Brothel token!

This is another news-based post, though it’s reporting slightly old news. And it’s also about sex slavery, though not in contemporary society.

An ‘amateur archeologist’ using a metal detector discovered a small coin on the banks of the Thames, and its discovery was made public in January this year. The coin turned out to be a brothel token – a coin claimed to be used in Roman-era brothels (or which there were many in London at that time). The ‘customers’ would buy tokens from the proprietor and, according to some accounts, give them to the prostitutes in the brothel as payment for sex. You can read more in the Daily Telegraph, the Digital Journal and probably a dozen other places.

A quick bit of poking about on the internet indicates that brothel coins, or brothel tokens, were widely used in Roman times. Many (if not all) the prostitutes would have been slaves, and the token meant that the prostitutes weren’t handling any actual money. However, the precise details aren’t known and there are alternative theories, including that they were used as gaming chips and/or as drinks tokens either in the brothels themselves, or perhaps in other bars. Of course, that doesn’t exclude the possibility they were used in all of these ways, and possibly more.

The idea of the ‘brothel coin’ didn’t die with the Romans. They were allegedly used in some European brothels, especially in Paris, up until the late 1800s/early 1900s; and possibly in some American brothels, and Australian ones, until around the same time. Few real examples survive but plenty of people make reproductions – which are widely available on Ebay – and at least one maker of tattoo equipment has a series of foot switches that feature embedded repro brothel coins (note, though, they won’t sell you tattoo equipment unless you’re a properly registered/licensed tattooist in the US). A couple of contemporary brothels in Nevada appear to have resurrected the practice and some of their tokens are also available on Ebay.

More info on their history is at They’re evidently popular collectors’ items, with plenty of people selling them including a US ‘law enforcement supply‘ company that offers repro brothel coins along with body armour, handcuffs and guns (no, it doesn’t look to us like it really supplies actual law enforcement officers with their operational equipment either…). There’s at least one specialist brothel coin collectors’ website, and the same people publish the Brothel Collector’s Gazette.

You may already now about all of this, of course – but it was a revelation to us… but no, we’re not going to start collecting them.


Sexual slavery and prostitution in the news

While we write predominantly about fantasy, sex, erotica and occasionally humour, we do recognise there are serious social problems around sexual coercion and exploitation. One such problem is that there are women who are trafficked as sex slaves. The latest news report on this comes from the BBC – ‘Trafficked – sex slaves seduced and sold‘, a piece about the sex trafficking trade in Mexico where women from all over Latin America are recruited and sold on, often into the US. One place in particular, the semi-rural small town of Tenancingo, is reputed to be based almost entirely on the economy of sex trafficking.

The BBC site has a series of short video news and interview items and is tagged ‘Viewers may find some of the video content disturbing’. Yeah. And not in a good way.

If the content isn’t available where you are, the story’s been reported by a number of other sources: in the US, try The Takeaway and Jezebel.  The same story, in Spanish, is at BBC Mundo (the BBC Spanish language world news site); also in Spanish, it’s in Vanguardia,  La PoliciacaAnimal Politico and Zolaco Saltillo.

This isn’t, obviously, the only place where sex trafficking happens. And if you look back at news sources over the last couple of years you’ll also see that in some parts of the world, young boys are similarly treated.

Much as people have fantasies and act them out, and much as fantasies can be extreme and involve sex slavery, the actual slavery of unwilling victims is evidently more common than any of us might like to think, and a serious social problem.

Male domestic violence – a note

This is just to point you to BillieRosie’s blog post about the rising incidence of female abusers and male victims in domestic violence cases.

While the majority of cases are still male abusers and female victims, the situation is no longer as clear-cut as it once was. And for that matter, from other sources and contacts, we’re aware that domestic abuse and violence can also occur in gay relationships and between carers and their dependents. In the last couple of years, it turns out, organisations like housing associations – which are required to have policies on how to deal with domestic abuse cases, provide support to victims, etc. – have in at least some cases been rewriting those policies to reflect the trend, using more gender-neutral terminology and looking past the stereotypes to work out how to provide an effective response whatever the situation.

