VIP Interview – Dr. Victoria Hartmann From The Erotic Heritage Museum

The Erotic Heritage Museum preserves sexual history, promoting freedom and education. From exhibitions on sex in space, sex bicycles, the evolution of human sexuality, sex in the Third Riech and the art of porn, the Erotic Heritage Museum has it all. The Erotic Heritage Museum is located exactly where you would expect it to be in the heart of Las Vegas.

The co-founder Harry Mohney ventured into the world of strip clubs and pornography began in 1987. Harry Mohney founded Déjà Vu, which has now turn into a franchise of well over 132 strip clubs and adult businesses. He has also been one of the largest distributors of porn and adult material in the world.

Harry Mohney co-founded the Erotic Heritage Museum with Reverend Ted McIlvenna who retired from the United Methodist Church. Rev. Ted McIlvenna has earned the title of the ‘Porn-again Minister’ from the Telegraph. He owns the world’s largest erotica collection, initially housed at San Francisco’s Institute for Advanced Human Sexuality. He then learned that people’s sex drives and sexuality cannot be changed. Harry Mohney and Rev. Ted McIlvenna worked together to form the Erotic Heritage Museum.

This is a VIP Interview with executive director Dr. Victoria Hartmann at the Erotic Heritage Museum. This is a must read VIP interview full of depth and insight into the world of sexuality and sexual wellness!

Tell me about yourself

I am Victoria Hartmann, Ph.D., M.P.H.; A board certified clinical sexologist currently serving as Executive Director of The Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas. I facilitate workshops, research, write, speak, consult on women’s sexuality, and advocate for transgender rights. I hold a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, with an emphasis on Clinical Sexology, from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (2012), as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Health (2012), and am board certified by the American College of Sexologists with Diplomat status (DACS), as well as an Official International Delegate and Consultant of the Chinese Sexology Association. My expertise is in paraphilic sexual behaviors and recovery from sexual trauma.

What inspires you?

People. I worked as a group therapist for several years at a rape crisis center. The kind of growth I was witness to was powerful and deeply emotional for me as a counselor. People who came from severely violent backgrounds found their truth and shared it with others during each 10 week, closed therapeutic group, and the strength found by each client had a profound effect on me. I see inklings of that at the Museum, when people complete a tour with a bit more knowledge (and hopefully self-acceptance) about sexuality and themselves.

What inspired the creation of the Erotic Heritage Museum?

As our Grand Patron, Harry Mohney, describes it, he and Dr. Ted met during an obscenity trial many many years ago. Dr. Ted was an expert witness in that trial. Harry and Dr. Ted discovered a mutual love of Wine and Women, and became fast friends. They have also supported one another throughout the years, when facing legal challenges related to adult material.

What is the importance of building an Erotic Heritage Museum?

Sex Museums encompass a particular kind of museum experience: they respatialize and recaption sex, while reorienting bodies in a curatorial space. The EHM actively preserves and displays global erotic heritage, often undervalued, criticized, or lost over time.

What is the size of the museum?

Total square footage of the EHM is 27,000 square feet, with 24,000 dedicated to the main Museum space and lobby area. We are the largest Erotic Museum in the World.

Museum of erotic artwork
Image: Erotic Heritage Museum

What are the co-founders Harry Mohney and Rev. Ted McIlvenna’s backgrounds?

In 1962, the United Methodist Church, in cooperation with the United Church of Christ, the United Presbyterian Church, the American Baptist Church, and the Southern Presbyterian Church, commissioned a study of the nature and needs of persons in early adulthood. Four cities were chosen to field the study, and The Rev. Ted Mcllvenna, a United Methodist minister with considerable social research background, was chosen to direct the San Francisco arm of the project.

The issue of sexual identity, especially homosexuality, was a primary area of the project’s research. The main conclusion of the findings was that one cannot understand homosexuality without understanding human sexuality. Further consultations were held at the Institute for Sex Research in Bloomington, Indiana; at the headquarters of the United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee; at the National Institutes of Mental Health in Washington, D.C.; and in London, England, with representatives from the Dutch Ministry of Culture, World Council of Churches, the British Department of Health, a representative from the Vatican, a Bishop of the Church of England, a representative of the French Ministry of Health and five delegates from the United States.

The London meeting concluded: train professionals in human sexuality at a specially designed centre due to their knowledge gap.

