Love Abstract-ually

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.

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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.

Erika Eiffel

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.

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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.

Erika Eiffel Wedding

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 permanently 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.

Erika Eiffel Kiss

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.

Erika Eiffel Archery

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. She never apologizes 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 the tower on an April 8th, you might just consider wishing it a Happy Anniversary.

Just don’t get too attached. She’s taken.

28 comments

  • I think you’ve just hit on the one kind of love they didn’t cover in that wonderful film, “Love Actually.” What a marvelously interesting and compassionate post you’ve written here, Mr. French Frye. You’ve just made my world a little bit bigger. Thank you.

    • Thanks Heather, I always thought this story was really interesting and very unexpected. There are documentaries about these women, and it’s a fascinating (though admittedly strange) condition. I’ve never looked at the Eiffel Tower quite the same since!

  • Frankly, I found myself a bit non plussed through the article …. that is until I reached the end. I loved the twist of wishing it Happy Anniversary and the caution to not fall too attached. Clever indeed, and it made the story. The punchline was worth waiting for. Thank you!

  • Very interesting, I have never heard of this particular type of affection reaching such levels of commitment. I think it’s actually great that the women are inspired to be better people because of their love of the objects and, really, isn’t that what love is all about?

    • It’s a peculiar condition for sure, and one that seems linked to dysfunctions in other parts of their lives, but I agree there’s a silver lining in Erika’s case that she turned it into something positive and productive. While it’s not exactly a behavior I understand or would encourage, it’s inspiring anytime a person makes the best of the hand they were dealt in life.

      Thanks for your comment Hailey, and take care!

  • Now that’s just weird. It does take all kinds, but… Why does it always have to be the Americans who are the weird ones? Sheeesh!

    • Isn’t it an interesting story? No I have not met her; this story came onto my radar several years ago but it wasn’t until a recent show on French TV reminded me of it that thought to blog about it. There are videos on YouTube about these women if you do a search for Erika Eiffel. Very intriguing and curious stuff!

  • I was surprised that it’s all women, given the way men can oogle over machines and other inanimate objects, giving them female names and often treating them better than they treat their partners. You know the stereotypical image of the husband in his garage spending hours polishing his pride and joy Cadillac while his wife sits alone in the house wondering what she has to do. I wonder also if this is a modern phenomena brought on by the advertising industries and marketing gurus or have people become attached to objects throughout history?

    • You bring up some good points James. In fact there seem to exist men who are in love with vehicles in the same fashion, but they’ve not yet been grouped into the same OS category as the women. But yeah, these guys have emotional/physical relationships with their cars, and one guy — believe it or not — managed to find some alone time during the 80’s with the actual AirWolf helicopter and, well, you fill in the blanks…seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up!

      I find all this equally disturbing and fascinating, and like you said, it raises interesting questions about where the behavior could come from, and if it’s merely a modern occurrence.

    • Hey James, just to clarify a bit: it seems on the official OS website that some men have joined the group. It’s still a young community and I assume the distinction between men & women will soon disappear.

  • This post was such a weird and wonderful way to start the day being the first thing I’ve read at 6am! Thanks for bringing light to such an interesting topic, and telling the tale in such a tasteful, tactful and respectful way I have to say. I’m making my first visit to Paris in September, and I’ll be telling this story to my friends as we gaze up at Mrs. Eiffel! :)

    • Yes this is one Eiffel Tower funfact that is sure to surprise a group in any conversation. :)

      Because the topic was about a real woman and her personal proclivities, I tried to write this post as if she might one day read it, and I’d hate for her to feel judged or embarrassed if she ever did. I want my blog to do many things, but making someone feel bad about themselves isn’t one of them! So thanks for noticing that.

      I hope you have a great visit in September, it’s really one of the best times to be in the city. Thanks for commenting!

  • Such a strange story. I wonder, like James mentioned, why men have not been catagorized in the same OS group, since there are so many who do create real attatchments cars and such. Is it that women are more psychologically apt at deep affectionate attachements? They say that women’s form lasting affections faster/easier than men do in human relationships anyhow.
    And I agree, your ending is clever!
    ~Melissa

    • There seems to be conflicting info about just how many OS individuals there are and how many are men and women. This might be due to the newness of their coming-out; I think it’s a group that’s still trying to organize themselves through websites and support groups.

      The official OS website, which Erika is involved in I believe, seems to welcome men as well as women to share their stories and find like-minded people.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!

  • I had never heard about OS before – I really didn’t see it coming in this article, haha! Thanks for writing this, because I learnt something new. Another interesting part of the article was how you explained the causes of people to turn to OS. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but after learning about Erika, it seems objectum sexuality could be therapeutic and motivating for those who have been abused in some way in the past.

    • Yeah I was a little bit sneaky there at the beginning, I admit. :)

      I tried to stay objective without being too judgmental, because even as odd as this behavior is, I didn’t want to make them feel outcast for it. I’m glad you agree!

  • You’ve dealt very sensitively with a strange story. I couldn’t help but say “What????” when I read that the Eiffel tower is female.

    • Ha, yeah Lee this story’s full of all kinds of “What?”…but I find it fascinating too. It’s interesting that each reader seems to have something different that sticks out to them.

      Thanks for commenting!

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