Whether you are traveling in the U.S. or having a staycation this Saturday, be sure to include some culture. September 28 is Museum Day Live! (aka Free Museum Day), when museums all over the country open their doors without charging admission.
The annual event is inspired by the Smithsonian museums, which offer free admission every day. You’ll have to register and download your free ticket in advance, which will get two guests in free to participating museums.
A few of our favorite museums participating:
Chicago Smart Museum of Art
The University of Chicago’s art museum is always free, but this weekend is also the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, and museum-goers can also enjoy free concerts in the sculpture garden.
Dallas/Ft. Worth American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum
Regular price: $7 adults
Serious airline nerds, frequent flyers and those on a long layover can check out this museum of aviation and American AIrlines history, just a few miles from DFW airport. Exhibits include a rare Douglas DC-3 plane.
Las Vegas Burlesque Hall of Fame
Regular suggested donation or gift shop purchase: $5)
What’s Sin City without a little strip tease? See costumes, props and photos documenting the history, traditions and stars of burlesque dance. Los Angeles Grammy Museum
Regular price: $12.95 adults
Pop music lovers can check out four floors of music exhibits and memorabilia. The current exhibition features the career of Ringo Starr, including an interactive drum lesson with the Beatles‘ rhythm man himself.
New York Museum of Chinese in America
Regular price: $10 adults
Learn about the immigrant experience in New York’s Chinatown in a building designed by Maya Lin. Current special exhibitions on the glamour of Shanghai women and the role Chinese-American designers in fashion. Follow it up with dim sum in the neighborhood.
San Francisco Cartoon Art
Regular price: $7 adults
Take your comics seriously? This is the art museum for you, with 6,000 works of cartoon cels, comic strips and book art. Best. Museum. Ever.
Washington, D.C. Museum of Crime and Punishment
Regular price: $21.95
Value the free admission and your freedom at a museum dedicated to criminals and police work. Fans of police procedural TV shows will enjoy the CSI lab and the filming studio for “America’s Most Wanted.”
Bear with me now as I attempt to tell you about the newest learning vacation available in Las Vegas. Night School 4 Girls, which we learned about from our friends at the San Francisco Chronicle, is a new class at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino that teaches girls the art of seduction, from pole dancing to burlesque to “more” – though the official website doesn’t explain exactly what “more” means. The 70-minute classes take place at the Excalibur’s Thunder from Down Under Showroom (I am not making this up) and are strictly for women. Uh, I mean girls.
Because it is a school, participants choose from four different party packages – Flirty Freshmen, Sexy Sophmore’s [sic], Juicy Juniors, or Sultry Seniors – all of which include an official diploma and NS4G souvenir photo. Pricier packages get you benefits such as VIP nightclub access to Cathouse, a party boa, open bar privileges, and other goodies to help you express your drunk…uh, I mean uninhibited…side.
E! Television star Laura Croft, the school’s headmistress, and four other instructors with backgrounds in dance, put students through their paces at the Night School 4 Girls. But, because of Laura’s “busy schedule of parties and appearances,” she will not be in attendance at every class. Lucky for us, she does offer some helpful party tips for visiting Vegas. For example, “Need a quick energy boost? Try a Jagerbomb” and “Only take your top off…when asked nicely.”
Would you look at that? I got through that whole post without making a pun of the Las Vegas Strip. But with a topic like Night School 4 Girls, those puns just write themselves, don’t they?
Ah, Valentine’s Day. It’s a loaded holiday, one with high expectations. This year, though, I got into the spirit of things: I decided to rustle up a list of the world’s great sex museums. Even if you can’t pay a visit, their websites are informative and loaded with photos of exhibits. And best of all? You can indulge all by yourself, no relationship needed.
Erotic Heritage Museum, Las Vegas
The somewhat bizarre collaboration of a “Preacher and a Pornographer,” this pleasure palace houses over 17,000 square feet of artistically expressive erotica. Behold, ye Larry Flynt and “Ho-Down Mural” exhibitions.
Sex Machines Museum, Prague
Call me a perv, but how cool is this? A museum devoted entirely to the history and display of, to quote the website, “mechanical erotic appliances, the purpose of which is to bring pleasure and allow extraordinary and unusual positions during intercourse.” Okey dokey. There’s also a small theater for viewing old erotic cinema.
Museum of Sex, New York
It may not be the among the best-known of the city’s museums, but this monument to sex education, history, and cultural significance isn’t just for academics. It’s a good time, too. With rotating exhibits and virtual installations on everything from the “Sex Lives of Animals” and “Kink,” to a tribute to American pin-up photography, there’s something for everyone. Don’t forget to stop at the OralFix Aphrodisiac Cafe for an erotic elixir.
The Dutch are known for their rather laid-back attitude toward things the rest of the world tends to frown upon, which is one reason they’re so much fun. The famed “Venustempel” in Amsterdam is focused on “the theme of sensual love.” And hey–the four euro entry fee is a lot cheaper than the Red Light District.
Museu de l’erotica, Barcelona
Dedicated to the exploration of erotica in all its various forms: anthropological, archaeological, sociological, artistic, literary, and something called “plastic arts.” Hm. Located in Barcelona’s architecturally stunning La Rambla neighborhood. [Photo credit: Flickr user SWANclothing]
The Icelandic Phallological Museum, Husavik (northern island)
This collection of over “two hundred and nine penises and penile parts” represents nearly all of the land and marine animals native to Iceland. Not as creepy as it sounds, the museum provides a base for modern research on the study of phallology. If that offends you, please consider the multi-billion-dollar male sexual enhancement/aid industry.
