Saturday, December 1, 2012

Venus in Furs

My dearest Readers,
There are many words we use today in which we don't even think about as to why we use them or where the heck they came from.  I'm going to explore that today.  "Masochism" is one of those words people use left and right to define people who in plain terms like to be treated like shit.  We know what it means, but where did the term come from?  Just as 'sadism' came from Marquis de Sade due to his works and quirks and private life gone wild, masochism found its way from a quiet gentleman named Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.

Born in 1836 in the city of Lemberg in the Kingdom of Galicia, which at the time was part of the Austrian Empire (now the Ukraine), he grew up fascinated by law and history and went on to be a professor.  Very educated, he lead what people thought was a simple, quiet life.  Until he retired from being a professor and turned his full attention to writing books.  At first, his books were respectable stories relating to cultural histories that he became known for and respected for.  He must have gotten bored.  Or rather, he must have gotten bored of hiding who he really was. 

In 1869, he started publishing short stories known as The Legacy of Cain.  He abandoned completing the collection of stories, but had created one story in particular that to this day made him incredibly famous and well known.  The story was called Venus in Furs.  It explores Masoch's fetishes.  Black furs, black silk, knives, whips and confessions of a 'supersensual man' who wanted to be a slave to a woman.  The word "donkey" defined who he was.  He was waiting to be ridden by his master.  It isn't merely about physical submission but mental submission.

In reading Venus in Furs, you might expect 50 Shades of Grey.  Not so.  It's a philosophical, yet romantic approach to a man fully submitting to a woman.  Quotes like "To be a slave of a woman, a beautiful woman, whom I love, whom I worship" is the premise of Venus in Furs. 

Yet it's pretty obvious more than romantic philosophies line these pages.
I picked my favorite part from Venus in Furs just to demonstrate: 

Today she suddenly took her hat and shawl, and I had to shopping with her.  She looked at whips, long whips with a short handle, the kind that are used on dogs.
"Are these satisfactory?" said the shopkeeper.
"No, they are much too small," replied Wanda, with a side-glance at me.  "I need a large--"
"For a bull dog, I suppose?" opined the merchant.
"Yes," she exclaimed, "of the kind that are used in Russia for intractable slaves."

Curious?  Want to read it?  I recommend you download it for free from Amazon.  It's a quick read and nothing like you'd expect.  It's historical confectionery masochism.  And it's hard to believe the word came from this odd little man.

Needless to say, in Leopold's private life, he was, in fact, living out his fantasies and festishes.  He signed a contract with his mistress known as "Baroness" Fanny which made him a slave to her for six full months.  He was at her cruel bidding of each hour of each day.  His only request was that she had to wear furs (which he bought for her).  Even better?  Whenever he traveled with his "mistress," he wore servant's clothing and took on a common name.  It was "Gregor" this and "Gregor" that.  Believe it or not, Leopold eventually married.  Not his "mistress" but a woman who had no idea what the hell she was getting into.  He made her live out all of the fantasies she wasn't into.  All the poor man wanted was his wife to be his master.  But I'm certain it was more work than she had anticipated.  He eventually got bored of her, given she wasn't cooperating, and divorced her.  

Believe it or not, the term 'masochism' came to be used when Leopold was still alive, back in 1886, by a psychiatrist.  Apparently, Leopold wasn't pleased but given his character, I'm certain the humiliation was one he secretly savored.  His so-called private life became further exposed when his ex-wife decided to write a memoir about their lives together.  They were detailed and to the point.  It grounded the term 'masochism' in the minds of everyone permanently.  Think on that the next time you use the term 'masochist.'  Think of poor Leopold being sized up by his ex-wife and a psychiatrist...

Until next time,
Delilah Marvelle


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Leather Archives & Museum

My dearest Reader,
In Chicago, there is an incredible S&M museum that lays hidden from the world.  It's known as LA&M (The Leather Archives & Museum).  Having lived in Chicago for almost 20 years, I had no idea this gem of a museum existed until recently.  I happened upon it quite accidentally.  I was looking into sex museums within certain regions.  Why?  I was running a contest in which one of my readers (the gorgeous Melanie Friedman from BookWorm2BookWorm) could win a day with me.  Naturally, I wanted it to be *special* for my winner.  Heh.  So I hunted down the best dang sex museum there was in her hometown of Chicago.  Imagine my surprise at finding an S&M museum that has it all. 

The idea of S&M is nothing new.  Even though everyone who ran out and bought 50 Shades of Grey certainly thinks it is, lol.  When it comes to pain and sex, or instruments used for sex, or gay and lesbian sex, or group sex, or kinky sex, or anything involving leather, whips, restrains, and so on, you had better believe none of it is a 'recent' invention.  We just get better at understanding it.  The idea of S&M goes back loooooooong before medieval times, I assure you. 

