After standing in front of the screening for maybe five minutes, it seemed unclear if at any point there would be a money shot, or if someone might just wander out of frame to fetch some rosehip tea refreshments, so we wandered on to other parts of the museum. It stuck with me, though, the woodsiness of this retro porn: nowhere was there the shiny, bald gorilla with the 4.10 jughold jutting out like a boom on a yacht; nowhere the blonde, big-lipped Playboy, obliviously naked. Linda Lovelace, who many credit with widening their horizons, gave me hope that perhaps I could stick to my birth plan of delivering my baby in a demure skirt, boobs covered.
The Museum of Sex devotes a wing to the sex lives of animals, which are more colorful than a “Florida man” Tumblr. I was touched by the story of Roy and Silo, two homosexual chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo who zookeepers noticed were incubating an egg-shaped rock together. In a big-hearted moment, the zoo gave the pair a real abandoned egg to nurture for 36 days until it hatched. You can imagine the stress they must have gone through when the rock was switched out with an egg: “Roy, honey, shit just got real.” I picture the penguins debating whether or not they really need a baby bathtub, and worrying that they aren’t ready to be parents. After Tango was born, Roy and Silo stayed together for six years, separating somewhere during Tango’s college years, having given him a stable, happy childhood.
From Tango, chinstrap penguin with two dads, to “Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Duck” is a mere five paces. This exhibit was more an aberration – the rape of a dead duck by another duck has only been documented once, and I did feel a bit #notallmallardducks about it. Beyond that was a wall chronicling the various ways animals get off – antler rubbing, autoerotic licking, female-female genital rubbing, gibbon porn trade, panda porn, and, yes, Amazon river dolphin blow-hole sex. Much of the room, in fact, was devoted to animals spilling their seed via methods in no way conducive to reproduction. If the museum has an agenda, it is to demonstrate that sexual behavior in all species is incredibly diverse, and the current lack of imagination around human sexuality a mere cultural quirk.
These days, my pregnancy tracker app has been advising me to get a foot rub from my husband, to think about enjoying a bath and glass of wine as delivery approaches (um, I’m Australian, I have had the wine throughout pregnancy, which studies have shown is perfectly safe), to create a countdown calendar to the due date. But I wonder if “check out some Victorian porn and learn about elk threesomes” is better advice for the third trimester. Surrounded by plaster models of animals in copulation, making my way through a boob bouncy castle with a baby kicking me in the pancreas, my takeaway was that it’s all about enjoying the experience. And hand sanitizer.