Moscow's G-Spot - Russia's first museum of the erotic arts
By Ulf Mauder Sep 1, 2011, 4:06 GMT
Moscow - Scantily clad women and shirtless men are as much part of the Moscow street scene in the steaming hot summers as swimming in the nude and sitting in saunas are in the winter.
Now the Russian metropolis has a new attraction to delight the eye in the shape of a museum of erotic art.
Totschka-G - or G-Spot - as the new attraction is known, shows what has long been freely on view in the west, from huge penises and erotic drawings of the sex act through to sculptures of copulating people and animals. It nevertheless breaches a range of taboos, including homosexuality, in a society still seen as prudish.
The head of the museum, Alexander Donskoi, freely acknowledges that his aim is sexual provocation, rather than targeting the stuffy sexual mores of the old Soviet Union.
'We aim to generate emotion here, even if the visitors run away in disgust,' the 41-year-old family man says.
Sitting on a sofa in the museum cafe which is decorated throughout in red and hung with veils, the businessman is also happy to talk about his concerns over 'the state of the Russian soul.' He expresses annoyance at the double standards of the Russian Orthodox Church, which he accuses of 'preaching water and drinking vodka'.
Donskoi is angry at the way Christian fundamentalists are increasingly using violence against gays and transsexuals in the capital and elsewhere.
In the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk, where he made his money in the food trade, the city council has just banned the dissemination of 'homosexual propaganda,' even though being gay has been allowed in Russia for years.
The museum on Moscow's Arbat Street has drawings of men having sex with other men, alongside phallic sculptures from many periods and parts of the world.
A sex shop in the museum offers vibrators, rubber suits and whips. 'The response after the first few weeks has been enormous. Many young people come to pose alongside our 2-metre penis sculptures,' Donskoi says. Entrance is 500 roubles (17 dollars).
Russia has long had sex shops and erotic television shows, but Donskoi is hoping that the more neutral 'museum' will draw more people than would make use of the former.
'Here in Russia there are too few people who want to open up society with clever ideas,' says Sasha, a 30-year-old patron.
Right up to closing time at midnight, visitors stream into the ground floor exhibition. Young couples sit around a table looking at photographic books, surrounded by rarities like a chess set made of erotic mammoth ivory miniatures and a collection of medals with lovemaking positions from the Austrian pornographic classic, Josefine Mutzenbacher - the life story of a Viennese whore.
Donskoi found and bought his exhibits in a couple of months over the internet. Museums of erotica in the West also assisted, and investors put up the money for the museum.
There is political satire as well. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is shown in a painting naked in combative pose with two large erect penises. US President Barack Obama has just one, but two bells.
Donskoi has long felt contempt for conservative politicians, because he is in favour of sexual openness and against double standards. He caused a furore when he was once arrested wearing only his underpants and taken away by the police. The pictures went round the world.
Donskoi had irritated the authorities because he had set his sights on becoming president after being voted mayor of Arkhangelsk in 2005. He had long been a strident critic of the government, highlighting corruption and nepotism. Then he was accused of falsifying his diploma and of using public funds for his own personal protection. Donskoi's political career came to an abrupt end.
'Now I'm like many in Russia who have withdrawn into a kind of internal emigration,' he says. His new museum is a kind of safety valve to allow him let off steam against 'those in power', he says.