NSFW: New exhibit at Prague's Dancing House uncovers a century of Czechoslovak erotica

The whole 30-letter Czech alphabet is used to catalog everything from the abolition of bordellos to the sometimes seedy Žižkov district.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 14.05.2021 12:14 (updated on 14.05.2021)

The new exhibition Prague Decadent at the Dancing House Gallery tracks the previously untold history of erotic life of the Czechoslovak capital in the 20th century up to the Velvet Revolution, and even a bit beyond.

"With the new exhibition, we are opening the thirteenth room of each of us. We managed to bring together several themes and different periods of time, which connects decadence and erotic life in Prague in the 20th century," gallery director Robert Vůjtek said.

"The culture around the intimate life of the people in the capital is definitely worth remembering. We anticipate that this will be too bold for some visitors, but we believe that others will appreciate this openness," Vůjtek said.

The decadent life of Prague is literally cataloged from A to Ž. The exhibition is arranged alphabetically: each letter corresponds to one theme, resulting in 30 topics from the history of erotic life in the capital. Good Czech language skills or a smartphone with a translating app will be required to follow the written texts.

For example, under the letter "A" are unique period photographs of naked prostitutes in brothels of the First Republic, which were officially closed by the Abolition Act in 1922. "J" will present a unique collection of erotic posters from Jablonex from the 1980s. Under the letter "K" are the first vibrators made in socialist Czechoslovakia: they were disguised as various massage devices hidden in a discreet case (kufřík). "N" is for the history of nudism in Bohemia, "Q" introduces visitors to the lives of sexual minorities in Prague. "X" explores the forbidden hardcore pornography of the 1970s and ’80s and its changes with the advent of digital media. And at the end, "Ž" will reveal a decadent Žižkov district.

Along the way, visitors will see tasteful nudity of the first half of the 20th century, learn about the striptease and cabaret scene of the 1960s, and examine how censorship worked in Barrandov Studios. It also includes an exhibition of women's underwear from throughout the entire 20th century. Artistic photos by internationally renowned artist František Drtikol are also on display.

Prague Decadent (Praha dekadentní) was created in cooperation with the City of Prague Museum, the Czech Police Museum, and the city districts of Prague 2 and Prague 3. It is open daily from 9 am to 7 pm until March 31, 2022. Only visitors over the age of 18 are allowed to enter the exhibition.

For more information, visit the Dancing House Gallery (Galerie Tančící dům) website or Facebook page.

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