Much as this blog takes a liberal and laissez-faire attitude to matters of sex and relationships, it’s also important to remember that there are real social problems out there that do real damage to people’s lives. Victims need to be supported, and perpetrators stopped.

Xciting times

Following the change-around in the Xcite Books websites, the ‘Our published work’ page (see the menu on the blog header) has been updated and things added to it (including one or two bits we’d written and forgotten about!). So those links all work. We haven’t yet messed with the ones in individual posts – you’ll have to take your chances.

As usual, there’s a load of stuff ongoing and some new things we hope to announce shortly.

In addition, Fulani’s been experimenting with writing short stories for the Achtung Fetish website, which is a membership-based hardcore site – but there’s not a lot of point in teasing you with details because the stuff’s all in the members’ area. Writing a connected narrative around actual pics (as opposed to his own imagination) has been an interesting exercise, and the spinoff has been the need to research various sexual practices that hadn’t previously figured in his stories. It turns out you could write a story just about the process of getting ready to wear a latex outfit, and feeling the smooth tightness of the outfit under your fingers as you slide into it… Research has been necessary on other matters too, such as religious rituals that turn out to be relevant to the theme of a picture set. At least it keeps Fulani quietly entertained…

Tricks for Kicks – now out

Tricks for Kicks cover (Xcite Books)

Tricks for Kicks cover (Xcite Books)

You might remember Fulani had a short story, ‘Filthy White Dress’, that appeared as part of the Making Her Pay ebook from Xcite – this was a short five-story collection. ‘Filthy White Dress’ was slightly unusual in terms of erotica because it was inspired by ‘Nu Fetish’, something we’ve previously blogged about here – and maybe a little, too, by some themes from French experimental writers such as Robbe-Grillet, who deliberately set out (in Project for a Revolution in New York, for example) to associate colours with particular cultural meanings. If you’re into experimental literature, Project for a Revolution in New York is kind of interesting because it includes a huge number of hardcore torture scenes of a nature that  most erotica publishers these days wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, or any other implement.

But we digress.

The same story is also now out as part of the longer Tricks For Kicks: Sex with Rewards 20-story Xcite collection, edited by Elizabeth Coldwell.

Stories by: Veronica Wilde, Mary Borsellino, Fulani, Victoria Blisse, Maxim Jakubowski, Catelyn Cash, Landon Dixon, Tabitha Rayne, Heidi Champa, Dominic Santi, Kay Jaybee, Kathleen Tudor, Marleen Yong, Giselle Renarde, Cecilia Duvalle, Alanna Appleton, Cynthia Lucas, Sommer Marsden, Scarlett Blue and Elizabeth Coldwell – 224 pages all told. Available as hard copy at £7.99 or as an epub format at £6.49.

In short, what you’ve got in this collection is 20 pieces by a bunch of the most talented and innovative erotica writers you can hope to find.

If you want a sneak peek at Fulani’s story, one was included in a previous post on this blog.

Tasty long implements – a workshop report by Fulani

My local munch organisers ran a special event yesterday: a workshop by Alex Jacob of Cobra Whips.

Given that there are somewhere over 1,000 kinksters in the area (according to Fetlife) and, last time I heard, over 600 people on the munch mailing list, it was a small gathering of just 10.

On the other hand, whips – as in bullwhips, snakewhips and other implements of a similar length – are a minority interest, not least because they require a significant amount of space to use properly. They aren’t much liked in fetish clubs for the same reason (in fact some clubs ban them). The venue, a reasonably-sized function room, was big enough for four or five of us to use whips at the same time.

I haven’t used either of my long whips for a while and I’m out of practice. So for me it was a chance to go back to basics and re-learn probably the most single important thing about whip control, which the workshop listed as ‘Whip/weapon and body mechanics, energy flow and effect on recipient’.

