"When the Wall came down in 1989, I saw it on TV and I just cried. People were hitting and smashing it so bad." Erika Eiffel
“The intimacy between me and an object is on a very energetic, spiritual level. The euphoria I feel can come from simple touching or embracing." Erika Eiffel
Erika Eiffel is Objectum Sexual (OS) – she is attracted to objects. Erika received worldwide media attention because of her love and subsequent commitment ceremony with the Eiffel Tower in 2007 – hence her last name. But it’s actually the Berlin Wall that has always been there for her.
Out of the closet
Growing up in Main in the US, the 41 year old noticed in her teens that she was a bit different. “My friends started talking about boys, and how they wanted to date them. I never felt that way. I wanted to tell that I actually had deep feelings for the bridge in our town but I felt I never could.” It was first when she moved to Japan in 2000 for her studies that Erika felt safe enough to talk about her feelings for objects. “The Japanese culture shows a lot of respect for nature and objects, they accepted that I was attracted to my samurai sword and later to my archery bow.” Erika competed with the bow she loved on an international level – she is a world champion in archery.
Also in Europe Erika felt she could be more open about her OS. “I founded a group called OS Internationale, to create a community for OS people and to raise awareness.” After opening up about her commitment to the Eiffel Tower, Erika agreed to be part of a British documentary in 2008, hoping it would create a better understanding of OS. “But it was terrible, they portrayed us as sexual deviants and implied that I had improper sexual relations with the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t.” It got her into a depression and she felt that her relationship with the Eiffel Tower started falling apart.
It still hurts a lot – Erika gets tears in her eyes talking about it. She moved to Berlin in 2009, pulled by the Berlin Wall and hoping to be closer to the Eiffel Tower. “I knew the Wall from back in 1986 when I learned about it in school. When the Wall came down in 1989, I saw it on TV and I just cried. People were hitting and smashing it so bad. It’s an object hated for who he his, hated for dividing a city. But it wasn’t the Wall’s fault, it was the government behind it.”
Erika is polyamorous, which means she can have more than one relationship at a time. “My attraction to the Berlin Wall has always been there. I always felt a strong connection to objects that are misunderstood. The Eiffel Tower is this great symbol of love, but people around her are just in love with each other – not with her. The Berlin Wall was hated, I wanted to give it a chance to be loved.” With the Berlin Wall she sees a strong personal similarity. “I was always hated for who I am,” she says shaking her head.
Of course, people keep asking her questions. How does this feel? Can you have sex with an object? “Well, you can’t have sex with a Wall, it simply doesn’t fit,” she laughs. “It’s intimacy on a very energetic, spiritual level. The euphoria I feel can come from simple touching or embracing. It’s sex in a different way; clothes don’t even have to come off!”
In Berlin Erika desperately searched for an apartment with a view on the Wal – she managed to get one. But one day, cranes arrived and disturbed her view. They start constructing a new building in front of the Wall. “First I was devastated, but I slowly started to appreciate cranes more and more. It was like the Wall sent me a message to open my heart to other objects again.”
Erika decided to actually get her crane-operating license. She is now in a happy new relationship with the tower crane she is operating. “I’m one of the few women in this job, therefore it was quite hard to get hired. Now my colleagues realize I’m a good crane operator.” She laughs: “They even make jokes now. Asking me which crane I think is hot – or which one has a cuter butt.”
When people ask her what an object can give her in a relationship, she says: “Look what objects have done for me. Look at the things I have achieved in life! I am a world champion because of the relationship with my bow. The OS community I founded has grown significantly; we have over 200 members worldwide now. And I am living a very happy life in Berlin.”
Erika wants to give something back to her objects. She is a Berlin Wall artist, an has her very own painted piece of Wall standing right next to Checkpoint Charlie. She built models of the Wall that are on display in the museum next to the checkpoint. “This is my way of showing my love, these will be here for a very long time hopefully. Just like the buildings I have built with my crane. They are my kids,” she smiles.