There’s no disputing the fact that Miami, Florida, is the nightlife capital of the world. So when I spotted the words “visit to a museum” on our itinerary, my face did fall a bit. But by the time I was done with the Art Deco tour on South Beach that paved the way for the World Erotic Art Museum on Washington Avenue, my spirit was pretty much defying gravity.
As shocking as it may seem — there apparently is a lot more to Miami than just nightlife.
If you enjoy photography, keep your camera handy a few miles before you reach Wynwood Walls. The streets that lead you to this art hub are covered in graffiti that from no angle looks like the works of an amateur. In 2009, real estate developer and community revitaliser Tony Goldman decided to convert the walls of this massive enclosure into canvases for artistes from around the world.
From surrealistic art that has a 3D effect if seen from an angle to walls painted in a language created by an artiste — this spot is free for anyone to visit. American street artiste Shepard Fairey, best known for creating US President Obama’s ‘hope poster’, painted the massive mural seen at the entrance of Wynwood Walls, after Goldman passed away.
Eat out... Literally, on the streets
Why sit indoors when you live in a city that’s blessed with bay-fronts and beaches as flawless and expansive as the ones here? Ocean’s Drive in South Beach is where the action is. Almost all the restaurants on this breezy stretch dotted with Art Deco-styled buildings have seating on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, none of them offer you a view of the sea, which is separated by a mount of sand.
Famous for their neon signage, it is the iconic hotels on this stretch that make for that signature Miami sight. One of those many hotels here is The Carlyle, which was where Al Pacino’s Scarface (1983) was shot. Fashion monkeys can also spot the late Italian designer Gianni Versace’s bungalow. He was shot dead on these very steps in 1997. Apparently, because he visited an eatery called News Café every day, his killer was able to track his schedule. The Turkey Sandwich at the News Café is definitely worth a shot.
Let’s talk about sex!
If you aren’t headed to this museum with intent, you’ll probably miss it. “When I go to give lectures, I tell people, you know what? Your parents had sex and your grandparents had sex,” says Naomi Wilzig, disarming everyone. Naomi isn’t the usual art curator. She’s a senior lady with an iron voice.
“My son was doing up his home when he asked me to find him a piece of erotic art for him,” she says, pun pointing the first time she was exposed to the erotic art. She was in her 60s then. Over the years, she gathered thousands of pieces of art, paintings and scrolls reminiscent of history, controversial drawings, erotic instruments, a four-poster bed with 100-odd positions of the Kamasutra carved on it and more. And even the well-travelled have missed this must-visit museum.
Meet and greet
If animal parks bore you, Jungle Island comes as a surprise, because it allows you to interact with the animals. Some, that is. If you’re lucky, you might walk into an intimate session between two tabby tigers, like I did. The interaction with the lemurs, which was our first experience here, was most-memorable. We were made to sit in a corner and asked not to make sudden movements. Once we were in place, these curious little fellows made themselves comfortable on our heads, legs and everywhere else as we fed them assorted fruits. If you thought you’ve touched the softest fur ever, you should meet them.
The writer travelled as a guest of Visit Florida.