If you're ever in Chicago (or live in Chicago), I recommend you hunt down LA&M for two reasons: It's incredibly artistic and incredibly educational.  If you've been meaning to get into kinkier sex and/or understanding what it involves, THIS is the museum to visit.

The building itself was first a synagogue, then an arts center, before turning into what it is today in 1999.  When you first come to the museum, you'll find that the doors are locked.  Given what the museum has on display inside, they have no choice but to take precautions from religious freaks who think it necessary to destroy the museum's property.  Fortunately, Melanie and I looked seemingly harmless enough and were allowed in.  Once inside, the joy of discovering where my true comfort level lay began.

The exhibits include the Etienne Auditorium and the John Larsen Gallery.  The paintings are incredible, life-like and breathtakingly provocative.  Because the art collection was started by artist Dom Orejudos who worked under the name of Etienne, I found that most of the paintings involved men or male/male.  I spied maybe one or two females painted into the artwork, which, for me, made it all the more unique, as our society has a tendency to showcase nude women, not nude men.  (I loved it!)

One of my favorite aspects of the museum (aside from the artwork and historical artifacts) was actually the bondage safety quiz.  Many of us think we know what bondage involves, until we take a test.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I aced all of the questions.  And I consider myself a real amateur.  I found I did rather well because when it comes to bondage it really just involves a lot of common sense.  One has to have an understanding of what you're getting involved with and WHY you're getting involved in it.

I thought maybe you all needed proof that I actually visited the museum, lol.  So here I am getting personal with one of the 'guys' at the Leather Bar.  Yes, they have a leather bar!  I lingered at that bar for a small while, lol.

On display, they also had some incredible historical kink artifacts, including this MASTER VIOLET RAY from the 1920's.  What is a MASTER VIOLET RAY?

It's a medical device that was first created in the 1890's that delivered a high voltage current to the human body.  In the 1920's you could purchase one for the retail price of $20, which included glass attachments.  It was used to cure everything, including an ailment known as "brain fog."  Instead of caffeine, why not clear your head up with a good dose of electricity.  That's right.  Wherever your particular ailment was located on your body, you would take the rod and apply it and zap it.  Our great grandfathers and great grandmothers firmly believed running electricty through the body was good for you.  Needless to say S&M people enjoyed making use of this item at home by applying it to certain neither regions, either on their own or with their partner/partners.  Of course, people started finding it wasn't curing as much as they hoped it would and lawsuits started rolling in.  In the 1950's, we see the end and ban of these magical MASTER VIOLET RAYS.  Though that's not to say that people aren't making them and/or enjoying them today.

The most amazing aspect is the Teri Rose Library.  A must see.  It's a non-lending library filled to the ceiling with books, documents, and magazine that are all kink/sex related.  Bottom line, I *highly* recommend this museum.  I personally plan on making another visit to the museum just to spend the day going through their archives....maybe I'll see you there.

Until next time,
Much love,
Delilah Marvelle 


Monday, October 1, 2012

Hysteria and the vibrator

My dearest Reader,
In celebration of the recent release of the movie HYSTERIA on DVD, I thought it'd be fun to give you sneak peek behind the history of the movie.  Watch this outrageously funny little clip and then we'll chat about the history of the vibrator.  And even better, I am offering YOU a chance to win the DVD Hysteria.  How?  Read on.

Since the 1700's, doctors all across Europe were frantically treating a female condition known as "hysteria."  It was a diagnosis created by medical men that covered all sort of outrageous symptoms from asthma, muscle spasms, headaches, depression, faintness, loss of appetite and my favorite, "a tendency to cause trouble."  What was the cause of "Hysteria" in women?  Not having been properly pleasured, of course!  Meaning...lack of orgasm. 

Among the most tedious manners of treating this condition in women was for the doctor to "manually" go in and finger the clitoris to induce what was known as "hysterical paroxysm."  That's right. Male doctors were fingering their patients into climax in the name of medical science.  Whilst we women of the modern age snicker at the thought of these dirty old male doctors fingering us in the name of a medical condition "they" created, here's the scary part.  They actually thought it was a real condition and therefore treated it as such.  There is no documentation of any of these women taking doctors to court for "inappropriate" fingering, or any other documented complaints.  The people of the time also didn't perceive at it as a sexual procedure, which tells you, the women were probably rather pleased to be getting off at all given many men back in the day didn't have the slightest idea as to where the clitoris was even located.  It required a doctor.  Though I do wonder how many 'fake' doctors opened up offices all around London.  *_*    

The truth is, many of the doctors saw it as a tedious chore.  They had to finger women all morning and all afternoon, day after day.  Which created sore wrists and sore fingers.  (I kid you not.  Kind of like carpal tunnel).  Though dildos were prescribed to patients, and were used on said patients since the 1700's, it still required a lot of work.  Pleasuring women day in and day out in their offices was incredibly exhausting.  So...when late-Victorian technology offered mechanical solutions, you had better believe doctors jumped at it (making women even all the more happier, I'm sure). 

