In Obscene Diary, the rich sexual documentation of one remarkable individual, a professor, tattoo artist, pornographer and sexual record keeper, Samuel Steward will be unveiled. 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.


In Obscene Diary: The Secret Archive of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist and Pornographer, the intimate sexual record-keeping of one individual is unveiled for all to see. Steward’s self-documentation includes a catalogue of every partner and each sex act performed, recorded through diary entries, photos, explicit drawings and erotic literary musings.


Recovered from a San Francisco attic in 2001, Samuel Steward’s preserved archive recently formed the basis of the widely acclaimed biography, Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade, which was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award. The biography provides an amazing portrait of not only Samuel Steward, but of an entire generation of men who lived in the years before Stonewall, when it was dangerous to be openly homosexual. Presented to the public for the first and only time before its donation to a special collections library, this comprehensive group of artifacts from the Steward Archive forms the core of the exhibition.


Using a variety of textures and wall treatments, the exhibition features a replication of Steward’s own attic apartment and asks patrons to imagine what it would look like if their own sexual histories were documented so completely. And, perhaps more socially relevant: what would this say about the times in which we live?


Justin Spring, Curator

Sarah Forbes, Curator, Museum of Sex

Mark Snyder, Director of Exhibitions, Museum of Sex



Emilie Baltz, Creative Director, Museum of Sex

Daniel Colon, Mural Artist

Harrison Apple, AV Editing

Jose Garcia Huidobro, Wall Treatments

Munire Kirmaci, Wall Treatments

Vera Apuzen, Wall Treatments

Cheungyoon Kim, Design Intern

Kimberly Kulka, Design Intern


July 14, 2011 – January 15, 2012