On a spring day in 2007 a special wedding ceremony took place on the second platform of the Eiffel Tower. Friends gathered, vows were spoken, and the bride was kissed. As cool April breezes swept up from the river and across the betrothed couple, the structure’s iron beams seemed to reverberate with the optimism of freshly declared love.
And yet it was clear to the tower’s other visitors, who had been drawn to the applause of the small audience in attendance, that the event was lacking a key component – the groom. They were even more perplexed, after a closer look, to see that there in fact wasn’t a second spouse involved at all.
This didn’t bother Erika, the young American who had just pledged herself to her soul mate; she ignored the strange looks and descended with her twelve wedding guests to ground level. More importantly she was descending with her new last name, changed in the traditional fashion to reflect that of her new married partner. From this day forward she would call herself Erika La Tour Eiffel, or Erika The Eiffel Tower.
She makes up one of the few people in the world known as “Objectum Sexuals”, or people who fall in love – real love — with inanimate objects. Those diagnosed with Objectum Sexuality, or OS, claim to harbor the same deep connections with objects as we do toward people, relating on an emotional, spiritual, and even physical level.
Erika Eiffel, as she’s now called, became the figure-head of this phenomenon when she arranged a ceremony to marry the French icon, even if it wasn’t an officially recognized union. She first fell in love with the monument in 2004, and surprisingly she claims the wedding wasn’t even her idea — it was the tower that proposed to her.
One night while viewing it from across the Seine, Erika was thrilled to find the monument’s 20,000 bulbs sparkling as part of its hourly five-minute light show. But just as she pulled out her camera to snap a picture the spectacle stopped. She begged and pleaded aloud to the tower, asking it to turn back on for her. At that moment the bulbs unexpectedly flickered back to life, which to Erika was more than mere coincidence. It was an affectionate message.
She would later wed the tower, which she considers to be female, and in lieu of a wedding ring Erika had an eight-inch image of the monument tattooed on her chest. To legitimize the event further she paid $500 to have the named changed on her passport, and she even returned to Paris one year later to “consummate” the marriage…though she claims that this particular physical act has been exaggerated by the media.
The relationship is not a monogamous one; Erika currently sustains relationships with other objects such as the remains of the Berlin Wall, the attraction to which prompted her to relocate to the German capital. The list of past lovers is rather long and includes the Golden Gate Bridge, an airplane, an archery bow, and a Japanese martial arts sword. As a teenager her secret was abruptly revealed when her mother caught her in bed with a drum set.
Erika shares this peculiarity with a handful of others in the world – for the moment mostly women – who claim to have deeply loved an array of items: an amusement park ride, a church banister, and for one Swedish woman even a life-sized guillotine. This is more than a simple fetish; they name the objects, they care for them, some even have conversations with them.
Bizarre, sure. But before kicking into full judgement mode it should be noted that in several cases there are histories of sexual abuse and other psychological trauma in these women’s pasts, and many find themselves unable to sustain emotional relationships with other human beings. It’s not very hard to imagine their attraction to objects that are infinitely dependable, never threatening to hurt or abandon.
There’s also an interesting upside to this condition for Erika Eiffel. She’s managed to turn a few of her object bonds into considerable successes – her relationship with her bow, which she named Lance and is described as being a fantastic lover, led to her becoming a two-time world champion archer and record holder. Her affair with an airplane encouraged her to become a pilot, and she attained high levels as a martial artist with the sword she loved. For better or worse she’s never apologized for her choices, and in one interview she summed up how she sees her place in the world:
“We’re all puzzle pieces. Some of us are in the center of the puzzle, connected to other pieces on all sides. Maybe I’m just on the edge. But I’m still on the puzzle.”
It’s a story that would seem impossible if it weren’t so true, and it goes to show that it really does take all kinds. So if you happen to be enjoying Paris in the springtime, and find yourself within view of it on an April 8th, you might just consider wishing the tower a Happy Anniversary.
But don’t get too attached — she’s taken.