Thursday, December 1, 2011

Eugenics Part 1

My dearest Readers,
It always fascinates me to come across books that reflect the prudery that influenced an entire generation.  And we're not talking all that long ago, either.  A friend of mine was so gloriously kind as to gift me with a fabulous book she had come across in her attic that was printed in 1919.  It's called EUGENICS or Nature's Secrets Revealed, The Scientific Knowledge of The Laws of Sex and Heredity

Let me start with this disclaimer: Ha.  The only thing revealed in this book is the notion that sex is still a four letter word and that women have no rights back in 1919.  I will emphasize that this book was published not even a hundred years ago.  Scary.  And needless to say, we're going to dissect this sucker by giving you up close and personal cuts from the book itself.  I've decided to break this post into two parts because there's just WAY too much to share of this 500 page book.  Yes.  500 pages of skirting around the issue, lol...

Topics explored and quoted with snide commentaries by Yours Truly:

BAD BOOKS: One half of the youth in our prisons and houses of corrections started their evil careers by reading bad books, or at best, worthless novels.  (God save those reading my books...) These books are the nicotine and alcohol of literature.  They poison, and burn, and blast the head and heart as surely as their cousins do the stomach. 

RUINED BY BAD BOOKS:  An eighteen-year-old girl suspected of being the writer of threatening letters received by the Sunday School Literature publisher, and other persons of the city, on being arrested and tried, confessed that it had been the reading of bad books that led her into the crime.  No one can estimate the amount of crime and lawlessness that is directly traceable to the dime novel and other pernicious literature. (Oh, yes.  I'm going to hell and guess what?  So are you!).

Bad Pictures: Bad reading burns deeper than does filthy conversation, and bad pictures, perhaps make deeper scars than do bad books.  Both burn very deeply into the souls of boys and girls, young men and young women.  Dr. Leonard, a leading divine, tells of the dreadful effects of foul pictures shown him by a Germany shoemaker as a boy. (sounds like German shoemaker was a perve and it had nothing to do with f*cking pictures....)  Dr. Leonard, like thousands of other pure men, would give his good right arm if these vile pictures could be forgotten.  (Sadly, it sounds like he was sexually abused as a boy and it's being blamed on pornography).

Characteristics of Woman: There is beauty in the helplessness of a woman.  (Nice)  The clinging trust (or stupidity) which searches for extraneous support is graceful and touching.  Timidity is the attribute of her sex, but to herself it is not without its dangers, its inconveniences and its sufferings.  Her first effort at comparative freedom is bitter enough, for the delicate mind shrinks from every unaccustomed contact.  The secret of her weakness is hidden in the depths of her own bosom (Note: this man was written by a man.  Surprise, surprise.  Delilah would also like to note that there was no page found on the characteristics of a man...)

A Sterile Marriage: I will describe one more case, in which the two parties were perfectly neutral to each other, and therefore sterile and childless. (This is in 1919, when functions and sterility were, in fact, about bad books)  A man spoke o me one day and said, "I would like to talk with you."  He asked me to explain the grounds of my teaching, which I did as I have done in this article.  He then said, "How would it be with me in case I should have married a wife who was tall and slender, with snapping black eyes?" (Sounds like he thinks he married the wrong woman).  He himself was tall, say five feet eleven inches.  We had been speaking of Napoleon and Josephine, and why they were childless together and I went on to show him that substantially the same conditions existed in his case, that he and his wife were so closely alike as to be neutral to each other and therefore sterile and childless.  He told me they had been married fourteen years and had never had a child, and that he had no idea why, but now he could see that the case was the same with them as with Napoleon and Josephine.  (Talk about a REAL Napoleon complex...)  It was plain to see that he had married a woman he had over idolized and so had formed a strictly neutral marriage.  (WTF).

