This decidedly risqué imaginary instrument appeared in the French comic book series Barbarella by Jean-Claude Forest, and was made famous in the 1968 film adaptation, in which the title character was played by Jane Fonda. In this scene, the villain Duran Duran attempts to kill the heroine by subjecting her to the extreme sexual stimulation of his “excessive machine,” which he operates from a musical keyboard. But the device overheats, and Barbarella emerges still alive and feeling quite refreshed.
The idea of this device was likely inspired by Wilhelm Reich’s “orgone accumulator,” which purported to capture the sexual energy floating freely in the environment and channel it into the body inhabiting its unassuming wooden case. More such devices would turn up throughout the later twentieth century, as well, most famously in the form of the “Orgasmatron” in Woody Allen’s 1973 film Sleeper. But only in Barbarella is this “sex machine” conceived as a musical instrument.