Erika Eiffel is a former world champion archer. Much of the credit for her success she gives to her bow, Lance, whom she was having a relationship with. “We were such a great team because we had that connection on every single level. I’d almost swear that my blood just flowed from my arm and went right into him. I just felt like the molecules in him were flowing back into my arm. I used to feel so connected with him,” she says in the documentary Married to the Eiffel Tower.
Eiffel is part of a small group of 100 people in the world who call themselves objectum-sexuals, or OS. Instead of being sexually oriented towards men or women, these people are attracted to objects. Being an objectum-sexual is more than having a fetish for objects. Fetishes involve being sexually attracted to the object, and having fantasies about it, but they don’t progress to the level of believing the object to have a sense of consciousness or creates a spiritual connection.
The documentary Married to the Eiffel Tower portrays three women who designate themselves as objectum-sexuals: Eiffel, Eija-Riitta Eklöf Berliner-Mauer and Amy Wolfe. Berliner-Mauer, whose last name means “Berlin Wall” in German, coined the term “objectum-sexual” in the 1970s.
The objects of their affection may not be human, but the women still display their love in familiar ways: writing songs, poems and letters, keeping photographs on their nightstands, kissing, touching and having sex with their lovers.
Eiffel’s first lover, another bow, belonged to a now ex-boyfriend.
“The sad part is he broke up with me because I loved his bow more than him,” Eiffel explains.
While Lance is now too an ex, she has many lovers, the most famous being the Eiffel Tower, which she married in 2007 without state approval. Viewers of Married to the Eiffel Tower see Eiffel straddling the tower—sans underwear—to remove barriers between them and consummate their marriage.
“I am one with her. I am connected to her,” she says. “The heat of my body is flowing into her cold steel. The cold of her steel is flowing into my body and we are reaching equilibrium, where we both are the same temperature.”
Eiffel pauses to caress the tower and the interviewer uses the moment to ask whether it’s unpleasant that the tower is so cold.
“It’s actually quite pleasant that she’s cold. Because I can feel the exchange of temperature between us, which is an exchange of energy. And that energy is very spiritual,” she says.
A mark of being objectum-sexual is the ability to communicate and receive love from the object. Eiffel is confident her love for the Eiffel Tower is mutual and she denies any accusations that the tower can’t communicate with her.
Another of Eiffel’s lovers is the Berlin Wall, which she shares with Berliner-Mauer. Berliner-Mauer has passed on her knowledge of model building to Eiffel, so both can keep representations of their lovers close by. Eiffel sleeps with these models in her bed, strokes them and talks to them. Her room is filled with photographs and models of her lovers, as well as a wooden fence she is in love with. She also carries at least one model with her at all times.
As for the sex, Eiffel emphasizes the relationship’s emotional aspect and links the physical to their intense spiritual connection.
The psychological turmoil of the women featured in the film is difficult to ignore. Although the community insists they are born objectum-sexual, many of its members have suffered abuse or have Asperger’s Syndrome. Eiffel was molested as a child for two years by her half-brother and painfully recounts the scar it left on her. But she says she doesn’t think her experience of sexual abuse influenced her relationships.
During a stint in the United States army, she was sexually attacked, but was able to protect herself using the Japanese sword she had in bed with her. The army discharged her because of her attachment to the sword, and her refusal to relinquish it.
Few studies have been done on objectum sexuality. Dr. Amy Marsh, a sexologist from Albany, CA, released results from the first clinical survey of 21 people who are in love with objects on Oct. 2. “Objectum Sexuality appears to be a sexual or romantic orientation, not a fetish,” her report said.
Dr. Marsh created the Marsh Scale of human/object intimacy to help categorize people who are objectum-sexuals. The spectrum ranges from “behaviour with objects,” such as using a sex toy, to “orientation towards objects,” where the individual has a sense of object consciousness, a spiritual connection with the object, and an emotional attachment where a sense of reciprocity exists.
Marsh notes the high level of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in respondents and encouraged further study. Another interesting fact about OS is almost all of its members are women.
Amy Wolfe, an OS woman with Asperger’s, is in love with the amusement park ride 1001 Nacht located in the Phantasialand Amusement Park in Germany. While filming Married to the Eiffel Tower, she travelled 130 kilometres to visit it. Like Eiffel, Wolfe has remarkably intense feeling for the object of her affection and personifies it with incredible breadth.
“I love the roundness of his counterweights … I love him for the narrowness of his jibs … I love him for the elegant lines of his gondola. … When I make love to him at home, when I start climaxing I just keep saying over and over again … I just tell him, ‘I want your fluids; I want your fluids,’” she says to the camera.
When the ride is closed in the winter, she lies under the machine, get its grease and oil on her hands, and rubs it on her face. For Wolfe, the touch and smell of 1001 Nachte’s oil act as an aphrodisiac.
Another of Wolfe’s lovers is a church organ named Paul. When the pastor of the church discovered the affair she was asked to leave the church. The new pastor is more accepting of Wolfe’s sexuality. Together they kneel at the banister she’s also in love with.
Being an objectum-sexual is difficult—viewers can see their anguish when their lovers are hurt in some way. Berliner-Mauer thinks her husband was “maimed” and Wolfe nearly committed suicide when the Twin Towers collapsed. They are often ridiculed for their loves, and find it difficult to be intimate with public objects. Security guards at public monuments often frown upon touching and caressing the structures.
While the documentary provided publicity for objectum sexuality, OS Internationale (OSI), their community organization, doesn’t sanction it. On their website, the group asserts that, “Despite featuring OSI members …this film is firmly denounced by the objectum-sexuality community for its exploitative and sensationalized take on OS.”
Most of us may be averse to the idea of replacing a romantic connection to a human with an object, but like all loving relationships, these individuals seem to reap legitimate satisfaction from their relationships with their objects. B.C. Hall, a sound-engineer who is attracted to soundboards, wrote “A Letter to the Outside World,” published by OS Internationale on their website, to express his feelings.
“It is something that is wired into our brains from the day we are born. It is not a choice, nor is it something you can change or fix. There’s nothing to fix, there’s nothing to cure, and above all, we are happy to be how we are.”
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