Mental Effect of Sex Ignorance: In his investigations of the asylums of one nation, Dr. Pique claims that he found that 82% of all cases of insanity among females and 78% among males, involved sexual issues and that early sex instruction would have wholly prevent many cases and would have postponed the mental breakdown.  (Um, yeah.  Notice how the insanity percentage of women is higher.  Hm)

Effects of Sexual Excitement on Man: In a man, if spooning is persisted in, it leads to sexual excitement.  This causes a surplus of energy to be secreted.  The body can retain and use only a normal quantity of this energy.  This surplus will be dissipated through involuntary losses, the secret vice (he's referring to masturbation) or prostitution.  If spooning is continued for a few months or years, he will suffer from varicosed veins and varicocele (A widening of the veins that holds the testicles).  He may become temporarily or permanently impotent or sterile. (1919 people)

Effects of Sexual Excitement on Women (oh, this is going to be good!): Frequent excitement leads to ovarian troubles, leucorrhoea (vaginal discharge), or whites, corresponding to sexual weakness in the male.  The eyes that once glowed with lustre will become pale and sunken (yeah, if you do it every two minutes and get no sleep!).  The cheeks once plump, ruddy and rosy with health will become thin and faded.  One or many more other troubles may follow.  With the kindest interest in you and yours, believe me, sincerely your friend, T.W.S. (This dude actually wouldn't even use his real name, only initials.  Snort.)

What fascinates this here girl is that this sex book does in fact use pictures.  Only...they are covered.
This particular picture discusses the Correct Form And Proportions Of Male And Female.  And goes on and on about the beauty of the body but dang them, there's no picture OF the body...

The misconceptions that are own grandparents and their parents were born into is astounding and even more so, knowing that this wasn't that long ago.  Some of these people are still walking around today.  Or should I saw hobbling around...that said, I haven't even made a dent in this book!  It's very sexist and I'm struggling not to rip pages....God do I ever feel blessed to have been born in the era I have been born in, because I would have been a slut and a whore of the worst sort, reading BAD BOOKS and having ovarian complications...

Until Next time, Much love to you and your ovaries,
Delilah Marvelle

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roman Wife or Roman Whore?

My dearest Readers,
There is so much to cover when it comes to Rome and their naughty history, I could spend all day and night typing up a fifty page blog post. But because I don't want your eyes rolling to the back of your head, I'm going to actually showcase what I think deserves showcasing. And believe's GOOD.

As many of you already know, Rome was a crazy place to live in and have sex in. And because it was crazy, many laws were put into place to put people into place. (heh. good luck with that, Caesar). Married men in Rome could have sex with whoever the hell they wanted to. Widows, Slaves, Prostitutes, and anything on four legs (you think I'm kidding?). The men of Rome had it made. They could have sex with everyone, including their wives.

Oh, now wait...not everyone. They couldn't have sex with virgins and other people's wives. Why? Strict adultery laws (which I'm sure the men grumbled about, especially when they were eyeing their neighbor's hot wife laying out the pottery by the door.) These "strict" adultery laws, however, didn't irk the men at all, given they were screwing everything else. These laws actually slammed the wives hard (pun intended). Because unlike the husband who could stick it in anything except other wives and virgins, a married woman wasn't allowed ANY sex outside of her husband. Because the law itself was written as such that it was a CRIME to have sex with a married woman. Not a married man. Huh. Wonder who wrote THAT law? If an adulteress was caught having sex outside marriage, the punishment was the loss of all her property (including her children) and exile.

Oh, but now we get to the good part. You think Roman wives took this laying down? *Smirk* Hell, no. They were a lot smarter than the Roman men gave them credit for and they found their glorious little loophole in another Roman law they bent in their favor so they could get themselves a little somethin' somethin' without losing everything.Ancient Roman law was written as such that any woman registered as a prostitute (because it was considered a very legal profession) could NOT be punished for any sex acts. Including that of adultery. Because hey. A job was a job.

Men wanted the best of both worlds and wanted prostitution legal so they could do what their wives couldn't do. But you guessed it, the wives beat their husbands at their own game. They just registered themselves as prostitutes and got around the law in a bow worthy way. Believe it or not, there were many wealthy and high profile families in Rome which had mothers and grandmothers alike registered got it...prostitutes.Roman Suetonius (c. 69-c. 140 C.E) went on record to complain about this loophole to his fellow Roman men. He said, "Married women from well-known families are registering as prostitutes. They are escaping punishment for their adulteries by renouncing the privileges of their rank in society." Well, now. There you have it. Women *are* smarter than men, after all.

I hope you enjoyed this bit of naughty history and until next time,
Much love to you,
Delilah Marvelle

Friday, September 30, 2011

Women and brothels, oh my!

My dearest Readers,

Ah, the good old days of brothels. They went by my names. How many? Let me count the ways and the years the terms came into existence. Stew (1362), Bawdy House (1552), Leaping House (1596), Bagnio (1624), A Place of SixPenny Sinfullness (a mouthful that came to be in the 17th century), Nunnery (late 17th century), Ladies College, House of Ill Repute, House of Ill Fame, House of Evil Fame and the ever creative The Naughty House (all terms which came into existence in the 18th century). And crazy though it is, I could go on...

