Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

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But these days, women aren't limited to watching submissive women in cheesy outfits servicing gold-chain wearing guys with milk-white paunches. Female directors like Candida Royalle and Petra Joy have created an entire genre out of girl-friendly porn that has some semblance of a plot, where the emphasis isn't always on the "money shot". On the other hand, too much of a storyline can be distracting - I don't want to have to wonder what the characters' motivations are when I'm watching a scene between the half-naked pizza delivery boy and the horny housewife.

There's also the logistical difficulty to overcome - it's difficult to imaging popping in cult classic Edward Penishands with my flatmate on the other side of our paper-thin walls. But with my new crush living well outside London, I've got to take matters into my own hands. So my friend John and I head into one of the seedier sex stores in Soho - only to head out five minutes later after a creepy guy in a ponytail starts following us around.

Recounting the experience to my girlfriends, I'm surprised to hear that porn is still a bit of a taboo subject. One quotes Naomi Wolf, who recently argued that porn ultimately turns men off to real women. I find her argument a bit simplistic: I've never met one for whom a pixilated image wasn't secondary to the real thing. Besides, I always try to keep politics out of the bedroom because, let's face it, what hot isn't always the most politically correct. Otherwise, paddles and handcuffs wouldn't be flying off the shelves.

These days, the girls who admit to buying porn are mostly doing it online. Some are even picking up used DVDs from EBay while browsing for vintage shoes. "I get really turned off when I see the freakshow huge fake breasts," says my friend Victoria. "But I love amateur porn, because the women actually look like they are enjoying themselves, and they are in control."

Digging deeper, I realise that a lot of them have dipped a toe into the water; they are just more discreet about their viewing habits. "I bought Behind The Green Door because it seemed like a 'classic' that I could have out on my shelf without being embarrassed," another girlfriend admits. "And my former flatmate had a Jenna Jameson movie that I would watch and rewind to the same place," she continues. "Neither of us ever brought it up."

In the end, I headed online and chose Sinful Rella, a parody of the fairy tale reworked with three lusty stepsisters, a pimped-out fairy godfather and two hunky guys masquerading as "horses". I watched it with my new crush and it wasn't soon until we both started laughing. But in the end, the tale of the prince searching the land for the perfect blow job started to get us turned on.

I'm pleased that porn has become a small but integral part of my sex life, either with a partner or when I'm biding my time between boyfriends. After all, they may come and go - but I'll always have Hard Love in High Heels to tide me over.

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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