Sex Museum Suffers Performance Anxiety

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The exhibits include dubious milestones in engineering, such as a see-through suitcase for easier customs inspections; a heated garden gnome that repels snow; a chin rest for commuters who snooze on the train; and a chess set for alcoholics featuring different mini-glasses for each piece.

Aluminum Christmas Tree Museum — Remember the good old days, before tacky plastic Christmas trees? That was the era of tacky aluminum Christmas trees.

North Carolina's Aluminum Tree and Aesthetically Challenged Seasonal Ornament Museum and Research Center honors Santa's worst stylists. Located in Brevard, it features 62 vintage aluminum trees in blue, gold and even green — which were popular in the 1950s.

"You couldn't really use electric lights," says Curator Stephen Paul Jackson. "They'd catch fire."

With a collection of ornaments that stretches through the years, Jackson is notorious for setting new standards in tree decoration. The "Toilet-Tree" features ornaments made of tooth brushes, faucets and toilet paper spools. The garland is fashioned from shower-curtain rings.

There are ornaments made from commercially marked animal dung, known as "Zoo-Doo." Other ornaments honor such luminaries as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Tammy Faye Bakker.

A separate tree entirely devoted to Monroe features a blond wig in place of the star and a tree skirt that blows upward.

Spooky Homes

Spy Museum — His name is Barrie. Dennis Barrie. And he's the curator of the newly opened International Spy Museum in Washington, which seems to prove that the gizmos in James Bond movies weren't totally farfetched.

In fact, you'll find a lipstick gun manufactured by Soviet KGB agents, who were inspired by Agent 007, says Barrie, who left the Smithsonian Institution to honor the cloak-and-dagger game.

Talk about spy kids: The museum's "spy school" lets youngsters can learn how to bug a room or use itty-bitty cameras.

Occult Museum — Ghosts, poltergeists and spooks of all manner are none too pleased with the Occult Museum in Monroe, Conn., according to curators.

Angry spirits regularly trash the place, says Lorraine Warren, a clairvoyant who runs the museum with her husband, demonologist Ed Warren. She says an exorcist has to come in there every three months to ward off any unearthly presence.

"I wouldn't dare go in there after 9 p.m., and I warn everyone: Don't touch anything," she says.