Unlike the history of street prostitutes, brothels were well documented for us to study because they were run like businesses (and WERE businesses) and had accounts and kept books that listed EVERYTHING. So how about we have some fun and dig into this naughty bit of history?

In Covent Garden, in 1752, a certain Mrs. Haddock died leaving behind a brothel empire, one of the most lavish ones to have ever been known in London. The fixtures and fittings alone were worth several hundreds pounds, estimated to be worth THOUSANDS in today's market. Her brothel had 32 beds and 14 dining tables (nothing like eating you know what....snort). The contents of the brothel's wine cellar were about 165 pounds worth (about $12,000 today). And the silverware was said to be worth three times the cellar.

In a brothel, be it lower class or higher class, there was always a woman in charge of the prostitutes and establishment itself. Men vanished from the brothel trade (meaning owning it), toward the late 1600's for reasons having to do with the fact that women knew what men wanted as opposed to men knowing what men wanted.

I'll be touching on the upper scale brothels given they involved more and offered more. Women who started these upper scale brothels knew that men liked "exclusivity" and seized on using the idea. A certain Mrs. Goadby on Marlborough Street was one of them. She hired only the most beautiful women and physicals for all of her women on a weekly basis to ensure they were clean. If any of them had minor problems, like pubic lice, it was treated (by shaving) and the girl was rested until she was ready to go again. Anything more serious (like syphilis) and the girl was instantly booted. It was all about ensuring a good reputation and that her girls were clean. She sought to ensure it so much that she supplied her customers with "Mrs. Phillips' Fames New Engines.' (Condoms). The woman also sold dildos to gents and the best French food and wine there was to offer, whilst dressing all of the women in the latest Parisian fashions.

Alcohol was forbidden to her girls, except for sips with guests, and all of them were put on a regiment of drinking milk to ensure good skin and hair (can you imagine if you were lactose intolerant?). The hopping hours of a luxury brothel was during the hours after the theatres closed in London and a set price was put on admission itself so you wouldn't get just anybody walking through the door. The doors and the legs of these women were open 7 days a week. Yes, even on Sunday. ESPECIALLY on Sunday given that music and card playing was prohibited and all the theatres were closed. That meant men had more time on their hands and Sunday was usually their busiest day. Ha.

So how did a man go about getting in? First, he paid whatever the admission price was. The moment he walked through the door, he'd be handed a scented silk handkerchief that was his "marker." He would hold onto it while he settled in and checked out the inventory. When he made a decision, he would hand the handkerchief to his choice. Mrs. Goadby apparently allowed each girl to deny up to two handkerchief a night out of respect for them (impressive). After that, she was screwed. Quite literally. Heh. Once a girl accepted said handkerchief, it wasn't skip and hop off to bed quite yet. She became that gent's "partner" for the entire evening. She would dance and dine and entertain him, both of them getting to know each other (this is what separated the upper class brothels from the lower ones where it was just in and out).

The brothel itself would have been lavishly decorated. Many bedchambers had themes and mirrors located both on the ceiling and around the room so the gent could watch himself "doing it." Any money or gifts offered weren't offered directly to the girls themselves. They went straight to good old Mrs. Goadby. Though the actual percentage cut isn't recorded, most likely, the girls got half or way less, as even the best Madams were penny-pinching bitches.

To give you an example as to the frequency of certain patrons and I'm quoting from MADAMS by Fergus Linnan: "A certain Lord L____ was known to frequent on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and always sought not one but TWO ladies for each and every single one of those nights." Talk about virile. And expensive.

In a brothel of any scale, be it exclusive or dirt poor, a whore was expected to pay out a lot from her earnings, usually keeping her locked in with the brothel she was working for. Here is a list of the things they had to pay for our of their own pockets: board and lodging, gowns, corsets, shoes, petticoats, hats, ribbons, hair pins, stockings, tooth powder, brushes. Basically anything that was known as upkeep. A woman might have earned 5 pounds and a few shillings for the week and quite literally pay out 5 pounds for all of the above items, leaving her with only a few shillings. Most of these women waited and hoped for certain patrons who would sponsor them. Basically, make them mistresses. When that happened, a gent usually had to pay the Madam a good pound given that he was taking one of the girls out of circulation.

