Ramble On: Tourist Trap Museums
Yes, yes, the Museum of Communism, at Havirska #10 in
Old Town, is located smack-dab next to a McDonald's. No,
you're not the first person to note the McIrony. Hush up
and pay the 180 K? admission fee.
From an English translation of New Family Legislation in
Czechoslovakia on display in the museum: "The best
means to make people live on a higher level of moral integrity
and cleanliness...is to improve the conditions of life."
How can you argue with that?
The museum has a lot to offer. Learn, for example, that
under the Tuzex crown system, a whore could turn twenty
dollars U.S. into a month's wages via the black market.
There are great posters and propaganda materials, and the
secret police room is worth seeing. If your pop is the type
to watch The History Channel every night, this place will
keep him out of your hair for a whole afternoon.
Straight out of the museum, cross the plaza and find Melantrichova
#18. You're going to the Sex Machine Museum, but there's
no sign on the street so keep your eyes peeled. If you see
a manikin in a sex swing, you just passed it. Plunk down
your 250 Kc.
I walked in skeptical. I recalled getting suckered in Amsterdam,
me a foolish tourist foolish enough to buck up for a fraudulent
sex museum when I should've just put that money toward a
prostitute and seen what despicable acts I could've purchased.
The first floor didn't help change that opinion. A room
full of corsets? Oh christ. Who's titillated by this? Even
the latex suit and bondage gear. Who's impressed by S&M
regalia anymore? The same people, no doubt, who think that
putting a dominatrix on the cover of a magazine is cutting
But I perked up on the second and third floors. Who can
resist the charms of crank-driven vibrators and a golden
shower chair (easily converted into a throne for Pittsburgh
platters with a sheet of plexiglass)? And then the collection
of early electrical vibrators--what woman would actually
dare stick one of those contraptions inside her snatch?
God bless the sex-tech spearheaders. There are chastity
belts for women and men. Lots of strap-ons, including one
that goes on your head, which struck me as absolutely brilliant.
There's a wide variety of butt plugs and several intercourse
tables, including a reproduction of one dating from a couple
hundred years ago found in the Italian countryside. All
in all, a worthwhile stop.
Time to go. Exit. Turn right. Find yourself in Old Town
Square. God help you if it's a few minutes before the hour.
Down to the right, look for two people holding signs advertising
the Museum of Torture Instruments and the Exhibition of
Spiders and Scorpions, both located at Staromestska Namesti
#20. The spider museum is relatively new, but the torture
museum is the same collection that was once housed in a
space just off Charles Bridge.
Torture first. 140 Kc. The collection is interesting, and
sure to be a hit with both your teenage goth cousin and
her metal-head brother. It's amazing how we can find so
many ways to inflict misery on each other. The Street Sweeper's
Daughter, for instance, is a terribly clever contraption
wherein the victim is contained within a metal framework
that secures the neck, hands and ankles is a sadistic fetal
position. A few hours of that--not to mention days--and
I'd confess to being a witch, an Episcopalian and a dog-fucker.
Whatever they wanted to hear.
There are head crushers which, well, crush your
head. There are racks designed to pull your body apart.
The Virgin of Nuremberg is similar to an iron maiden: a
small enclosed chamber filled with spikes. There's the Alsatian
Shoe, which sounds more like a gangster name than a torture
device. The Gilded Cradle slowly inserts a large spear up
your ass. And my favorite: the Pear. Suitable for oral,
vaginal or anal application, this pear-shaped object is
forced into the chosen orifice and then expanded. Think
of a closed tripod inserted and then slowly opened so that
the legs spread wide inside you.
I counted 55 devices in total, just enough to take care
of two groups of Italian tourists waiting for the clock
to do whatever-the-fuck it is they so enjoy watching it
do. The person holding the umbrella gets the Pear.
Across the hall, find the spiders and scorpions (100 Kc),
another sure-fire hit with your goth cousin. I was expecting
to snooze, but once I let myself slip into the mood, I was
a little creeped out. How can you not be impressed by a
spider with a body the size of a jumbo-sized egg? The damned
thing is larger than my hand. There are African Giant Black
Millipedes ten inches long and two inches across. The black
Emperor Scorpions were pretty bad-ass, as was the King Baboon,
a reddish-brown monster which ranks as the second-largest
tarantula in Africa.
All done. Exit. You think that was scary? You're back in
the Square, and I've got nowhere else to tell you to go.