In the spring of 1967, the Institute for Sex Research in Bloomington, Indiana hosted a meeting. It included representatives from the original sponsoring church bodies, the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Glide Foundation (an operating foundation), and four other funding foundations. It was concluded that the Glide Foundation in San Francisco would be the home of the National Sex Forum (NSF).

What would the the NSF Do?

The Forum would have as its main tasks the study of what helping professionals needed to know about human sexuality, and the development of effective educational methodologies and design of innovative training materials. The National Sex Forum began officially in October 1968, as part of the Glide Urban Center. This later became the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.

Harry Mohney’s legacy was launched on a lone drive-in movie screen in a Durand, Michigan, a cornfield in the 1960’s. Anyone who watched an adult film at a drive-in can thank Mohney, as he’s the man who set the table for drive-in owners all over the U.S. to pack their lots with patrons looking for some cinema skin. Mohney is the “Daddy of the Adult Drive-In,” starting with the Screen Drive-In in Durand in 1966.

For a brief period in the late ‘60s through the early ‘80s, the adult drive-in was a staple of the American cinema landscape. It’s gone the way of the typewriter and the Walkman, but like any nostalgic treasure, it’s still fondly recalled, discussed in chat rooms and on Twitter. It’s also sent Harry into a lifestyle most only dream of. Today he is the figurehead for the largest Gentlemen’s club chain in the World: Deja Vu. He retired in 2017.

How did polar opposites Rev. Ted McIlvenna and Harry Mohney adapt their work to preserve erotic history?

Around 2006-2007, Harry and Dr. Ted decided to collaborate on the Museum. Harry had collected mountains of erotica, dating back to the 60’s, including his “Durand Dirties” and “Beaver Reels.” He also funded and produced some of the biggest adult films of the 70’s, and had discovered such iconic adult stars as Hyapatia Lee. Dr. Ted had collected erotic art and artifacts for the Institute’s archives for the same length of time. Preserving this material in a Museum seemed to make sense.

What can people expect from visiting the Erotic Heritage Museum? What are the permanent exhibits?

They can expect an unfiltered view of sex across cultures and time. Social influences, biology, sexual orientation, taboos and fantasy are all represented in erotic art. People usually expressed these privately or created commissioned works for secret collectors, thus avoiding external judgment or structure.

We get to learn through sexual art many different feelings and thoughts around sex, and often find that while the expressions of fantasy are varied, and underlying influence of sexuality in our personal lives includes each one of us and unites us in our humanity.

Some permanent exhibits include the Sex in Space exhibit, exploring our potential for sex and reproduction on other astral bodies in our Solar System and in Zero Gravity environments; the Evolution of Human Sexuality exhibit, where we look at how our species evolved and reproduced, as well as the Worlds Largest Sex Bike and the Sex in the Third Reich exhibit which features one of only three pairs of Hitler’s Mistress Eva Braun undergarments.

Museum of the history of sex
Image: Erotic Heritage Museum Logo

Who should visit the Erotic Heritage Museum?

Anyone over the age of 18 can and should visit the Museum. We are a great place to learn, explore, bring a date or take in a show!

What are the most interesting exhibits that the Erotic Heritage Museum has ever displayed?

As we have been documenting sexuality since our inception, it’s our belief we have been a force for social awareness and activism just by the very nature of what we do. What has changed is the political climate. Before the 2016 election we were just a fun oddity in “funky” Las Vegas; following the election the general public reclassified us as a space for social justice.

We haven’t changed; the view of us by the public has. We have hosted and supported organisations such as the Desiree Alliance, Gender Justice Nevada, SWOP, Planned Parenthood, the Green Party and countless other social and reproductive justice organisations over the years.

What are the Erotic Heritage Museums favourite sexual wellness, health and lifestyle facts?

That’s a difficult question to answer! The Museum constantly evolves, with each exhibit meticulously crafted and maintained. I contribute to all and grow attached to each.. That said, I think what matters more to me is which one each guest is the most drawn to. I love asking people about their experience here and why a particular exhibit affected them.

What can we learn about the history of sexuality?

Making ourselves vulnerable, especially sexually, leaves us open to have the most sensitive parts of us judged and shamed. It’s what nearly 100% of people I’ve worked with and studied have expressed – fear of sexual judgment and the unmet need to be accepted for who they are. Here at the Museum we believe health and wellness starts with sexual self-acceptance.

Is there any questions or information you would like to add to the article?

Sexual expression crosses all cultures, genders and time periods. We learn about ourselves as social creatures and how our inner and outer worlds affect our sexuality. Sexuality is seen without moral judgement. We learn that sexuality affects us all.

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