Sex is interactive. So it makes sense that Manhattan’s Museum of Sex, which opened in 2002, finally added an interactive element this June: “Funland: Pleasures and Perils of an Exotic Fairground,” by London’s Bompas & Parr.
“Visitors are encouraged to become participants in the exhibition rather than merely voyeurs,” said Mark Snyder, direction of exhibitions at MoSex. “Some patrons enter hesitantly, while others dive in head-first.”
The unit takes up an entire floor of the museum, at 27th Street and Fifth Avenue, and explores the relationship between carnivals and carnality.
“Since its pre-industrial days, the fairground was seen as a venue for the pursuit of pleasure,” said Snyder. “Traditional decorum was turned upside down, and men and women were given permission to explore vices freely.”
Coming up the staircase from MoSex’s erotic gift shop in the lobby, visitors are greeted by an attendant selling breast-shaped jello shots for $6 apiece. They then enter a funhouse of mirrors, the Tunnel of Love, with the aim of locating the G-spot (as well as the exit). Emerging from the maze, the next attraction is Jump for Joy — a bounce house full of breasts, which guests can try out in pairs (trusting their shoes and bags to the guide outside).
Other activities include the Foreplay Derby — a twist on a classic carnival game where players get their balls in the hole to advance racing dildos —and a phallic rock-climbing wall, Grope Mountain. Of course, an educational element is featured, in the form of the Erotic Picture Palace, which explains more about how carnivals are traditionally used, throughout history and in entertainment, as a backdrop to explore sexual theory and gender roles.
“By combining physicality with other forms of learning, most patrons discover their inhibitions fading away,” Snyder explained of how the five installations work together, as well as how this exhibit as a whole fits in with the rest of the museum.
Sam Bompas and Harry Parr not only designed the “Funland” attractions, but also worked with composer Dom James on the erotic soundscape and coordinated with both chef Humberto Gualipa and mixologist Jim Kearn to add a few special touches to the menu at Play, a new lounge in MoSex’s lobby. The exhibit is scheduled to run through April 2015 before moving to the U.K.
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