a tempting delight
Trigger warning: article contains sex machines
Passing down one of the main tourist avenues in Prague, it’s hard not to notice the elegantly designed and distinguished museum known for its display of sexual innovations and absurdities. It is, of course, one of those places made for the discerning tourist who has finally run out of beer at the Beer Museum and caught all the fifth print releases of Mucha’s posters they could handle. I was obviously ever-enthralled with the place, especially with the sentimental and highly artistic statue poised near the entrance—one where a beautiful, innocent lass sat above a wheel, her legs spread and skirt raised, while attached to the wheel was some dozen tongues spinning underneath. Oh innocence, thou art a virtue ever more!
It had become a standing joke between my wife and me in our years long quest to visit all the museums of Prague, from the weirdest—perhaps the toilet museum takes that throne—to the most touristic. The Sex Machine Museum certainly hits the prize for one of the most touristic museums.
Where is it?
These museums are defined by typically four things: they have no real connection with the locale, they are overpriced, business there is explicitly reliant on their location, and few items on display are actually genuine. A Torture Museum, for example, is almost exactly the same whether you see it in Berlin, Amsterdam, or Shanghai. Though I’m not sure how much you’d like to see the genuine torture articles, replicas do tend to diminish the horror of the price you just paid for entry.
The touristic museum might not necessarily be a bad thing. It might be a little interesting for you to see Mucha prints that you could have just as easily printed from your printer hanging on a wall in an official space in the old town, or replica sex machines or torture instruments. And if that’s your thing, fine. Just know that it's designed to be a money mill and nothing more. But as long as there are no illusions about that, then that’s okay. As a matter of fact, I’ve started making plans to make my own Sex Machines Museum in a town near you.
The Sex Machine Museum itself
Entry costs a whopping 250 crowns, or 12 euro. For this price, you might expect at least a souvenir vibrator or perhaps a happy ending. Well, you do sort of get a happy ending, more on that later.
The museum consists of three floors. You start by going up the stairs. The room to the right consists of various contraptions used to cure women of hysteria, fits that would happen presumably after paying 250 crowns to enter a worthless museum.
Torture or fun?
Hysteria, for those not in on the lingo, was a wild and infamous illness that affected women near full moons, causing them to have unquenchable sexual urges, just like werewolves. It was obviously an illness, because any polite and sophisticated woman would not ever have a sexual urge. As a proper female duty, sex is not something a proper woman should ever take pleasure in. When a woman was showing signs of this disease, they were immediately sent to a sanitarium, where a team of qualified doctors would then take care of them. Fun fact: cornflakes were invented at a sanitarium.
The tools the doctors used to alleviate the proclivities of these women were on display in this room. One was a machine that delivered love box punches at a rate of 60 times per minute, another looked to be something like a fire hose, presumably set to quench impure flames of desire.
The basket could be lowered and spun
The tools on display were curiously intermixed with equipment found at 19th century brothels, which were mostly pieces of furniture designed with maximum ergonomic comfort in mind so that the worker wouldn’t be too put out. Then along a final wall was a panel of fifty various glass dildos, many featuring two heads for double the pleasure, double the fun.
Masturbation is a sin
The next room was dedicated to showing how awful it was to be a boy growing up in the Victorian era. It wasn’t just women that were abused for their proclivities. There was one invention that was put around a young boy’s penis so that when he slept, it would ring a bell in his parent’s room if he ever got a hard on. Furthermore, there were a variety of belts that didn’t just cause such psychological pain, but included spikes so that when the softy went to a hardy, the spikes were there to remind the boy of his sexual purity and possible future union with the Devil (women).
At this point, what I thought would be something of an erotic museum seemed to be just an extension of the torture museum. There was more of a queasy discomfort about everything than a playful sensation of frolicking with technology.
A BDSM display, along with a torture rack--a safety word of difference
The museum was topped off with a room of randomly invented pleasure devices from the 80s, which seemed to cater to getting women to clean the house. Lots of dildos had mechanical attachments on wheels that assisted with vacuuming and such. Then finally a room with the doll house of my dreams. When I was a child, I remember playing with my neighbor’s Barbies and being disappointed by how anatomically incorrect they were. Look no further than the set they have here!
my childhood dream dollhouse
After you're finished with the top floor, proceed all the way back to the bottom, where they have a cinema of old time erotic films. There we got to see a video that appeared to be from the early 1900s, where a malnourished priest playfully undresses a fat lady, and the fat lady playfully undresses the malnourished priest, in what I guess non-Catholics must assume confession is all about.
This is definitely not your family trip museum and in general, I didn’t really see the cost-value ratio working out to our advantage. My life has not changed at all since seeing it. I’m neither more inclined to research further about sex machines, nor were any of my positions challenged—except maybe on the erection alarm for young boys, I might think about buying one of those for my future son.
As with most tourist museums, it could be skipped and your trip would be no less. I’d only recommend it if you were bored or it was raining and you’re tired of Czech beer.