What’s a Sexploratorium? Now’s a good time to find out!

It was the brainchild of a group of former college professors, trying to bring sex-ed to the masses.
7 min. read
Artist Hay Price holds up two of four pieces of “The Spider and her Uterus,” one piece she submitted to “Gay Sex: I Am Not Ashamed,” the Sexploratorium’s Pride Month art show. June 11, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

There's an unusual business tucked into the corner of South Broadway and Colorado Avenue. You may have driven past it, but you may not have noticed; the trees lining that part of the corridor conceal its titillating promise.

It's called the Sexploratorium, and it's here to help you get educated about all the questions you've been afraid to ask. Wondering about your body, or your sexuality, or the history of burlesque in Colorado? This is the place for you.

And it's a good time to learn about what they have to teach you. Starting Friday, June 21st, the space is hosting the art show "Gay Sex: I Am Not Ashamed" and a parallel history exhibit, "Those Who Walked So We Could Run." The Pride-themed events will be open through July 18th.

The Sexploratorium, an event space, gift shop and future museum on South Broadway. June 11, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

How did an adult sex education center end up in Platt Park?

It's the brainchild of Fawn O’Breitzman and her partners in business and, perhaps, pleasure. They were on a mission to educate.

"We are all ex-college professors who decided everyone should have comprehensive sex-ed at their fingertips. We really don't get an opportunity for sex-ed unless we're taking human sexuality in college," she told us. "So, it's really a very small percentage of people that are really getting a breadth of what is possible in sex education. Most of us are getting just the very, very, very basics."

Fawn O’Breitzman, co-founder of South Broadway's Sexploratorium, in her event space, gift shop and future museum. June 11, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

O’Breitzman spent about 20 years teaching psychology, sex and gender – most recently at Red Rocks Community College. But she wanted to expand her audience. She'd also spent time working at Fascinations, a local sex shop, and wanted to create a space that felt a little more inviting for everyone.

"That was a very different atmosphere and it felt dangerous for women. And this is kind of the opposite of that. How can you feel super comfortable?" she said. "We're kind of that bridge between that world of academia and the real world."

Books for sale at the Sexploratorium, an event space, gift shop and future museum on South Broadway. June 11, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The Sexploratorium's calendar is filled with events, everything from "Sex Toys for Chronic Pain" to "Overcoming Sexual Shame" to "Bedroom Bondage" to a "Queer Board Gamers Meet and Greet."

While most of their topics involve intimacy, they don't all center around The Act. O’Breitzman has been enjoying anatomy classes, which often use painting and sculpting to help educate people about their own bodies.

"I talk about chambers in the rectum and why sometimes when you can't go to the bathroom, you don't feel like you have to poop anymore, it's because it's gone back up into that other chamber! That is information we need to have, but we don't get it," she said, seething with excitement. "It's things like that. But it's also things like erotic touch, things you wouldn't have found in academia because we have deemed it inappropriate, but that is part of human experience."

Plush toys for sale at the Sexploratorium, an event space, gift shop and future museum on South Broadway. June 11, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Right now, the Sexploratorium mostly offers space for these events and a gift shop, where you can buy plush penises, rubber boobs, art and books.

O’Breitzman said the initial idea for this space was an immersive, "meow-wolfy" museum, but the pandemic delayed their progress. That plan is still on the table; they're currently looking to open some kind of exhibit in August.

Here's what to expect from the art show:

That idea came from Tyler Perry, a Rocky Mountain School of Art and Design student who left North Carolina about six years ago and fell in love with Denver.

"Every Pride I try to spend time focusing on some different aspect of queer history to learn about. This year I decided to focus on Denver queer history, and I was like, 'I wonder what it took to get us where we are?'" he told us. "As far as compared to where I grew up, it's kind of utopian."

Artist Tyler Perry stands in South Broadway's Sexploratorium, an event space, gift shop and future museum where he's throwing a galleryu show for Pride month. June 11, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

So Perry fully immersed himself in the past, calling on Aaron Marcus, History Colorado's LGBTQ Curator, to help him dig into the details. He realized he wanted to tell that story in public, and he knew just where to do it.

"I had been to a couple art exhibitions before [at the Sexploratorium], so I was familiar with the space," he said. "I knew their gallery, I knew they were an up and coming performance space, so I thought of them. I called them up one day when I was at school randomly, and Fawn was like, 'Hell yeah, let's do a show.'"

Historic context on the walls of South Broadway's Sexploratorium, for the Pride-themed history exhibit, "Those Who Walked So We Could Run." June 11, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The history side, "Those Who Walked So We Could Run," features stories and artifacts from Denver's past. It includes celebrations, for things like the foundation of feminist magazine Big Mama Rag, and laments, for things like Colorado's passage of the anti-queer Amendment 2 in 1992.

"I want an appreciation for where we live, but also recognition of the battles that were fought, as well as what we could lose and what's happening everywhere around us," Perry told us

Perry recruited six artists for the art side, "Gay Sex: I Am Not Ashamed," whose work spans media, subject and style. It includes sculptures of genitalia (adorned with googly eyes, no less), block prints and paintings.

Work by artist Moxie Moanne in "Gay Sex: I Am Not Ashamed," the Sexploratorium's Pride Month art show, that alludes to the feeling of "alien" body parts within the experience of gender dysphoria. June 11, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

"The theme is based off of reclaiming what we have been chastised for throughout history," Perry said. "So I'm going to have some pieces that relate to my religious trauma and my history growing up in the south. I've got some people that are going really in the kinky direction and I've got some people that are going really into the gay direction. It's a really good broad and abstract take on the theme."

Hay Price, an artist in the show and one of Perry's RMCAD classmates, said she was thrilled to be a part of the event.

"The opportunity to get my work out and to show people outside of a school setting is a pretty big deal for me. Also, just to have it themed around LGBT and just that whole community is super — it's a huge deal. It's very accepting for myself and just to see others be accepting of it as well," she said.

Artist Tyler Perry holds up a copy of an issue of Big Mama Rag, the feminist newspaper, that he's installing in "Those Who Walked So We Could Run," a history exhibit he's curating at South Broadway's Sexploratorium. June 11, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Price is still learning about her own queer identity, so it's fitting she's brought that exploration here, to a place all about asking hard questions in a safe space. She's looking forward to meeting more people interested in that kind of self reflection.

"I guess I just haven't had too much support within that realm," she told us. "So to be able to show my work here and connect with so many people who are also going through the same thing, and have similar experiences, it's a wonderful time."

"Gay Sex: I Am Not Ashamed" and "Those Who Walked So We Could Run" open on Friday, June 21, with a party. Entry is $25 at the door, or $20 ahead of time online. Sexploratorium events, like the party, are limited to guests who are 18 or older. The gift shop is open to anyone outside of those events.

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