Needless to say, these brothels offered a man a variety of pleasures, no matter their pleasures. Certain girls would even have known specialties. For instance, did you know that good old King George IV absolutely LOVED having his anus tortured? And you better believe there were girls who specialized in said torture. God only knows what really went on in those brothels, but I will say, I would hate to have a job where my finger would be up some guy's dirty ass all night. Snort. Aren't you lucky you weren't whoring yourself back in those days? At least today people bathe. Or at least...some do. Gotta love history. Anus torturing and all.

Until next time and much love to you,

Delilah Marvelle

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tijuana Bibles

My dearest Readers,
Every month, I delight in the possibility that you might walk away from this blog tickled and astounded by the underbelly of the past. And you had best believe I intend to tickle and astound. Tijuana Bibles. Have you heard of them? If you have, YOU are one bad ass underbelly historian and I'd like to shake your dirty little hand because this is one history that is as muddled and fascinating as it gets. I was fortunate enough to get an up close look at these suckers at none other than the Museum of Sex itself. I've heard of them prior to visiting the museum, but never actually got to see them in person, so it really was a treat and one I'm sharing with you.

So...Tijuana Bibles. They weren't REALLY bibles. As you might have guessed given that it is getting its own post on my blog. The origin of the name itself is actually unknown. Some say it was a jab on the vices of Border Mexican towns and others say it was used merely to throw off the authorities. Either way, these Tijuana Bibles have quite the naughty history. Tijuana bibles were also called jo-jo books, fuck books (which best describes them), blusies, gray-backs, and eight pagers, to name a few. I should probably note that these were American in origin.
So what were they? It was a creative form of incredibly artistic pornography. They were explicit, hand drawn CARTOON booklets stapled together in a convenient "pocket" size. They made their debut in the 1920's but really exploded in the Depression Era of the 1930's when cartoonists were looking to make a living just like everyone else. Though they altogether petered off in popularity by the 50's, these dirty little booklets consisted of cartoons that created "a story" involving sex. They were sold in school yards (they are cartoons, after all!!), tobacco shops (under the counter), back alleys (with the booze) and out of the trunks of cars (with the booze). They were collected like baseball cards and traded and shared (and shared and shared).

What made these popular? They were without any doubt funny as freakin hell (humor during the depression went a looooong way) and more importantly, featured popular comic strip cartoons, celebrities of the era, and politicians in every dang sexual position known to man and woman (and animal). You get to page through Minnie and Mickey Mouse's adventures of having rowdy rodent sex. Or Clark Gable using his ears to make a woman scream. Or my favorite (below), Donald Duck in all his cocky glory. Puts his character in a whole new light, doesn't it?

I bet you always dreamed about seeing Popeye....well...pop an eye. And believe me, he does. Right along with us!

Ever wonder where Dick Tracy got his name? Oh, yeah, he EARNS his name in these suckers. As for good old Dagwood? Well...he's just got wood. And Snow White? She DOES all seven drawfs in style. Setting aside the dirty details, the drawings in and of themselves were actually done with a quality that made these even more popular.

Now despite its popularity, all of the booklets themselves were drawn and printed anonymously due to all the indecency laws in the united states (which weren't lifted until the 1960's). Shipments were occasionally seized by authorities but with no source and no names, it was very difficult for them to press charges against anyone. Fascinatingly enough, the cartoonists behind the Tijuana Bibles have never stepped forth with their names, even long after bans were lifted and to this day, identification of the creators are done based off of the styling of the cartoon itself.
Wesley Morse, the creator of Bazooka Joe (yes, the bubble gum cartoons!), was believed to have been one of many cartoonists who drew anonymously during a time when there was no work. Not much more is known.

In the end, what is utterly fascinating about the depression era itself was the people's desperate need for escapism given the hardships. That need is what created the booming film industry. And that need is what created this titillating form of pornography that took tongue and cheek to a whole new level known as Tijuana Bibles. So now that you know all about Tijuana Bibles, I suggest you keep your eyes open. Because who knows? Maybe your grandma or your grandpa have some of these puppies stashed up in the attic somewhere. Or better yet, maybe your grandma and your grandpa are STILL paging through these suckers, chuckling and tickling each other under the covers as they make use of it. All I do know is that the good old days were exactly that...good. Gotta love history.

