A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 46: The Wild Kingdom

August 11th · 3 Comments

Today I joined my friend Jen, the erotic filmmaker, on a tour of the Museum of Sex. There! I’m sure you’re sitting up straighter in your chair already, awaiting lurid, revealing details about people’s sex lives. Bummer for you. I am not even going there.

Instead I will share the lurid, revealing secrets I learned about ducks and slugs.

Jen is something of an insider at the Museum of Sex (a.k.a “MoSex”). She told me that the museum had been asked for years to explore animal love. The exhibit finally came to fruition and it occupies the entire first floor. The display window facing Fifth Avenue features a giant painting of two bucks and a doe having a threesome, just to make sure that young families on tour from Japan don’t miss it.

Pay your entrance ticket and you’re greeted by a papier-mache figure of an aroused and grinning chimp. That’s just the first of the titillating action scenes of the sort that Discovery and PBS leave on the cutting-room floor.

Gliding out from one wall is a pair of smiling Amazonian river dolphins. Pretty. Then I saw that the male’s penis was inserted into the top of the female’s head. I took in this new information for a few moments, completely absorbed, until I was startled to notice a couple standing right next to me.

It was an average-looking couple, perhaps a construction worker from Queens and his secretary wife, but they were as transfixed as I. (This happens a lot in MoSex – watching some intimate moment and embarrassedly realizing there is a New Yorker or two right next to you, sharing the experience.)

The meat of the exhibit is the photos and interpretive text along the walls. There, MoSex challenges your assumptions about procreation and sexual pleasure, such as the generally benign assumptions I’ve always made about ducks.

A photo documented that a particular male, the Argentine Lake Duck, has a barbed penis that can reach to 16.7 inches, which is quite interesting – almost as interesting as how the researchers figured this out. Science has perfected a technique for inflating the sex organs of animals after death. Don’t anyone tell George Bush while he still has a say over federal research grants.

But even that revelation pales in comparison to what happened one day in 1995 at the Rotterdam Natural History Museum. A male duck flew into a plate-glass window, according to MoSex’s wall text, and ended its life. Photographs show another male mallard approaching the corpse and mounting it. The mallard mated with this dead duck for more than an hour.

Necropheliac, man-loving ducks; I’ll be tossing my bread crumbs from a safe distance next time I go to Central Park, thank you very much.

The exclamation points didn’t stop there: Dolphins at Marine World use their jumping rings as sex toys; pandas, who can become disinterested in intercourse when in captivity, can be stimulated by seeing videos of other pandas getting it on. I stopped at a video of a slug doubled over on itself, doing something violent.

“Banana slugs have been known to auto-apophellate, or chew off their own penis,” the text read. “The penis does not regenerate.”

I winced and knew that I had seen enough of slithering, flying, four-legged fauna and their twisted sex lives. Jen and I went upstairs to the darkened, mood-lit second floor and its exhibit about sex in film and TV, which seemed pretty tame by comparison. Along the way Jen mentioned that a few years ago she had co-curated the exhibit on stag films.

It took a moment to register that she was talking about the genre, not the deer.

Tags: Museums & Art · Why I Love This Town

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kimberly Winston // Aug 12, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    BARBED PENIS??? 16 INCHES LONG??? Thanks a whole fu&%ing lot for that image I’ll take to bed with me tonight! “Sorry, hon, not tonight! I saw a duck today.”

  • 2 Bev // Aug 15, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Oooo, your first typo of the blog (I think) today. I’ll be back tomorrow to see if you’ve gotten back to perfection.

  • 3 Sarah Farrukh // May 28, 2011 at 5:11 am

    thats not a The Wild Kingdom but its The Sex Kingdom…. 😉 LoL

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