Screening, Reading, and Book Launch / Adventures in the Orgasmatron, with Christopher Turner

Date: Tuesday, 28 June 2011, 7–9 pm
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn (map and directions here)
FREE. No RSVP necessary


Listen to an audio recording of this program, or download the file by right-clicking here and selecting "Save link as..."
Please note: at 11:23 the talk ends and is followed by three video clips; at 25:32 the video clips end and the discussion begins.


Please join us for the launch of Cabinet editor Christopher Turner’s book Adventures in the Orgasmatron (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), which tells the story of the pre-1960s sexual revolution in the US, one led by expatriated European thinkers who saw a vast country ripe for liberation.

Central to this narrative is the orgone box—a tall, slender construction of wood, metal, and steel wool. A person who sat in the box, it was thought, could elevate his or her "orgastic potential"—ridding the body of repressive forces and improving sexual potency. Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow, J. D. Salinger, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs sat in an orgone box, seeking synthesis of sexual and political liberation. Woody Allen satirized it as the Orgasmatron.

The box was the invention of Wilhelm Reich, an unorthodox psychoanalyst and disaffected disciple of Freud who brought his theories of sexual energy to America during World War II. A determined scientist in conflict with a suspicious society, he faced a federal ban on the orgone box, an FBI investigation, a fraught encounter with Einstein (who conducted two weeks of tests on Reich's invention), and bouts of paranoia that left him unable to defend himself.

Turner’s presentation will elaborate on this surprising story of science, sex, and postwar America, and also feature excerpts from three films: Woody Allen’s Sleeper (1973), Roger Vadim’s Barbarella (1968), and Dušan Makavejev’s WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971).

This event has been made possible by a generous grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. Beer for this event has been lovingly provided by Brooklyn Brewery.
Cabinet is a non-profit organization supported by the Lambent Foundation, the Orphiflamme Foundation, the New York Council on the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Katchadourian Family Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, the Danielson Foundation, and many generous individuals. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation by visiting here.