Some people enjoy floating in meditation tanks, others find solace in crystals, some prefer yoga. I’d rather be surrounded by inflated boobs. I find the most peace hanging out in a blow-up jumpy house made entirely of boobs. To each her own, right? This is my love letter to the Museum of Sex, my favorite place in all of New York City and, quite possibly the world.
The Museum of Sex (MOS) sits right at the heart of New York’s Flatiron District, swanky Fifth Avenue. Surrounded by historic architecture, it stands out with it’s modern facade and enormous chrome sign that states its name unapologetically. People stop and stare. Tourists take photos. The bravest go inside. The front of the museum is a kitschy sex shop, full of everything one might imagine they’d find at a museum focused around sex. There are rows and rows of colorful dildos and vibrators, a corner dedicated to leather, and a neatly arranged book display that is home to everything from Blow Job Tips for Beginners to The Big Book of Butts (and as it were, The Little Book of Butts).
The store itself has a charm to it that is unlike any other souvenir shop; probably because it’s full of things that give people orgasms. The whole place is acutely aware of what it is and what it represents. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It doesn’t hide. The staff is woke, friendly, and totally comfortable within their surroundings. The museum exhibitions, like NSFW: Female Gaze, are everything you’d expect and nothing you’d expect.
"[The work is] honest... even broaches difficult relationships of sexuality," Lissa Rivera, Artist and Associate Curator at MoSex, tells Bustle. "Sexuality isn't always commercialized. We want the audience to be refreshed; some viewers, if they don't connect, they're forced to question and see in a world where sexual imagery isn't really made for them. Not everyone will like it, but they'll think about it deeper."
The museum is full of people looking to see interesting NYC things that don’t include Times Square, it’s a walk through the history of sexuality.
I suppose some would find the idea of a building strictly devoted to all things sex (whether it be porn, bondage, vanilla encounters, birth control etc.) to be pretty intimidating, but MOS takes all of that away. It makes it feel … well, normal.
One might not initially think that walls doused in black paint and display cases full of ancient dildos, harnesses, blow up dolls, and one of Hugh Hefner’s robes would be a place to find your zen, but surprisingly it's the most relaxing place I’ve ever been in NYC.
I personally enjoy my lack of cell service while in the museum. I’m sure this isn’t intentional, but it forces me to pay attention to everything I’m seeing. The stationary exhibits give me an odd sense of familiarity, as if I were home.
I remember being scared of the old-fashioned bike in the middle of one of the rooms, on it’s end a giant dildo. It’s sign encourages museum goers to “Ride Me.” When you push the pedals atop the bike, the dildo moved back and forth, a la Borat. It’s quite amazing to see the attitude around the bike change. Everyone is there to have fun. Everyone is there to enjoy themselves.
The air is full of sex-positivity. It’s a place people go to face the shame that surrounds attitudes towards sex in the country (and worldwide), even if they don’t know it.
That’s what makes the museum so relaxing. Everyone is there to have a good time. Everyone in the museum of sex is lighthearted and excited to be there. The air is full of sex-positivity. It’s a place people go to face the shame that surrounds attitudes towards sex in the country (and worldwide), even if they don’t know it. People love the taboo. We are so uncomfortable with sex. We can’t talk about it. We can’t tell anyone about what we’re doing behind closed doors. It’s all so hush-hush and private. It’s all so dirty and shameful.
It’s comforting to see a place like the Museum of Sex thrive, a place where people can be and exist, all while acknowledging the singular truth: Everyone has sex. Sex is a natural part of the world’s order. You can see it reflected in the animal sex exhibit. It states without any hint of remorse what we all know to be true in our hearts: that animals and people enjoy sex and pleasure.
The best place of all is the Boob Bounce. It brings back all of the carefree childhood feelings you had jumping in a bouncy house at birthday parties. It puts nipples and breasts right in your face, as if it's saying, “You know you love boobs and want to touch them, feel free!” It takes away the problematic sexualization of female breasts and infuses it with comfort and hilarity. The bouncy house is nothing if not funny and ridiculous. Not to mention, it’s a great workout and relieves anxiety through exercise induced endorphins. Just a bonus.
If you don’t put pressure on yourself during your visit, you’re sure to have a good time. It’s OK to giggle if you find something awkward or uncomfortable. You don’t have to pretend something you find shocking isn’t shocking. You don’t have to impress anyone.
I feel a renewed sense of where we’re headed in our attitudes about things that make us feel weird, things we’ve been socially conditioned to fear.
You should be yourself in the MOS. That is the overall message I walk away with every time I visit: I should always be authentic. I feel a renewed sense of where we’re headed in our attitudes about things that make us feel weird, things we’ve been socially conditioned to fear.
Sure, some people enjoy going to the spa and sitting through a meditation class. I choose The Museum of Sex as my therapy. It is a constant in my life that I can always depend on. It’s a place that I know I will find joy, and it’s somewhere I know I can always persuade a friend to go with me. I’ll see you there.