The Interview is a series where we introduce you to people who inspire us by the things they do and the way they live their life.
From health, to beauty, to fashion and art; the people in this feature designed their lives based on their very personal interests, talents and goals.
1. Who? Sarah Forbes, 34 (London) Curator + Author + Sexual Culturalist
2. You are an anthropologist and were the Curator at the Museum of Sex in Manhattan New York for over a decade.
You have also written an amazing book titled ‘Sex in The Museum; My Unlikely Career at New York’s Most Provocative Museum’ that featured in Cosmopolitan, on CBS and Huffington Post.
In short a career that is so unique it will be difficult for most people to grasp.
Can you tell us a little bit about the professional journey that led to the Museum Of Sex.
I certainly didn't set out to be a "Curator of Sex" but like most great adventures in life, it happened by chance.
I was 22 years old, had just graduated from University and was heading straight into a graduate program in Anthropology with a focus on gender.
If you asked me then I was going to become a professor and live with indigenous tribes across the Amazon.
But while signing the lease for my first apartment, my boyfriend at the time, was sent off to wander my new neighborhood. And by fate, he stumbled upon the recently opened Museum of Sex.
A little dubious, I met him there, and was so pleasantly surprised to find a real and rare Museum talking about sex openly, honestly and without censorship. I fell in love. And in the longest of long shots dropped off my resume.
With another anthropologist on staff leaving, it was nothing less than serendipity. I started as a researcher, then Assistant Curator and when finally done with grad school was offered the role as Curator of the Museum of Sex. After curating more than 20 exhibitions, and serving as the public spokesperson for the Museum, that one chance encounter resulted in the next 12 years of professional experiences. How could I not write a memoir about this once in a life time adventure.
3. In beginning of 2016 you departed the museum with a final exhibition called ‘Object XXX’ What is the craziest object/artefact you have come across whilst curating the exhibition?
Sex brings out the best of our human creativity. I've seen everything from every type of sex machine possible to $10,000 customized sex dolls, made from such an incredible high grade silicone, they truly deserve their name "RealDolls."
In the exhibition, "ObjectsXXX," I featured a contemporary resin chastity belt (the artists' girlfriend wore it for 15 days straight once), a braile Playboy, a merkin (a pubic wig, once used by sex workers of the past to burlesque dancers of the early 20th century trying to convince their patrons they were getting to see more than they were in actuality) to some vibrators from the 1920s (originally created by doctors to be used on their patients). And those are just the top of the iceberg...
4. There is a lot of conversation at the moment on female empowerment, and the right of women to be entitled to own and show their sexuality, a lot of it driven by Celebrities. How much of that conversation is actually reflective of a real historical shift in attitudes and perception of women when it comes to sexuality? Have you experienced that change in attitudes yourself in your decade long career at the museum?
The growing fame of the Museum of Sex, a cultural shift in our societal attitude toward sex, and my personal evolution as a woman, are so deeply interwoven in this specific cultural moment. Across the last decade I've seen sex toys evolve from novelty objects sold in hushed tones, to beautifully designed luxury objects; now found in 1 in 4 households. This trend shows that women are taking their own sexual pleasure seriously, as a right.
I also see my personal generation of woman, wanting a fulfilling life on all levels---professionally, personally as well as sexually.
With celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Beyonce, continuing to rock their sexuality post motherhood, I think it represents a desire of women today to sustain a sexually empowered identity through every chapter of their lives.
5. You have recently moved from New York to London. Two Global Cities with similarities but equally a lot of differences. What would you say is one of the biggest cultural differences in attitudes towards sex and sexuality.
Since the day I moved to London, Londoners keep asserting to me they are actually "very European when it comes to sex." I translate this to mean, "don't think behind this culturally reserved facade we don't really love sex."
To me, it's a tremendously English way of saying, but not saying directly, they are actually very down for a good time. I could never imagine a New Yorker saying something similar. But it doesn't mean I think New Yorkers are more sexually active. Years of experience in this field has taught me, it's often those you don't expect it of that are often having the most kinky and boisterous sexual encounters behind closed doors.
6. What such an remarkable career so far, what is your next step. Will you follow a similar path in London and help educate people about sex and sexuality?
I'm forever committed to being an educator that guides people to think outside the box and beyond the textbook. For me that is rooted in IRL experiences. So whether they are exhibitions, installations or brand activations, I plan on continuing to create content on sex, sexuality, gender and identity that is both educational and entertaining. In our digitally saturated world, I think people are genuinely craving these kinds of experiences. As a consultant and sexual culturalist, I'm excited to start working with a wide range of London institutions, content creators and companies who seeks out these very opportunities. As long as I'm engaging in the craft of "making," I'm open to a wide range of projects. It's a very exciting time, starting fresh in such a vibrantly creative city.
7. Finally, is there any scientific evidence for the popular belief that a Red Lip really makes a woman more sexually attractive?
Yes! Whether it's being considered more attractive in a social situations, or even professional gains (studies have shown waitresses wearing red lipstick gain more in tips) there is an evolutionary reason red lips have a certain power. It's tied to signals of fertility...and the fact that much of the animal kingdom often advertises this with a reddening of the vulva during ovulation. That's right, you wearing red lipstick is our human equivalent of displaying sexual receptivity.
Photo Credit: BFA, @mcgawesome
Follow Sarah Forbes @curatorofsex
To find out more about The Museum Of Sex New York visit www.museumofsex.com