. I watch on screen as all 6’4 of platform-wearing, tattooed, pierced Jez towers over the blurry school uniforms. After a fair amount of frowning and arm waving, the boys depart. As one scampers back, I brace myself to protect Jez from the sharp edge of urban life, but before I can rid the streets of needless pain, Jez kneels down for the kid to get a feel of the point of his mohican. N’awww, Jez!

12:15 pm I get up offering to do a Greggs-run, but my foot lodges in a shoebox of multi-coloured tubes that have lain dormant under the counter. I upturn the box, sending 30 plastic penis effigies buzzing and shuddering across the shop-floor. I’m under attack. Shit.

12:17 pm Chasing runaway phallic objects whilst hopelessly apologising over the monotonous buzz, I have a voyeuristic moment (appropriate) and realise that this is all a bit weird.

12:32 pm Having gathered all the vibrators (The time lapse is caused by a particularly tricksy one that I stamped into submission), they now appear well…used? Jez mumbles something about ‘displays’ before lobbing them into a cabinet. I’ll get those pasties then shall I…?

1:00 pm I suggest a nice cuppa. He tells me a spliff is normally the order of the day (don’t tell the missus), but he wouldn’t want to appear unprofessional. Jez is great.

1:09 pm We compromise on a shared Maxwell House sachet.

1:14 pm Jez opts for the ‘Big Girls Do It Better’ mug. I ask if it’s a reference to the empowering Mika song, celebrating women of all shapes and sizes and he ruffles my hair, laughing to himself. What? It’s a good song! Tessie agrees…

1:20 pm I get a Freshers Fayre-style, corporate, promo mug. Although, the logo is a silhouette of a woman doing Baloo’s trademark prickly-pear back rub against a pole. Odd.

2:00 pm Still no customers. Jez shares his Heat.

2:45pm Try and persuade Jez to photograph me and Tessie wearing matching Tab t-shirts but it’s ‘against the rules.’  Huge let down.

3:01pm Nail painting is so fast with marker pens?!

3:24pm Jez and I have matching nails.

4:25pm Man approaches shop. Tenterhook-time.

4:27pm Man loiters near door.

4:29pm Nope. He’s lost.

4:37pm Turns out Jez has a python tattooed across his abdomen…not sure what to think…

5:00pm So that was it. Emerging into light, I’m briefly blinded. I thank Jez and he gives me a Hagrid hug. Isn’t Jez great? On the bus home, passengers stare at me. How do they know? I sit on my felt-tipped hands all the way, avoiding their looks. Home, I pull off my sweater, only to find a sticker on the back: ‘YO! HOE! HOE! XMAS VIBRATOR’S HALF PRICE! 😉 ;)’ Cheers Jez.