Harry Mohney’s Erotic Heritage Museum Opens Aug. 2
The museum was created from a partnership between Mohney, founder of Déjà Vu Showgirls chain of gentlemen’s club, and Ted MacIlvenna of the Exodus Trust, which is affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco.
“Basically, it was an agreement between Ted MacIlvenna of the Exodus Trust and Harry Mohney to create a museum, so I think it’s been something like a 20-year promise,” Museum curator Dr. Laura Henkel told XBIZ.
“Finally, the timing was right and Harry had this building and said this was a great place to have the museum, and [Exodus Trust] is providing the artwork and the management, so it’s that type of a collaboration.”
According to Henkel, the museum will focus on contemporary art and film from the 19th-20th centuries, with a historical perspective of sexuality in American culture. Much of what will be part of the permanent exhibition at the museum will come from the Exodus Trust’s vast collection of erotica, spanning 40 years of collecting. There will also be featured artists, as well as special exhibitions.
At more than 21,000 square feet, the facility’s interior has been designed with moveable, modular components so that it can be changed as the exhibits change, and there are more than 20 large, flat-screen video monitors to display video artworks and films.
“It is actually going to have the first erotic film, which was “Free Ride,” from 1910,” Henkel said. “It’s going to span up until the ‘80s and we’re going to highlight the films that had the most impact in terms of sales and the impact they had on culture, like “Behind the Green Door,” “Deep Throat,” “The Resurrection of Eve,” “Prisoner of Paradise” — so we’re going to be having a lot of films.”
Films also will be screened in a theater gallery on the second floor. A library will be located on the second floor, as well, with books, erotic literature and many works by noted sexologists.
Adult industry organizations the Free Speech Coalition and Adult Sites Against Child Pornography will each have displays at the museum.
The museum is currently located next to a retail adult store but will eventually take over that space to house its own retail store, which will offer books, art prints and memorabilia.
“The museum is going to be available for special events, lectures,” Henkel added, “so it will be a multifaceted space. It is also going to have every sexual orientation, so there will be something for everyone.”
Henkel also said that the museum offers a rare opportunity for the history of modern pornography to be documented and archived.
“What’s really key, in terms of the adult industry historically, is getting things down on paper before too much time goes on — it could all be lost,” she said. “This is actually a time and an opportunity to preserve that.
“Everything that happened from when dildos were sold out of the back of a car, to Alex De Renzy and the Mitchell Bros. doing films and being hauled off to jail, all the way to the obscenity laws — there’s a lot there,” Henkel said.
For the grand opening night gala, the museum has invited the artists featured in its current exhibits, including photographer Michael Grecco, Keith Murray and Jacqueline Cooper, among others.
Fetish design/engineering website House of Gord has supplied several of its bondage devices to the museum, including a human-sized “hamster wheel.”
Gord, who is the website’s founder, is well known for his use of women in bondage-inspired furniture design, turning love models into chandeliers and tables, as well as mounting them to motorcycle frames and other mechanical devices. House of Gord fetish models will attend the opening night event.
Adult novelty companies Topco Sales, California Exotic Novelties and Doc Johnson also will participate. Original Doc Johnson designer Ron McAllister has several pieces in the permanent collection from molds that he created for some of the company’s first novelties.
“It’s really exciting because it’s always going to be changing and who knows what’s going to come?” Henkel said. “There is so much to human sexuality and the expression of human sexuality, that the space might be a little too small.”