If there is one, I’ve never seen it.
What got me thinking about it was an old Scorsese movie on TCM. It had the obligatory scene where a street hood (Harvey Keitel, always watchable) ducks into a cathedral, providing the obligatory contrast between his criminality and, uh, deep spirituality, I guess.
The cathedral was lush— a towering spires, rococo opulence, rich colors, beautiful sculptures.
And I thought, what was that all about? You know, cathedrals, honoring the spirit, a higher calling, something above the daily grind?
Post-Renaissance, money replaced God as the ordering principle of Western society (that’s not breaking news, I know). Today’s cathedrals are high-rises, gambling palaces, opulent cruise ships, glitzy shopping centers.
The other driving force in modern society is sex, which permeates almost everything.
But, hey, while there are cathedrals to money, there are no cathedrals of sex. And don’t tell me Las Vegas or Hollywood are more about sex than money.
What would a cathedral of sex look like? I have no idea (although there are a lot of abandoned shopping malls around the U.S. that could fill the role). But I can speculate on what it could contain.
It could be a place to tantalize, suggest, nudge, comfort, and titillate. And without demanding money from the worshipers, I might add. It would be about the sexual experience, the closest way human beings join together. And, of course, it would celebrate the miracle of the orgasm.
Like a cathedral of old dedicated to religion, a cathedral of sex would be there to help the people it serves.
For example, it could ease the suffering of young people through adolescence—a place where they could explore the panoply of sexual experience without guilt, shame or intimidation. I know I could have used a cathedral of sex when I was in my teens, wracked by Catholic guilt about masturbating and terrified of penis-in-vagina sex.
And completely ignorant of the possibility of sex with someone of my own gender.
Ideally, it could be where young people might experiment, both alone and with a friend (or friends). No more backseats of cars, bathrooms, huddling under the covers with a flashlight. A cathedral of sex would welcome young people, educate them, dispel guilt, open up to them the world of sexual pleasure.
Maybe, like temples in India, there would be fresco and paintings on the walls and ceilings celebrating sex in all its splendor and variations. Think of Chinatown in San Francisco, Grant Avenue and the incredible variety of netsuke in the shop windows—small Japanese ivory carvings displaying monks in an insane variety of sexual combinations, with men and women, fat pricks, oversized vulvas, everyone having a ball.
A cathedral of sex would be a place to learn and explore and laugh and honor your sexuality (and your humanity).
Why aren’t there cathedrals of sex?