The Curator of Sex on how making a baby blew her mind

The curator of the ‘Museum of Sex’ in NYC on the little surprises that transformed her life.

The Curator of Sex on how making a baby blew her mind

It was after a year of working with us that my babysitter finally realized that I am the Curator of the Museum of Sex. With our living room bookshelves filled with sex titles and my desk strewn with piles of purposefully NSFW content, I’m pretty impressed about how accepting and non-judgmental she was across the year, as she must have wondered what it was that my husband and I did for work while she watched our two small children. She knew I worked in a Museum, it never dawned on me to tell her which one.


Across the last decade I have worked at the Museum of Sex, starting at the age of 22, three months after graduating the preppy and privileged Connecticut College. It was August of 2004, and I would be starting a Master’s program in Anthropology that September at the New School. I had the whole world figured out, and grad school, I thought, was my first step toward becoming a beloved and mind-opening professor who teaches Anthropology 101 and summers with her family in exotic locales, living with indigenous tribes. I wanted to become the Iris Apfel of Anthropology.

But as with all plans in our early 20s, the plans quickly changed. That August as I signed my first lease, for my first apartment, my boyfriend at the time wandered into the Museum of Sex. A few blocks away from the leasing office, Nick killed time at the museum, sent away as I knew the broker’s flirtations didn’t factor a boyfriend into the scenario. When the paperwork was sorted, I bounded with excitement to meet Nick, at a museum I had never heard of, and never knew existed —the Museum of Sex. As liberal and adventurous as I am, I was a little nervous. What in the world is the Museum of Sex?

Established in 2002, the museum had not even been open for two years when I first visited. “Dedicated to an uncensored discourse about sex and sexuality,” as the mission dictates, were words that held no meaning for me until I first walked through its doors that life-changing summer. Even then, with the museum still rough around its edges, figuring itself out as an institution and working through growing pains, I fell in love. While I didn’t know what to make of the contemporary art show on the ground floor, with a huge projection of a vagina, anthropomorphized with googly eyes and smoking a cigarette no less —the exhibition on the second floor, “Sex Among the Lotus: Three Thousand Years of Erotic Obsession” is what hooked me. A survey of sex in China, the exhibition, spread across two galleries, inspired me to pull my sketchbook from my bag to jot down quotes.

Is this what a museum could be? Fun and informative? Entertaining and educational? A few days later, I dropped my resume off at the front desk. You never know, right?

A few weeks later I began working at the museum, replacing the anthropologist researcher, who was off to do his fieldwork for his dissertation. Across the next two years I was promoted Assistant Curator and once I completed my Master’s, on the cusp of taking another job at a more traditional museum, I was offered the job of Curator. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I was feeling on top of the world, and at the time, I thought a proposal from Nick was right around the corner. But, like so many plans, that one was shortly going to fade away. I experienced my first official, gut-wrenching, almost faint on the subway because you forgot to eat out of sadness kind of heartbreak. I was 24, and a single “Curator of Sex” in New York City.

As you can imagine, with that title, I got a lot of attention across the bars and night clubs of New York City. In a city where, “what do you do?” is often asked before knowing someone’s name, my answer was a conversation starter, to say the least.

Still, those were not always the conversations I wanted to be having. Some people found it appropriate to tell me about every pornographic endeavor they forged and others incorrectly believed “curator” was actually a code word for sex worker. Not surprisingly, the one man who actually wished I had any other job in the world became my husband. After meeting by chance in a bar, and after a year of that dramatic, confusing, untenable, and maddening New York City dating, Jason, proposed to me at the top of Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles in November 2008. In September 2009 we were married in Marrakesh, Morocco surrounded by 100 of our closest friends and family. The next year, just around our first wedding anniversary, a Shiba Inu puppy named, She-ra, named after the beloved ‘80s cartoon warrior princess of the same name, joined our family. It felt like playing house and we celebrated that first anniversary sitting on the floor, drinking champagne, as our four pound pup ran and slid across the floor of our Tribeca apartment.

She-ra was the first step in creating the family I had always wanted and never had. Her affection also helped soften the blow each month I saw a negative pregnancy test.

As my husband and I were approaching the one-year mark of trying to become pregnant, I was starting to question my womanhood and my brand-new marriage.

I was only 28, I never imagined it would take that long to conceive. But after a girls weekend in LA, in which I felt like something just wasn’t right, I returned to New York on Valentine’s Day 2011 to finally see the positive test I always dreamed of.

Later that year, my son Kai was born, and his sister, Zia, joined us in 2014.

I am still the Curator of the Museum of Sex.

Now, I’m also a wife and now a mother.

The last few years of motherhood have been the most amazing, and candidly, the hardest of my life. With two difficult pregnancies, preterm labor scares and bed rest, followed by eight months of breastfeeding both children, I feel like only recently have I been able to stick my head out from the blur. I’ve tried my best to maintain glimmers of my pre-motherhood identity and simultaneously begin to craft a new one.

And as much as I know about sex, at least from a professional perspective, I never learned as much personally as I did the last few years through my pregnancies and motherhood (I’ve also never talked so much about my own vagina with near strangers).

As educated as I am on sex, I also realized how disconnected so many of us, myself included, have been from the information about baby-making sex, the awkward comical sex while pregnant, and navigation sexuality after this body-changing, life-changing experience. Like many of my life’s surprises over the last decade, I could never have predicted the impact becoming a mother would have on my total understanding of sexuality. Sex means new things to me now....pleasure as well as procreation, but also how I feel about myself, my partner and our relationship. As every parent knows, it’s also much harder to be romantic, let alone spontaneous, with a household of little people, schedules, exhaustion and “life.” Sex is an exciting, overwhelming, and complicated topic at all stages of life, but why is it that no one told me it would become even more so once becoming a mother?

The last three years have given me a deep understanding and reverence for motherhood. They’ve also helped me find the courage to realize that, if I can do this whole motherhood thing, I can do anything, even talk, think and write about sex —after baby.

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