Make love not war could be Sam Roddick's very own maxim
PUBLISHED: 14:07 20 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:53 07 September 2010
Kinky handcuffs, political prisoners and a media industry obsessed with celebrity and sex are just some of the topics of conversation as Ham&High reporter Katie Davies meets Hampstead retailer Sam Roddick THE phrase, make love not war, has never been int
Kinky handcuffs, political prisoners and a media industry obsessed with celebrity and sex are just some of the topics of conversation as Ham&High reporter Katie Davies meets Hampstead retailer Sam Roddick
THE phrase, make love not war, has never been interpreted so literally as by Sam Roddick, the daughter of The Body Shop entrepreneur, the late Dame Anita Roddick.
The 37-year-old owner of sex shop Coco De Mer, purveyors of products from lingerie to spanking paddles and vibrators, is using her work for political ends.
Climate change, sex trafficking, the Iraq War and saving political prisoners from death row are all on the agenda of the Parliament Hill mother-of-one.
To her, there's nothing peculiar about combining sex with social justice. Products like her "None of Us are Free" wrist restraints and blindfolds planned for later this year will raise money for campaigns like the fight to close Guantanamo Bay. Last year she ran a campaign on climate change with the slogan, "Sex is Carbon Neutral."
"I'd love Coco de Mer to be more profitable - then all the cash would go back into the campaigns I'm working on," she enthuses.
"I prefer to convert people with seduction rather than fear. I want to say 'I'm having a lot of fun over here - do you want to join in?', rather than pointing fingers and judging. That's my ideal - I want it to be the coolest Oxfam in history."
Ms Roddick - the younger of Anita and Gordon Roddick's two daughters - emerged into the retail spotlight in 2001 with her Covent Garden "erotic emporium".
For a while the world's media rubbed their hands, but when the sensationalism of a famous daughter opening a sex shop went away, so did they.
That was until Anita tragically and very suddenly died of a brain tumour last year. Now the gaze has fixed once again on Sam, but this time as the heir of her mother's passionate activism rather than prodigal wild child.
It is, of course, an easy inheritance to map, not least because she looks so much like her mother - with a mane of curly hair and passionate, bordering on terrifying, zeal - but also because she's naturally taken up her mother's causes.
"Our interests have always been the same," she explains. "I have always worked in the activist field and we were always partners in crime."
One inherited project is the British Library, where Sam spoke on Monday for Mothers of Invention - an event inspiring female entrepreneurs.
Similarly just two weeks after her mother's death and with tremendous bravery, Sam pushed ahead with a sex trafficking protest she organised with her mother on the streets of London.
Many questioned how someone whose business is the sex industry can justifiably criticise the exploitation arising from it. Sam sees no inconsistency.
"If you're in charge of your sexuality no-one can exploit you in it," she said. "Coco de Mer is about creating an environment that is based on consent and understanding.
"What I want to do is challenge the sex industry by saying to people, 'Don't go that way, it's crap. Go this way, you'll get a hell of a lot more pleasure and be empowered.'
"The Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Jordan-type sexuality is coming from a damaged place and we have a responsibility not to drive our children down that route.
"School sex education is based on fear of STDs and pregnancy, not desire. Then on the other hand we've got the media selling everything they possibly can on sex, with desire becoming a cheap product.
"So kids grow up learning about sex from the media, rather than the people who could teach them to be in control of themselves, to be self-determined."
Curiously, though, her criticism of the sex industry and its treatment of women doesn't lead her to the point of banning exploitative activities like prostitution or pornography. Instead she says women must "reclaim" them.
"We can't criminalise the punter," she explains. "Prices should sting though, then you'll think twice about it"
The unconventional price hike solution is certainly at the extreme end of Roddick's beliefs and is one example of why she may be taken less seriously, or seen as more of a maverick.
Another example came last year when she and her friends decided to dance around traffic wardens in Hampstead to stop them giving out tickets.
The madcap routine was filmed and raised some eyebrows on YouTube - as well as bringing a threat of a legal action against her for harassment.
"We followed them singing 'wardens need love' - we stopped about 20 tickets," she explains in hysterics.
"Life should be about more than what we can squeeze out of everyone. That's why I haven't got 50 shops - I've got a message and that's more important than creating loads of wealth. I have created more dialogue in this industry and I'm happy for that."
Sam Roddick may sometimes come across as a nutty radical, but whatever the routine, she is getting people talking.
And although whips and masks may be a million miles away from White Musk, in her own way she is certainly following in her mother's footsteps.