London's new sex "theme park" aims to find a middle ground between pornography and sex education. Does it succeed?by Katherine Angel / August 1, 2007 / Leave a comment
It was circumstance that led Johan Rizki, a French-American investor, to locate Amora, his “Academy of Sex and Relationships,” in London. But it’s a choice he feels confident about. The British, he says, are not prudish—they’re progressive, keen to learn and open to self-improvement. This remark stayed with me as I wandered around Amora, reading about foreplay etiquette, feeling a variety of dildos, designing my perfect partner on an interactive screen and prodding a plastic model in order to learn about erogenous zones. Confusingly, the lucky man’s inner arm lit up in response to my efforts, but his flaccid penis did not.
Plastic models abound at Amora, but in the words of Sarah Brewer, director of exhibits, “there are no mothy, musty waxworks.” Amora is not, its promotional material assures us, a “sex museum.” So what is it? The centre, which opened earlier this year, aims to be a sensual experience that will make “your world a sexier place.” It also wants to provide responsible information on what people do, and how. There was a need, felt Rizki, for something located between the “sleazy, seedy” world of pornography and the “dull” world of sex education. Amora is indeed unique in that it contains in one space elements usually kept separate: the realm of the sexual health clinic, and that of sexual exploration and kinkiness. But aside from this, it is a disappointment. It does not represent a “bold new departure”; and it is, in fact, distinctly unerotic.
Situated in the Trocadero, close to London’s Piccadilly, Amora’s interior is very pink. With swirling floral designs, vaguely ambient music and a distinctly heterosexual focus, it feels like the pages of Cosmo magazine brought to life. With the help of video screens, visitors are taught how to undress sexily, give massages and play erotic food games. Handy hints are proffered: when it comes to oral sex, “you’ve got to give it to get it, so be generous in lavishing your lover with oral treats and they’ll be more inclined to return the favour.” A formidable array of sex toys are on view. Cross-sectioned plastic models encourage you to insert your finger in order to locate the prostate gland and the G-spot; my explorations gratifyingly elicited a manly “Oh yes!” and a breathless “Oh! That’s it!” In the “Fantasy and Fetish” room, you are given a paddle with which to spank the long-suffering plastic…