I fucking love nice underwear, who doesn’t? Nice underwear makes me feel like a sex god. Unlike horrible bottom-of-the-drawer-I-have-nothing-else underwear which makes me feel like a frumpy supply teacher. My mother always used to say “make sure you’re wearing clean underwear in case you get hit by a bus” so I guess that scared me into never wearing dirty underwear (what would the coroner think?!). The V&A are celebrating underwear with their new Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear exhibition which got me thinking about shopping for the perfect pair of underwear as a sexually liberated gay man living in London.
For me this was no challenge. Everyone at Ten Towers is aware I am fond of a jockstrap and was once infamously quoted saying “they frame the Mona Lisa don’t they?”. So it wasn’t actually for me to discover the joys of the jockstrap but my fledgling gay friend – Will Johns. Unaware of the pleasures a jockstrap could bring to his life he definitely would have fallen for the lie I told my mother when she discovered one of mine, “it’s for yoga!” I screamed snatching it from her and hiding away again. “Let’s go out after work and spend that pink pound” I declared. “What’s that?” was his reply. I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me.
Like all good personal shoppers I asked Will what his brief (get it?) was. “I’m really looking for something classy, minimal, not branded in black or white”. So we hit the sex shops of Soho at six. “They’re all so trashy” he moaned whilst holding up a neon piece of string when perusing Prowler. I looked over to the shop assistant who appeared to be wearing a similar pair poking out of his Adidas tracksuits. I smiled and guided Will to the door.
Shop after shop the answer was the same to anything I showed him. NO. “But what about..” NO. “This is ni-“ NO. I began to sweat. Had I lost my touch? Was I just a trashy slut? Would my mother be ashamed of me? I suggested a black PUMP jockstrap, similar to the first one I bought for myself? “That’s disgusting, who would wear that saying pump?” I smiled and looked to the ground. I was defeated. I had gone in big and come home with nothing. Will was disappointed, I was disappointed. The sales assistants were definitely disappointed. We parted ways.
I thought I had failed but I managed to redeem myself. My Instagram thirst led me to a boy wearing very little save for some classy unbranded underwear…from ASOS of all places. And after a quick browse Will’s shopping basket was stuffed full of jockstraps in every colour under the sun. Success. So really the only tips I can offer for finding the perfect pair of underwear is to be persistent. Never give up. They’re out there somewhere just waiting to hug you in all the right places.
So go free my young padawan. Feel the breeze as you strut your stuff. Show off your artwork. But for god sake make sure they’re clean.
Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear is on from 16 April 2016 – 12 March 2017 at the V&A