The Sexy Underbelly of a City

Many major cities have one. The Red Light District in Amsterdam, Rue St Catherine in Montreal, Chinatown in San Francisco… the sexy/seedy part of town that tourists flock to in spite of themselves. It may be to indulge in some sexual deviance that they save for travelling, or it may be just to get a glimpse of the naughtiness that hides in these sections of big cities.

Last night, my wife and I visited the Pigale district in Paris. A few observations:

First, that Pigale exists at all. Paris is suppose to be the city of love and sexual liberalism. Yet, outside of Pigale you will rarely find a sex shop or strip club or other North American-styled ‘adult’ entertainment. Maybe Parisians are simply above the frat-boy juvenility of it. Paris is not fearful of sex… they have more lingerie shops than anyplace I have ever visited and displays of sexuality in advertising and entertainment are prolific. Sex simply simply don’t seem naughty enough to keep it in special shops or clubs. Except for tourists.

Secondly, Pigale must be one of the tackiest places in the world. I’ve been to the sex districts of many cities, but none is quite as florescent, seedy or in-your-face as Pigale. Massive neon signs advertising ‘sex shows’, ‘sex shops’, sexy movies’ are absolutely everywhere. Hawkers trying to get you into their show are loud and aggressive. And any pretense of class or romanticism is very clearly left at the door of Pigale.

Finally, it seems like a massive sham. The sex shops sell the crappiest, cheapest sex products you can imagine; Lelo and ‘phthalate-free are definitely not in the lexicon of these places. The sex shows are veiled in mystery and deceit; in Amsterdam, sex shows are proud and transparent on issues of cost and content; in Pagale, you are asked to pay an outrageous cover charge, told the minimum number of drinks that must be purchased and assured the show will be ‘very sexy’… the real cost and the actual content is all left unknowable. And for good reason… by all accounts the prices are exorbitant and the shows uninteresting.

I know I sound uptight writing this. But quite the opposite is true. I love a good sex district. I like the idea that a part of a city is left open to vice and sexuality in a way that might be too edgy or alienating from the rest of the city. I love Amsterdam’s red light district and Montreal’s Rue St Catherine is a blast. They are places you can go to enjoy the fun side of sex.

But Pigale left me feeling dirty… And I think that is by design. I believe Paris hates Pigale; it is a place that’s been taken over by swindlers prying on naïve and sexually repressed tourists that can’t do better than the cheap – yet crazily expensive – thrills that Pigale exposes them to. And the rest of Paris simply laughs at their desperation.

Issues of ‘Maleness’

I can’t be the only guy, that when I walk into the auto mechanics, feels completely outgunned and vulnerable to being scammed.

I know the ‘man in the relationship’ is suppose to know how to deal with auto repairs, mechanics, car dealers… all that technical mumbo jumbo.

Well, not me. I don’t know a fan belt from a rust belt.  Whenever I take my car into be serviced, I just nod along with the guy workmen there. And when they say ‘this is going to be expensive’, I just continue nodding, occasionally adding some vacuous comment like ‘yup… I can see that’.. as they take me to the cleaners.

Well, it turns out I’m not alone.  A new study fro insurance company Sheila Wheels, has found that men are charged, on average, about 15% more for the same mechanical services on their cars.  Apparently, nether men nor women really know much about what the mechanic has to do and can be equally well dupped. But mechanics tend to be slightly more generous to female clients and bring their prices down slights (or inflate them less) for female clients.


Private Fantasies

There is something about a sexual fantasy that makes us want to both share it with the world and – at the same time – keep it privately locked up in our own erotic imagination.

These desires – to share and to keep private – are obviously often in conflict and can lead to some strange dynamics…. and this the topic of today’s blog.

My wife and I were out to dinner with friends recently.  The wife, whom I am very close with, took me aside after dinner because there was something she just had to tell me.  She went on to describe an globate masturbatory fantasy she had been developing over the past few weeks involving she and my wife dressing up and watching one another masturbate.  She was obviously excited as she told the story and loved the fantasy she was developing.  She went on, in wonderful detail, for about 10 minutes about how they would get dressed up together, sit across from one another and start to explore their own bodies, and then eventually each pleasure themselves with vibrators and watch one another reach climax. By the end of the story, she was flush.

But then the weird part… when she finished telling me this, she said that I could tell my wife, but that she really, really, did not want to ever speak of this again.  She said she wanted to share, but she never wanted to talk about it again.

Weird.  I have seen her since and made a vert vague illusion to the conversation, but it is crystal clear… she does not want to talk about it.

So, my simple question… what gives?  Why was she so keen to share but then equally adamant that the subject is never to be discussed again?