Until next time,
Much love to you,
Delilah Marvelle

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pretty Women of Paris Exposed

My dearest Readers,
As I had promised in last month's post, I had made an appointment in New York City to view a very special item which I had learned about through Tony Perrottet's book, "The Sinner's Grand Tour." Most of you are probably thinking that I would be inspecting a dildo or a super old condom. Not so, my friends. I'm more refined in nature than you think. Hahaha (so says the kettle that is black...). That said, I'll stop being a tease.

In 1883, a 200 page "guide" known as THE PRETTY WOMEN OF PARIS was printed in Paris by an unknown gentleman. Many believe it was actually a British gentleman living in Paris given his exceptionally good usage of the English language. It was a guide that allowed any man who possessed it to have the address and name of all the women in Paris who would willingly give it up for the almighty French Franc. Meaning it was a guide to all the whores and courtesans and bordellos in Paris. Each name and address came with detailed descriptions about her physical appearance and her "specialty." But it included far, far more than just "She likes to fuck guys and you can find her here and pay her this." There's actually a lot of personal information pertaining to her life that gives us glimpses unlike anything we'll ever see.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should be. If you've been a devoted follower of my blog, you might remember that I did a post about a very similar guide that was rather popular with the masses in England back in 1757 and was published yearly until it was shut down by the government in 1795. Click HERE to refresh your little memory.

Like most pornographic material in the Victorian era, THE PRETTY WOMEN OF PARIS was published "privately" in 1883 (which means this person would have gotten tossed into jail for printing this in any other way). There were only 169 copies made. Of those 169 copies, only 3 of the 169 remain in the world today. One is in the British Library, one is in private hands (which means one less copy the world will ever see), and one in the New York City Library.

Imagine my excitement knowing I was going to be just BLOCKS from the New York City Library where this sucker was housed. Prior to flying to New York City for the Annual Romance Writer's of America conference, I made an appointment with the rare book room to see it. I had scheduled it ahead of time, because they require at least four days notice. They ultimately decide whether or not they will even let you see the book. Fortunately, they didn't think I'd eat the book.

Now before I get into my incredible five hour experience of "touching" and "looking" and "reading" this utterly fascinating historical artifact, let me delve into its history which will set up how truly unique and historically important this book is.

In Paris, back in Napoleon's day, prostitution was "legal." Meaning, you had to be registered with the Police, pay your taxes and allow for twice weekly examinations (because once a week wasn't enough, right?). Napoleon wanted to ensure that venereal disease didn't spread and felt that by making it public while having records of the women doing it, the industry and disease could be controlled more. And boy if he sure as hell wasn't on to something. Many Brits flocked to Paris for decades because of it. It really was an unheard of precaution unlike anything being done in the world.

By 1880, there were 224 brothels legally operating in Paris. Of those 224, about 30,000 prostitutes were licensed by the government to operate their bodies and pay taxes on it. No kidding. These women had to all be licensed to be a whore and had to be physically and routinely checked by doctors that were hired by the government (sweet job for a perve). The moment any woman was found to have a venereal disease, she was taken off the street by the police and not allowed to "operate" anymore. While there were incredibly established and lavish brothels that were included, sadly, it also included what I call the maisons d'abattage. Translated it quite literally means "slaughterhouses." It was a low budget brothel where men paid, took a number and lined up outside a door waiting to be serviced. Meaning, a woman would finish with one customer and the other would step right in as the guy was leaving. There wasn't even time for her to wipe down. Some women endured over FIFTY men a night in these "slaughterhouses" (dearest God I would have just shot myself). As if that wasn't bad enough, the cost for a man to have a pass with one of these women was only a single franc (which is about $7 today). And you better believe that poor girl only saw a small percentage of it because the Madam in the brothel took a large cut of it. Not all brothels obviously operated this way. Some were insanely lavish and the girls were treated like diamonds, but sadly, it was a lifestyle that resulted in hardships no matter where they were working.

Everything operated this way in Paris until 1946 when the conservative government took over the city and shut everything down, turning all the brothels into apartments and public buildings. What many don't realize is that there was a much darker and deeper rooted sentiment behind doing so. It wasn't because they decided it was "wrong" but in fact that during the Nazi occupation in Paris, many of these brothels oversaw the sexual needs of Nazis. It was a personal shame not just that whores were running around town but that these women symbolized how far France had fallen. It had slept with the enemy. Quite literally.

With the shutting down of all brothels, the history of anything we might have known about them and its women and the men who frequented them began disappearing. Artifacts from these women and the brothels themselves were either destroyed or sold into private hands and/or never heard of again. Most people may not think protecting such history is important, but this is the history of our women who had no other means to earn their living in a world ruled by men. If that doesn't deserve protection and understanding, I don't know what the hell does.

