Animal Sex Lives and Videotape

When you think of the Flatiron District, its wholesale shopping, its long surpassed skyscrapers still reaching heavenward, rarely would you have had occasion to consider the morality of homosexual dolphins, the predatory instincts of bears, or to ponder the reproductive imperative of ants. But thanks to the Museum of Sex‘s latest exhibit “Sex Life of Animals” you may find yourself doing just that.

It begins innocently enough: slightly flirtatious manner, revealing clothing, subtle innuendo. In 15 minutes though we are in an orgy in Death Valley, fondling naked Realdolls, watching Looners erotically busting balloons, Gainers suggestively eat cake, engrossed in Robot reproduction, we are watching Pam and Tommy do, what we imagine Pam and Tommy do, in just another 5 minutes we are lost, like foreign tourists, asking directions on our own sexual road-map.

Our minds think back to simpler times. I was 16, she was 18, it was a cool summer’s night, we were in love. Flickering candlelight cast long foreboding shadows against the back wall as we undressed. Cruelly, ridiculously, she played Madonna’s greatest hits as we lay together, forever coupling my first time with “Like a Virgin.”

Such innocence has no place here, not the Museum of Sex, not in modern New York, when the Puritans set sail from Plymouth covered head-to-toe in frilly knickers, wide-brimmed hats and God’s honest truth, one imagines that this compendium of kink is exactly what they were fleeing.

Laid out across three floors, the MOS covers everything we wanted to know about sex but never knew to ask, Jungle Quest anyone? Film, photography, art, politics, disease, contraception, it flicks between erotic ‘how-to’s’ to parental ‘don’t-do’s’.

Ever wanted to be wrapped like a thanksgiving Turkey, apple in mouth, legs bound to your body, then stuffed in a mock oven? Maybe Cannibal play is for you. Ever wanted to dress up like a frontier pioneer and ride your mate like a Blackpool pony? Ponyplay, I’m just saying. Ever wanted to dress head-to-toe in latex like a living doll? Ok now that’s just strange. Ever wanted to dress up in leather gimp gear and have mock-doctors inject an obscene, leg-crossing quantity of fluid directly into your scrotum? Medical play is just a google away.

[Some images after the jump are mildly NSFW]

Of course day-trippers to the Flatiron district are unlikely prepared for what awaits them inside these erotic environs. Some are drawn by the bestial (“Sex Life of Animals”), others by cybernetics (“Sex Lives of Robots”), some are simply tempted by titillation, most though gravitate towards the “Action: Sex and the Moving Image” exhibition.

From the very beginning visitors are confused how to interact with the various displays. Is it a sex shop with videos, is it a museum with a sex shop, is this some sort of pornographic peepshow? The clean, uncluttered space, the annotated displays, the thorough chronology all point to Museum, but the seeming magnetism of the celebrity porn and attendant inter-visitor groping suggests the MOS defies simple categorization.

With all this in mind we make no shared eye contact with anything beyond the Stag Films, Sexploitation, Porn Chic or Paris Hilton’s continually bobbing head. We watch as film progresses with politics and proclivities through outright destruction of sex films to Academy Award winners, from heterosexual taboos to homosexual cowboys, from re-enactments of John-Wayne Bobbitt’s fame-making elective surgery, to re-makes of Traci Lord’s New Wave Whores, the exhibition is exhaustive and likely exhausting.

We leave, confused, maybe even a little curious, and shockingly humming Brandon Flowers lyrics: “it started off with a kiss, how did it end up like this, it was only a kiss, it was only a kiss.”

Visit the Museum now to see latest permanent exhibition “The Sex Lives of Animals” and learn from male Bonobos how to trade sugar cane for sex, visit to reassure or inform your own primitive urges, or you know pop-in, since you just happen to be in the area.

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