Flirting With Flexi-Sex

From the days before phone sex and cam girls, the pioneering efforts to bring aural sex to adult magazine readers.

Back in the days when the top shelf at your more liberated or devil-may-care newsagents groaned under the weight of dreadfully corruptive publications that you felt actually warranted a place up there and which were furtively examined by shifty old men and grubby-fingered youths alike, a magazine temptingly titled Listen With Rustler was born. Gold Star Publications’ Rustler had been a mainstay of the seedier end of the adult magazine market for some time, but Listen With Rustler was something new, something different. For tucked between the glossy photo layouts – the likes of which weren’t content to show just the outer embodiment of womanhood, but rather attempted to get the girls to open up wide enough to fit the camera inside – was one of those flimsy vinyl discs that were a regular lure for pop magazine readers of the era.

Everyone likes a freebie, and today, mainstream magazines seem almost obliged to offer a cover giveaway just to survive, but back in the early 1980s, cover-mounts were still the exception rather than the rule. The flexi-disc was a popular choice for everyone from Smash Hits to Kerrang! for many years, a way to offer free music – usually as a promotion for a new album, but sometimes offering unreleased tracks as a special treat. These flimsy discs were easily damaged – a fold here, a bend there – which invariably made the chances of getting one that played all the way through much slimmer, especially when they were cover-mounted without even a protective sleeve. But such was their popularity that a magazine – Flexi-Pop – emerged where the cover disc was the entire selling point.

Listen With Rustler was cut from similar cloth, but instead of a sampling of the latest Abba hit, this thirty-three and a third thriller featured a husky-voiced girl telling the reader precisely what she was doing to herself and what she wanted to do to him. So not only could you look at explicit photos of Sensual Sally (“I’ve got what you’d call a tight little cunt, but I’m really eager to take on as much as you have to offer me”) and Cheeky Cheryl (“let me poke three fingers inside me while we continue talking to each other”), you could listen to them talking to you as well.

Aural sex wasn’t a new idea, for similar cassette tapes had been available through mail order or from sex shops for years, but the enticement of five free minutes of flexi-sex obviously paid dividends, at least in the short term – in a heavily competitive market, Listen With Rustler met with relatively good sales. Each issue usually featured a solo girl talking dirty, though occasionally there would be something different to revive the repetitive nature of the idea. Enter Luscious Lucy and Horny Hazel, two girls for the price of one. The action here rather  sidelined the male listener, however:

Hazel: It feels nice having your hand stroke my nipples, Lucy, while you talk to the people. Keep stroking them.
Lucy: Let me just put a single finger between your thighs…

Okay, this was pretty corny stuff, usually accompanied by a classic tone of insincerity (i.e.’I’m reading this off a script while doing the washing up’), and the likelihood of the voices on the discs actually belonging to the women in the photographs was slim, to say the least – the chances of finding a model who did the harder end of soft porn posing and could talk her way through five minutes of masturbation material seemed unlikely. But what could you expect for just over a quid? The fact is that both the magazines and the discs almost certainly fuelled hundreds of thousands of masturbatory fantasies at the time.

Of course, this was an idea that wouldn’t last forever – while novelty value saw initially high sales, the magazine itself was no different to its other Gold Star and Private rivals, and the very nature of the flexi-disc rather restricted opportunities to enjoy it. While the magazine could be snuck into any private space, the disc required the use of the record player, which most families had in their main living room. Listeners who didn’t live alone would have to wait until everyone was in bed or out to listen to this, headphones on and trousers down, hoping against hope that no one suddenly walked in. Aural sex was best suited to more portable devices.

Nevertheless, other publishers climbed on the bandwagon: Whitehouse also offered its own flexi-sex editions, including one that featured Mary Millington – famous enough to provide her own vocals – while in America, there is at least one known example in the shape of High Society‘s Bustin’ My Cherry, where Gloria Leonard invites you to “deflower a hot young virgin”. Probably not the sort of thing you could get away with now, frankly. Meanwhile, Club had Marilyn Chambers offering spoken-word sex in 1980.

In the end, the producers of such things quickly realised that the costs of producing the discs didn’t really justify giving them away (and the magazines in question had to remain competitively priced), CDs were starting to replace vinyl and there was more money in offering this sort of thing as premium rate phone content, which it remains today – though phone sex has itself now been largely replaced by cam girls. The flexi-sex discs remain a curio from the past – though have now moved from being hardcore filth to kitsch nostalgia, gathered together by Jonny Trunk on a compilation LP that quickly sold out and received glowing reviews from the sort of newspapers that would frown on modern porn. You can still buy the MP3 version.


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