LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX
to the practice of binding women’s feet to make them look cuter, while lock-bearing underpants are presented as the chastity belt of the ancient Orient.
He also owns a knife that was used to castrate men in the Chinese imperial court, when eunuchs were trusted above others.
However, such relics of China’s sexual cultural heritage were considered obscene, or at least unsuitable for public consumption, and omitted from many official museum displays in modern times, Liu said.
“So many objects were destroyed through time — by wars, revolutions and campaigns against pornography,” he said.
Liu was once consulted by the municipal police over a batch of items. He was able to photograph them before they were burned in public.
Most of his pieces were purchased with his own savings. In fact, he invested so much over the years that he said he lost track of where all the money went.
“Looking back, I can’t help but wonder how I managed to buy so many,” he said. He bought from antique dealers, visited sex shops and red-light zones abroad. He also received donations from people who believed in his cause. His collection now totals more than 4,000 pieces.
“There are still plenty of good knickknacks out there, even though prices have risen significantly. But I don’t have the financial strength to keep buying them,” Liu said, adding that his collection is already quite comprehensive.
In the last 10 years he has been approached by many companies that have expressed interest in opening sex-themed museums, he said.
One attempt in Haikou of tropical Hainan province failed after a typhoon swept the roof off the building and damaged much of the collection. Several proposals from local governments were aborted when they failed to gain the support of seniorranking officials.
So far, only one museum showcasing Liu’s collection is still open. It was established about a decade ago by Huang Yongjie, an entrepreneur in Wuhan. It is now subsidized by the government, a gesture of recognition from the city.
When Liu began his sex survey 30 years ago, he was surprised to discover just how many Chinese people were ignorant and naive about the subject.
He gave the story of one well-educated couple who consulted doctors after years of marriage about their failure to conceive. As it turned out, they believed that lying side by side in bed was suffi to produce babies.
Now the situation has changed considerably.
“Young people today are often way ahead of their parents in terms of sex knowledge. Nobody is happy with the status quo of sex education in China. Young people need to act responsibly and understand that there are consequences to having sex. It’s an urgent issue.”