I’m in Prague for a couple of days; in the wintry limbo between sublets, I don’t want to fall into an upheaval- induced Slough of Despond again. €8 each way on the bus, €5 a night for a bed in a (very nice) hostel in a city I’ve never been to, with no job holding me back (not a good thing but Accentuate the Positive, right?)… Why on Earth not?
Prague is definitely beautiful. To be honest, Prague is almost too beautiful, or it’s beautiful in a way that I can’t really connect with emotionally. I’m not really into Art Nouveau or fairytale medieval alleys- I like ugly concrete buildings: embarrassing leftovers from failed regimes, the kind of buildings that guidebook writers at best damn with faint praise because they know someone must be into them. My favourite structure in Prague so far is the Television Tower, often judged one of the top 5 ugliest structures in the world. I like these sore thumbs, these buildings which take up space regardless of whether people think they should.
I wander around, looking at the pastel- coloured Rococo buildings and twisting my ankle on cobblestones, feeling discombobulated. I cross the Charles Bridge, with its Gothic towers and statues lit from beneath against the cold night sky, and think that this would be an absolutely magical experience if I was with someone I loved. I then correct myself and think that I am with someone I love: myself. This correction is comforts me for about thirty seconds and then shortly afterwards feels facile and saccharine and I laugh at myself.
It’s a very long time since I’ve visited a country where I speak and understand absolutely none of the language; in addition I have no access to mobile data and no guidebook. It’s incredibly disorientating and I’m not into it at all.
I sit in a Starbucks near the Astrological Clock, eating a dispiriting bagel and scrolling back and forth on my map. I’ve been here 24 hours and I’m not really enjoying myself yet; everywhere I go the air is claggy with that sickly sweet smell that hangs around really touristy areas, and I’m trying not to feel superior to the sightseers with their selfie sticks. I know where I am, but I’m feeling lost nonetheless.
I’m taking advantage of the WiFi to work out how to get the tram back to my hostel when I zoom in on the map and see the words ‘Sex Machines Museum’. Wait a minute, What? Sex Machines what?
There’s a museum of Sex Machines in Prague! Slap bang in the middle of
the Old Town, just round the corner from Hooters… precisely three minutes walk from where Im currently sat!
Ten minutes later I hand over my money to the young man in the the branded Sex Machine Museum zipup fleece and stride through the turnstile. There’s a small giftshop in the lobby which naughty playing cards, nipple tassles, keyrings and commemorative mugs (I wish I’d bought one of the former now, I might have to go back). I walk upstairs and am faced with a display case of Very Old Dildos, which includes a pair of with fliptop lids that hold photos of the user’s loved one, and these two leather numbers. Now I’m no sex toy expert, but I’m going to guess that these beautiful babies are Not Body Safe.
There was a fucking chair, an entire case of 20th century electric vibrators/ vibrating massagers, a corner devoted to hand- built coprophagy seats…
And will you just look at this beautiful double dildo made of glass.
The glass dildos made me so happy, you guys. Surrounded by some of the most exquisite architecture in the world and these were the things that made my heart soar.
The museum contained a very satisfying selection of dildo wheels, pubic jewellery, sexy exercise bikes, early 20th c BDSM furniture, a LOT of very mean Victorian anti- masturbation devices and a cotton bedshift with a slit in the front fashioned so that coitus could be achieved without the need for any of that unGodly and immodest nudity business (yes, there’s a kink in there, for sure).
Finally I head to the tiny cinema where I watch about 20 minutes of silent porn from roughly 100 years ago. It was as badly acted as its modern counterpart, and on occasion some of it was a bit crude, but all three clips I watch featured the same actress, a plump young petticoated lady who dances enchantingly in front of a mirrored armoire playing with her tits and is, shall we say, extremely good with her hands.
I leave the Sex Machines Museum with my mood entirely bolstered. It was three floors of funny, ridiculous pervy goodness and it has cheered me right up.
On this trip I have discovered some precious truths about myself. I’m a simple woman: put me in a foreign city and all I need is a comfortable bed, constant access to the internet and a building full of fucktoys and sex furniture. Once that’s sorted I’m a very happy camper.
The Prague Sex Machines Museum can be found at Melantrichova 18, Prague.