Friday, December 30, 2005

The Museum of Sex Machines

On one of Megan’s earlier visits to Prague, we happened to pass by the Museum of Sex Machines, which is so conveniently located just off Staroměstské náměstí, and formulated the plan that at some post-Christmas date we would have to see what sort of nonsense it contained. As it was obviously a tourist trap, we did not have very high hopes that it would offer more than kitsch value (something that would have offended that pornophilia advocate Bohuslav Brouk greatly; if there was one thing that offended interwar avant-gardists, it was kitsch, although then as now, kitsch could be employed to make art, and Brouk and Toyen’s friend Jindřich Štyrský was very good at doing that). But sometimes kitsch is amusing in itself.
The entrance fees were certainly beyond those of any other Czech museum in my recollection, and there was no student discount posted.
The ground floor, to our surprise, seemed to be devoted to not particularly erotic forms of undergarment, which were very humorously displayed. Socks seemed to be the main attraction, along with antimasturbatory garments. We did not think these really qualified as machines, but then we were hoping that “machines” would be interpreted loosely, as it was. A back room proved to have footage from Spanish films of the 1920s, of which the museum appeared to be very proud, and which we and the other patrons watched with, yet again, considerable amusement. Actually, I was especially surprised how much footage had survived, as we watched quite a bit before getting bored and moving on.
The “machines” of the museum’s title were mostly items that were rather difficult to imagine the precise use of, even with descriptions. We were not really all that sure why the Italians needed special tables for people to recline on, for example. Then again, there were other, more simple, items that are in fairly widespread use. On the whole, we did not think we had any personal need for most of the items on display, but it is always interesting to know what people are inventing and why they believe it ought to be patented.

Megan acquaints herself with one of the stocking displays.

The garment itself (or possibly a replica) was also displayed, but this seemed more informative.

This was the cause of considerable hilarity. I would like to know whether anyone actually bought and wore this product.

We weren't entirely sure where the human body belonged in this, but it seemed like something one might find in a surrealist exhibition instead. Things did get weirder as we went up the stairs.

Note: Megan writes about the experience here.

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