Thursday, November 1, 2012

Leather Archives & Museum

My dearest Reader,
In Chicago, there is an incredible S&M museum that lays hidden from the world.  It's known as LA&M (The Leather Archives & Museum).  Having lived in Chicago for almost 20 years, I had no idea this gem of a museum existed until recently.  I happened upon it quite accidentally.  I was looking into sex museums within certain regions.  Why?  I was running a contest in which one of my readers (the gorgeous Melanie Friedman from BookWorm2BookWorm) could win a day with me.  Naturally, I wanted it to be *special* for my winner.  Heh.  So I hunted down the best dang sex museum there was in her hometown of Chicago.  Imagine my surprise at finding an S&M museum that has it all. 

The idea of S&M is nothing new.  Even though everyone who ran out and bought 50 Shades of Grey certainly thinks it is, lol.  When it comes to pain and sex, or instruments used for sex, or gay and lesbian sex, or group sex, or kinky sex, or anything involving leather, whips, restrains, and so on, you had better believe none of it is a 'recent' invention.  We just get better at understanding it.  The idea of S&M goes back loooooooong before medieval times, I assure you. 

If you're ever in Chicago (or live in Chicago), I recommend you hunt down LA&M for two reasons: It's incredibly artistic and incredibly educational.  If you've been meaning to get into kinkier sex and/or understanding what it involves, THIS is the museum to visit.

The building itself was first a synagogue, then an arts center, before turning into what it is today in 1999.  When you first come to the museum, you'll find that the doors are locked.  Given what the museum has on display inside, they have no choice but to take precautions from religious freaks who think it necessary to destroy the museum's property.  Fortunately, Melanie and I looked seemingly harmless enough and were allowed in.  Once inside, the joy of discovering where my true comfort level lay began.

The exhibits include the Etienne Auditorium and the John Larsen Gallery.  The paintings are incredible, life-like and breathtakingly provocative.  Because the art collection was started by artist Dom Orejudos who worked under the name of Etienne, I found that most of the paintings involved men or male/male.  I spied maybe one or two females painted into the artwork, which, for me, made it all the more unique, as our society has a tendency to showcase nude women, not nude men.  (I loved it!)

One of my favorite aspects of the museum (aside from the artwork and historical artifacts) was actually the bondage safety quiz.  Many of us think we know what bondage involves, until we take a test.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I aced all of the questions.  And I consider myself a real amateur.  I found I did rather well because when it comes to bondage it really just involves a lot of common sense.  One has to have an understanding of what you're getting involved with and WHY you're getting involved in it.

I thought maybe you all needed proof that I actually visited the museum, lol.  So here I am getting personal with one of the 'guys' at the Leather Bar.  Yes, they have a leather bar!  I lingered at that bar for a small while, lol.

On display, they also had some incredible historical kink artifacts, including this MASTER VIOLET RAY from the 1920's.  What is a MASTER VIOLET RAY?

It's a medical device that was first created in the 1890's that delivered a high voltage current to the human body.  In the 1920's you could purchase one for the retail price of $20, which included glass attachments.  It was used to cure everything, including an ailment known as "brain fog."  Instead of caffeine, why not clear your head up with a good dose of electricity.  That's right.  Wherever your particular ailment was located on your body, you would take the rod and apply it and zap it.  Our great grandfathers and great grandmothers firmly believed running electricty through the body was good for you.  Needless to say S&M people enjoyed making use of this item at home by applying it to certain neither regions, either on their own or with their partner/partners.  Of course, people started finding it wasn't curing as much as they hoped it would and lawsuits started rolling in.  In the 1950's, we see the end and ban of these magical MASTER VIOLET RAYS.  Though that's not to say that people aren't making them and/or enjoying them today.

The most amazing aspect is the Teri Rose Library.  A must see.  It's a non-lending library filled to the ceiling with books, documents, and magazine that are all kink/sex related.  Bottom line, I *highly* recommend this museum.  I personally plan on making another visit to the museum just to spend the day going through their archives....maybe I'll see you there.

Until next time,
Much love,
Delilah Marvelle