Dr Jekyll

Is Canberra boring? Hell no – you just need to know where to look. It’s a city of two halves – as different as Mother Teresa and Amy Winehouse. But before I talk you through how I got stuck in a sex swing – the cultural stuff.

I rented a bike and circled Lake Burley Griffin on a Friday afternoon, taking in the subdued tone of the city, while stopping at some of Australia’s most famous attractions.

Canberra is home to some of the nation’s best galleries and museums, not to mention the astounding Australian Institute of Sport. Take a tour of it and you’ll be led around by a resident athlete who’ll give you a peek at the local champs in action.

I perved at some fit swimmers and I also saw the basketball team and a number of star gymnasts doing backflips. Now I can see why Aussies are so obsessed with their sport:
it’s infectious.

Another highlight was the Australian War Memorial. Perched poignantly at the end of Anzac Parade, military relics, dioramas, and videos tell how Australians have been affected by war, including Vietnam. Dimmed lights and the sound of bombers made the whole effect quite eerie.

Onwards to the National Gallery of Australia. This building features cavernous galleries stocked with Australian art, Aboriginal paintings and sculptures.

A particular favourite are Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly paintings (though many are now on display in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney).

Perched on the lake is the unmissable National Museum of Australia, an ultra-modern and architecturally splendid building. Unfortunately, I got lost among its massive displays, but then I stumbled across a revolving cinema and watched a great short film about what makes Australians who they are.

Back when Australia was a fledgling nation, Sydney and Melbourne were both squabbling about who was the biggest and bestest (ie. who should be the capital). However, neither would back down, so a purpose-built city, with the name Canberra (meaning “meeting place” in the local indigenous language), was born.

The Old Parliament House now serves as a political museum where you can learn about previous prime ministers and check out the old senate room, which still smells of leather and polished wood.

Step outside and you’ll be standing by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a stark and colourful reminder that Aboriginal people were living here thousands of years before a brick of Canberra was even laid. It’s arguably the most culturally significant stop on the museum trail.

Mr Hyde

We called it the “$5 panty remover fee”. Like clockwork, a stripper would strut salaciously on stage, whip off her top within three minutes and then look to the crowd for her first target. At this point, a bald George Costanza look-alike would wave a wrinkled note in the air.

For just five bucks, this ogling chubbo was granted a good four minutes of pantyless perving bliss. We’re talkin’ 360-degree scenic views. Perfect poontang poses. You get the idea.

But sure enough, she soon got bored of spreading her legs and looked to the rest of the crowd in search of a new punter.

I sat in the front row with my mates Gemma and Jeff, nervously slamming back G&Ts and avoiding eye contact with the dancers. This wasn’t my usual gig, y’see, but I’d heard about the seedy side of Canberra and simply had to check it out.

The night began with a drive down to Fyshwick, an area crawling with warehouse-sized sex shops and brothels. The main streets to check out are Wollongong Street and Molonglo Mall, but we headed straight for the Adam & Eve shop. Who’d be eating the forbidden fruit later? Owh, I say.

Marching into the gymnasium-sized building, dildos, lubes, XXL-sized panties and row upon row of porno magazines and videos lined the shelves. I hopped into a sex swing and latched my ankles into the stirrups to see… erm, how comfortable it was. Hmm… not too bad, as long as you don’t mind feeling like an insect caught in a web.

Scouring the shelves for a bargain toy for the TNT editor, I fingered (no pun intended) an issue of Plumpers – a magazine for those who like a little more flesh on their women. Enticing, but at $10, I decided to give it a miss.

Mission number two was to find a ‘Rampant Rabbit’ for, a… friend. Yes, she’d been telling me how great her multi-speed vibrator was and for some unknown reason, she wanted another. And another…

Seriously, though, there’s nothing like flittering around porn shops for a chuckle. After whipping Gemma into shape (yup, literally this time) and eyeing up the giant dildos protruding from glass shelves, we were all ready for the real thing. So we marched across the road to the brothel.

Kidding. Actually, it was onwards to the equally debauched streets of Mitchell, where strip clubs, more brothels and even more sex shops are the specialty.

The bright lights of Sinsations Nite Club on Grimwade St lured us in, costing a $10 entry fee. It was Jeff’s first time. The same couldn’t be said for myself, but it doesn’t matter how many times you see a naked chick strutting her stuff on stage, the feeling of being out of place never goes away.

“Would you like a go? Come on, you’ll have fun! That’s how I started,” said one stripper, bending her cleavage in my face.

“Uh, no… thanks,” was my broken reply, before choking back my tenth drink.