They Still Use The Word Totty? Or: What Happened When We Sent A Man Undercover at The Babestation Awards

"Several questions remained unanswered. Just what categories would a Babestation award ceremony have? Most Cunningly Concealed Labia? Highest JPM (jiggles per minute)? Best Fondling Of Imaginary Testicles?"
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Christopher Hooton
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"Several questions remained unanswered. Just what categories would a Babestation award ceremony have? Most Cunningly Concealed Labia? Highest JPM (jiggles per minute)? Best Fondling Of Imaginary Testicles?"

I recently received an email inviting me to the Babestation 10th Anniversary Award Ceremony. I write about TV for a living, so unless I recently went through a fugue state in which I wrote exclusively about diamante thongs, Rustlers microwave burgers and crippling late night loneliness for a fortnight, I can only assume this was sent by accident.

For anyone who hasn't accidentally pressed down instead of up on the remote from BBC One late at night, Babestation is the forefather of a handful of softcore adult channels on which 90% naked girls lying on sofas in an unevenly lit studio gyrate ceaselessly in the hope that half-cut viewers will call in for a sexy chat at a rate of something like the GDP of Canada.

I closed the boob-laden, pink-fonted, thoroughly NSFW invite, but several questions remained unanswered. Just what categories would a Babestation award ceremony have? Most Cunningly Concealed Labia? Highest JPM (jiggles per minute)? Best Fondling Of Imaginary Testicles?

What would the award be, a golden doner kebab? A mural depicting the decline of Western civilisation? And, chiefly, is there any evidence to support the invite's claim that the station offers 'high standards and innovative concepts'?

I decided to just bloody go, partly out of morbid intrigue, partly because canapes are free and really liven up my diet of pasta-based ready meals.

Given Babestation's target audience you'd have thought boxers and half a can of warm Stella would suffice for the dress code, but it soon became clear upon arrival at Mayfair glamour dungeon Aura that it was a black-tie affair.

I'd hideously misjudged the dress code at the Babestation Awards

I'd hideously misjudged the dress code at the Babestation Awards

Wearing denim and ignoring looks from greying, tuxedoed man at the door who asked 'who invited the homeless cowboy?' I sorry-ed my way to the bar.

The Babes hadn't arrived yet, so the name of the game seemed to be to get steaming drunk on free cocktails and text the wife saying that you're chained to the office for at least a couple more hours.

I got talking to an event sponsor and former banker who had serendipitously decided to move into the sex toy business at the same time as the release of mother-moistening erotic novel, Fifty Shades Of Grey and had done really rather well out of it.

The scale of the nation's spending on sex milieu was staggering ('I've got literally warehouses of the stuff') and the temptation to make lame jokes about 'rapid growth' was huge.

Not to be side-tracked I excused myself and set about finding those actually pulling the (g) strings at Babestation TV, in order to get a picture of their employees' working day.

This came moments later in the form of a cheery young producer with an I-film-tits-for-dollar smirk who was only too happy to talk numbers. 'The girls typically work 11 or 12 shifts a month' he told me. 'The base rate is usually £150 a night, but this can be substantially higher if they perform well.'

I suppose I had expected a larger figure, if simply down to the level of stamina required to simulate being bummed by Zeus himself whilst waving a phone encouragingly for four hours.

I started to hear an unsettling story about a viewer competition winner being invited down to their Great Portland Street studios, unnerving some of the girls who feared that he would be some kind of deranged stalker brandishing his penis threateningly, when the Babes started to file in, acrid perfume hanging thick in the air, which signalled that the awards ceremony was about to get underway.

Opening with a wince-inducing 'if only Jimmy Savile were around to see this' joke we were off to a flyer. Our host Jo then took to the stage, whose billing as part of the Babestation management team was wounded somewhat by the helpful cry of a Babe behind me: 'I remember when Jo used to get her tits out!'

As for the awards themselves, no, Outstanding Contribution to Objectification didn't make the list, which was actually of the more traditional variety - Best Newcomer, Best Producer, etc.

Best TV Moment looked back wistfully at that time one of the girls threw up live on-air and that treasured episode when another stumbled mid-gyration and knocked out a lighting rig.

Many of the award winners couldn't be with us to pick up their prizes, presumably preferring to keep their lucrative evening job somewhat anonymous or else indisposed on important sexy floundering business elsewhere.

The ceremony gave way to the generally-mill-about section of the night and the booze fully got its claws into the guests. Skirts were lifted for the cameras and crotches displayed like the spoils of a good day's hunt, boobs were powdered, ice was stirred by directionless men in the corners, flesh was pressed and the press were fleshed.

More than anything, it was the sheer ferocity of the tans that took me aback... 

More than anything, it was the sheer ferocity of the tans that took me aback... 

I decided to catch-up with one of the award winners glowing a deep ochre near the stage. "Does face-fucking thin air for a living harm your relationship with sex?" wasn't the most disarming opener. I was reassured to find that for this performer it hadn't: 

"Not at all, if anything I feel more sexual and turned on after work. For some men you meet it's a problem and they, like, find it a bit awkward, but not everybody. I've got a boyfriend and he's fine with it."

And what of porn? Is Babestation a slippery slope into more hardcore work?

"I would never ever go into it. I mean there are a couple of girls who will go into that side of things, but the money's alright enough that you don't really need to. It's not a long term thing [Babestation] just something you do briefly before getting out."

In these cash-strapped times of high youth unemployment it's easy to see how lucrative four hour shifts spent mostly recumbent would be appealing on a short-term basis, but I took this with a pinch of salt given that earlier we'd seen a Babe Of The Decade award dished out.

So what did I learn from my night with TV's oft-ignored underbelly? Well, that at least in comparison to internet porn, that tumescent elephant in the room, Babestation does maintain its purported 'high standards'. It won't contravene strict regulators' rules on things like how often one can gesticulate at one's crotch like it's a severe cold front coming in from the south.

The station's prosperity is proof of its 'innovative concepts' too - it seems that the internet can not completely fill the hole (hur hur) of the more sensitive masturbator out there who's not just looking for remote, carnal, 2D clips but rather a sliver of interaction, familiarity and exclusivity.

Indeed, as the unsolicited, ignored tweets from customers asking the girls what they had for their lunch prove, in the interplay between performer and viewer it's the latter who comes across as the more dismaying. The solo male, gazing at his TV girlfriend and believing every moan is for him.

But whatever, the most remarkable finding was that the word 'totty' is still alive somewhere in 2012.

Christopher is tweeting, but never, ever using the word totty @ChristophHooton