One of the first vibrators was a "steam-powered device" called the "Manipulator."  And of all things it was created by an American physician named George Taylor.  It was hard to handle and created other wrist issues for doctors, lending doctors to look into creating something more efficient.
Step in Doctor Joseph Mortimer Granville (whom the movie Hysteria is based off) in the 1880's.  Dr. Granville created what was known as the first "electromechanical vibrator".  Before you knew it,
his device and many other large massagers became the fashion in many medical offices, that provided quicker and assured "paroxysms" to the large quantity of women walking through their doors day in and day out.   Eventually, more compact vibrators were created and sold directly to the public.  In the early 1900's, countless ads started appearing in female catalogs.

And there you have it.  Because men were shitty in bed, women had to go to their doctors.  Heh.
SO....for a chance to win a copy of the DVD Hysteria, answer the following question:  If you were living in 1880, would YOU go to your doctor for treatment?  Why?  Or why not?  The more creative the answer, the better your chances of winning.  Winners will be announced by Oct.28th and posted here on the blog.  US entries only.

Until next time,
Cheers and much love,
Delilah Marvelle

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Princess de Lamballe & Lesbian Propaganda

My dearest Readers,
WARNING: if you are in any way squeemish, this post will make squeem (sounds dirty, I know.  I'm not sorry).

When it comes to the history of the French Revolution, you had best place both your hands on your neck and be ready for murder.  Such is the story of Princess de Lamballe.  Only hers goes way beyond murder. 

Many know the story of Marie Antoinette, and how she was dragged before the court, and asked to admit that she had been sexually abusing her own son (which she denied, for it was propaganda).  But very few know the story of our poor Princess de Lamballe who was Marie Antoinette's closest friend.  Like Marie Antoinette, Maria Louise of Savoy married young.  At 16, she was wed to the Prince de Lamballe, a man who would inherit one of France's greatest fortunes.  Barely five months into their marriage, the prince took on a mistress. Barely three years later, at the age of nineteen, Princess de Lamballe's husband died of a venereal disease, making her one of the wealthiest women in Paris.  She soon came to the court and became a confidant to none other than Queen Marie Antoinette.  She was present at every ceremony and privy to every goings on and was eventually given the honor of becoming a lady in waiting at Versailles.  As she became closer in her friendship to Queen Marie Antoinette, she was then moved upward to a rank known as "Superintendent of the Queen's Household."  It was the highest rank afforded to anyone in the Queen's realm.  This high honor came at a high price.  She became resented amongst many aristocrats for being so well loved and high placed by the Queen.

Now here is the wicked twist of fate.  Princess de Lamballe, by nature, was not only a good girl, but also a prudish girl.  Especially after the way her husband had died from venereal disease.   She played by the rules when it came to being a real lady and didn't engage men.  And yet, despite her good name and respectable nature, she became the victim of what was known as "anti-monarchist" propaganda.  What sucks about this was that she did everything respectable and yet in pamphlets all across Paris, she was being constantly portrayed in pornographic pamphlets as a lesbian to the Queen (which was far from the truth).  In 1791, when things were beginning to heat up in Paris, Princess de Lamballe went to Great Britain in an attempt to plead for assistance for the French Royal Family that was under threat.  Princess de Lamballe, whilst in Great Britain, also wrote her own will, fearing her own death upon her return to Paris.  Being loyal and a good friend, Princess de Lamballe returned to Paris and served the Queen until that fateful day in August of 1792 when the royal family was seized by the beginning of the French Revolution.

She was brought before a tribunal and commanded to revolt against her own Queen.  She refused.  With shouts of her being a lesbian by the mob (thanks to propaganda), that refusal ended in her being shoved into the street toward a male mob who delivered her the justice they believed she deserved. 

In The book MARIE ANTOINETTE: The Journey by Antonia Fraser, the following was done to Princess de Lamballe on the streets of Paris for the world to see:

*Hit by hammers repeatedly on the head until she loses consciousness.
*Raped before and after she loses consciousness.
*Her breasts and clitoris were sliced off.
*Her heart was cut out .
*She was disemboweled.
*Her head was mounted on a pike, her mons pubis then sliced off and worn as a moustache.
*Her head was then through the street on said pike and stopped over at a barber shop so that the princess's head of hair could be restyled.
*The head was then taken to where Marie Antoinette was being imprisoned and held before her window.  It was the wrong window.

While the outcome might have been the same given she was in allegiance with the Queen, the lesbian propaganda that had floated about the streets of Paris for years prior to the revolution, added to the fuel of this horrid crime.  Rest in peace my dearest Princess de Lamballe.

