Risque Business: Cardiff's School of Passion
By Meryl Cubley
PASSION, located on City Road, Cardiff, is one of the biggest ‘sexy shops’ in Cardiff, and I would imagine, probably the country. Wales met the official Geneva-based International Organisation for Standards (ISO) in 2012 and is now recognised as an independent country in the UK – rather than an outdated ‘principality.’ With hugely successful businesses such as PASSION metaphorically flying the Welsh flag high and proud, this is a country firmly bringing sexy back.
The adults-only shopping promises the largest selection of lingerie, fantasy wear and fetish wear in Wales; and markets itself as a ‘couple friendly’ superstore of fantasy and play for adults. With lingerie, corsets, clothing, costume jewellery, stockings, shoes, boots, adult gifts and erotic books to get you in the mood, PASSION firmly believes that couples who play together – stay together.
From the outside (you can’t miss it – look for the girly pink building) the store doesn’t look particularly big, yet step inside and you will find yourself in a veritable Alice in Wonderland of every possible erotic penchant imaginable. There are wipe-down friendly rubber vinyl wear and PVC, harnesses, masks and blindfolds. Maybe you fancy a Squaddie for the night? There’s an outfit here for your man. Something altogether more swash-buckling? A Pirate costume will tickle your box. See yourself as Catwoman? PASSION has some gorgeous catsuits – and if you feel like being a little more subservient for the night, then the French Maid is for you. Nursery is also there of course; whereas for me, the one that got my heart racing was a very sexy female Pilot outfit which was just (as they say here in Wales) LUSH.
There are all manner of ornaments and extras to fit all of your fantasies (Asylum anyone? You’re the ‘patient,’ the man is the ‘doctor’ who can’t resist peering inside his wards of care – yes, it’s a speculum) and if you’re into water games – PASSION has Orgy Lakes – perfect for slippery sex games, without ruining the carpet. Ruff Lust is a selection of ‘hands’ and paddles for spanking made from leather for naughty girls and boys; as well as riding crops and whips for the dominatrix amongst you.
The hosiery on offer is outstanding, with quite a lot of it suitable for everyday wear – I particularly liked the Magic Legs spandex heart back seam sheer panty hose; and the Elegant Moments leopard print hold ups.
There are lubes-a-plenty to suit all and every need; as well as dolls such as ‘Big John,’ and if all this sex shopping tires you out, PASSION also stocks clothes, though you may want to save them for the bedroom rather than the boardroom or high street.
PASSION is also a LELO stockist (the Rolls Royce of sex toys and accessories) but never fear – as more purse-friendly ranges are widely available, so there really is something for everyone. They have a good selection of erotic books that span guides for ménage à trois, to Kim Cattrall’s Sexual Intelligence and Linda Bird’s, 52 Brilliant Ideas – Look Gorgeous Always. And whilst browsing this area of the store I found my pulse quickening upon finding a fabulous range of 50’s style bikini’s and bathing costumes which whilst there needs to be more in varying sizes (my girls need underwiring and a balconette style when it comes to bikini tops) they are fabulously designed. Think polka dots, stripes a plenty and sailor ahoy motifs.
School of Passion
However, as much as I could have stayed shopping forever more, I was here to experience PASSION’S first salon – the ‘School of PASSION,’ launched in February, as a series of master classes to offer customers the chance to improve their knowledge of all things sexy.
The first presentation, ‘Sex Toys for Girls,’ serves as a brilliant introduction to both what PASSION is looking to achieve with their School of PASSION and as a chance for women to come along and learn what all the buzz is about from in-house experts.
For those looking to buy a first vibrator, or simply curious about the history of sex toys; and as an opportunity to have a fun girly afternoon in the shop, this first class is perfect.
After being led upstairs to the studio (which houses 9 poles used for fitness and dance instruction on a daily basis – not classes on how to strip I’m told) myself and the other ladies are settled down by a strict and sexy ‘mistress’ who outlines that lateness will not be tolerated at this ‘School’ – and those who do come late will be made to sit on the naughty seat (this is later filled by her friend who has been delayed by a long visit at the hair salon).
