Sex on Fifth
Sex on Fifth
Drag artists, DJs, and other delights at New York’s Museum of Sex with Adversary
November 04 2014 12:12 PM EST
February 05 2015 9:27 PM EST
Sex on Fifth
Photos: Allison Harrell
Condoms dotted the walls. Towering, fierce drag queens welcomed patrons. Along with an unusual mechanical jester, and far more Renaissance-era bird masks than any one city should have, when I walked into New York's Museum of Sex this past Saturday for the first of its weekly "Sex on Fifth" parties, I felt, strangely, at home.
Taking a moment to be welcomed by Marcus, a drag performer rocking violet lips and a wig reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn, I moved forward through the den of lingerie and leather to enter the museum proper, before being blockaded by four more drag queens. "I'm sorry, hon, but this area's not open yet," I was told, so, instead, I made my way to Play, the museum's bar and coffee shop.
What could have been a simple watering hole had instead been transformed into a lounge filled with sexual Easter eggs. Taking a seat, I noticed that what I thought was a stepping stool was in fact a person in a body bag. A prop? I queried a nearby performer, who promptly kicked the bag, which let out an audible moan. "Rest your feet on him," I'm told. Instead, I began to explore once again.
As I moved toward the bar, I was taken off guard by a whipping noise to my left. I turned to see a woman in a cage, wearing nothing but light lingerie and lion face paint. Whipping her was another girl, this time in a leather ringleader costume, albeit with bare legs and torso. Accompanying the cage were two more performers, who were nearly nude and in the process of changing--because why bother with a changing room?
It's Halloweekend, and I spied a schoolgirl/Mario combo costume, a shirtless police officer, and a tall, muscley, bearded man walk in with bare legs, red pumps, a frizzy red wig, and a red business coat with chest hair bursting out of it. Confused for a second, I suddenly realized who he was: "Excuse me, but are you Ms. Bellum from the Powerpuff Girls?" "Hell yeah," he responded, and I feel more at home having greeted the sexy assistant to the bumbling Mayor of Townsville.
Once I overheared the excitement of a couple of other guests -- "The third floor is the best part!" -- I headed straight to the top, where I was greeted by the "Tunnel of Love" and my next challenge: to "Find the G-Spot." Chuckling to myself, I thought it should be easy enough, but it turned out to be one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Stepping into a maze of darkness and mirrors, I saw an empty expanse of my own image staring back at me. "This actually works?" I muttered, reminded of countless cartoons where the heroes stop the villain by luring him into a funhouse and confusing him with mirrors. Almost immediately lost, I felt my way through the maze, becoming ever more anxious when -- BAM! BAM! BAM! -- some joker decided to knock on the wall from the outside. Eventually, I worked my way into a dimly lit room where I found my prize: the G-spot.
Exiting the chamber, I was then greeted by, well, penis races. The carnival game worked by guests flinging balls into holes in order to move golden penises closer to a goal. Eventually, a winner was declared, and the game operator handed him a riding crop, explaining that he should smack the asses of the losers. I looked to my left and noticed a giant hole in the wall. I stuck my head through, to find a bouncy castle filled with inflatable breasts. I giggled, but I wasn't about to take my boots off for that.
That's when I was alerted to the fact that Adversary, a DJ that I'd been invited to watch perform, was about to begin a set on the second floor. I headed downstairs, noticing a lively dance party. Pictures of Linda Lovelace were strewn across the walls, tracking her history in the United State's porn industry, from pornographic actress to anti-porn activist. Adversary greeted me and a dancer named Minnie beckoned me forward for a surprisingly tight hug.
The set went smoothly, Adversary sampling his own voice into hypnotic house melodies and a drummer playing virtual drums, hitting special panels in time with the beat. As a highlight, a saxophone started to jazz up the room, igniting the crowd into a frenzy. When the music stopped and Adversary bowed, I found a chance to speak with him.
Going by his real name, Andre Mistier, off-stage, he explained that he began this solo project after Burning Man, and this Museum of Sex party was yet another new venture. "There's something so specific about this place, like it's completely sexy, but at the same time, the academic side of sexy," he said. "It's not a sexy experience here so much as it is like a study of sexuality. But I played last week at a Russian bathhouse where nobody was really wearing any clothes. Some of my favorite things have been at Burning Man, playing on top of art cars. I generally play a lot of underground warehouse stuff, which are my favorite things to do in New York."
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The Burning Man experience continues to inspire Mistier. "It's first and foremost about finding yourself and creating an environment, both in terms of a space and a people, in which there's freedom to both find yourself and then express yourself," he said. "To me, that comes from the exact same place. There's this kind of central theme socially in a lot of different directions at the moment of people trying to not define themselves by the kind of predefined social norms and finding an expression for that in a lot of different directions. And I think they're all different, but on the same level, there's a certain kernel of similarity and solidarity of all these things coming from a place of 'maybe the basic box isn't formed for me.' I'm looking for either a structure that allows me to find it for myself or an ability to make my own structure."
After our chat, the party began to die down. But I know already, this won't be my last time exploring the diverse world of Sex on Fifth.