Much love and until next time,
Delilah Marvelle

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Offensive sexual positions in history

My dearest Reader,
As if sex didn't make all the prudes in history shake a fist, there was one period in history, when more than one fist was being shaken.  In the year 1215, there was a religious cleric by the name of Johannes Teutonicus who was the first to publicly go on record that there should be only ONE sexual position allowed.  That position is known today as missionary style.  Teutonicus' theory was that the missionary style was not only optimal for conception but that any other position fell into the realm of pure evil.  (I'm so going to hell). 

Since Teutonicus spoke out so anally (get it?!) about the matter, many other religious sects began focusing on what they believed were positions that created waaaaaay too much pleasure for the common good of humanity.  It resulted in the creation and printing of "handbooks" known as SUMMAE CONFESSORUM (sounds like Harry Potter business to me...heh).  Summae confessorums were handbooks that detailed all of the "offensive" positions and issued "penances" for each offensive position you took part in.  The offensive positions listed in these books included "coitus retro" (rear entry, but not anal sex), being seated while having sex, standing while having sex, a woman being on top during sex (hey now...), having any side by side business, and sex during menstruation.  Basically, if it wasn't face to face, with a man on top and penis to vagina, it was in the book under a long list of penances one needed to do if one strayed. 

According to these books, rear door business with a woman was as bad as rear door business with a man.  It might surprise many of you to know that in England buggery wasn't illegal until Henry the VIII made it such in the 1500's.

The following list of penances was taken from Sex, Dissidence and Damnation by Jeffrey Richards and Napoleon's Privates by Tony Perrottet.
Penances included going without food and sex itself to purify the soul.

And I quote:
"Dorsal sex (woman on top): 3 years.
Lateral, seated, standing: 40 days.
Coitus retro: 40 days.
Mutual masturbation: 30 days.
Inter-femural sex (ejaculation between the legs): 40 days.
Coitus in terga (anal sex) with an adult: 3 yrs.
Coitus in terga with a boy: 2 years (*this just doesn't sit right with me.  Less time for a boy?!)
Coitus in terga with a cleric: 10 years.
Semenem in ore (Semen in the mouth): 15 years."

 But here's the real kicker.  As you well know, masturbation was never looked upon graciously.  And guess who got slapped around for doing it the most?  You got it, women.  Men got about 10-30 days while a woman got a whole freakin year of penance. 

These books, however, fell out of practice of being printed and distributed by the 1500's.  With all the positions listed in the books, I have no doubt it was because it served as its own Kama Sutra people gladly took home to look through, lol.  So next time you ever complain that your partner isn't being creative enough, whip out your 'Summae confessorums" and show them they can do it all (for a price.)

Until next time,
Delilah Marvelle


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Power to the Prostitutes New York Style

I do a lot of research. So much of it, in fact, about 75% of what I come across never gets put into any of my stories. Ah. But they do find a place in this here monthly blog, where I explore the naughtier, dirtier and grittier side of history. My latest research adventure for my current series, took me into the depths of New York City between the years of 1800 to 1831. Although my upcoming release, FOREVER A LADY, features New York City and its poverty in the Five Points in 1830, I stayed away from the story of prostitution because it is an all too common theme for impoverished women. But…I did want to share some of the interesting aspects of New York City’s prostitution and how it compared to London’s prostitution during the Regency period.

Both cities had massive prostitution problems. There was no doubt in that. Both cities had designated sections where it thrived, usually within close vicinity of churches, as those same churches offered assistance to the poor (and prostitutes were poor). But New York City had something that London did not: private prosecution. Basically, New York didn’t create a municipal police force until 1845, while London had created its municipal police force in 1829. What did those 17 additional years without a municipal police force create? Power for the prostitutes.

Up until 1845, in New York City, it was individual citizens who pressed criminal charges, as opposed to the state and its officials. Therefore, prostitutes could use their rights as individual citizens in a way London prostitutes couldn’t. When threatened or attacked or if a loss of income occurred, the prepolice era allowed New York City prostitutes to define the crime that had been committed against them. Despite them being fallen women of society and breaking laws themselves, they were able to summon the watch and press charges. Countless men were convicted and jailed and fined due to brutalizing prostitutes and/or not paying them. How were these women able to do it? Prior to police, the process being used was known as the antebellum government. It was dedicated to protecting taxpayers and private properly. Are you catching on? So basically, prostitutes and their bodies and bordellos were considered property. Women, after all, WERE property. Talk about a quandary the New York City government had created for itself. It was either follow the law by allowing these women to protect themselves or break the law. And well…we know how quickly congress works…. can you imagine then?!

Despite this incredible muscling power that the prostitutes had discovered within the cracks of the government, it created a backlash that sent us whirling into the Victorian era that created a different prostitute in New York City that changed when the police force was instated. She needed real protection that the government was no longer giving her. This was an era that exploded with pimps who could provide the protection to these women that the government no longer did.
How’s that for a little history lesson?

