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Jacqueline Gold’s proudly smutty Ann Summers changed the UK high street

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W hen Jacqueline Gold arrived to shake up Ann Summers, the company had already been in the family for a decade, bought by her father, David, and uncle Ralph Gold.

They had made the initial leap from sex shop to what they styled as a “lingerie boutique”; it would be more accurate to say they took it from a shop women never went into to a shop women did go into, while still selling the same sex toys and lucky knickers.The impact of Jacqueline Gold, who has died aged 62, went far beyond the shops themselves or even the operation.

The irony is that British culture in the 80s was hardly a stranger to images of women in their underwear, but these images were pretty well always used to sell random things to men.

The notion of erotic imagery and shop frontage aimed at women was quite novel, and freighted with innuendo – this is one sense in which I can just about allow that Britain is exceptional, the peculiar humour it derives from sex: that Carry-On, seaside postcard, slightly mirthless and dutiful performance, where anyone revealing a sexual identity is considered to make themselves ridiculous, becoming the butt of some inexpressible joke.

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