Category: Slideshow

Pompeii & Herculaneum Exhibit – Erotic Art – Secret Museum – British Museum

The Secret Museum  (cabinet) open to the public at the British Museum.

The term Secret Museum or Secret Cabinet (Gabinetto Segreto) principally refers to the collection of erotic or sexually explicit finds from Pompeii, held in separate galleries in theNaples National Archaeological MuseumNaplesItaly, the former Museo Borbonico. TheBritish Museum also contained secret rooms.

Throughout ancient Pompeii, erotic frescoes, depictions of the god Priapus, sexually explicit symbols, inscriptions, and even household items (such as phallic oil lamps) were found.Ancient Roman culture had a different sense of shame for sexuality, and viewed sexually explicit material very differently to most present-day cultures.[1] Ideas about obscenitydeveloped from the 18th century to the present day into a modern concept of pornography.[2]Although the excavation of Pompeii was initially an Enlightenment project, once artifacts were classified through a new method of taxonomy, those deemed obscene and unsuitable for the general public were termed pornography and in 1821[3] they were locked away in a Secret Museum. For good measure, the doorway was bricked up in 1849.[4] At Pompeii, locked metal cabinets were constructed over erotic frescos, which could be shown, for a modest additional fee, to gentlemen but not to ladies. This peep show was still in operation at Pompeii in the 1960s.[5] The cabinet was only accessible to “people of mature age and respected morals”, which in practice meant only educated males. The catalogue of the secret museum was also a form of censorship, where engravings and descriptive texts played down the content of the room.

The excavation of Pompeii was important to a range of powerful, and often conflicting, interests who saw the discovery of Pompeii as validating their own view of history, but at the same time excluded anything that did not fit the preferred model. Later Benito Mussolinisaw the excavation of Pompeii as validating the continuity of a Nova Roma. The presence of sexually explicit material, however, was problematic.

Re-opened, closed, re-opened again and then closed again for nearly a hundred years, the secret room was briefly made accessible again at the end of the 1960s before being finally re-opened in the year 2000. Since 2005, the collection is kept in a separate room in the Naples National Archaeological Museum.,_Naples

The Secret Collection – Naples

The Guardian

Roman erotica lacks a sense of sin

Jonathan Jones on Art Blog

The British Museum’s Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition displays plenty of erotic art, but to modern eyes it misses that essential naughty element

Sex is a highlight of the British Museum’s exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, as I point out in my review. The villas and brothels of Pompeii were full of erotic paintings, sculptures and kinky artefacts. Yet this art lacks something essential to modern sex.

It lacks a sense of sin.

The pagan Romans could express disgust at some kinds of sexual behaviour. In his biography of the emperor Tiberius, the Roman historian Suetonius paints a shocking portrait of the tyrant as a dirty old man, telling how Tiberius created a sinister pleasure island on the isle of Capri where he committed brutal outrages – and collected pornography. There’s a great scene in the classic television drama I, Claudius where John Hurt as Caligula ingratiates himself with Uncle Tiberius by giving him a smutty painting. But the reality of Roman life revealed by the art of Pompeii reveals that uninhibited sex and unrepressed art were universal in this ancient culture, not the preserve of decadent tyrants.

It is a huge contrast with the Christian society that grew out of the ruins of Rome and still in many ways – whatever our personal beliefs – shapes the culture of the west. That contrast is sharply shown by what happened to the erotic art of Pompeii when it started to be rediscovered by excavators in the 18th century. It was admired, but also considered deeply provocative. For a long time the saucy treasures now on view at the British Museum were kept under lock and key in the “secret cabinet”, a claustrophobic, windowless alcove in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. This cloistered academy of voyeurism opened permanently to the public only in 2000.

Even today, it feels sinful to visit the secret museum. It feels dirty to look at dirty pictures. The ancient Pompeiians plainly did not feel like that.The statue of Pan making love to a goat in the British Museum show comes from a respectable garden. Yet without a sense of sin we, today, would not enjoy sex half as much, and that is why modern sexuality owes more to St Augustine than it does to the painters of Pompeii.

While researching my book The Loves of the Artists I realised that sin is the secret ingredient in the Renaissance nude. When Donatello andCaravaggio portray beautiful boys, they are not indulging an accepted, legal desire like ancient Greek and Roman artists. In the Renaissance you could be burned at the stake for “sodomy” and this gives a special risk and excitement to an obviously sexualised statue such asDonatello’s David.

Roman erotic art is startling and fascinating, but it lacks that spark of sin. Like Donatello when he brought the male nude daringly back to life in a Christian world, modern love delights in being bad.

Press Release – April 16 – Sam Rosenthal – Murmuration

Philadelphia’s Erotic Literary Salon, Features Erotica Author Sam Rosenthal and Murmuration, Chamber Improvisational Ensemble,  Along with Erotic Readings from Attendees, Tuesday, April 16.

Monday, March 25, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – contact: Susana Mayer, Ph.D., Salonnière,

PCSalons@gmail.comreserve a time slot to read at Salon (5 min max) – guidelines for reading. – blog s+x news, Salon notices, erotica, and guidelines.


