This may be a post which parents/grandparents/older family members/young family members and very conservative people should probably skip if a] they are easily offended or b] they wish to continue believing that their daughter/grand-daughter/sister/niece/cousin etc is the epitome of innocence and so forth. You have been warned!
So, I decided that after all the rather depressing museums that I’d visited in the past two months it was time for a change; something new. OK, so I decided this twice – once in Berlin, and again in Prague. I decided to visit some more unusual museums. Museums dedicated to sex and erotica in a number of its many forms.
The first museum I visited was the Beate Uhse Erotik Museum in Berlin. Beate Uhse was a stunt pilot, entrepreneur and WOMAN who opened what was apparently the world’s first sex shop. And she made MILLIONS – if anyone could possibly be surprised by that. She also liked to collect erotica from around the world, and the museum houses a rather large collection of eighteenth century Japanese pornography, tribal phallic artefacts, French erotic illustrations and more. It’s unbelievable tasteful and really quite impressive. There’s also a fascinating collection of Eastern medicines that are supposed to improve sexual performance – with English information on the performance of the potions and remedies themselves. Strangely enough, eating the penises and testicles of just about any animal in existence doesn’t actually do a whole lot of good.
It was quite impressive, the variety of artefacts that the museum has acquired from around the world. They have penis ‘cases’ made of wood and leather and everything you can imagine that were apparently worn by certain tribes not so much for protection as intimidation [some were frighteningly large]; they have Victorian pictures that were hung on walls, but the painting on the front hides a pornographic picture behind it; boxes elaborately carved with couples in numerous positions, sculptures of copulating couples [and groups] around the world; vases painted with scenes of orgies. It was incredible. The Japanese porn lithographs and sketches were quite entertaining, and it seems that a ridiculous exaggeration of penis size in porn isn’t something new – but then that becomes even more obvious when you see the sculptures of the Roman god Priapus, who possesses an appendage significantly larger than his body.
It was certainly an entertaining couple of hours, exploring the museum. The ground floor is a sex shop, and when I exited and ended up there I was surprised to see it absolutely packed with local women, holding up latex dominatrix outfits to see if they would fit and intently perusing the expansive selection of vibrators and other toys. I guess German women are pretty open about these things – especially when you consider that the entire front of the store is open and on a busy main street, not like in Australia where everything is underground. You don’t often see colourful displays of sex toys and other paraphernalia out there in the open back home.
Given that I’d enjoyed the Erotik Museum in Berlin, when someone told me that there was a similar museum in Prague I figured it would be another interesting afternoon. The museum in Prague, however is the Sex Machines Museum and so was a little different and really quite educational in a rather eye-opening manner – you guessed it, it’s full of machines designed for sex.
The ground floor of the Sex Machines Museum holds a small theatre, where they show two Spanish porn films from the mid-1920s. To make it more interesting, apparently the movies were made by the King and feature his friends – as well as a few prostitutes who they picked up off the street. The films were both silent and had classical background music – I guess that wasn’t such an odd choice at the time…
I learned a couple of things watching these movies. Yes, I sat there and watched them both. They’re only about half an hour long each. The first thing that I learned is that storylines haven’t changed a whole lot in 85 years. [One movie was about a very bad priest, who would only take confession from the women of the congregation after he’d had his way with them. The other was about a doctor whose wife took revenge on him for his philandering with his female patients by sleeping with the maid, the butler, a few other people and participating in a couple of threesomes.] The second was that the terrible porn-moustache isn’t a new phenomenon. They were hilarious. There were about fifteen people in the theatre [it’s part of the museum only] and no one could avoid laughing.
The museum had a collection of Victorian corsets and a variety of period undergarments worn to prevent any skin contact while the wife was closing her eyes and thinking of England. They had a crazy collection of 19th century crank-operated vibrators that looked like half an egg beater [not the beaters part!] as well as videos on a bunch of random and somewhat creepy fetishes and a piercing display complete with models. What was really a surprise and a bit of a shock was the top floor, which contains a large number of bondage and sadomasochistic contraptions. It had everything from sex swings to specially equipped see-saws to latex gimp suits to whips to gas masks to a whole bunch of stuff designed to restrain a person in a very uncomfortable position.
The Sex Machines Museum may not have been the tasteful collection of artefacts that the Erotik Museum was, but it was without doubt entertaining and educational. It was a little overpriced, being the most expensive museum in the city, but it’s still worth visiting – if only for a change from holocaust and communist occupation museums and for a laugh!