Shaken but not stirred – Museu de l’Erotica, Barcelona

“I’m not sure about going in here,” said new man, “I already feel horny, so this is going to make me even worse.” He was always horny. I had persuaded him to come with me to Barcelona’s Museu de l’Erotica – it was on the list of things to do that I had drawn up before our weekend away.

We had already been slightly intimidated by the woman dressed up as Marilyn Monroe shouting “yoo-hoo” from the museum’s balcony down to the people below on one of the city’s busiest streets, La Rambla. Were we going to be met by a whole bevvy of woman dressed up as 1950s film stars? Perhaps Doris Day and Jane Russell were going to pour us drinks and offer canapes.

Luckily that didn’t happen. We entered a narrow door and climbed a staircase to the kiosk where we were charged 9 Euros each.

The museum was small – five or six rooms in total which ranged from the historically fascinating to the easy on the eye, the downright odd and the somewhat tacky.

I actually most enjoyed the pictures hanging on the wall. My particular favourites were the turn of the 20th century and 1920s images of people with their clothes pulled up performing sexual acts or just getting their bits out. Their facial expressions were rather passive and many of the ladies seemed to gaze into the middle distance while the men busied their hands, mouths or dangly bits in their nether regions.

“There’s too many big bushes for my liking.” Observed new man.  But, I tried to reason, people did have ‘big bushes’ in those days; it was the norm and no one would have regarded them as unattractive.

As well as photos there were drawings, paintings and pen and ink cartoons of people in various sexual acts, some man on man, some man on woman and others with multiple participants. These dated back over the 18th and 19th centuries. But also there were Chinese and Japanese paintings dating back to 13th century of couples in the act, with many of the ladies still with their feet bound up.  Picasso had a couple of erotic pieces up and there were some delicately painted images from the Karma Sutra.

In another room was a bit of a history lesson in the use of the phallus, with a giant wooden penis in a display case and lots of smaller penises (or is it penii?) we might assume were dug up by a team of archaeologists somewhere. We also learn that when Pompeii was unearthed from volcanic rubble there was erotic art all over the place – those Roman types must have been at it all the time. And, it seems so were the ancient Greeks if the figures painted on old vases and urns are to be believed. Apparently ancient Greece was also one of the first societies to accept, and at times, even encourage homosexuality.

Fetishism and sadomasochism was the theme of another room, but there wasn’t much to go on – the main point of interest was the ‘Chair of Pleasure’ by Yves Fedou , a metal chair with restraints plus metal penis – certainly unlike anything I have ever seen on a trip to my local dentist’s. There were a few whips, photos of people in bondage gear, along with another work of art, a sculpture of a painted, slightly scary woman.

There was also a curious turn of the century porn film flickering in another alcove, which seemed to feature a priest having his way with a middle-aged parishioner in flickering black and white, accompanied by traditional silent movie music. This was next to the details of members of the Spanish royal family’s interest in eroticism.

An area dedicated to Marilyn Monroe – hence the garb of the ‘yoo-hoo’ lady at the beginning didn’t quite fit in with the tone of the place. It’s not like Monroe was a porn star. Whoever curates the museum must be a fan and decided to celebrate her in the middle of all the penises and fannies.

Also incongruous with the art and history lesson, was a room dedicated to amazing sexual feats and world record holders, such as the longest ejaculation, the most sexual partners someone has had in a day, the largest orgy, biggest boobs etc. etc.

Of course, after this the exit was through the gift shop, after passing a display case of early vibrators, some of which looked like kitchen appliances.

The shop had nothing unexpected – some novelty wind-up penises, willy warmers, willy lollies and a few sex toys. I lingered too long on a small plastic cock ring/vibrator and the girl behind the desk leapt up, hoping to make a sale.

“You like this?” She asked in a Spanish accent. I shrugged, but she continued. “These are very good, you can test how it feels by touching it on your nose.”

And before I could politely make up an excuse about having to catch a bus, she whipped it out of the packet, switched it on and stroked the tip of my nose with it. New man by this time was curious at what the Hell was going on and came over.

“Here, you try too.” Continued the girl, so he also had the humiliation of a vibrating cock ring stroking his nose.

“Mm, yes,” he nodded, “Thank you.” He looked at me, bewildered. The girl backed off, perhaps hoping we would discuss it and agree to make a purchase. We quietly retreated to the exit. I told him they were good devices, but there may be an awkward moment if we were the subject of a random bag check at the airport, seeing as our cases weren’t going in the hold.

“I’ve come out of there not feeling horny at all.” He said, after we escaped. So we instead decided to have a look around the market.

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