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Curious Currencies: The ‘Cuterus’ and Other Peculiar Curios

What do a bevy of expired EpiPens, an unopened box of floppy discs and a taxidermy rabbit with sea urchin quills for teeth have in common? They’ve all been offered as payment for a stay at QT with Curious Currencies. We’ve opened the door to strange this month, offering one year’s worth of QT stays in exchange for your most weirdly wonderful keepsakes. Cash and credit are such a bore, but a curious item with a quizzical tale might just get you in the door.

As QT’s Director of Chaos, it’s my pleasure to catalogue the curios submitted to-date, sharing with you a few that have tickled, piqued, delighted and disgusted. Read on at your own peril and stay across the celebrated strange with the Curious Currencies winner’s reel here.

There were curiosities with quizzical backstories: A Lordship title to a parcel of land in Scotland, gifted by one generous sister. A trans man’s excised uterus, dubbed ‘Cuterus’, kept for the camp factor and now offered as payment for a QT stay. And ‘Bearpig’, a taxidermy creature of unconfirmed species, sourced from the apartment of comedian Brendhan Lovegrove. Belonging to the comedian’s ex, this curiosity was easily parted with after a drunken night out found it a new owner. Mr Lovegrove was reported to be relieved.

Some curiosities were sentimental: A bottle of olive oil from 1933, found in the recesses of one collector’s grandmother’s pantry. A vintage orthodontic appliance, prized for its jaw-aligning properties, but condemned for the embarrassment it caused the wearer, aged 10, for no less than 12 hours each day. What treasure!

Others were edible, or had previously been: A jumbo tin of expired cassoulet, purchased on honeymoon in Noumea but never opened. ‘Basil the Sourdough Starter’, a relic of lockdowns past. And a rare 15-year-old shrimp cracker in the shape of Australia – a family heirloom so revered it once appeared on The Hamish and Andy Show.

Some were hairy – a bag of dreadlocks that had been hiding in an attic for some 20 years; a plaited ponytail spontaneously lopped off by its owner. Others were scary – a vintage Ouija board circa 1960s; a cross-eyed doll (definitely not haunted, we’re assured).

Many had surprising tales: A cat’s eye in a jar, submitted by a veterinarian nurse. A fossilised scallop, roughly 3.5 million years old. 0.5 ply Soviet-era toilet paper, said to be “65 metres of the worst bog roll known to mankind.” Allegedly Bear Grylls himself has used better stuff in the wild. Mother nature always provides.

A rare few were of unquantifiable value, proving just how coveted a stay at QT can be: 99% ownership of one mortal’s soul; another man’s left testicle. While unsure how we would procure these particular curiosities, no offering is too strange.

Why do we seek your curiosities, you ask? Simply put, cash is boring. And we like doing things differently at QT. Curious it may be, but it’s also for a cause: the strangest winning curiosities will be made into two lavishly unique lamps by acclaimed New Zealand designer Destroy All Monsters, aptly named the ‘Lamps of Chaos’. These rare artworks will be auctioned for charity, with all proceeds going to the Australian Cultural Fund and New Zealand Arts Foundation to further support curiosity within the arts.

It’s not too late to submit your trinkets, trumpery and tchotchkes in exchange for a stay at a QT of your choosing, but beware you’ll have to part with your prized possession.

Be it a stash of old love letters, your favourite pair of well-worn Levi’s or that rare Pink Floyd vinyl, may the strange be ever in your favour.

Yours in oddities,

Words by Kirsten Nagel.

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