Until next time,
Delilah Marvelle

Friday, June 1, 2012

Men "discover" the Clitoris

My dearest Readers,
Given I myself am a woman, and that most of the readers of my blog are women, I thought it only fair we dedicate am entire post to the ever glorious clitoris. Although women have had their clitoris for as long as men have had their cocks, here's a little something that will make you want to smack around all the men of history. The sad reality is this. The word "clitoris" which some will claim was taken from the ancient Greek word kleitor (meaning little cute), did not find its way on actual English record until 1615. Ehm. Kind of late boys. Don't you think?

Speaking of late...according to certain sources (including Perrottet) the clitoris was "re-discovered" by men in the year 1559. Now I am *more than certain* men knew of its existence prior to 1559 (geez, I freakin hope!) but medically speaking there was nothing on record pertaining to the clitoris prior to 1559. Ooo. And get this. The man who goes on record to "discover" the clitoris (which was done on a cadaver whilst conducting research of the female body) was none other than a man by the name of Renaldus Columbus (yes, like Christopher Columbus! Wow and how appropriate!).

After some "prodding" into female cadavers, Mr. Columbus came to the conclusion, which he wrote about in his book De Re Anatomica that there was a female "appendage that would throb with brief contractions" during sex. *dead silence* My question is how did this dude know this by uh...studying DEAD women? *shudder* Uh...forgive me...I'm digressing. As I was saying, Mr. Columbus decided to name his incredible "discovery" amor Veneris, cul dulcedo (the love or the sweetness of Venus). His momentous discovery created such a huff of excitement throughout the community that OTHER men started protesting THEY had first discovered it (and bravo if they had, right?).

There was only one problem. This Dutch physician taps on the shoulder of every man in Europe, including Mr. Columbus, and announces (now, mind you, I'm paraphrasing as there is no record of him saying it) "The appendage, gentleman, was written about in great detail by Doctor Galen back in the second century. The Greeks beats us, boy. Again."

And there you have it. The Greeks do it again. Though this girl hopes that men prior to the Greeks knew about it, too. For the sake of all those women in history.

Until next time and much love to you,
Delilah Marvelle

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Once Upon a Chucking

My dearest Readers,
This month's post will be rather...short.  But the history will be just as amusing as anything else in naughty history.  We touch upon a wink in history pertaining to prostitutes and a particular game they used to play.  It was known as "CHUCKING." 

According to the Authentick Memoirs of the Life Intrigues and Adventures of the Celebrated Sally Salisbury (which was published in 1723), Sally was notorious for engaging in outrageous ways of entertaining her gentlemen customers.  There was nothing she wouldn't do in the name of money (the whore!).  One of her favorite antics, which made her quite famous and gave prostitutes ideas to last for centuries was her little game which became known as "CHUCKING."  When Sally Salisbury was feeling particularly saucy (and this girl always was, believe me), she would stand on her head, naked and spread her legs for the boys, encouraging them to "chuck" gold coins into her vagay-gay.  The sky was the limit with this one. For it was quite literally a game.  She kept the coins that were tossed but what about those that actually landed *in* her vagay-gay by the lucky tosser?  You guessed it.  He got laid.  Here is a snippet from that 1723 memoir which gives us a delectable peek into her naughtiness:
Between two marble-pillars, round and plump,
With eye intent, each sportsman took his aim;
The merry Chuck-Hole border’d on the rump,
And from this play Sally deriv’d a name.
Within her tufted chink, the guineas shone,
And each that she receiv’d, was all her own.
With echoing shouts the vaulted chamber rung,
Belle Chuck was now the Toast of ev’ry tongue.

Sally no more her Christian Name could boast,
And Priddon, too, to that of Chuck was lost.
So the next time you wonder if a wood chuck could chuck wood, just think about good old leg spreading Sally.  *smirk*
Much love to you and until next time,
Delilah Marvelle

Monday, April 2, 2012

Napoleon's Missing Penis

My dearest Readers,
You didn't think I'd actually post on April Fool's Day, did you? 
Haha and I hope you enjoyed my prank :)
I'm sure the title of this post alone got your attention and though some of you may actually KNOW this particular history, I'm going to dig into Napoleon's trousers all the same, given I never touched upon the importance of his missing penis on my blog.  I tried to find a picture that did his package justice.  Heh. 

Poor Napoleon.  He was known for being short and his penis was known for being shorter.  You might want to ask yourself why such rumors were perpetuated.  Napoleon wasn't THAT short.  He stood at five feet and six and a half inches tall, which for his era, is more than respectable and was the average height for a man.  Yet history has a tendency to want to insult men who take over the world (be those reasons good or not).  Ah.  But history wasn't done insulting poor Napoleon.  Oh, no.  His penis mysteriously disappeared after his death.  I'm not kidding! 

After Napoleon was defeated by the British in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon was exiled and kept on the island of Saint Helena by the British for the last six years of his life.  When he finally died on May 5th 1821, the autopsy was witnessed by a room full of people, and though it was recorded that day that the body was in tact, one particular witness in the room (who had issued Napoleon's last rites) was a certain priest by the name of Ange Vignali.


