There’s a boundless bank of hackneyed paraphernalia a curator might insert into a museum about sex – a video loop of Linda Lovelace performing oral sex in 1972's Deep Throat or a replica of titular pornstar Jenna Jameson’s bottom half made from patented Real-Feel SuperSkin, for example. This opportunity is surpassed only by the number of ways sex can be reduced to a chortle-chortle cheap shot – a gargantuan breast-shaped jumping castle, for example. The Museum of Sex houses all of this.
Luckily, there’s also a worth of historical and political artefacts a sex museum might exhibit – an 1855 New York City Brothel Guide, nineteenth century photographs depicting fetishised interracial sex and cumbersome seeming twentieth century sex toys fit for a hardware store are three such avenues. Swish all of the above together and you have the beginnings of Mosex.
In navigating away from resounding gripes about the $20 entry price (rivalling that of the Guggenheim) culminating in a most mediocre TripAdvisor score of 2.5 out of 5 (of 791 reviews), I give you four worthwhile perspectives of this museum.
Night Fever by Bill Bernstein
In capturing the unbridled hedonism of disco clubs in the late 70s, the pundit of portraiture seduces future generations of voyeurs into a deeply free world. A radical world of social and multicultural fluidity. This 40-image assemblage is set in the mezzanine level – accessorised by disco balls and a cocktail bar – and is free to the public.
Hardcore: a century and a half of obscene imagery
Tell somebody they can’t do a thing, and they become very hungry for that thing. Indeed, that’s how sexual repression actualised for our petticoat and full skirt-wearing ancestors of the nineteenth century. In the era of candlesticks and broomsticks moonlighting as insertables, there were also DIY sexpapers:
The museum’s website aptly explains, “despite repeated attempts to censor, sequester or ‘sanitise’ this sexual past, artefacts left from previous generations prove our ancestors were not as asexual as an expurgated version of history would like us to believe.” The fruits of this section were many and varied. Note well this hand-drawn guide instructing how to best suck your “sweetheart’s cunt”.
Known/Unknown: Private Obsession and Hidden Desire in Outsider Art
Solitude and marginalisation are uniting themes of this section, unfurling 100 little seen works by lesser known artists who often operated socially deficient lives. Some are self-taught, not products of the art-history milieu from which their contemporaries rose. Others are institutionalised mental patients or illiterate artists such as African-American Thornton Dial (below) who cultivated his childlike, eerie style from the 90s to early 2000s, beginning at age 55.
Here resides your buzz buzz buffet! Tables and tables of innovative playthings (including styles from our nearest and dearest, LELO), sensual and sexual photography books and a cornucopia of fetish items like leather whips (or if those are too meek, leather floggers), nipple clamps, svelte blindfolds and more.
This space is also accessible without a ticket – so if you seek a more direct, bottled at the source breed of pleasure, you can always buy a special toy with the money you’d have used on entry.