By M. Christian YNOT
– San Francisco long has been considered a veritable hotbed of liberal thought and behavior. In addition to institutions of higher learning and the notorious Alcatraz, the city boasts prominent GLBT and BDSM communities.
Now San Fran has another preeminent attraction. The Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum
opened recently, to the breathless delight of historians and libertines alike. The grand opening celebration, hosted in mid-April by museum curator and renowned sexologist Dr. Carol Queen, attracted not just one or two curious souls, but crowds
“We are delighted to showcase our collection in a dynamic, historic and entertaining display at our Polk Street retail location,” Queen said. “The new exhibit contextualizes the vibrators’ role in society and highlights how our attitudes around sex and female pleasure have evolved. It really gives us an appreciation for how far both society and technology have come, and it’s fitting to house the exhibit in the original female-friendly adult retail store.”
As brilliant as she is sexy, Dr. Queen noted that a few inquisitive men were curious whether anything from the dim and shy history of sexual pleasure devices was intended for their gender. The answer is yes, and Queen regaled participants in the grand opening tour with all the steamy details.
The collection currently includes 122 devices dating to the 1800s and provides an eye-opening look at vibrators’ maturation from treatments for “female hysteria” to the more contemporary role as “marital aids.”
“You may not like to think about your grandmother’s vibrator, but to see the evolution of our favorite invention is irresistible,” Queen said. “You can really see how our attitudes around sex and female pleasure have evolved and how far both society and technology have come.”
Several of the items in the Good Vibrations collection will make their big screen debut May 1 during the San Francisco International Film Festival
premiere of Hysteria
, a Victorian-era romantic comedy starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rupert Everett.
The history of the vibrator is a fascinating one, and Queen said Good Vibrations gladly sheds light on the unlikely origins of its industry. The electric vibrator saw its inception in 1869 with the invention of a steam-powered massager, patented by an American doctor. The device was designed as a medical tool for creating “hysterical paroxysm” in women patients suffering from abnormalities ranging from depression to an unseemly desire to enjoy civil rights accorded only to men.
Not until the advent of stag films in the early 20th Century was the truth generally admitted: My, God — these are sex toys!
So-called hysteria treatments were labeled bogus by the American Psychiatric Association in 1952, allowing the now pocket-sized, battery-operated devices to take their rightful places out in the open in bedrooms worldwide.
For a startling selection of contemporary vibrators — as well as historical perspective and educational materials about the pleasurable use of modern gadgets — visit GoodVibrations.com