While most kids my age choose to go to Cabo San Lucas or Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, I chose to go to the Big Apple for spring break a couple weeks ago. Being the museum addict that I am, I of course made sure to take a trip to the famed Museum of Sex. There, armed with my multifunctional iPhone, I strolled, browsed, read, watched, noted and photographed everything within the museum’s many rooms — even at the risk of appearing strange to the other visitors.
First, my let me point out the slightly odd and confusing entrance of the museum. While I’m usually accustomed to entering through a large or at least clear entrance and finding the museum’s store somewhere within or attached to the side, this one’s entry is through the store. Essentially, a visitor would enter a sex-themed store, walk down to the register in the back, purchase tickets there and enter the actual museum through a door in the back corner. I suppose since it’s an unconventional museum anyway, an unconventional setup is allowed.
The first room, appropriately, gives an overview of the history of nudity and sex on film (half of it is dedicated to porn), as well as a section about taboos and censorship in movies. While it was not a very complex setup — backlit panels with written summaries accompanied by video clips on screens — it did supply me with a decent amount of information and an impression of the topic. One panel was actually quite intriguing, as it showcased “Beautiful Agony,” a site dedicated to video clips of the post-climax. I should also mention that while I was getting informed about sex on film, Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” was filling up the store — how ironic.
The next room, on the floor above, contained the so-labeled permanent collection, which consisted of a medley of items including an anti-masturbation device, a Keith Haring painting, BDSM toys and both male and female life-size dolls (very Lars and the Real Girl). While not earth-shattering, I definitely enjoyed the eclectic collection assembled there. Much of the items were unusual and historical, and though I had seen or read about many of them, there were still some interesting surprises.
One floor up, I walked into an entire gallery dedicated to sex in the animal realm. In all honesty, it was not very thrilling and shocking in the way that one would expect from such an “unusual” and novel museum, but it was educational nonetheless. I should say that the section depicting various “gestures” used by bonobos in courting and mating situation was definitely my favorite — bonobos are such fascinating creatures! And the large statue of humping pandas also elicited a smirk.
The second-to-last floor (almost done!) is home to the “F*ck Art” collection, an ensemble of sex-themed pop art pieces. Among my favorites were a sketch containing a quote from The Bloodhound Gang’s “The Bad Touch” and a bright, Keith Haring-like painting on wood. While it may be a well-curated collection, I think that the fact that I had gone to MoMA earlier that day made me not as impressed or enthused by this collection as a whole. It was colorful nonetheless.
The final gallery is probably the most relevant to my generation — an overview and exploration of sex in the digital age. One of the first topics is the so-called “Rule 34,” of which I had never heard, yet was not surprised one bit. The rule? That “if you can imagine it, it exists as internet porn.” I bet many of you have already tested and proven that rule for yourself. A huge backlit mosaic showing off the top Internet searches (related to sex) takes up an entire wall. The rest of the room spotlights some of these sexual interests, providing discussion, findings and hypotheses about people’s interest in each. One particularly interesting panel addressed cellphones’ impact on our sexual culture, and featured Blackberry phones with hand-painted, photograph-like images on their screens.
Once my visit concluded, I emerged once again into the museum’s store, ready to find myself a souvenir or two — how could I leave without buying something!? While the store had quite the assortment of sex-related items, from sleek toys to books, stationery and even candy undergarments. I, of course, walked out with some fancy French condoms and a small tube of silicon lube — weird or not, I actually like trying out different brands in the quest of finding the best ones out there.
Although scheduling prevented me from stopping by, the museum also has a bar on its lower lever, as well as a variety of events several times a month — some of them led by the great Ducky DooLittle, bedroom technique expert.
So next time you’re taking a little trip to the Big Apple and are looking for something slightly overpriced yet still a little saucy and unusual, make sure to put the Museum of Sex on your itinerary. At the very least, you’ll come out of it with some fancy shmancy French condoms.