Ange apparently snipped off a little memento for himself.  You guessed it, Napoleon's penis.  Or so the story goes.  For it is also said that Napoleon's physician was the one to lop it off.  Either way, it disappeared and didn't resurface until 1916 when it was sold off and the sellers claimed it was Napoleon's actual penis, measuring at an inch or so (though I'm sure it has long since shriveled all the more since).  It was bought and disappeared again until the late 1960's when it was put on sale.  The sum, apparently, wasn't something people were willing to pay for.  So it was broken into pieces and resold again in the 1970's, where a urologist by the name of John Kingsley Lattimer bought one of the pieces.  Napoleon's penis has been sitting in a box in New Jersey ever since.  Don't believe me?  Let the fabulous Tony Perrottet, the author of the fabulous non-fiction book, Napoleon's Privates, 2,500 years unzipped tell you what he found.  Watch the you tube video in which he travels to see the famous penis.     


Hope you enjoyed digging into Napoleon's trousers...
Much love and until next time,
Delilah Marvelle

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Art of Strangulation...for Pleasure

My dearest Readers,
Just when you think you know what I'm about to post...ha and ha.
The Art of Strangulation for Pleasure (known as erotic asphyxiation to us modern folks) goes back so far in history that most likely Adam and Eve were doing it in the Garden of Eden.  Heck.  Maybe that's why they got kicked out.  Supposedly, there was a Mayan statuette unearthed that had been found with a rope around its neck....and a hard on.  I about rubbed my hands together wanting to see THAT.  And while I've tried to dig up said statuette on the Internet as well as more information, alas, I haven't found anything of merit.  So I'm inclined to say that until someone can "erect" our Mayan, I can't give the rumor credit.  But it lends to the fascinating topic I intend to delve into.  That said....let's unearth what has, in fact, been historically recorded and substantiated.  Printed proof of strangulation for pleasure came to light in a most bizarre way and rather late in history.

A pamphlet published anonymously in England in 1791 surfaced in London society called Modern Propensities: Or, An Essay on the Art of Strangulation &c.  This pamphlet revealed a most astounding tale pertaining to a certain "Susannah Hill" and her trial which took place on the 12th of September of 1791 at the Old Bailey in London.  She was being charged for murder of a man by the Crown.  Usually, if the Crown is attached to it, it means that an example was sought to be publicly made.  Susannah was a prostitute.  Unlike other women who roamed the streets soliciting men, she was more of a "respectable" whore.  She rented out the front parlor of a home on Vine Street and had a little sign on the door that nudged the men of the public into knowing of her existence.  Signs like "Tender Care Within."  Let your imagination run wild.  With the sign up, she sat in the parlor waiting for customers.  One man, by the name of Francis Kotzwarra, walked in.

And this is where it gets fun.  She takes him into the backroom, expecting the usual, only to find the dude asking that she do him the honor of cutting off his genitals and slicing them in half as he watched.  She had sense enough to refuse.  So he "settled" on giving her money for a cord -- any cord -- that he might use to hang around his throat.  He explained to her that it would "raise his passions" and all he needed was few minutes.  She assisted him in getting the cord around his neck and he used the door to asphyxiate himself.  Upon finding the man stopped moving, she cut him down and darted over to a neighbor (a fellow prostitute), scared that she had killed him by submitting to his bizarre request.

And this is where the pamphlet darts down an unexpected road.  Apparently, it notes that the Judge of the proceedings halted any further testimony and told the jury that Susannah should be dismissed of all charges.  It just got too freaky for him.  The Crown (the Prosecution) had hoped to make an example of Susannah so as to discourage such "strangulation" for pleasure practices.  The Judge saw it differently.  He thought that Susannah was a victim of a customer who was too freaky to handle and that she shouldn't be held responsible for his freakiness.  Nor did the judge want the public getting any ideas that there was pleasure in strangulation.  So he had all records of the proceedings destroyed, hoping to keep the case silent. 

Interestingly, no records of this case exist in the Old Bailey.  BUT....if we are to trust this pamphlet, it may very well be because the judge didn't want the case on record and had the recorded notes for the case destroyed, as mentioned.  Ah.  Which means...someone was glorious and devious enough, be it a jury member or someone in the back room observing, to take enough notes to make it public.  If this person hadn't done so, it would have disappeared from history. 

Another interesting tid bit about the art of pleasure strangulation (and this you are SO gonna love) is that in Victorian era (according to source Uva), there were specialty places in London known as "Hanged Men's Clubs."  They had prostitutes who specialized in hanging men without killing them.  Although very little more than that is known, as these were underground clubs, I can only imagine what went on inside.  Women barely dressed asking the gents who came in, "Shall I start you off with tea or rope, dear sir?"
Gives a whole new meaning to the game..."Hang Man."  Don't it?

Ah, the joys of being devious.
Until next time,
Cheers and much love,
Delilah Marvelle

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Beginnings of Sexual Repression in Polite Society…

My dearest Readers,
I have the incredible pleasure of introducing a fellow historical romance siren who will not only be giving insight to a topic that beautifully fits my blog but will be doing a signed book giveaway in honor of her incredible debut, SWEET ENEMY.  Read her fantastic post, post a question pertaining to her post with your email address and you'll be entered to win.  Both US and International may enter.  Winners will be picked on Valentine's Day.  And seeing that it is the month of love, I'll also throw in a signed copy of FOREVER AND A DAY to a second runner up.  Happy Valentine's Day!

Thank you so much, Delilah, for having me. February is very exciting for me this year because my debut Regency, Sweet Enemy, is being released on February 7th. I can’t think of a better place to kick of my month than visiting A Bit O’ Muslin!
RT Book Reviews gave Sweet Enemy 4 stars, saying, “In the first in the Veiled Seduction series, newcomer Snow makes a mark on the genre. Her characters may be 18th century, but their sensibilities are modern. The plot, with its tinge of mystery, matchmaking and a bit of mayhem, will warm readers’ hearts.”
When I first read that description, I thought “Hell, yes, my characters have modern sensibilities! My heroines actually enjoy sex, in the daytime, with their clothes off, and in positions other than missionary!” Because we all know that our unfortunate sisters of centuries gone by were restricted and oppressed when it came to expressing and enjoying their sexuality. Think chastity belts…think dresses that covered even one’s ankles so as not to incite men’s lust…think of mothers advising their soon-to-be-married daughters to “close your eyes and think of England.” If our poor characters were truly women of their time, they would be married off as virtual broodmares and tupped quite politely, often in the dark without even having to remove their night rails, while their husbands saved the fun stuff for their mistresses…at least in Polite Society. And what fun would that be to read about???
But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, the prudery, repression and social restrictions that began towards the end of the Regency period and that marked the Victorian period are vastly different than how sex, and the woman’s role in it, was viewed before then. And you may be surprised at one theory of how and why it all came about.
Prior to the 17th century, women’s and men’s bodies were seen as virtually the same. This “one-sex model” theory basically stated that a woman’s reproductive organs were the same as a man’s, only internal whereas a man’s was external. It was also thought that both men and women produced seed crucial for conception, so both male and female ejaculation was required to produce a child.
Now, the scientist in me screams, “How could they have thought something so ridiculous? Surely some woman who turned up pregnant without having orgasmed would have decried this, LOUDLY!” But that’s not what’s important in this discussion. The really interesting thing to take from this time is that a woman’s sexual pleasure was considered vital…crucial, even, to the survival of our species. Women were seen, and accepted, as sexual beings equal with men, at least in the bedroom. To have a lusty, voracious wife was a positive thing.
So what changed?

Londa Shiebinger, of Stanford University, who specializes in the relationship between gender and science throughout history, would argue that it was politics—specifically, battles over women’s rights. If the “one-sex” model was allowed to stand, and women were biologically equal to men, why should they not have the same rights as men? Well, you can see what a problem that might present—at least from the male perspective. So a push to have women and men defined as opposite sexes began.
Ms. Schiebinger argues “Natural rights could be countered only by proof of natural inequalities. There were endless new struggles for power and position in the enormously enlarged public sphere of the 18th and particularly 19th centuries: between and among women and men, and between feminists and anti-feminists.”
So the “one-sex model” was redefined to a two-sex model, with women and men no longer variations of the same sex. Differences were stressed. Gender roles were defined. And women came out on the losing end.
By the late 18th century, the female orgasm was relegated to unnecessary (the bastards!), and things went downhill for us sexually from there. Passion, lust and desire were discouraged in young ladies, to be avoided lest she become a loose or fallen woman—at least until the modern sexual revolution, that is.
So I say, yes, my characters have modern sensibilities—or at least “pre-18th century sensibilities”! I can promise you that Liliana, the heroine of Sweet Enemy, has very “pre-18th century sensibilities”. A scientist herself, she also has a love for experimentation. In fact, come to think of it, I don’t think she and Geoffrey try the missionary position even once in the book. And the Earl, for his part, is also a man outside of his time—not only does he support Liliana’s work and encourage her to use her brilliant mind, he is thrilled to have a lusty, voracious wife. And that, I hope, you will have great fun reading about!