In other words, a whip is an extension of the person using it (or vice versa, perhaps). By that, I mean that if you want to control a whip accurately and know where and how it will connect with a target, you have to think about it as an extension of your body – or maybe more accurately, your body and arm as an extension of the whip. You’re holding it in your hand, and everything you do with your arm and wrist, changing stance as you strike with the whip, and so on, will affect what it does.

A small flick of the wrist as your arm moves forwards will often put a downward energy into the whip, which means that as it reaches its fullest extent it will begin to recoil. The tip will come back at you. A jerky movement as you pull the whip back prior to a strike can have a similar effect. Shifting your weight from one foot to the other can give a sideways impetus to the whip, with the same result. So smooth, clean motions are best.

Secondly, 99% of the time you don’t need to put a lot of effort into a whip in order to crack it. The force you put into it needs to move, in a well-made whip, a tapered bag of lead shot with as much force as it would take to flick it a few feet. That energy goes into a piece of braided leather or nylon that has perhaps a one-inch cross-section near your hand, down to a quarter-inch cross-section three or four feet down the whip; then it’s funnelled into a fall, which is probably not much thicker than a shoelace, and into a cracker (or popper, terminology varies), that’s probaby a quarter of that diameter. So at that point, it’s like putting enough energy to throw a cricket ball into moving a six-inch length of cotton thread. You need remarkably little energy to accelerate the tip enough to make the crack.

And thirdly, the crack dissipates the energy – it’s sent out into the air – so that if it the whip then hits the target a large part of its energy has gone. Which is the main reason why long whips can be used to make very impressive and scary sounds but not create the kind of injury that would require medical treatment.

That doesn’t by any means exhaust the relevant information about both technique and safety that you need to know in order to play with long whips but it was, as I said, a welcome reminder of basic principles for me and a reminder of the need to practice. And practice some more. And then practice again.

Other good things: Alex fettled one of my whips and dramatically improved its crack. And two of the other participants were a couple of writers, and we were able able to have a long conversation over dinner.

So congratulations and many thanks to the organisers.

Final thought – in the writing of this post, various typographical errors kept creeping in for some reason, of which the key one was ‘tasty long implements’…


Just a quick note: if you’ve tried to find any of our publications via the links we make to, you’ll have seen a ‘site currently not active’ announcement. It’s Xcite’s ‘third party’ site that sells their own books plus those from other publishers, and Xcite’s geek people have been working to deal with it. In the meantime, the Xcite ‘own brand’ website is still working just fine.

Sex code

QR code

QR code – where does it link to?

I’ve been in town, like I am every week, a regular meeting at the arts centre. At the end of the meeting at which we’ve decided nothing and changed the world even less, I head back to my car. I’ve parked two streets away and the most direct route is down a narrow one-way street, little more than an alley.

The centre isn’t in the bad part of town, exactly, but it’s on the edge of the city core, a location where some of the cheaper and more grimy nightclubs rub up against the second-hand musical instrument shop, the launderette-cum-internet café, and the high-priced flats constructed out of an old office building as part of the city regeneration programme.

I know the cheap and grimy nightclubs intimately, I’ve bought stuff at the music shop, washed clothes and surfed at the launderette.  But they’re not what attract my attention.

There’s a door recessed into a brick wall, like a fire exit from an old textiles factory of now-uncertain use. And stuck on and around the door are small pieces of paper, about the half the size of a business card. They have QR codes on them.

You know about QR codes, right? The small square black-and-white chequered patterns you see everywhere from nightclub posters to advertisements to airline boarding passes. They encode information, anything from just a name or stock number to a website address or, for all I know, a short story. Ironically the art centre had just done an exhibition based on a QR code theme.

So, there are lots of these things and that makes me curious.

One of the exhibits had been this: visitors pin a QR code on a big map of the city which is on a gallery wall. People photograph the code with the camera in their smartphone, which will usually have an app to unravel the information. The information is a link, the link takes you to a website, to a place on the website where the person posting the code has also written a blog entry about what happened to them or what they did at that place on the map.

The idea is to view the city through other people’s eyes.

Now, here we have the codes placed in an actual, physical location instead of on a map. So I snap a couple of dozen of them with my mobile phone’s camera.

