Friday, 13 March 2015

Gavcrimson looks at Blackpool

A cold wind against my face, blood and vomit on the streets, the strangely reassuring smell of fish and chips in the air, Blackpool is my kind of town.

No place in the UK embodies the British sex comedy aesthetic quite like Blackpool. Come to this place and it is not long before the line between a sex shop and a joke shop begins to blur. Gavcrimson didn’t have to walk but a few blocks from his first port of call before he encountered one such adult novelty shop, where in the window such old favourites as fake dog shit, his and her eatable underwear and chattering teeth complete with the newest adult novelty to hit Blackpool “Duck with a Dick”, a mixture of bath toy and sex aid. Mainly aimed at the stag and hen market, shops like this ensure that many a groom will wake-up on his wedding day, hung over and wondering why a well-endowed rubber duck is stuck up his ass.


Venturing inside this place reveals that if it can be eaten and made into the shape of a prick or a pair of breasts it will be sold in Blackpool. It was only after the fact, looking over these photographs on the way home, that I realised the shop had a ‘no photos’ policy, so Blackpool etiquette was inadvertently broken in order to bring you these undercover snaps.

Journey deeper into the heart of Blackpool and you frequently encounter one of the most popular adult novelties of recent years, the corruption of that family favourite Blackpool rock, that is Cock Rock.

Blackpool is wall to wall Fish and Chip shops, highly recommended and inexpensive is the Palma Cafe, where Gavcrimson was cured of a long-time aversion to Haddock, caused by a bad experience with one in the neighbouring town of Cleveleys. Thanks Palma.

A gathering of flying rodents, who can always be relied upon to leave their own distinct mark on the Blackpool landscape.

The Conspiracy exhibition, now closed- a conspiracy? Or maybe not, an online write-up of the place whilst it was active gives an idea of what I missed “I paid £3.50 to sit in a large room watching a "Confronting the Evidence" DVD about 9/11 which was later available in for sale for £3. Not only that, it was run on a loop and visitors weren't given the privilege of necessarily watching it from the beginning, they were just ushered in at any point”.

The DVD stalls at Blackpool’s various markets could never be accused of not having eclectic tastes, John Wayne, Tram Journeys, Hitler and Cannon and Ball are all represented here, two unlikely popular titles are Abel Ferrara’s The Driller Killer and Zombie Holocaust, seemingly every DVD stall I encountered had at least one copy of both.

You’ll note that a row of cock rock made a return appearance in that last photo, in libellously close proximity to a DVD with Cliff Richard’s face on it. Alas I failed to satisfactorily snap this stall’s comedy section, which mainly comprised of DVDs of live Bernard Manning shows and episodes of Love Thy Neighbour, a selection that no doubt has the same effect on the sensitive and politically correct at heart that crucifixes and mirrors have on vampires.


Blackpool has never been ashamed about having one foot in the past, and this stretches to its taste in pornography. Right up until the very dying days of VHS in the early 2000s, you could still walk into many a shop in Blackpool and be greeted by the face of Pauline Hickey/Zoe Lee staring at you from sun bleached VHS copies of ‘Sexy Secrets of the Kissogram Girls’, the first of many big bust fetish videos made in the 1980s by Hove based Peter Kay for his Strand International video label. Kays’s videos like The Naughty Dreams of Miss Owen, Stag Show Girls and the horror themed The Initiants - often featured their large bosomed stars arranged in rows on their covers in the manner of end of year school photos- and really found their niche in Blackpool where they were warmly taken to Blackpool’s own heavy bosom.

Peter Kay videos – a Blackpool ubiquity till the dying days of VHS.

Now that DVD rules the roost the Kay tapes have disappeared, replaced by 1990s and early 2000s looking British porno on DVD. A limp reminder of what passed for porno in the UK prior to the legalisation of hardcore and the internet, the hard sell of ‘real sex’ on these DVD covers predictably mutates into striptease and dispassionately mimed sex acts in these softcore productions themselves. Long out of the public eye porn stars like Teresa May and Linsey Dawn Mckenzie still retain the popularity they once held in the 1990s and 2000s here in Blackpool, thanks to the DVD stalls still stocking their old productions like Teresa Takes Ten Inches, Nude and Naughty and In Bed With Linsey. Blackpool acts as a museum to their careers, the DVD graveyard for the hard working shaggers of yesteryear.

A couple of (non-porn) familiar faces from the past are also still doing the rounds here as well.

Others have found themselves immortalised outside the booths of gypsy fortune tellers. Maria seems quite happy to handle Bob Monkhouse’s balls, however Mary Millington allegedly turned down repeated offers to do the same during the 1970s.


A reflective moment on the North Pier was broken by the sight of this old timer, who for some inexplicable reason decided to roll up his trouser leg and show us some leg, put it away man, you’re no Mary Millington.

Of course no visit to Blackpool would be complete without feeding those hungry slot machines your hard earned shrapnel.


Are you are a Stud or a Dud?, feed this machine your shrapnel and find out.

Go beyond the exterior of the Golden mile though, and into the backstreets of Blackpool and there is the realisation that Blackpool hasn’t escaped a beating from the economic meltdown of the past few years, evidenced by a ghost town parade of closed down or shuttered up shops, cafes and lap dancing clubs. The backstreets of Blackpool appear to have achieved the same state of decay as the London of 1967 documented by Norman Cohen’s The London Nobody Knows. Spurred on by an urgent sense of preservation, gavcrimson similarly documents these sights with the resigned knowledge that the wrecking ball can’t be too far away.


A call of nature is what initially brought me to the second floor of Funland Amusements. A 1970s working men’s club feel to this place is rather inevitable, given the brown and dark orange colour scheme. This is a place so eerily empty that the first time I ventured here it crossed my worried mind that I might have trespassed into a long-closed off section of this place. On the rare occasion that people run into other human beings here they tend to react with surprise, if not fear, that anyone else should be there and become immediately suspicious of each other’s motives for being there. Although the snack bar appears fully functional it never appears to be open. That ‘Carnival of Souls’ vibe one tends to get from off-season Blackpool, that of a place that by rights should be full of laughter and excitement but instead is deserted, frozen in time and in cold silence, is strong in here. Needless to say I’m rather smitten by this place and always make a point of trying to soak up its atmosphere when I’m in town, as well as stare at those big orange domes. Call it the Gavcrimson version of what he’d like the afterlife to look like.

Two sights to end our little journey then, both from the outskirts of town, and each in their own different way trying to capture the attention of Blackpoolian sinners as they leave the place. Anyone for cock rock?