[Photo credit: Elín Eydís Friðriksdóttir]
World Erotic Art Museum, Miami
WEAM is home to the largest collection of erotic art in the United States, including sculpture and art objects. Rest assured it’s a lot more tasteful than what you’ll see parading on Ocean Drive.
China Sex Museum, Tongli
Located 50 miles outside of Shanghai in a former fishing village, this museum is dedicated to “over 9,000 years of Chinese sexual history,” with over 1,500 exhibits and artifacts. I am most definitely curious about the “Women and marriage” exhibit. Does it have a headache?
Condom Museum, Nonthaburi (approximately one hour from…hee…Bangkok)
The Ministry of Public Health opened this little museum, located in the Department of Medical Sciences building, in 2010. Its purpose is to develop awareness about HIV/AIDS and eliminate negative public perception about condom use (ironic, given that Thailand is the world’s largest producer of condoms).
If all that condomizing leaves you famished, perhaps you’d like to grab dinner at Cabbages & Condoms in Bangkok? Founder Mechai Viravaidya is a sexual awareness activist who has promoted condom use for the last 30 years. Partial proceeds go toward projects for the Population and Community Development Association (PDA). Watch Mechai give a restaurant tour and explain his mission in the below clip. Have a “safe” Valentine’s Day!
You can read any guidebook or travel article for ideas on how to spend your days in Istanbul, taking in the city’s many world-class museums and bustling neighborhoods. But at night, you’re better off using local resources and recommendations as a starting point and then following your own instincts. In the name of research, I checked out a few diversions from the wholesome to adults-only.While by no means an exhaustive guide to Istanbul’s myriad nightlife choices, there are a few tips to keep in mind on what to do after dark.Going to the movies
Fortunately for non-Turkish speakers, foreign movies are shown in their original language with Turkish subtitles, so while you may not be able to watch a French art-house film, you can count on the latest Hollywood movies in English. Bonus: you can increase your Turkish vocabulary by following along the subtitles; I picked up some choice curse words and euphemisms watching Get Him to the Greek. The foreign-ness of the experience begins when you purchase tickets – you actually choose and reserve your seat in the theater – a new but welcome experience I haven’t seen in the US. Corn is a beloved food staple throughout the country, so popcorn is always available, though they haven’t figured out the butter thing. Before the feature begins, you’ll be subjected to ten minutes or so of loud Turkish advertisements (have you ever seen liquor ads at the movies, let alone for competing brands?) and previews in various languages. Just when you reach the halfway point, the lights will come up and there will be a ten-minute intermission to use the bathroom, get more dry popcorn, or speculate on how Inception will end. Check for listings online (Google “movies Istanbul”); some theaters let you buy tickets on their website.
Beerhalls and cocktail bars
It may be a Muslim country but alcohol flows freely in Istanbul, albeit for a price, particularly for imported liquor. Learn to love Efes (the domestic beer), raki (strong but foul-tasting anise-flavored liquor), and Turkish wines (şarap SHARAP – beyaz for white and kırmızı KURMUHZUH for red); all of which can run from 5 TL for a half-liter of beer in a low-key tavern to 20 TL for a glass of wine in a more upmarket locale. For the most variety of bars, from old-man pubs to rooftop lounges, head to the Beyoglu (BAY-YO-LOO) district off Taksim Square and turn down any street leading from the mostly-pedestrian Istiklal Caddesi. Best bets for a variety of cafes and bars are Cihangir (down the hill from Taksim along Siraselviler Caddesi), the “French Street” in Galatasaray (midway down Istiklal and left at the big high school), and Asmalı Mescit at the opposite end of Istiklal. At Kafe Pi near Tunel, we were probably the first people in a decade to order the above-photographed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shots and they were as delightful as you’d imagine. Wander around until you find a spot that suits you and enjoy the people-watching.
Clubs – dancing girls and salsa dancing
The city’s top nightclubs line the Bosphorus, the most famous is Reina, though it’s more infamous for exorbitant drink prices, posturing crowd, and frequent closures for noise pollution and other offenses. Slightly more laid back but still pricey is Anjelique in Ortakoy, where a bottle of local wine will run you around 60 TL or if you’re flash, 400 TL for the full Absolut bottle service. Make a reservation for dinner if you actually want to get into a club. Actually want to dance instead of just stand around in stillettos? Back in Beyoglu, Cuba Bar has live music and salsa dancing on weekends. Looking for a more, er, gentlemanly club? The city’s nicest strip club (actually, might be the only one) is Regina Revue (WARNING: link not remotely safe for work or any other place you don’t want to be seen looking at naked women) north of Taksim near the Hilton Hotel. More burlesque than pole-dancing, the club is harmless, fairly cheesy fun with an unapologetically bordello-esque decor. My friend and I were the only non-working women there but neither we nor our male companions were harassed by the clientele or the dancers. The “shows” range from a writhing woman on a motorcycle to an inexplicably artsy number with a Trojan horse prop. While not a typical choice for a Friday night out, my table had a great time guessing the story behind each dance and the nationality of each (almost all natural) dancer (nearly all Russian or Eastern European), and there are certainly seedier places to spend an evening.
Find another fun night spot in Istanbul? Leave us a comment below.