So now that you have an understanding of Paris back in 1883 when our "guide" was printed, you begin to realize how important this guide truly is. It's like peering into history itself and the women who were trying to survive in a very legal trade.

I had to be buzzed into the Rare Book Room as it is locked to the public. I already felt special knowing I was part of an elite group of people who was "allowed" to be buzzed in. When I walked into the glass encased book covered room, I was greeted by a notable drop in temperature. It was so cool in fact, I wished I had brought a sweater along instead of wearing my little summer dress. I didn't even consider that yes, books that are rare and irreplaceable would require not only special encasing, but certain conditions to be able to survive.

I was not allowed to take any pictures. Nor was I allowed to use a pen. Only pencil, in case ink accidentally got on the book. Fortunately, I was allowed to bring in my computer to take notes. I was set up at my own desk with a lamp and a special foam book stand with a weighted string to which to set the book on. I was rather surprised they didn't make me wear gloves. From what I heard, in the British Museum, you not only have to wear gloves but you can't be "alone" with it the way I was in the New York City Library. So I got to physically touch a piece of history that my friends over in England can't.

When the item was brought out, imagine my surprise to find it wasn't an actual "book" but 11 pamphlets. They were 5x4 and threaded together in three places. They were in beautiful condition, though you can see they'd been handled by many before me, not including the dude that first got a hold of it back in 1883 to make use of it...

The title was printed across each pamphlet like this:

The Pretty Women of Paris; Their Names and Addresses, Qualities and Faults, Being a Complete Directory; Or, Guide to Pleasure For Visitors to the Gay City (1883 Privately Printed at the Press of the Prefecture de Police, by Subscription of the Members of the Principal Parisian Clubs).

Preface: "Every Woman has her Price." - The Author

When I saw that PREFACE, I actually snorted loud enough to make everyone in the Rare Book Room look up from their studies. I cringed and tried to pretend that I didn't do it by reading on. Boy did I ever get an eye full of that book. There were no illustrations but the words didn't need any. All the names of the women were listed in Alphabetical Order. Quite literally from A to Z. What fascinated me most was learning more about the details that get lost in history. Like what the life of a whore might have REALLY been like back in the 1800's. I think this book, though clearly sexist in its nature for the author had very few positive "reviews" of any of the women in his guide, it gives us a glimpse into the daily life of these women.

Here's two of my favorite excerpts:

D’Arcourt, Blanche

11, Rue Miromenil

For beauty in stature in stature and elegance in every limb, no handsomer woman will be found in Paris. She has a fine bust, and has just reached the ripe age of 29. She has a slight down on her upper lip, and affects a pince-nez, which gives her a very saucy appearance. She is very strong and a fine swimmer. Her lovers are to be found among the busy members of the Stock Exchange, and her only fault is the too frequent recurrence of some slight symptoms of venereal disease. She gives very pleasant balls and parties, where many young beginners may be picked up by the amateurs of female beauty. Last winter our brunette appeared at one of her reunions, attired in nothing but a loose gauze chemise and red-satin boots, exactly as if she was only a simple bawdy house wench. Her bosom friend, Antoinette Duret, who we notice further on, was attired, or rather, not attired, in the same way, and soon all the guests male and female, followed suit. She is very good-hearted, and does her best to please both old and young. The smallest contribution thankfully received.

Red-satin boots? I want those! And I just love the whole "slight symptoms of venereal disease." He was probably trying to get her into trouble with the police.

And my next favorite excerpt:

D’Ange, Baroness

Rue Saint Georges

Nearly every visitor to Paris has noticed an elderly lady, who drive in the fashionable promenades, handling the whip herself with consummate cleverness. She is always attired in the height of fashion, and generally has at her side a young and comely companion. The old baroness herself is old and ugly, but her turn-out is always a marvel of coaching display. Sometimes she disdains to drive, and a postilion, be-wigged and be-powdered, with brilliant, old fashioned costume, conducts this luxurious old bawd; while on other days a tiny tiger, dressed in the perfection of taste, dances up and down on the spring-board behind her airy vehicle. IN any other capital of Europe this person known as the “Shame of Paris” would be simply pelted with mud and stones, for everybody is aware of her trade. It is that which Martial, in his epigrams, so unmercifully condemns. She, nothing more than a fellatrix, or, so to speak more plainly, she produces the venereal spasm by the contact of her mouth, and the tickling of her tongue. Only a common whore, provided with a card by the police, compelling her to submit to the search of the speculum at stated times, she manages to avoid this disagreeable duty by clever bribery. Her house, which, contrary to the usual habit in Paris, is inhabited by her alone, is magnificently furnished, and full of costly pictures, statues, and works of art. The visitor is generally conducted to a splendid bedstead in Algerian style, and after copious ablutions with rose-water, proffered in a silver basin, the goddess deigns to prove the power of that marvelous piece of mechanism – the female tongue. The snug retreat is also tenanted by two or three young nymphs, but none are so clever as this old woman. Her large fortune proves her vogue, as all Paris has passed her doors. Well worth a visit, if only out of curiosity, especially as one short séance is only 10 francs, with a slight gratuity to the waiting-maid, who in return for your kindness, will show you over the house.

What struck me about all the entries was realizing how real these women were and the hardships and the craziness they must have endured. Not only did they create it for themselves but the men placed that burden on them as well. Many think that the Victorian era erased vice and created modesty in women. In some, yes. But sadly, in many no. Their stories are overlooked. After all, who cares about a whore? Which comes to show that our perception of history is messed up. We want the romantic side of how people lived back in the day as opposed to how they really lived. In doing so, we are slapping these women in the face. They may not have lived the most moral or honorable of lives, but they lived them. To pretend these women didn't exist makes us the ones in need of moral reassessment. I'm just saying. Praise be the whore who lead a life unlike anything I could ever write (though I will try, lol).

Cheers and much love until next time,

Delilah Marvelle

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Sinner's Grand Tour

My dearest Readers,
So I get this email from the wonderful, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon, and she's like, "Delilah, did you see this?" and attaches this link to this video (watch the video first or you won't get this post, LOL, click HERE.)

So after watching the video, what does a historical underbelly freak such as myself do? I ran out and bought the damn book. And I read it. I read it like in...oh...4 hours. Let me say that the author, Tony Perrottet basically made me so dang JEALOUS. It is officially on my list of things to do before I die, to visit and see and do all the things he has in this book. His book is pure genius and I recommend you buy the dang thing. It's funny but fascinating and witty and based on real history. Some of it I already knew but there were more details added that made it so delicious to read. And others I didn't know about at ALL....

Holy God, do I ever want to see whatever it left of the SECRETUM. If even to smell it. *Smirk* What's that? In 1866, in the height of Victorian sex paranoia, the British Museum trustees voted to have any and all pornographic related material shoved into a room known as Cupboard 55. From historic dildos to condoms from the 1700's, to Marquis de Sade's works, to paintings and sculptures too graphic to show, it basically boasted over a thousand naughty artifacts that would make Indiana Jones blush. This room is STILL in existence, but because we aren't QUITE the Victorian prudes we used to be, the artifacts in the room have been since dispersed to other areas in the museum for the public to see (that started happening in the 1960's). BUT...there are still things hidden within Cupboard 55 worth seeing. Like wax cocks from Italy, badges worn by medieval pilgrims that proudly boast the vagina which they wore during pilgrimage (who knew?!), a pipe from the Tudor age with a woman holding up her skirts and showing everything beneath it. How can you see these things? They're only shown by appointment every Tuesday at the British Museum. I think a trip to London for that alone is in order here...

That's only one of MANY things this book covered. So many things in fact, I decided to do my own version of hunting down delectable pieces of history in this book....PERSONALLY. So guess what people? Next month, I'll be doing an in depth coverage of one of the items I get to personally get my hands on while I'm in New York City and all of the history behind it and what WASN'T in the dang book pertaining to said object. I got my appointment set up to see it and spent some one on one time with it and take tons of notes. What is it? I figure I'll just make you all suffer until next month. Ha. I'm such a tease.

Until next time with much love,

Delilah Marvelle

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Museum of Sex

My dearest Readers,
So I recently got back from New York City where I was doing research for my upcoming Rumor series, whilst also attending the Book Expo of America and I simply *had* to do a post on my visit to The Museum of Sex. (I'll also be posting a fun video of all my travels throughout NYC, which will include snippets at my Video Newsletter which will appear on my video Newsletter site simply click HERE on June 5th!).