Beakers and ball gowns don't mix, so when a lady chemist goes undercover as a husband hunter to investigate the earl whose family she thinks may have murdered her father, romance isn't part of her formula. But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can't control.
"Historical intrigue and heart-pounding passion make Sweet Enemy a great read. Romance fans will love it." ~#1NYT Bestselling Author JULIE GARWOOD
Available wherever books are sold on February 7, 2012. Find out more at

Heather Snow is a historical romance author with a degree in Chemistry who discovered she much preferred creating chemistry on the page, rather than in the lab. She is forever trying to wrangle her left and right brain to work together (some days with more success than others!), but if her two sides had to duke it out, left would win every time—which can be a creative challenge. Luckily, she loves challenges…she just goes about solving them analytically.  Heather lives in the Midwest with her husband, two rambunctious boys and one very put upon cat.  She sincerely hopes you find her stories have just the right chemistry...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Eugenics Part 2

My dearest Readers,
Happy New Year!  2012 makes me realize how far we as a civilization have come.  Um...for the most part anyway.  Heh. This month, I'll be delving into Part 2 of Eugenics.  And what better way to delve into our 1919 book  than with a diagram that asks WHAT WILL HER FUTURE BE? 

Good question for all of us girls. 

The diagram shows two paths.  At the top we have a bright little girl who represents thousands of girls back in the day.  Happy, loving and cheerful....BUT....if not properly "trained" this bright little girl may follow the course picture to the left.  At 15, "in the company of boys of questionable character; at twenty, modesty and self-respect lost due to said company; at 26, immoral and an outcast from home and society; and at forty, (love this!), prematurely old, with life wrecked, poverty and wretchedness her lot."

Okay, okay, so maybe I should ease off on all the sexist stances in this book and see where we could find something more engagingly positive.  *Paging through*  Diseases Peculiar to Men.  Hm.  THAT sounds engagingly positive.  Let's dig in. 

MEN SHOULD KNOW -- "There are certain derangements and diseases peculiar to the male sex."  (Us women already knew this.  Smirk.)

SPERMATORRHOEA (That doesn't sound good...It sounds like sperm is leaking out of one's ass) -- "Exceedingly disastrous in its effects upon the mind and most destructive on the body.  Seminal emissions occur during sleep."  (Ah.  Referring to what we know today as being Wet Dreams)

A VERY RARE DISEASE -- "Spermatorrhoea itself is a VERY RARE disease, although it is undoubtedly a very serious one when it occurs,"

WHAT BRINGS IT ABOUT? -- "Self-abuse."  (Ha)  "For Medical treatment of Spermatorrhoea, see Medical Department of this book."

*Paging through quickly to find medical Department of this book*

PRESCRIPTIONS -- (Holy monkeys!  There are actually listed self-drugging prescriptions in this book.  Cooooooool)  Hm.  Can't find the Medical Treatment for Spermateorrhoea.  Dang it.  But there is a Prescription for Diarrhea.  Same thing, right?  Just leaking from a different hole.  Prescription is as follows: 

No. 16
Diarrhea Remedy

Tincture Rhubarb, 1 ounce.
Tincture Jamaica Ginger, 1/2 ounce.
Tincture Catechu, 1/2/ ounce.
Lime-water, 1 ounce.
Paragoric, 1 ounce.

Dose: One teaspoonful every time the bowels move.

Oh, now wait.  I just found a prescription for Impotence, sexual debility, gleet and self abuse.  Awesome.

No. 28
Impotence, sexual debility, gleet and self-abuse

Tincture Gelsemii, 1 1/2 drachms.
Tincture Belladonna, 2 drachms. (Omgosh, I looked it up and its Deadly Night Shade....NICE)
Brom. Potassi, 4 drachms.
Aqua Destill. q. s. 2 ounces.

Dose: Teaspoonful three times a day.  See that bowels are not constipated.

I don't know what half this shit is, do you?  And people were chugging this stuff?  No wonder they didn't live long.  And oh!  I looooove this one.  It's for earaches.  Mix 1 ounce olive oil and 20 drops of LAUDANUM.  Nothing like opium to knock you out for a few days.  But of course your freakin ear ache will go away!  Everything will when you're doped up.  Duh.

Okay, time to move away from the drug section before I get arrested.

Let's go back to the section known as THE SOCIAL EVIL.  That looks good.

"It is computed that 30,000 males are daily infected with venereal diseases in the United States."  (I agree venereal disease must have been spawning left and right.  But 30,000 a day?  Every last man would have been diseased by the end of one year...Was it upped to create paranoia?  Note to self: there is no source quoted for this statistic.  Hmmmmm).  Now wait.  Here's more of a real stat.  "In the public institutions of New York City about 10,000 cases of venereal disease are treated annually."  Youch.  Those are the ones that stepped forward, mind you.  Of course these were the days when condoms were still being REUSED.

And on that note....HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  LOL.
In honor of the New Year and that I have a new book out that is kicking off a new series, I will be giving away one signed copy of FOREVER AND A DAY to one lucky commenter who posts their favorite "drink." (legal or not).  Be sure to post your email address with your comment.  Winner will be chosen by January 15th and contacted directly via email. 

Much love and until next month,
Delilah Marvelle