Don’t check them until I get home.

And what’s there is… well, not shocking. I’m not easily shocked. But certainly adventurous. Every QR code links to a website page; every website page shows activity happening in exactly the spot where I snapped the codes. All the activity is, by someone’s definition, sexual.

There’s flashing and nudity. There are point-of-view shots of fellatio and cunnilingus, both straight and gay. There’s sex up against the wall (and presumably a third person taking the pic?). There’s more ambitious sex, a woman bent at the waist being fucked while sucking a guy off. There’s complicated bondage sex involving two women stripped naked and tied together, three guys playing with them. There’s a guy being, as best I can tell, either pegged by a woman or fucked by a T-girl. There’s a woman in full pony-play kit and one nude except for a hood. There’s a woman in a cat outfit, licking milk from a saucer; and in another shot, a guy wearing nothing but cheap angel-wings and heavy work boots, installed in the corner in a person-sized birdcage.

And then there are the videos.

Allowing for some of the people being in multiple shots, or taking turns at taking pics, this amounts to probably fifty people having used this one alley for sex in a timeframe of, according to the dates given on the website, a couple of weeks.

I’m jealous. I’ve been missing out. Not only that, but I’ve been caught unaware, because if you want to know what’s happening in the seamier and fetishistic side of this city I normally have my finger on the pulse, and this is something I only stumbled across by accident.

The following week, after the meeting, I choose that alley to walk down even though, this time, I’ve parked my car in the opposite direction.

Nothing. The area’s been cleared, cleansed, power washed.

I retrace my steps back to my car.

I had to park about ten minutes walk away, in an area that was once a huddle of small factories. When they moved out, one of the old factories became a pool hall; another, until it burned down, was a swingers’ club. And yes, I went there a few times. Now most of the buildings are vacant, boarded up, waiting for redevelopment.

My car’s on a street that’s a dead end, though there are alleyways off to either side. Two woman stand on a corner. They’re not prostitutes; they don’t have the whore pose or the strut, they don’t look like they’re looking for johns. But one of them gives a sharp whistle and beckons me over.

“Can you take a pic of me and my friend?” she asks. “I’ve set it to auto.” Hands me her phone, points to the button.

By the time I’ve taken three steps back and let autofocus do its work, they’ve both removed their coats to display ropes around their bodies, a style known as the karada. And they’re kissing each other. Well, consuming rather than kissing.

Click, click.

“All done.” They’re so into what they’re doing it’s actually difficult to give them back the phone.

“You know what a QR code is?” one asks. “Look for a small sticker right on this corner, maybe tomorrow.”

“Nice ropework,” I say casually. “Did you do it yourselves?”

I get a smile and a laugh, but no answer.

But the pic’s good, when I go back the next day to find the QR code. Along with a dozen others within a few yards of the spot.

I find myself seeing the city from another point of view. Charting the flux and crackle of dangerous sex. Charting its variance, its standard deviation, its significance.

I’m reminded of Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Gravity’s Rainbow. One of the characters, Tyrone Slothrop, is an American soldier in wartime London. He has many sexual encounters, each one taking place at a location that is the subsequent target of a V2 rocket hit. Do his sexual exploits somehow, clairvoyantly, predict the rocket strikes or actually direct them?

I walk the streets, find the traces of sexual energy. I chart their distribution. I wonder what kind of detonation is encoded there.


An arts centre near me did host an exhibition similar to the one described in the story above (yeah, it’s fiction, though it would have been cool if it wasn’t). In the exhibition, though, the codes linked to a website that displayed paintings and drawings of different parts of the city. As far as I know, no one has used QR codes in exactly the way the story describes – yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised to discover it’s been done.

However, QR codes have been printed on condom packets as part of a safe sex promotion, with the users encouraged to follow a link embedded in the codes to post the location at which the condom was used. It’s been done in Sweden  (, and in the US, in and around Seattle (see the Time magazine article about it). The Time article links to a map and the code shown at the top of this post also links to the map, which is searchable by gender, type of location, outcome etc.