Genital Mutilators and Other Torture Devices at the Freedom Tower April 2

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.

Below, get a preview of those three evil instruments and a short description of their uses.

Most people know about the Virgin of Nuremberg, AKA the iron maiden. (Yeah, the namesake of Bruce Dickinson's Brit metal band.) It suffices to say this bitch is a seven-foot-tall man killer. Step 1: You get bound and stuffed inside the maiden, and a door laden with giant spikes gets slammed, over and over. Step 2: You get locked inside. Days pass. Step 3: The door is reopened and closed, reopened and closed, until your torturer gets bored. Final step: You bleed. You get gangrene. You die.

The circular instrument pictured is the spiked collar. It's the iron maiden with a neck fetish. Or maybe it's more like the maiden's mouth, rung with several rows of variously sized, vicious fangs. Either way, it's 11 to 20 pounds of pure hell. The lazy torturer just straps the thing around some poor fool's throat and waits for the victim to succumb to infection, insanity, and inevitable death.

OK. So the torture mini-tour is over. But if you want to see the remaining 81 terrifying objects of malevolence and anguish (including the garrote, the interrogation chair, and others), head to the exhibit next Friday. There'll be plenty of us just standing around transfixed by the waking nightmares these evil toys conjure up.

"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

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S. Pajot