‘It’s not sexual until you see it as sexual…’

Complaints show an ‘erotic’ restaurant’s recipe for success is definitely not to everyone’s taste

Friday, 15th July — By Lara Bodger

Naked Soho

Ceramics are a feature at the restaurant which aims to fuse sex-themed food and art

AN erotic restaurant, billed as the first of its kind in the country, has had to frost up its front window following complaints about its body-positive ceramic tableware.

Stefano Vaccaro and Claudia Mangano were told they could lose their licence for Naked Soho in Moor Street, if they did not take steps to shield the public’s gaze from the vulva plates, penis bowls and genital sharing platters.

The restaurateurs had commissioned artist Hani Lees Dresner to create a full collection and a wall has been decked out with phallus tiles that could be seen from the street.

The Soho restaurant, which fuses sex-themed food and art, had to temporarily close days after its launch on June 30 and is due to reopen later this month.

Mr Vaccaro described Naked Soho as “a small museum that celebrates the body”, adding: “We’re modelling it after the sculptures you see in public spaces in Italy, like the Michelangelo.

“In 2022 it’s very disappointing that people are shocked – it’s not graphic sex or pornography.”

In the future Mr Vaccaro said he hoped society could move forward to a place where people could “express our art and not be censored”.

Ms Dresner, who goes by the handle Gashtrays, aims to break down stigmas surrounding sex and body image by celebrating natural bodies that challenge unrealistic beauty standards.

“The interpretation of the work is open to the viewer – it’s not sexual until you see it as sexual”, she told Extra.

“I wouldn’t have any customers if it wasn’t for social media, but I’m constantly battling having my posts taken down… if I get censored online and in bricks and mortar establishments, then I don’t know where else I can go.”

Her “Gashtrays” account was also removed from TikTok, with the platform’s community guidelines disallowing content it deems to be sexually explicit.

Soho had initially appeared to be an ideal location for the restaurant because it has been home to risque and erotic businesses.

Naked Soho aims to cater to anyone over 18 with an “artistic and open mind” said Keri Megeed, a marketing manager.

She spoke of the positive responses she had observed from passers-by, adding: “Everyone who’s looked in so far has given a smile.”

The restaurant says it welcome “gay, straight, queer, trains, S&M fetishes and feet kinks – anything you want to be”.

Officers from Westminster City Council visited the restaurant shortly after it launched following a complaint.

A city council spokesperson confirmed they had advised the restaurant owners about the “public decency”.

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