Plastinated cadaver sex? Really?

According to Reuters, Gunther von Hagens of Body Worlds fame is going to create an entire exhibit showing plastinated cadavers in sexual poses. He already includes two “copulating cadavers” in his current show:

German politicians called the current “Cycle of Life” show charting conception to old age “revolting” and “unacceptable” when it showed in Berlin earlier this year because it included copulating cadavers.

The way a plastinate is exhibited can vary from country to country to reflect local sensibilities. A vote of local employees decided that one of the copulating female cadavers should wear fewer clothes in Zurich than was the case in Berlin.

“Switzerland is the first country that already said from the outset that we could show whatever we wanted,” said von Hagens. (source)

Which is exactly why plastinated cadavers head to Switzerland on vacation.

Previously on BioE: skeleton sex, skeletons in love


  1. #1 Azkyroth
    September 12, 2009

    Lily Tomlin was right, then?

  2. #2 Scrabcake
    September 13, 2009

    Yes, this kind of puts the kibosh on the whole argument that the plastination exhibits are using cadavers for education and not as an art project. I’m kind of ethically on the fence about the exhibit but I can’t see any educational benefit of showing mating cadavers. It’s not like they died having sex so you can’t see any biological processes at work, just that peg a goes in slot b…I think the community at large is already aware of that biology.

  3. #3 John
    September 13, 2009

    I could see some educational value if they were showing how things fit together on the inside and not just on the outside. But I’m not sure that would be easy to do with cadavers, or if Gunther von Hagens is interested in doing that.

  4. #4 Comrade PhysioProf
    September 13, 2009

    Yeah, sex is revolting and unacceptable! I mean, it is so painful and sucks and just makes people miserable in so many ways, it is worse than murder, torture, addiction, war, famine, disease, third-degree burns, and everyfuckingthing@!!! Sex is the worst thing in the entire fucking universe!!!! BAN SEX NOW, BEFORE IT TAKES OUR CHILDREN!!!!!

  5. #5 Rogue Epidemiologist
    September 14, 2009

    Wow, ease up on the WHARRGARBBL, PhysioProf. Did you see the pix of the cadavers in question? I’m something of a libertine myself, but even I must say it was creepy. Profoundly creepy.

    There are so many better ways to have an exhibit of erotic art. And if you want to make it relevant to our line of work, then may I suggest this paper:
    BMJ 1999;319:1596-1600 ( 18 December )


  6. #6 ABM
    September 14, 2009

    I’ve seen the Body Worlds exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre, and it was brilliant! An astonishing combination of science and art. The cadavers were posed in many of the the everyday activities that people regularly undertake. Perhaps that should include coitus.

    But he may find he has a sudden dearth of new donors signing up. Even the most liberal of people might balk at their preserved remains being posed in flagrante with those of a complete stranger.

  7. #7 David Bruggeman
    September 16, 2009

    Colbert leads tonight’s show with this exhibit.

  8. #8 Lou
    September 24, 2009

    After seeing the photo’s of the exhibit in question I just kind of shake my head at all the fuss. Intercourse is a pretty normal part of biology, and even if it is more art than education, so what? It prompts an emotional reaction, like good art should.

    Personally, I would have liked to have seen a side view cutaway of the act, but intact I thought it was a nice specimen. I would have no problem with my own remains being posed in such a way. I would only regret that I wouldn’t be able to see it.

  9. #9 Keith
    November 14, 2009

    Coitus is part of life, and, if plastinates are tastefully posed for artistic and educational exhibits, there should be no rational objection as long as the donors specifically consented. However, I would prefer seeing future exhibits focusing on sexual reproduction, fetal development, and childbirth, along with efforts to educate the public about AIDS, and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases — not the provocative “reverse cowboy position”.

    Personally, I would consent to having my plastinated body posed in a sexual position with a female donor. Despite the debate, the issue of a ‘stranger’ serving as the “mate” should not be a problem.

    Currently, I am registered as a whole body donor to a medical school, and ultimately, after dissection, my remains will be cremated with those of other men and women, as our ashes will be commingled in a common burial plot.

    This is a common practice in many US medical schools, and frankly, about as intimate as any final disposition could possibly be. So, familiarity with your fellow donors is a moot point, and anonymity the rule, in the science of anatomy.

    Let’s be appreciative of the former person who became that astounding specimen in Body Worlds, and leave it at that.

  10. #10 Robert
    January 15, 2010

    A dead body is just empty vessel. People feel uncomfortable about displaying the deceased as though the empty vessel was aware of and disapproving of being displayed in an unconventional manner. This is nothing but a taboo that our culture has ingrained in us. People need to realize that much of what believe is from a time when society was mostly illiterate.

    The ancient wise men passed down a ritual for the sanitary disposal of the dead. They made it religious because it was the only way to pass the knowledge to the illiterate. Making it God’s will for the handling of the dead instilled a spiritual reason. “Do what God says or you will go to hell.” The reality is that there is nothing in the dead body. No thought, no consciousness, no feeling.

    When politicians express moral outrage at the displaying of the dead, they are showing how ignorant they really are. The only concern for thousands of years was the sanitary disposal of the dead to prevent diseases from being spread. That’s it period. Public sentiment has been greatly influenced by the funeral industry which profits highly by humanizing the dead and playing on guilt. What a ripoff.

    It doesn’t matter what is done to a dead body as long as its sanitary.

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