For the last couple of days, clickbait driven news sites like The Independent and the Daily Mail – arguably Britain’s two most unreliable ‘traditional’ news sources – have been excited reporting on the claim that a a new cafe, offering a heady mix of coffee and oral sex, was going to open in London. That would certainly put the naked restaurant in its place.
A Bradley Charvet is allegedly opening such a venue in Geneva, and has announced plans to follow it up with a second venue in Paddington, London – and then to roll out across the country if it is successful.
According to a breathlessly excited report in The Independent, “The Baroque-themed, 150m² café will serve coffee and a few pastries, with customers being given an iPad on which to choose an escort from a list of thumbnails to perform oral sex on them. £50 will be the base charge (billed as ‘the most expensive coffee in the UK’) with £10 added for every extra 15 minutes.”
That’s an awful of detail – decorating and all – for a place that is just a fantasy. The venue is said to be on Praed Street (Londoners – why not take a walk down and see if you can find the venue?) and in an interview, Charvet claims that his lawyers have told him that it will be one hundred per cent legal.
In which case, I should suggest that he gets better lawyers.
Prostitution is not illegal in the UK, but pretty much everything relating to it is. That includes running a brothel, which in the eyes of the law is any venue where two or more sex workers are employed. So Charvet – or his bar manager at least – would face arrest and prosecution for running a disorderly house, living of immoral earnings and basically pimping. Listing a price for sexual services would be seen as controlling sex workers. And such a cafe would presumably fall under Sex Entertainment Venue licensing requirements, and so could not open without the permission of the local council. What chance do we think of that being granted, given that even lap-dancing clubs are struggling to get approval? And while the laws restricting sex work in the UK are long overdue an overhaul, it’s very unlikely that there will be any changes that would make this venue possible – it’s more probable that laws will be tightened, not loosened.
Given that this is clearly a legal non-starter, why bother with the story at all? Well, the answer might lie in the fact that the project is taking place in collaboration with ‘escort social network’ BumPix. The Indie story, and others, have both name-checked and linked to the site in their stories. A site spokesman has said that all employees of the cafe would be voted on by BumPix users. And so clearly, this is little more than a publicity scam by the site – a good way for an obscure adult site to get mainstream press coverage.
You’d think that any journalist worthy of the name would have sussed that out immediately. Sadly, they probably did. But in a clickbait world (and yes, by writing about this, we are perpetuating the problem I suppose), hits trump facts every day of the week.