Woman Earns Hefty Sum Appraising Erotic Art

SAN FRANCISCO - Doctor of human sexuality Laura Henkel, a one-time legal secretary, now gets paid top dollar to study and appraise sex-art items ranging from blown glass to '70s porn posters, according to Reuters.

Henkel, 40, resides on a houseboat in Sausalito, and earns up to $300 an hour for her educated evaluations of what are becoming increasingly valuable pieces of artwork. She's also applying her expertise to the creation of an Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, slated to be ready for opening by next January.

Having earned her doctorate from San Francisco's Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (presided over by the Exodus Trust, which is also behind the Las Vegas museum), Henkel was quoted in the story as saying, "I feel very lucky that I do what I do. It's definitely not boring."

Henkel said some subgenres of erotic art, such as antique gay fare, have become extremely valuable due to having once been outlawed. She appraised one collection of 5,000 erotic comics at $100,000.

"I'm always just fascinated," Henkel said. "I look at it as a whole, almost like a kid in a candy store — what's that, what's the value of this, what's the story behind this? From an anthropological standpoint, it's a glimmer of who we are, it's a piece of history... There are aspects that do make me giggle and do make me say, 'Oh boy, that's good!' [But] when you have a job to do, you're focusing on the job.

"To me, it is more or less folk art," she said. "It represents what was going on with the culture at the time."