August 10 – 12, 2019
On Saturday afternoon, after breakfast at the infamous and bougie Russ and Daughters, we headed to the Museum of Sex, an interesting choice but why not! It came up on the list of “Things to Do in NYC” and caught our attention, so we took an Uber on over to the museum which is in Midtown Manhattan on Fifth Avenue at 27th Street.
Tickets are usually $16.50, but we got an online $5 off discount code. They also have a student, senior, and military $3 discount with valid ID. Additional costs apply for their amusement games towards the end of the museum, though.
The Museum of Sex describes their mission as follows:
The Mission of the Museum of Sex is to preserve and present the history, evolution and cultural significance of human sexuality. The Museum produces exhibitions, publications and programs that bring the best of current scholarship to the widest possible audiences and is committed to encouraging public enlightenment, discourse and engagement.
The museum opened in 2002 and was the first of its kind in the world. Its first exhibition was NYC SEX: How New York Transformed Sex in America. Since, they’ve had over 30 exhibitions and 6 virtual installations all tied to their mission of open discussion around sexuality. They currently have over 200,000 artifacts, including “works of art, photography, clothing and costumes, technological inventions and historical ephemera” and a research library and multimedia library.
The museum also has a gift shop which includes some gag gifts, memorabilia, and a wide array of sex toys. The gift shop is off to the side, while the exhibits start with a staircase, and once you enter the first exhibit, you go through each one in order. You have to go through each one to be able to exit the museum. We stopped by the gift shop first because it was first on our left. People from the public are able to stop here without buying a ticket, and it has an additional street entrance. While there were plenty of people giggling and playing around (there were a few bachelorette parties going on, something the museum hosts frequently), there were some serious customers and some very helpful staff committed to guiding people in exploring their sexuality.
The main exhibition was Stag: The Illicit Origins of Pornographic Film. I have some videos of this, but it got removed from YouTube, so I’m sure it would also get removed here. I will include a few photos here that should meet community guidelines (hopefully?). So the Stag exhibition covers pornographic films from the early 1900s until the late 1960s, showing mostly short, black-and-white, anonymously produced films, which were referred to as “stags.”
“Stag parties” were screenings of the films and mostly attracted middle-class, heteronormative, white males. They would gather in legion halls, fraternities, or brothels and drink and watch the films together. The stag era is significant in highlighting cultural and social norms of the time, such as pornography being illegal for quite some time, homosexual depictions being illegal for even longer, male-pleasure focused films, and a degree of shame around sexuality.
The next exhibit we stopped by was Punk Lust: Raw Provocation 1971-1985 which looked at punk culture and the way it used language around sexuality to break through cultural, social, and gender norms of the time. I found this exhibit a little harder to follow and not quite as interesting as the Stag exhibit, but it certainly had some interesting artifacts.
Next, we went through Super Funland: Journey Into the Erotic Carnival. You start with a panorama movie and then into exhibitions around world fairs from pre-industrial Europe to the 20th century that were centered around sexuality.
Next, we walked by the Jump for Joy: Bouncy House of Breasts and through some of the amusement type games, which were very funny to watch people play. We didn’t participate in any of them, except one game which we were asked to test out before it went public. It was basically a reverse whack-a-mole where you grabbed, um, a phallic item in a “glory hole” type setting, and the person who could grab the most won. It felt very weird but was also a fun experience to just be open with the idea of it.
That pretty much finished up our adventure! This was a super interesting and unique experience. If you have time, check it out! Buy tickets here.
Next we headed out to grab dinner for my brother, Erik, before he headed out to a concert. After that, I headed to my hotel, the Wall Street Inn. Comparing Air BNBs and hotels and factoring in breakfast and transportation costs, it ended up being about the same cost for me to get a hotel room, so I went with that. I spent about two hours scrolling through Air BNBs and hotels, so I was pretty pumped when I finally had one narrowed down. The Wall Street Inn, as the name would suggest, is right in the heart of Wall Street, which is in Lower Manhattan. This worked well because it was close to the main places I was going (a few museums and then the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island). NYC is so big that it’s normal to spend a couple hours on the subway depending on where you are in what borough, so I was focused a little bit more on the location for the trip than I usually do.
This is basically exactly what my hotel room looked like. It was a bit outdated and dusty to be honest, but I would rate it 3.5/5. For the cost and the proximity to where I was going, it was worth it. I got settled into my hotel for the night and went to sleep pretty early. I had barely gotten any sleep the night before and had had an early flight, so I was out like a light!