The sculpture, titled Noisette, is intentionally meant to recall a glory hole, which (for the non-homosexuals reading this leftist gay gossip blog) is a hole cut into a wall or door that a man places his penis through in search of an eager orifice on the other side. The interactive ad—placed as a banner across the top of the page and box in the lower right corner—is just as fun as the real sculpture, and the tongue pops out of the hole when the mouse moves across it. Please do not try to see what happens when placing a penis on the ad. That would be very NSFW, unless you work at a porn theater.
Noisette is of course, also seriously naughty. It is surprising to realize that many viewers don't quite perceive that the sculpture refers to a bathroom glory hole, that classic "meeting" place for [cruising] gay men. The piece intermittently shifts from humor to more profound issues such as loneliness, compulsion, repression and self-loathing. But the surface, sideshow quality of the sculpture is so satisfying as to be worth the visit.
We know that there are plenty of homosexuals on staff at the Times websites, why didn't one of them speak up and say, "Um, guys. I've never been to one, but my friend, he told me that this is like a glory hole, and we might not want to have that on the homepage. Aren't there any other ads we could use?" Who cares, we're glad they didn't.
Here's what the homepage looked like when we found the ad: