Obscene Diary Exhibition Opens This Friday

Posted on July 12, 2011 by


Based on Justin Spring’s widely acclaimed biography, SECRET HISTORIAN, this exhibition explores the rich sexual documentation of Samuel Steward’s life – professor, tattoo artist and sexual renegade – through photos, diary entries, sexual record keeping, explicit drawings, and erotic literary musings. Steward’s self documentation included a catalogue of every partner and sex act, illustrated through photos, diary entries, sexual record keeping, explicit drawings and erotic literary musings.

“Obscene Diary asks our patrons to reflect on what it would look like if their own sexual histories were documented and what this would say about the times in which we live. Rarely do we have an opportunity to see a sexual life so completely documented, providing an unprecedented peek into the private lives of men from an earlier era.”
-Sarah Forbes, Museum of Sex Curator

The Steward Archive is alternately shocking and amusing, pathetic and uplifting, for it describes a life lived boldly and adventurously during a time of extraordinary sexual oppression. In viewing this remarkable archive, visitors will experience firsthand not only one man’s evolving perception of his own sexual natureand desires; but also the evolving awareness of homosexuality among Americans from the mid-1920s to the early 1990s.

The central artifact of the exhibition is Steward’s “Stud File,” a typed card catalogue featuring all of Steward’s sexual partners, the dates and places of their encounters, a coded key of the various sexual acts that took place as well as partners’ penile dimensions. While some collections are meant to be private, this exhibition is an extension of Steward’s intentions to bring an honest confrontation of sexuality to the American public through the writing, art, photography and sexual record keeping of his lifelong collection, promising to be an event of significant cultural interest and importance as well as popular curiosity.

“I anticipate that the exhibition at the Museum of Sex is going to be groundbreaking and controversial, one that will continue to be discussed by people, both straight and gay, for years to come.”
-Justin Spring, Author/Exhibition Curator     

Check out the “In the life” video of Steward here:

Over 200 of the best artifacts from the Samuel Steward archive will be on display to the public for the first time. The exhibition will open this Friday, July 15, 2011, and run until January 17, 2012.