Dressed in pencil skirt, white blouse, hair tumbling loose and glasses, the ‘mistress’ puts everyone at their ease with her skit of a Principle-type and soon we are all laughing and tucking into pastries and cupcakes and tea and coffee. There is an ‘all girls together’ feeling, which the mistress facilitates well; and once everyone is happily munching away we begin:
History of vibrators
Kick off is a potted history of the sex toy which is informative and interesting, particularly to the ladies present. Our mistress is also very keen to point out that the stigmas of the past in terms of women and their sexuality do not exist at PASSION – whether they still exist in the wider social and cultural landscapes or not.
The story of mechanical devices and a little Freud is followed by the 1960’s and 70’s and the sexual revolution; right up to the modern era with SATC, sexual-topic documentaries and the 50 Shades phenomenon.
We discuss the massively varying types of customer at PASSION from adolescents to the silver sexy sixties; and everything in between. Our mistress tells us that in the UK today 1 in 3 households will have at least one sex toy in residence – so just what are us sexy Brits buying?
The story of the sex toy wouldn’t be complete without touching on the cutie bunny. Our mistress tells us the toy was originally produced in Japan, before a Californian company imported the ‘Rabbit Pearl’ in 1984. We are instructed that any beginner should start off simply and gradually move upwards; our mistress tells us that when you start drinking you don’t start on whiskey for example – and straight away we are all wondering what the ‘whiskey’ of the sex toy will be...
Choosing a sex toy...
After passing round a few of the rabbit toy ranges; we take a look at clit stimulators, straight vibe dildos, eggs, remote controlled toys (men love these for the gadget appeal) and we talk about how most can also be used anally – with a lot of lube girls!
Noise levels are discussed and some of the ladies tell stories of accidental sex toy discovery due to unwanted and unexpected volume issues. We take a look at power bullets; and everyone’s interest is aroused when our mistress gets out a vibe with Mick Jagger lips and interesting tentacles, that is made to fit over the entire vaginal area, for lots of multiway pleasure. I like.
LELO has to make an appearance; they are truly beautiful toys – but again our mistress explains that there are plenty of toys out there that suit everyone’s budget – you don’t have to have a lot of cash to have a lot of sexual fun.
We look at the Mini Mite and the Rampant Rabbit; as well as Petit Ami. Talk moves on to handcuffs (and a small child locking himself to the school gates with his mother’s cuffs) and the best place to keep your sexy toys. Most of us agree it’s the bedside cabinet – one lady tells us she has a blanket box full of toys. Go girl!
More bunnies come out of the box of tricks, including one with twin turbo oscillation. Oh baby! Which leads us nicely onto anal toys.
We discuss different types of lube; and the mistress shows us some aqua-friendly anal toys which I think is rather a good idea if you’re looking for bum fun.
Next up are love balls and the importance of Kegel exercises, which can be done sans balls of course – but why be dull? We’re taught about the many different anal balls, including metal balls, which are great for those who are into temperature erotica.
The Naughty Nano looks like a lot of fun; and works alongside your Ipod – and we’re challenged to find out how naughty our playlists are!
Back to vanilla vibes and we all ‘ooh’ and ‘ahhh’ at the blingiest bunny ever, The Extreme Pure Gold is definitely one for the ladies who have everything, or just cannot get through the day without a little sparkle.
Remember the one that Sam uses in SATC? We all take our time examining this bad boy and our mistress tells us it’s also used in porn films – and works incredibly well as a back and body massager too – so I think that £53 price tag is more than good value. There are also no concerns over a fizz out of battery situation like Samantha’s did at a very crucial moment, the Super Silicone is rechargeable, which makes it a winner for me.
Mistress explains that vibes are not a man-replacement – and that most sex toys work fantastically well with a partner – and the ranges available are so wide, with lots of non-phallic, so that those who have understandable cock issues can rest easy.
So, maybe it’s time for that whisky now?... and wow! does it pack a punch! The ladies are in hysterics as mistress shows us the damn right barmy dildos that are in no uncertain terms – HUGE!!!! We look at the 12” Pretty in Pink Double Dong, the 15” veined Shaft No Hardener, the 18” Double Header in black... and finally (the strongest whiskey in the world) the Ream and Scream Suction, which is absolutely bizarre – and I can’t imagine how anyone would be able to mount it, using any orifice, without the use of some serious muscle relaxants.
This final part of class is really just for japes and jokes, but we are told that some gay men, particularly in the European market do buy these monsters. I find that the mental images this information brings to mind are not welcome; and so I busy myself with more tea and cake and another look at all the pretty toys which beg to be played with...
Can’t get to PASSION? Fear not – they’re also online!