Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sunday: Free Art, Expensive Erotica

That's right, kids, it's Sunday. As you already know, Catholicism reigns in France. That, of course, means that on the first Sunday of every month, all state owned attractions and museums are free and open to the public.
I decided to skip the Louvre today (tomorrow I am buying a year-long student pass and will have free admission thereafter) and headed for the Centre Pompidou. It houses the city's modern art collection. It is also known for its modern/odd architecture. The line was about 200 people long but the wait allowed me to watch a man and his marionette "The Beatles" show, a clown with a giant plunger on his head, and several other animations along the way.
Inside was a bit crowded; twice in my presence sculptures were knocked over and the glass on a framed painting was broken! Which is actually a lot more funny than it sounds--the clatter from each accident froze every single person in the gallery. Faces went white and gasps were uttered, but the museum staff-- who at this point must hate this Catholic tradition-- were just like, "whatever, keep moving" (only in French w/ their very unhappy Gaullois glower). The center itself is huge, but the permanent expositions were relatively small-- I'm glad I got in for free (thank you patron saint of free monuments/museums).
After waiting a few hours to use the ladies room (it was free which equals 'worth the wait'), I caught the 31 bus to Pigalle and the Musée de l'Eroticisme (Museum of Erotica). Pigalle is the closest thing Paris has to a Red Light district. Prostitution is not legal, but here you find peep shows, adult book stores and film houses, live shows, and, bien sur, La Moulin Rouge. The museum cost me (w/ student disc.) 5 euro, the same price I paid to get into the Musée d'Orsay which is a (100x's bigger) world-class museum. In that regard, very expensive, but I had been looking forward to visiting it all day.
The museum has taken up residence in an old residence, so while it is six stories, it's small. It has ancient symbols of fertility, old porn and erotica, art, and a few devices that made me blush. Me!
Making my way from the bottom to top stories, I think I enjoyed Les Films Interdits (forbidden films) the best. Basically, black and white silent porn. Their scores sound like something from a circus, and added to the absolutely bizarre experience of watching such graphic sex from an era I've always thought to be quite prude (prohibition, girdles, chastity belts). Upon reaching the top floor, I was greeted by a man dressed in leather hot pants (with a studded cod piece), suspenders, a hat and not much else. I had to pass him a few times while roaming the gallery (it really is a small place). As I was leaving, he asked me if I would like to participate in a small animation by simply sitting on the purple velvet chair in front him. First, from the looks of it, it wouldn't have been small. Second, I was the only one in that gallery, and any show about to commence would have been for my eyes only. Non, merci.
What does one tip for a lap dance in a museum, anyway?
And that is what Sundays are all about in Paris-- just as God had intended them to be.


Blogger Serena said...

*travel tip: If lost in Paris, ask an old woman for directions. They never leave their quartiers and will know it like the back of their hand.
9 times out of 10 the person over 60 will give you the best directions-- just don't expect them to speak english.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Adrian said...


Sounds like fun- GREAT weekend, Im sure.

Nothing like an offer of a lapdance to make a weekend, huh?

3:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown!!! said...

Hi thanx a lot for the comment....keep blogging....

6:19 AM  
Blogger European said...

Hmm. Maybe you can ask prudie or Emily Post what one should tip for that sort of a "service".

8:33 PM  

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