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Naomi Wilzig on the World Erotic Museum: It's Fine Art Not Porn

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Naomi Wilzig won't take it personal if you hesitate before entering her den of indulgence at the corner of 12th Street and Washington Ave.

"In my quest for my pieces I've gotten thousands of rude remarks, crude remarks and raised eyebrows," joked Wilzig Wednesday evening. "I've heard it all."

With a pep in her step that would rival most twentysomethings, it's no surprise that the hip 75-year old is the madame at the helm of one of South Beach's most risque raves: World Erotica Museum.

The adults-only space houses a collection of 4,000 erotic pieces stemming from Biblical times to the modern day and valued at $10 million. If the phallic birds and the Beatles in their birthday suits don't attract your attention, you'll definitely make a U-turn back to the painting of the seven dwarfs getting down with Snow White.

Wilzig says she had to convince dealers she wasn't some "crazy old lady" after discovering her passion for the taboo collectibles while shopping for "conversation pieces for her son's bachelor pad" some 20 years ago.

"I'm from a conservative Jewish family, and I didn't know anything about this stuff," Wilzig said. "I finally found my son the pieces, but I still spent all my spare time antiquing and became hooked on the search."

Wilzig soon found her self scouring all over America, London, Paris and Amsterdam, then penning five books and finally opening up the museum. For those who may assume the intimate space lacks substance, the Josephine Baker collection includes a letter from Martin Luther King Jr. thanking the famed, often nude entertainer for her role in the civil rights movement.

"People misconstrue the museum. They think erotic means pornographic and we're fighting that image all the time," said Wilzig. "We are far away from pornography. We are fine art."

Why Miami?

 "Miami is intellectual. It's bright, happy and sexual," says Wilzig. "It's a turn-on area."

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