Museum of Sex

After 11 years of married life, my wife and I thought we would add some zing to the marriage.

Not for us the more adventurous forms of New York excitement such as lap-dances, night clubs or flashing.

We needed something a little more sedate than a lap-dance but a bit more stimulating than a Starbucks latte.

So, off we headed to the Museum of Sex at 233 5th Ave, (at the intersection of 5th Avenue & 27th Street) New York, NY 10016 the other day .

After picking up a coupon for $3 at the front door, we entered the sanctum sanctorum via the public entrance on 27th Street after coughing up $23.00 for two tickets.

Our first stop in this priapic journey was at the "Peeping, Probing and Porn" section.

The Peeping section is what it claims to be. You peep into square holes at prints that showcase four centuries of graphic sex in Japan in a very dimly-lit room.

We guess the lighting, or lack of it, is meant to create the right ambience in a museum that focuses, after all, on Sex. Comprising mostly of the Edo period (1603-1868), the exhibits in this section are of small prints.

Several of the prints are quite explicit and depict images of couples performing various calisthenic exercises, mostly of the horizontal kind.

Some of the prints have supposedly become world famous. Alas, to our untrained eyes none of the sexual imagery appeared greatly stimulating or divinely artistic. Far from being turned on or impressed, we were bored.

A little disappointed with what we considered as the effete offerings in the Japanese section, we eagerly mounted the stairs for the next section - Stags, Smokers and Blue Movies: The Origins of American Pornographic Film.

Easily the most stimulating part of our visit, this floor chronicles the evolution of the sex film industry in America from the early part of the last century.

As expected, many of the early movies and photos are in Black & White accompanied by ribald sounds of patrons enjoying the show, presumably at stag parties where the porn films were usually shown in those days.

The well laid-out exhibits on this floor combine artistry and sex in a manner that is both aesthetic and arousing.

The next floor has a bunch of permanent exhibits including chairs fitted with contraptions that you wouldn't see at the La-Z-Boy furniture outlet.

The Permanent Collection centers around eight themes: sex education; mapping sex in America; sex in art; law and public morality; sex in advertising; sex and technology; sex and entertainment; and the significance of the Museum of Sex in the Big Apple.

America's changing attitudes about sex and sexuality over the last 250 years is supposedly reflected in the Permanent Collection.

This section has also has a bust of former First Lady Hillary Clinton. As to what the Hillary bust has to offer beyond its obvious publicity value, we failed to understand.

All in all, our visit to the Museum of Sex was interesting but not as titilliating as we'd hoped for.
Our overall impression is that the Museum of Sex is neither high art nor low trash but one of those interesting features that makes New York a fun city to visit.

Whether it's money well spent depends on the visitor's taste and needs. If you are looking for 100% titilliation, you probably need a lap-dance or an escort service.

But as we walked down the stairs, one thought hit us.

In a high-speed Internet age with access to a pornucopia just a click away, is there a market for something like the Museum of Sex?

During the hour or so that we spent ogling at the exhibits, there were perhaps two dozen others. Given 5th Avenue rents, we are not sure if the museum is getting enough buck for its bang. But then, our visit was on a Tuesday.

Maybe, the place is filled with gasping visitors on weekends. Who knows?

As we walked down the stairs, our curiousity got the better of us and we ended up in the museum store. Besides the usual sexual paraphernelia, the little nook is filled with Kamasutra books and the like.

In all, our priapic adventure had taken us about 75 minutes. We slowly walked down a block to the nearest Starbucks on 5th Avenue and ordered a tall latte. Now, we needed something invigorating but less stimulating. - ©