Torquay sex club is facing hard times

-Credit:Frankie Mills
-Credit:Frankie Mills

A sex club in the centre of Torquay which boasts a fully-equipped dungeon and play rooms has been told by Torbay Council that it can keep on swinging.

Within Temptation in Temperance Street – on the site of a former pub that locals used to call the ‘Hope and Grope’ – has 200 members nationwide who come to enjoy its attractions.

Now the council has granted it an official Sex Entertainment Venue licence. Manager Lisa Harry told members of the council’s licensing committee she had received no complaints about the club since taking over as manager in March 2023.

“We’re just a friendly bunch and we’re trying to keep it like that,” she said. And when asked about security, she joked that she kept a large rubber sex toy behind the bar which she called her ‘cosh’, but had never had to use it.

But she also revealed that the club was facing hard times. “We are on the edge,” she said. “We don’t take very much money. I’m trying my hardest to keep it going. We’re paying £1,000 a month just on gas – it’s horrendous.”

The club has no paid staff, with just four people who work there for free. “We take enough to cover the bills and not much more,” she told councillors.

Within Temptation
-Credit:Frankie Mills

The club opened in July 2021 in the former Hop and Grapes pub, with a website offering a variety of ‘themed’ nights. People from all over the country visit, many attracted by the club’s friendly and non-judgemental atmosphere, said Mrs Harry.

“If people have got attitude I won’t have them here,” she said. “It’s a family-run business. We don’t want people coming in and thinking it’s a brothel. It’s not. We run it for like-minded people who enjoy that side of life.”

There were no objections from the council’s community safety officers, but Peter Hughes, who runs a language school in nearby Abbey Road, said he was unhappy at having the sex club close to a teaching centre for young children. He also said the rear of the club was overgrown and looked a ‘disaster’.

It was pointed out that Within Temptation does not open until 8pm, three hours after the language school closed, and Mrs Harry said she would tidy the place up.

A report to the committee said that Within Temptation operates in a similar manner to the Steamer Quay club in Rock Road, and has been operating as an unlicensed venue since it opened.

The council has a self-imposed limit of two Sexual Entertainment Venue licenses within Torbay, and those are currently held by Steamer Quay and Stage Door, on the Strand.

However, the report said: “Within Temptation should be licensed as it is in the public interest to ensure that the premises meet an appropriate standard in respect of public safety.”

The licence will have to be renewed annually, and there are stringent conditions, all of which Mrs Harry said the club would be happy to comply with.

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