In the winter, holiday windows overtake New York. Tourists crush against each other, trying to get selfies with the glittery creations that line Madison and 5th. But the Museum of Sex, as befitting its name and general concept, always likes to do things a bit differently. So if you find yourself on the corner of 5th avenue and 23rd street, you may end up face-to-face with a sexting robot named Luci. As sayeth the robot herself, we hope you like it rough--because she bytes.
Luci is the creation of Los Angeles-based artist Maggie West, who recently garnered a great deal of attention with her "98" installation for Amber Rose's Slutwalk, a piece that featured dreamy neon nude photographs clustered together to evoke religious stained glass (both 98 and Luci were sponsored by sex toy company LELO). West shoots people from across the gender spectrum (including recognizable faces like Drag Race alum Alaska Thunderfuck), and her work displays a consistent fascination with human sexuality. Luci represents an otherworldly expansion of that work. As the robot's bio reads:
On the far off planet of Xeron, young people had completely given up on sex. The days of random hookups and casual sex were over, the teens of the planet only wanted to engage each other online rather than IRL. As the residents of Xeron began to lose all interest of sex in favor of creating memes and taking selfies, population began to decrease. The Luci 6000 was created by Xeron's top scientific minds to hypercharge the sex drives of their youth and prevent the impending population decrease. However, due to a programming error, Luci became fixated on exploring other planets. Upon stumbling onto many articles about low millennial sex drives on Earth, Luci was overcome with grief. How could the youth of Earth be missing out on the joys of sex? Determined to remedy this situation, Luci stole a spaceship and escaped her home planet of Xeron and headed to Earth. After arriving on our planet, Luci immediately began seducing Earth's millennial audiences the only way she knew how: their phones. Through her sultry selfies and hot sexts, Luci is seducing Earth's top influencers and re-engaging depleted millennial sex drives.
While Luci basically just chills in the MoSex window, you can sext with her via Twitter and Instagram (though West would like us to note that communication through Twitter is vastly preferred). We reached out late at night to see what sexting with a robot would entail. To a classic, "u up?" message, Luci responded with "reset my sensors." We asked what this experience had taught Luci about human sexuality; she replied with "cross my wires." When asked what planet she was from, Luci said, "I still buffer 4 u." Inquiries as to what turns her on lead Luci to tell us that we were causing her to malfunction. Real one track mind, that Luci.
Photo courtesy of Maggie West
West conceived Luci as a satire; she'd been seeing countless articles about how millennials are either having less sex than previous generations, or about how Tinder and pornography have left millennials unable to have meaningful romantic relationships. "I've just been reading so many clickbait-y articles about millennial sexuality, where they would take like a real piece of data that shows that the amount of reported sex millennials are having is slightly lower," West explained. "The headlines say stuff like, 'Millennials: Why do they hate sex?' And they were also going the opposite way: 'Millennials: are they capable of having real relationships, because of the internet and pornography?' And that's also really silly."
"I think that older generations have a tendency to project negative stereotypes on younger ones; the baby boomers were accused of being shallow and conceited, and the X'ers were slackers," she continued. "But I just thought it was really interesting that we were getting so much shit in regards to sexuality. So I just wanted to wrap up those stereotypes into a sex robot who came from another planet to save us all."
Hilariously, people aren't necessarily catching on to the joke. "I've noticed that in some of the comments on articles it seems like some people actually think that she's real, and that this is the decline of human sexuality," laughed West. "This is the best example I've seen in a long time of people not reading the whole article and just going crazy for no reason."
We would argue that a large swath of the population's inability to read critically is what is really leading to the downfall of civilization, not a sexting robot who types charming things like "I want u 2 hardwire my RAM." But apparently people have not learned their lessons from the 2016 election and still refuse to go beyond an outrageous headline. They also send Luci some really crazy shit.
Riley Nixon and Luci. (Photo courtesy of Maggie West)
"It's really interesting to see what people will do when they think they're just talking to a robot," said West, who composes "Luci's" messages. "I think it's really funny. People will either be really sweet and into her, but a lot of people will be really aggressive in the DM's! They'll say things like 'get on your knees, slutbot.' It's weirdly a lot more slut shame-y and aggressive than I initially thought it would be."
West seems to find the project to be quite eye-opening, so we decided to ask Luci for her thoughts. When asked if she thought millennials were actually an undersexed generation, Luci asked us to "reprogram [her]... harder!!" We suppose all of us could use a little hard reprogramming. Cuffing season might be a busy time for Luci.
Luci is on view in the window of the Museum of Sex through February 15th.
Photography: Maggie West
Models: Riley Nixon and KA5SH