Sorry, Mom. You might not want to read this. And this is definitely not one for the kids. I’ll put the photos in a gallery at the end, so you don’t get any sudden surprises.
I read in the Paris Tourism Office’s guide that Paris has a Museum of Eroticism. I find some erotic art to be amusing and beautiful. And I also think it seems like such a Paris thing to have a museum like this. So I put it on my list as a lark and head out.
I decide to do this museum earlier in the day since it’s in Montmartre and god knows what creep might follow me around in there if it’s at night. The museum is open until 2 am, btw. I figure it shouldn’t be too bad to get to; on the map, it looks to be about one block from the Metro.
I get off the Metro at Blanche. First thing I see is the Moulin Rouge. You can’t miss it. It’s really REALLY red. I scan the area and quickly spot the Musée de Erotisme. It’s less than a block.
Despite this, I still have to walk past a sex supplies store and a peep show place to get there. This is something I never do in Detroit. I glance sideways to see what the deal is with the peep show place. There are a lot of individual curtains, and it looks pretty mysterious. I’m assuming there was a girl behind each one. There’s a guy standing in front, presumably to shoo some customers in. But nothing appears to be going on. The area is really seedy. Not particularly scary or crowded, just smarmy.
I get into the museum. It’s seven floors, surprisingly. I try not to touch the hand rails or anything. Just seems prudent here. If something falls out of my purse onto the floor, I decide it will just be a sacrifice left on the altar of porn. I am not touching anything that’s been on that floor.
The clientele is different than I thought it would be. Several younger couples and two guys looking for some laughs. And a 55ish dude with a DSLR. That, I expected.
I should say that I’m kind of porn-immune. I don’t find porn to be sexy. I usually find it to be funny. And I’m not a prude, nor easy to shock. I’m also not a crazy voyeur. Sexual positions are rarely elegant. In fact, sex just looks awkward unless you’re the one doing it. So this museum is just another interesting folly into Paris for me.
I can’t discern much of a flow to this museum. They sort of lump various things that were alike together, but not in any coherent or progressive way. I only end up taking photos of stuff that I find to be unusual for their cultural statements, their utter hilarity or their beauty. I find the ones tweaking religion to be pretty funny. Evidently some illustrators had some fantasies about nuns, LMAO. There’s a very beautiful nude painting hanging on one of the walls. Also some lovely Asian and Indian art. But after you’ve seen a few kama sutra-type illustrations, they all start to run together.
There are also many, many collections of more primitive objects. Many associations between sex and the devil. And an utterly hilarious penis sandal, which just makes me laugh. Is there no item too insignificant for guys to craft in homage to their manhood?
On the third floor, there are some amazing vintage photos of prostitutes. At first, I admire the artistry of the photographers. But then I become intrigued by the women in the photos themselves. I wonder about their lives. I wonder how they felt about being prostitutes; it was a completely different time, perhaps it wasn’t as stigmatized as it is now in the U.S. And I admire how buff they were. There are framed photos of some of the tabs at brothels. Can’t wait to take the Google translator to those.
This floor also has a film running with old, vintage porno clips that look to be from about the 1920s or 30s. Sort of a “greatest hits” of all sex acts. When I head up to the 4th floor, I notice that DSLR Guy is sitting there watching the flick. As I stare at his expressionless face, I suddenly realize he’s running his camera and videoing the entire tape. Eeeww. Onward and upward.
The top few floors are displays of current erotic artists and photographers whose work is for sale. Most of the work is really very good. I skip the golden-showers-type exhibit. I’m not offended by it, it just doesn’t interest me. But the other photos, paintings and illustrations, I admire. Not what I was expecting. Cartoons. Pop art. Artful, Mapplethorpe-type photos.
Finished with the upper levels, I trudge back to the ground floor. As I pass the third floor again, I notice DSLR Guy is still sitting there alone watching the porn clips. One can only imagine what he did when there was nobody in the room. Double-eewww.
I see a sign about an exhibit in the basement. I can’t translate the sign, but I head down. This floor winds up being devoted to gay sex and S&M. Once again, great artistic photos. The contraptions are kind of scary and violent, though. An interactive display where you give an image of a woman an electric shock and she moans. An elaborate pedaling machine that blows my mind. And another display that I cannot for the life of me figure out how it was used. No English translations here and no guides in the rooms. Not like I was going to ask anybody, not even if they did speak English.
As someone who’s recently taken some photography classes, I enjoyed the art photos and history of eroticism as it relates to women more than anything else. If you’re thinking you might learn some positions or techniques, you won’t, btw. Standard stuff. The classics, if you will, ha!
I exit through the gift shop, which sells souvenir condoms, as you might expect. All in all, I wouldn’t put this museum high on my list. Personally, I thought the Chocolate Museum was way sexier.