The Erotic Literary Salon will be held Tuesday, April 16. Featured reader Sam Rosenthal will be reading from his novel Rye, all about a Queer, poly, kinky, top-bottom, sex-positive character by that name.  Rye is “A money-shot across the bow of outdated sensibilities, Rye takes a sexual somersault through the complexities of desire in a penetrating portrayal of twenty-first century intimacy.”


The guided discussion will be focused on the word Queer and how it is presently used in our culture.


Murmuration is a cross-genre chamber ensemble based on improvisation. They will be performing several steamy works and one will feature the 6 word memoirs attendees will write on the evening of the Salon.


PHILADELPHIA: The Erotic Literary Salon, unique in the English-speaking world has launched a growing movement mainstreaming erotica. Salons attract a supportive audience of 65 or more individuals. Approximately 20 participate as writers, readers, storytellers, spoken word performers of original works/words of others, the rest just come to listen, enjoy and applaud. Frances, our resident nonagenarian (95 years young) often recites her original erotica.


Salons gather the 3rd Tuesday of every month at TIME (The Bohemian Absinthe Lounge), 1315 Sansom Street, Center City, Philadelphia. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. (limited seating), for cocktails, food and conversation. Guided discussions start at 7:15 and readings begin at 8:00. Admission is $10, discounted for students, and seniors (65+) to $8. Salon attendees must be 21.


Creator of this event, Dr. Susana, is Philadelphia’s best-known sexologist. She lends her voice to the Salon by offering relevant information to support the discussions that arise in the Salon and blog.


…surprisingly comfortable….Salon devotees praise her for the space she has created….”

“I think Susana is doing a very brave thing.”

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 10, 2010


“There are laughter and tears along with the hot rush of blood – to the face.

Daily News, March 15, 2010


“I never knew such a life of honesty could exist. I finally found a home I can be comfortable in…this event changed my life.

Warren Katz, first time attendee and reader



FREE – Music – Daniel Sperry – Compassion – Love

Daniel Sperry honored the Erotic Literary Salon a couple years ago playing his wonderful cello while reciting Rumi; there was not a dry eye in the Salon.

You can commission Daniel to create a piece for a special person in your life. Here are a few of those works he recently posted, “The Abode of Compassion” and “A Dance in the Home of your Love.” There are more, I’m still listening; my eyes are glistening. Donations are accepted.

Is Fifty Shades of Grey Literally Making Romance Sexier?

At CatalystCon East 2013 last weekend I attended a panel presentation entitled: The Fifty Shades Phenomenon and its Effect on Our Social Sexual Behavior – Tom Stewart one of the panelists and Founder/CEO of SportSheets (Sex & Mischief) mentioned his business doubled when “Fifty Shades of Grey” went viral.

Below excerpts from Aaron Stanton’s article on: “Fifty Shades of Grey made a huge impact on the publishing industry — but its impact may be more lasting than you know. This genre-bending best-seller isn’t really a romance novel, but it’s been generally treated as one by the mainstream reader. Why is that important? It very well may have changed the “sexiness” of romance forever.”

The Data of Fifty Shades of Grey:

“My wife reads Fifty Shades of Grey on the subway,” my friend says to me, sitting in his office at one of the major publishing houses in Manhattan. He looks thoughtful. “I don’t think you could get away with reading Letters to Penthouse on the train, though. Wonder what the difference is?”

This started me wondering.  What is the difference between Fifty Shades of Grey and something like Letters to Penthouse?  As Fifty Shades has become more mainstream, I’ve increasingly heard it referred to as a romance title instead of erotica, as if being widely read makes it more traditional than it was before.  When Fifty Shades of Grey was originally published as an ebook and print-on-demand title, there was little doubt that it fell into the realm of erotica.  But as it gained popularity, it began to blur the line between the two genres.  A lot of bestseller lists don’t typically include erotica titles, and as a consequence it confused people when they couldn’t find Fifty Shades of Grey on the lists after they heard about it on NPR.

At the moment, I believe that the consensus is that Fifty Shades of Grey is a pretty sexy romance novel, and has been adopted into the romance category over currently lists it as romance, for example. Other retailers dodge the question, listing it as either both erotica AND romance, or “erotic romance,” — a label I find almost amusing.

But listing Fifty Shades of Grey as romance is incorrect.  The data shows that it is most likely an erotica novel hiding in the romance category, not the other way around.  How much so?

Below is a graphical representation of the sexual content, scene-by-scene, of Fifty Shades of Grey as identified by the Book Genome Project, where I work. Each block represents roughly 1,000 words. A green block means that scene has very little or no sexual content. Yellow means it’s more likely to have sexual content. Red means there’s definitely something going on. The three stars are the three highest points in the book:Sexual Content of 50 Shades of Grey

This is a computer generated graphic based on an analysis of Fifty Shades of Grey, but having read most of the book I can assure you that what you’re seeing here is an accurate reflection of the content. The first third is remarkably free of anything controversial. Let’s look at another book, for context, this time one that’s generally acknowledged as safely in the romance genre, an Elizabeth Boyle title: read more: