Selling Sex in Soho in the 1980s

You can buy sex by the minute. Which is why what are euphemistically called ‘adult’ videos sold so well before the internet made them free to air. London’s Soho was once a centre of the trade in pornographic films on VHS, and Betamax for kinkier onanists.

Seedy Soho has long been synonymous with vice. It’s where you could watch strippers at Paul Raymond’s Raymond Revue, meet sex workers with the Reverend Vernon Mitchell and the prostitutes’ padre – and did you ever see the heroic Lydia Lova? – drink with hobbiest drinkers at the Colony Rooms, press flesh with the Krays at El Morrocco and the police’s Obscene Publications Squad in the back rooms.

Peter Marshall took pictures of some of the old clip joints and video shops as he mooched about London on the 1980s and 1990s.


Sauna & Massage Saloon, Archer St, Great Windmill St, Soho, Westminster, 1987

For hundreds of years Soho had always had a somewhat racy reputation. Prostitution existed pretty well openly in the area at least until the Street Offences Act of 1959. However the number of sex-shops had always been relatively few but started to rise from just a handful in the early sixties to almost sixty by the early seventies. Now they are few and far between.


Soho sex

Video, Magazine, Shop, Soho, Westminster, 1990, 90-62-24

Carnaby St, Soho, Westminster, 1987

Soho sex

Brewer St, Soho, Westminster, 1987

Soho sex

Woman, Kinky Bed Show, Soho, Westminster, 1990, 90-717-31

Soho sex

Man, Kinky Bed Show, Soho, Westminster, 1990, 90-717-52

Soho sex

Male & Female, Double Act, Moor St, Soho, Westminster, 1990

Soho sex

Brewer St, Soho, Westminster, 1990,

Love Shop, Brewer St, Soho, Westminster, 1987

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