SEX SELLS | Interview with Lucy Sparrow on Madame Roxy's Erotic Emporium




Super talented London artist Lucy Sparrow is putting the sex back into Soho, hitting back at the growing influence of Neo-puritans and stuffy prudes with her latest show: a sex shop created entirely out of felt.

Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium is filled with over 5,000 sex products! From penis enlargers, a working sex chair, condom dispensers, butt plugs, Playboys, lubricant, to even a fuzzy felt peep show! Sparrow has accessed all areas! Flexing her profound patience and skill as one of the most relevant and popular young British contemporary artists.

Her sold out, installation ‘Cornershop’ last year went completely viral. Gaining worldwide press and a queue of new fans! All of which eagerly snapped up Sparrow’s quirky felt creations, baring her painstakingly realistic signature for recreating household items such as baked beans, daily newspapers, ketchup bottles, and tins of spam.

But whilst Madame Roxy’s no doubt turns up the heat and maintains Sparrow’s tongue and cheek take on her work, the message goes far deeper than a bunch of naughty knits.

Having recently revealed her own background within the adult entertainment industry as a lap dancer; Lucy Sparrow aims to use Madame Roxy’s as a stinging comment of the hypocrisy of third-wave feminism. Challenge the rights of sex workers, fetishists and consumers of porn,  and address the ludicrous law which was passed last year in the UK banning woman from numerous forms of female pleasure in pornography including spanking, face sitting and female ejaculation.

Lucy does just that…in the way she know’s best! By creating an emporium of erotica, stich by stich. In the heart of Soho where the sex industry began, filling the shop with numerous items that we’re they not made of felt would otherwise be illegal.

I managed to sneak 5 minutes with Lucy to talk about the process putting Madame Roxy’s together, her favourite pieces from the show and what this project means to her….

Photo Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Last year’s Cornershop was a big hit! Where did you come up with the concept for the Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium? 
This was actually the show I wanted to do right from the start.  I worked as a lap dancer for 5 years after college and used that money to fund Cornershop.

Did you go around to a lot of the Soho shops to research what products to make? 
There was a huge amount of research that went into the creation of Madame Roxy’s – I spent time in Amsterdam, at the Erotic Trade Show and of course in the neighbouring shops in Soho.

As always you’ve tried to be as realistic and detailed as possible.  There’s felt condoms, penis enlargers, porn mags, even knitted wallpaper! There must have been some points when you thought…. “I never imagined I would be making this?!” What do you think was your most adventurous or most ‘out there’  item was that you made? 
Some of the felt subjects are pretty out there, at least in terms of the current legislation. Subjects like face-sitting, female ejaculation, spanking and caning have all been quietly censored since the changes in the law last October.

How many items did you make in total? How many hours would you say? 
It was five months work, working pretty much round the clock! There’s 5,000 products in total

Do you listen to music while your working?  What’s your process like? 
Yes  – lots of Rihanna, Katy Perry, Lana del Rey, Pulp, Portishead, Massive Attack and when in the mood, War of the Worlds. The process is unending.

Was there one product that was more tricky to make then the others? 
Felting Rob, the life-sized mannequin was a huge job.  Effectively felting a human, complete with gimp mask, strap-on and knee high boots!!

Do you have a favourite or one which you were more surprised with the outcome of? 
The individual felt condoms and their accompanying vending machine are a delight because I dont think anyone is expecting me to go into that much detail, but you put your £2 in the slot and get your condom. It’s been very popular.

What’s been your best seller? 
The Playboy mags are really popular. There all 1/1. So their super limited and exclusive. After that the sex aids, condoms and the S&M section.

In terms of dream locations to display this concept, you couldn’t ask for a better venue! I mean there’s even a tiny, secret, dingy cinema in the basement!!!
I know! My agents found it for me! Its great isn’t it! Actually the condoms have been so popular, that the other night I stayed late and made a little bed out of felt downstairs and watched movies in the cinema, while I made 86 condoms!

I’m also a former dancer. I only recently read that you were an exotic dancer. Do you miss it at all? What song do you love to dance too now for fun? Is there a particular one that you would love to do a routine too now if you were on stage again? 
Amazing. I do miss it. Shiny Toy Guns is my favourite to dance to. Routine wise now, probably some Lana del Rey.

Any hints as to what you might create next?
I’ve got itchy feet so I’m planning to take the felt overseas. Watch this space…

There’s only a couple days left for people to catch the show. Will there be a place collectors and those who missed out can still pick up a piece or two? …that is if there’s anything left!
Yes! Any left over pieces from the show will be available at

Madame Roxy’s Erotic Emporium
Open until October 18th
2 Green’s Court, Soho | W1F 0HB
No under 18s. 
More information

Words by Tracy Kawalik and Lucy Sparrow

Photos by Tracy Kawalik

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