Happy Birthday Fannying Around! Yes, Thursday night was the big one year birthday bash in London at Sh! Erotic Women’s Emporium, Hoxton. Fannying Around is the brainchild of the vivacious and multi-talented Sarah Berry. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Fannying Around is her heartchild. Certainly no one could ever doubt that for Sarah, Fannying Around was a labour of love. This quote from Sarah on the official Fannies Rule website explains how Fannying Around came to be the talk of the town in London.
I first came up with the idea for the group when I was a teenager. I couldn’t have sex, I didn’t know why but I dreamed of a place I could talk freely about my problem. Every time I tried to insert anything into my fanny be it a finger, tampon, cock or courgette, I started to panic. I couldn’t tell anyone and suffering in silence led to clinical depression.When I was 21, my then boyfriend marched me to the Family Planning Clinic. Not long after I got diagnosed with vaginismus. This is a condition where the brain tells the pelvic muscles to contract when anything is inserted.
Over the next decade, with a lot of therapy, vodka, prescription drugs, all sorts of encounters – both shameful and respectful – my fanny began to open and I was finally able to discuss it with others.Turns out ladies have a lot to say about their fannies and as soon as people started sharing all that was normal to them, I realised how individual they all are. They are mysterious, stubborn, on fire, loose, exciting, hairy, sexy, stubbly, oozing, bloody, wet, dry, lippy, asymmetrical, fabulous and more.
Thursday night, Sarah, dressed in sparkles and a top hat, and surrounded by myriad fanniers led the celebration of a whole year of women filling the Sh! basement to nearly bursting to talk about their fannies, make new friends, and celebrate being women.
I felt especially happy to be a part of the celebration, as I was one of the original fanniers who nearly overflowed the basement at Sh!, Portobello on a cold December night a year ago. I remember that night we all introduced ourselves by saying, ‘My name is … And my fanny is…’ The introduction was optional, and no one had to say anything if they weren’t comfortable. ‘My name is… And my fanny is…’ has become the traditional opening ice breaker for every Fannying Around meeting since, an icebreaker that has sparked a good many fascinating conversations. That first night discussion was lively, raunchy, frank, sometimes funny, often poignant, and in the year since, that has continued to be the case at the Fannying Around meetings.
That first night, the lovely manager of Sh!, Renee Denyer, brought out Rosy, the fanny puppet for a little fannatomy lesson. Since that first meeting, there have been tantric teachers, there have been midwives, there have been porn stars, there have been poets and therapists and performers and writers and fabulous women, so many fabulous women, women who I’m now happy to call my friends. And there is now a website, there have been field trips and a casting party and Private Pictures and Muffember and interviews and … Well the list goes on!
Thursday night was a celebration of all things fanny, complete with a special fannytail created by the London Cocktail Society especially for the event, mixed and served up with a smile by the lovely Katie. There were yummy, beautiful c*nt cakes made by the scrumptious Rubyyy Jones. After all, it was a birthday party. And what’s a birthday party without cake? And for this special occasion, and for the first time ever, men were invited to Fanny Club to help celebrate everything fanny. I did notice they all seemed to be having a great time.
The evening was celebrated in poetry performed by the fabulous Annie Player, the sultry Cathy Flower, and Fannying Around’s very own poet in residence, Mel Jones. I felt extremely honoured to have been asked to read from my very fanny-centric story, Muscle Bound. I think most people would agree that outrageously funny comedienne, Janice Phayre, stole the show when she donned her knitted fanny costume and enticed the audience into a chorus of the old Carpenter’s song, Close to You.
As always the lovely Sh! Ladiez host the very best parties. For the past year Sh! has provided a warm, welcoming place for Fannying Around to meet, and I know I speak for everyone when I say how much fun it is just to be there. There was plenty of time to shop and browse and chat and reminisce with other fanniers about all that this year has brought and what we hope will happen before we all gather together next December to celebrate year two. All the while the beautiful Sarah Berry, in her top hat, sparkled. …And so did her dress.