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Sex: I get to try out all the new sex toys ..and I can have a big discount too; She had a strict religious upbringing and wasn't even allowed to mix with boys. So it's no wonder Gita Karki still hasn't told her parents about her job as a "Sexpert".

Byline: HILARY FREEMAN

YOU could say that Gita Karki is guaranteed job satisfaction. As an Ann Summers "Sexpert" she tells customers how to spice up their love lives and tests all the latest sex toys.

Gita, 22, from East London, is based at the company's flagship store in Oxford Street.

Here she reveals how, despite her strict upbringing, she loves her chosen career.

MY parents don't know I'm an Ann Summers Sexpert and earn my living by helping women choose sex toys.

I come from a traditional, strict Indian family. Ideally they'd like me to marry a nice Hindu boy - Mum keeps offering to introduce me to one - but there's little chance of that.

Growing up, I felt repressed. I wasn't allowed to go out after school and I couldn't mix with boys or wear miniskirts. Sex before marriage was a no-no.

When I left college at 19, I announced that I was leaving home so that I could finally be myself. There was lots of shouting and crying, but they didn't stop me. I think they thought I'd soon be back.

Desperate to prove I could look after myself and pay my way through university, I printed out 20 copies of my CV and headed for Oxford Street.

The first place I walked into was Ann Summers. I handed in my CV, then started playing with the goods and chatting to the customers.

The manager came over and offered me a job immediately. The other 19 CVs went straight in the bin.

THREE years ago, I was an ordinary sales consultant. But my bosses noticed that rather than just talking to customers about the products, I was helping them with their personal problems, too.

I made them feel comfortable, like a friend. Customers would ring up and ask to talk to Gita, their sex guru.

So, a year ago, I was given the unique role of Sexpert. If customers have queries, they're pointed in my direction.

To do my job you need product knowledge - and experience - good communication skills, the ability to listen and a friendly personality. You have to be willing to talk about your own sexual experiences, too.

To prepare, I did lots of research, not just about sex toys but also about human psychology and relationships. I talked to customers and read information on the internet.

People think sex toys are only bought for a laugh for hen nights or by perverts, but that's not true. Most women masturbate, whether they admit it or not. It shouldn't be taboo.

When prudish girls are dragged in by their friends they say things like, "Why would I need a vibrator, I have a boyfriend?" Underneath, they're usually just shy and nervous.

I start by showing them the lingerie. If I'm bubbly and open with them they see that sex toys are fun, not dirty.

Sex toys can help couples rekindle their passion, or if they're having sexual problems.

A couple came in last year and the woman admitted she'd gone off sex, but wouldn't say why. I recommended the Pulsatron, which can also be used as a massager. Two months later they came back and said the toy had worked - they were having sex again and closer than ever.

It turned out she'd had an abortion and felt unable to have sex for fear of getting pregnant again. Knowing the Pulsatron couldn't impregnate her gave her back her sexual confidence. I've also helped doctors to choose vibrators for their abused women patients. It's not unusual for a woman to buy a vibrator because she has been raped and wants a way to ease herself back into enjoying sex without having to face the trauma of a penis.

ONE girl felt she was too fat to have sex. By talking to her about the sex toys that she could use, I helped to boost her self-esteem and make her believe in herself as a sexy person.

We also get quite a few virgins in the store -- girls who want to acquaint themselves with the sensations before they have sex with a man.

We have starter vibrators for girls like that - unthreatening, non-phallic looking ones in sparkly, girlie pinks.

I was a virgin when I bought my first sex toy - a clitoral stimulator. I was 16 and actually too young to be in a sex shop, but nobody realised. When I got it home and tried it, I was hooked.

Now I go vibrator shopping every month. It's great. I get to try all the new models at Ann Summers first - and I get a discount.

My job makes me feel liberated, like a real woman, who is fully in control of her life and sexuality.

I still visit my parents, but we don't talk about my life. I'm not ashamed of what I do, but don't want to hurt or embarrass them.

My job would be considered taboo in the Hindu community. It's crazy, we're Indian, we invented the Kama Sutra - yet nobody will talk about sex.

I'm sick of hiding what I do. It's my life and I'm going to live it my way.

People assume I must be a slapper. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don't believe in casual sex. When I was single for a year, I coped because I had sex toys. I didn't have one-night stands with unsuitable people.

I had virtually no sex education at school. Most of it came from reading women's magazines when I was 14. At 15, I discovered the adult section in my local library. I found a copy of the Kama Sutra and spent hours poring over the pictures, trying to work out what was going on. It was very exciting, particularly as I realised the book came from my culture.

When I started masturbating I felt a bit dirty, but then I realised I wasn't doing anything wrong.

Lots of women sleep around because they want to feel loved. Usually, they end up feeling used. A vibrator can't love you either, but it helps you to love yourself and it won't hurt you.

One of my relationships broke up after nine months because my ex found my toys disgusting. Now I have a boyfriend, Murat, who is 26 and a club bouncer. I met him about six months ago. I'm lucky - he's like a male version of me. He loves watching me play with sex toys and we have great phone sex.

WE'RE into mild bondage with handcuffs, blindfolds and whips, but I'd never try anything unhygienic or severely painful. It's got to be pleasurable.

I also love doing role-plays. Dressing up as Catwoman or as a nurse really livens things up.

Sometimes Murat jokes, "You don't need me."

It's not true - a sex toy is no replacement for a partner. No man should feel threatened by a vibrator. At the end of the day women want emotion, love, support and cuddles. A vibrator can't give you a hug.

Like chocolate, you can have too much of a good thing with vibrators.

I know a woman whose boyfriend left her because she wouldn't have sex without vibrators. Sex should be good with and without them.

When I'm not at work I'm studying for a degree in graphic design. I'm in my final year and I hope to go into advertising, perhaps marketing sex toys as few people know much about them. I'm integrating my Ann Summers work into my final year project - I've designed a leaflet on sex, relationships and toys.

There is too much porn and not enough good information about sex out there.

And I want to change that.

mirrorfeatures@mgn.co.uk

Gita's top tips for buying sex aids

1 Think about what you want to achieve - is it for clitoral stimulation, or to locate your G-spot? Are you planning on using it alone, or with your partner?

2 Look for a sex toy made out of silicone or jelly fibre. These conduct vibrations right

to the tip of the sex toy and it's very difficult to hurt or damage yourself with one. Make sure it's not too soft and that it isn't hollow, because it won't be as effective.

3 Avoid metal or plastic sex toys, particularly if you're a beginner. They're good for clitoral stimulation but not for penetration, because they can cause internal damage.

4 Use a water-based lubricant to protect your body and the toy. Make sure it's not too thick or sticky and don't use oils - these can gather bacteria and lead to cystitis and other infections. Ann Summers sells Slide And Ride lubricant for use with a vibrator.

5 Always clean your sex toy thoroughly after use, with wipes designed for rubber products so the vibrator doesn't corrode. Avoid using spermicides with sex toys as these can erode rubber.

6 Don't buy a sex toy just because you've seen it on TV or read about it. Every woman is different and another product may be better for you. If in doubt, ask.

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LESSONS IN LOVE: Gita as a schoolgirl
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Title Annotation:Mirror Woman
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 22, 2004
Words:1516
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