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Bridging the gap between fine art and smut”

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I kissed a girl, and I liked it. “First Kiss” by Bobby Logic.
Photo: Jennifer Grafiada

Dorian looks like a dominatrix, but she’s an artist - the only local artist to have her work on display at the recently opened Erotic Heritage Museum, which is located at Desert Inn and Industrial, next to the train tracks and Déjà Vu Showgirls strip club, kitty-corner to Nordstrom’s and walking distance to Trump’s golden tower.

Dorian, who doesn’t use a last name, is rightfully proud and, acting as my personal tour guide, she shows me her two oil paintings first. The first is simply a white-skinned, truncated female torso. It’s a tribute to Bettie Page, the famous 1950’s pinup, but there is no playful smile framed by buoyant black hair, no do-me stilettos. Dorian explains that she wanted to focus more on Bettie as a woman, not as a constructed icon. The other, “Natalya,” is a rendition of a photo Dorian took of “a medical scene.” Her friend, a dominatrix, is in her dungeon holding an enema bag. “I wanted the viewer to be confronted with the unknown, and to realize that what may be pleasurable for one person may be someone else’s nightmare.”

The Erotic Heritage Museum

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Indeed. The next display is an arresting collection of female mannequins strapped into painful (or pleasurable) BDSM contraptions done by Jeff Gord. Gord is the artist and inventor behind the House of Gord, which is dedicated to forniphilia, the love of turning women into furniture. The museum houses Gord pieces like The Mouse Wheel, the Ponies, the Silver Dream Machine and my personal favorite, The Arched-Back F-cking Machine, all designed to be fully functional and to train women to become “the ultimate submissive.” To become so utterly submissive, one becomes an inanimate household object. The least humiliating examples are a mannequin strapped to a floor lamp and a trio of women hanging from an overhead chandelier.

Upstairs is a contemporary art gallery containing works from multiple artists. Dorian shows me her personal favorite, “The Naked Line” by Francois Debeau, a series of black and white graphic (in both senses) sketches. “He really bridges that gap between fine art and smut,” she says.

The second floor also has a porn star hall of fame (which, obviously, starts with Jenna Jameson), a model set of a porn movie shoot and exhibits that teach about the history of the peep show where you can do plenty—and I mean plenty—of peeping of your own. Actually, if you’re into that sort of thing (sex), you may want to set aside a few hours to peruse the museum, which has a big screen playing nonstop porn, a porn theater, a library of pornographic books, a coffee table covered in pornographic coffee books and a dark room with a plush red velvet couch and multiple screens playing several milestone porn films, like the silent black-and-white A Free Ride (1915) and cult favorite Deep Throat (1972).

Of course there’s plenty more to admire than skin flicks. Display cases are filled with dozens of sex toys and realistic replicas of famous porn stars’ most famous body parts. A mock red light district comes complete with creepy old guy ensconced in tan trench coat. On the way out, grab a souveneir at the huge, well-stocked gift shop, which is overflowing with lingerie, toys, movies and books, all rated XXX.

At the end of my tour through the anals, oops, annals of erotica in all its multifarious facets, I feel like I got my money’s worth. The Erotic Heritage Museum was ultimately thought provoking, provocative and aesthetically (perhaps erotically) pleasing.

If you go don’t miss these interesting pieces:

1. Keith Murray’s video installation Trannylicious Dishez. Murray believes we should marry the masculine and feminine sides of ourselves. In fact, he believes it so passionately he actually officially married himself - half of his body with a suit and mustache, the other with lipstick and a pink boa. The ceremony was performed last Saturday at the gala opening of the Erotic Heritage Museum by an Elvis impersonator and was witnessed by a supportive and enthusiastic audience.

2. An erotic painting by none other than Walt Disney. Note: Not rated G for General Audiences.

3. A painting of the Sin City Chamber of Commerce’s logo, which, in keeping with our city’s obsession with attractive women, is a seductive she-devil.

4. A replica of the portable gilded and gem-encrusted peep-show booths used in the 15th century at construction sites. The museum has a series of booths that chronicle the peep-show’s evolution all the way up to today.

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Jennifer Grafiada

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