Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

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The Independent Online

On my second date with Luke, I was ready for action: I wore a tightly cinched black lace bodysuit underneath an innocent wrap dress. It did the trick. Back at his Knightsbridge house, he carried me upstairs and we started stripping each other off. Unfortunately, in his eagerness to ravish me, he tore open the bodice. I felt an almost physical pain as I heard the rip - my underwear that night cost more than my rent.

Over coffee the next day, I tried to explain my lingerie addiction to Luke. I told him how buying my first La Perla bra was a bit like losing my virginity. I remember the trepidation of trying it on, and how I was turned on in the dressing room when I saw how the silk hugged my skin. I remember the rush of handing over my credit card and how, after all the anticipation, the transaction took only two minutes.

I now have four massive drawers full of gear. There's the "nice" drawer, filled with high-end French lace balconette bras and silk side-tie knickers; the "naughty" drawer, with its corsets and suspenders; and the "miscellaneous" section where I store themed outfits like Naughty Nurse, French Maid and my trusty rhinestone-studded bullwhip. Last of all is the rapidly dwindling "normal" drawer.

My friends think I'm insane as most of my purchases never see the light of day, let alone a handsome stranger. But lingerie makes me feel that the possibilities for hookups are limitless, even if I'm just going to Tesco. I may be buying loo roll, but the fact that I'm wearing a corset while doing it is my sexy little secret.

It wasn't always this way. In my late teens, when I was still worried about appearing to be a good girl, I used to wear horrible underwear as way of guaranteeing no sex on a date. It didn't work. I still went to bed with the guy, but I ended up apologising for my frayed knickers before doing the deed. Today, I don't mind being caught out in a pair of ratty jeans, but the thought of a paramedic having to cut off my clothes after a car accident and finding a pair of big grey pants is too much to bear. That said, I've still had my share of sex-related sartorial disasters. I once wore a PVC catsuit that left me with a head-to-toe rash. Another time, a pair of too-tight hold-ups left me with thighs that looked like two servings of broccoli.

The day after my bodice-ripping moment, Luke took me to Agent Provocateur. As I tried on a black and pink push-up bra with stockings and suspenders, he slipped into the changing room. "God you look sexy," he said. We both got so turned on that I sat on his lap while he "helped" me unhook them.

Running his hands over the demi-cups, he said: "Whatever we spend on this, it's definitely worth it." We went back to his flat and I unwrapped the box, then let him unwrap me. It was fantastic.

Alas, our next date is on laundry day. I'm afraid my fantasy-girl image won't survive him seeing me in a pair of M&S white cotton pants and a grey sports bra. I may have to break out that bullwhip after all.