Sex Museum Suffers Performance Anxiety

Sexual Salute to New York Is Delayed, But Other Off-Beat Museums Await You

By Buck Wolf

Oct. 1, 2002 --   Three words you don't want to hear when you want serious sex are "Not tonight, dear." But last Saturday, that's what New York's Museum of Sex told its visitors.

The eagerly awaited grand opening of the Museum of Sex — New York's newest cultural attraction — had to be delayed. Isn't that always the case when you are hoping for a good sexual experience?

Museum officials blamed delays in construction of its first exhibit, "NYC Sex: How New York City Transformed Sex in America," and rescheduled the opening for Oct. 5.

Of course, there's always the chance the Sex Museum might suffer another bout of performance anxiety — in which case we'll fire the engineers and hire a team of psychiatrists.

Sodom on the Hudson

New York haters might consider all of Manhattan a giant, 24-hour sex museum — featuring peep shows, strip joints and adult book stores. But former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani made it a priority to clean up Times Square.

Nevertheless, museum Director Daniel Gluck says New York is the perfect place to celebrate sex. He cites such contributions as the evolution of the porn theater, tabloid-style news reports, and archetypal sexpots — beginning with Mae West and continuing on through today with Sex and the City's Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall.

"It was called 'Sodom on the Hudson'; that was the name for New York City," Gluck told my colleague Michael James [see related stories].

"The idea, 'Only in New York,' is not a recent term or cliché. It is a fairly old one. And that is because it seemed that almost anything was possible in New York — good and bad, vice and achievement."

The museum's official mission is "to preserve and present the history, evolution, and cultural significance of human sexuality," and it takes itself quite seriously. Gluck thinks the sex museum will one day take a rightful place alongside such New York institutions as the Museum of Modern Art.

Just like modern art lovers refer to that museum as "MoMa," Gluck's institution may one day known as "MoSex."

If the delayed opening of "MoSex" has forced you to change your plans, here's a look at some offbeat, lesser-known museums, many of them privately run, that celebrate, among other things, ghosts, junk food and tacky Christmas trees.

Strange Museums

The Nonsense Museum — A Nonsense Museum makes sense, at least to the Austrian government, which agreed to fund a permanent showroom in Vienna for a group known as The Society For Surplus Thought.