This odd little doohickey is something called the pear. Sounds innocuous enough, right? But, wait. It also looks like Satan's penis. And that's pretty much how sadistic 17th-century torturers used the device.
To start, they'd insert the pear into their victim's mouth, rectum, or vagina. (The victim was usually someone accused of adultery, sodomy, incest, or, um, sex with Satan.) Then, slowly, the torturer would twist the tiny bearded bust of Beezlebub sitting gleefully atop that screw mechanism. As the screw threaded, the three leaves spread and spread and spread while the half-inch spike at each leaf's tip dug into the soft walls of the victim's insides, causing shredded throats, torn guts, and genital distension. Note the deranged cartoon of a screaming human face.
Now, the pear is only one of 85 antique pain machines that'll be part of the "Instruments of Torture Through the Ages" exhibit, open April 2 through August 29 at the Freedom Tower. There's also the knee splitter, the iron maiden, and the spiked collar.
"Instruments of Torture Through the Ages": April 2 through August 29, 2010. Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. The gallery is open noon till 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 11 a.m. till 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost $15, $10 for seniors, and $7 for children and MDC students, faculty, or staff. Call 305-237-7700 or visit mdc.edu.