SEX IN PARIS
In chic shops on Paris' Champs Élysées, sex sells. On dirty street corners of the city's outskirts, sex sells slightly cheaper, but it smells pretty bad.
It takes up whole chapters in the guide books. Here's an option for a guided walk: Stroll down the narrow, shady streets of Montmartre. If you're a man, pop into a neon-lit nightclub in Pigalle for a midday beer and a grope. If you're a woman, stand outside and you'll get one.
Then visit the Musée de l'Érotisme, where you can gawp at seven floors of wire-bound dildos the length of your granddad's walking stick and the width of his favourite whiskey bottle, or admire the flexibility of ancient Chinese characters performing remarkable sexual feats on old wooden boxes and faded engravings. Good place to buy a rubber doll, miniature gimp suit, or other novelty Christmas presents.
If that kind of thing floats your boat, you can then go sail to shore in a 24-hour peep-show sleaze shop in Montparnasse. Along the infamous rue de Gaité, they call it Life Sex. But don't be fooled. It's mostly made of rubber.
Like all tourist attractions, sex in Paris ain't cheap, and it is tacky.
PARIS STRIP CLUBS
For the benefit of readers, I persuaded my slightly uptight, marginally prissy English boyfriend to take me to a show at the Lido.
I wanted the Crazy Horse or the Moulin Rouge so I could sing along to "voulez vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?" but he found out that the Lido has 70 stereo speakers, seven tons of spotlights, a 23,000 litre fountain and 32km of fibre optic cables, and that the show is run by 12 computers. Bit of an electronics geek, my boyfriend. And I thought it was me, not the colour-changing day-glo lamp at the end of my bed that turned him on.
The Lido's latest advert describes its show as a `Revue Bonheur Époustouflant'. I don't have a clue what it means, but it describes the place perfectly.
`La Femme' was the name of the first part of the show. Far from celebrating the beauty of our wonderful sex, it was clearly designed to reinforce right from the start that a woman's place is truly in the kitchen. The first gal tottered on in pink stilettos, feathers everywhere like she'd just plucked an unusually large chicken. A few others joined her, paper doilies flapping about over their naughty bits. Another, as tall and thin as the broom in the corner, pranced about the stage dressed in foil. Yet another came out all wet and covered in bubbles, like she'd just slipped whilst doing the washing up.
A horse appeared next wearing pink frills round its hooves, whinnied, did a back track, responded to a thump on the backside by an unseen hand in the wings by galloping wildly across the stage, and disappeared with a crash on the other side.
Then a big papier mache aeroplane was carefully lowered from the ceiling and swung precariously over the heads of the frightened audience below.
People kept clapping and cheering, but I couldn't actually see anyone clapping and cheering. And it all sounded a bit distant, as though they were clapping and cheering inside a - inside a - can. So that's what those 70 speakers are for.
The climax of the evening occurred when we plucked up the courage to ask for l'addition, s'il vous plait.
You wouldn't think that a bottle of Buck's Fizz, a packet of greasy peanuts, plus a beer and a martini-lemonade would add up to enough to bankrupt a Saudi prince, would you? Never mind a struggling journalist and his unemployed girlfriend. Thank God we'd foregone the 140 and 250 euro set menus in favour of a kebab outside the door.
Our marital tiff (you're the one who wanted to come here! No, you are! No, you are!) was interrupted by my boyfriend spotting Stephen Hawking on the other side of the room, surrounded by showgirls. He's a science boff as well as an electronics geek, my boyfriend, so he fled over to get a photo. Ten minutes later we were pretending to help the rather flustered lipstick and feather-covered professor drive his Bond-style wheelchair out of the fire exit and escaped up the side street.
Hurray for poor disabled access! It was a close shave. I can't imagine Hawking goes there every night, so don't rely on that exit strategy. Take it from me, avoid those tourist sex shows unless you're a Saudi prince and still not getting enough, or you've just stolen his wallet.
VERY NICE, HOW MUCH?
Anyway, they do say that money can't buy you love. So where can you get it for free?
If you're a girl, one option is to walk past groups of unemployed men who have put their brains together, come up with a hypothesis, tested it out, twisted the results and on the basis of little evidence come to a firm conclusion: if a woman is walking down a street and on her own, she must want to have sex with the first, ugliest man who talks to her, immediately, in the nearest public toilets and preferably the dirtiest ones.
You can find groups of these gentlemen playing petanque (a game in which men play endlessly with balls) on the banks of the Seine or of the canals. If you have anything resembling tits, they won't hesitate to offer their services.
If you're male and reading this, then sorry - it doesn't work the other way round.
Sex in Paris is the ever-changing flow of tourists and travellers hankering after a bit of hanky-panky to help their moules frites or, more usually, donner kebab go down. They are to be found filling every bar and thumping night club along the rue de Lappe, in the Latin Quarter, or, depending on which side you like your baguette buttered, in the Marais area.
It doesn't much matter which language you both speak or don't speak, because the music's too loud to talk, you're too drunk to notice, and then you're both too busy to care.
I don't know about free loving, but it's definitely free willy.
Jaunted Emedded Travel Guides :: Paris
Monica Guy lives in Paris, writes for Time Out, and keeps a low profile, like any true femme fatale. In fact, most people don't even realize she's a femme fatale. She's been told to upload her avatar, but she's not sure who or what that is, or why she might want one. Unless he's in a pilot's suit, that is. That would be quite another matter.
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