How did I know about this place? Believe it or not, I was actually contacted by the Museum itself as they were preparing for an exhibit on the history of condoms and they wanted to know where I got a particular source for information on Egyptian condoms. *strutting my stuff* I directed them to my source and in return, they sent me an invite and placed my name as one of the contributors on that exhibit, which was pretty flippin' cool. Though obviously not something to brag about at church. *waggling brows*

You'll find this sign in the store of the Museum and it basically sets up the entire feel of the mindset you are about to enter into. I have to say I was pretty astounded as to how serious people got when entering. People would point and whisper as if everything around them wasn't supposed to be discussed. That's when I knew I had officially entered...the Taboo Zone....

The museum itself is something worth going to JUST to see how people behave when placed in a public setting of sex. People really are prudes when it comes down to it. Especially guys. All the men that were there were dead serious about the whole thing. They stared at stuff quietly as if they were looking at a Professor's discourse in Theology. Seriously! Women were a little more gabby and giggly and more at ease, especially if they were with girlfriends or with their boyfriend/spouse. Which says a lot about the social divide between men and women when it comes to sex itself.

The first exhibit covered SEX AND THE MOVING IMAGE. You got it. Porn in film. It was fascinating to read about the birth of cinema itself and how it started with a lot of the naughty stuff in France around 1895. I'll be doing a whole post on this alone in the near future, so I won't be delving too much into it now, but it was very creatively laid out, showing how each decade changed "porn." Throughout the exhibit they had porn being played left and right as you walked through and the moans and groans of people getting it on while I was trying to focus and read through the history of pornography was VERY distracting. Did I still love it? Hell yeah. Why? Because it pushed me to recognize where my comfort zone REALLY was. I'm not by any means a prude, and I live for the history of sex but there is something to be said when it's all done in public and you're sharing it with men and women you've never seen in your life and you're all watching some 70's flick of people having sex....I didn't last very long in that room. I was more fascinated by the origin of pornography but once I started getting into the 70's, 80's, 90's and today's porn I was just!! Hey, Bubble Tea anyone? Look, it's my reaction to watching porn in public with a bunch of guys and girls I don't know!!!

Needless to say, I quickly moved on to finding my THING at the museum. Historical sex? Oh yeah. Bring it. Mrs. Restell anyone??? Do you even know who the hell Mrs. Restell is? I sure didn't. She was the woman to know in New York City if you weren't looking to end up with 27 kids (sounds like she's going to be making an appearance in my upcoming New York series, lol). She sold contraceptives in the mid 1800's and advertised her wares in papers.

At $5, a woman received a package of powders said to last five years which was forwarded anywhere in the Unites States. It was to be taken directly after having sex. Above is a picture of the sort of oral contraceptives my heroine would have been looking at. Open wide! (pun intended).

The Onanism display was along the same lines of good old Mr. Kellogg's ideals (see May 2011's post). Onanism means two things: the withdrawal during intercourse or masturbation. Which do you think the Victorians were more freaked out about? You betcha. Masturbation. (Dorks). Don't believe me? Here's an actual medical chart and diagram of what they believed would happen to a man if he masturbated. He drooled and looked retarded. Oh, you can spot those f*in masturbators. You really can.

Once you've spotted those f*in masturbators, you better believe you needed to take care of those bastards before their condition worsened. Those boys and men were fitted into their own Anti-Onanism Device created by the Ferier Brothers in Paris during the 1890's.

Note the cast iron for the crotch AND the metal bindings to fasten it and keep it into place. Comfie, eh? Why even bother putting holes in the area where the balls could breathe? Sheesh. Wonder how they pissed in this thing anyway? They probably just pissed in it *crinkling nose in disgust*. Yes, people, this was a chastity belt which was very popular during the Victorian era for both men and women (yet another post I have yet to cover). Chastity belts were popular in the Victorian era not to keep others from touching your crotch, but to keep YOU from touching your crotch.

So let's move on to the next display, shall we? Vibrators. Ah, wonderful devices that give us hours and hours of joy! Here's what your grandmother would have used in the 1930's. In truth they look like stuff our of her kitchen drawers...wait...wonder if that's where Grandma kept her shit. Now we know why she REALLY drank Castor oil. *ewww*

There was also an incredible and creative exhibit dedicated to pornographic cartooning and the history behind comics that you wouldn't want your kids to see. As Mr. Tom of Finland is quoted as saying, "If I don't get an erection when I'm doing a drawing, I know it's no good." I finished this most awesome tour of sex by visiting The Oralfix Cafe located in the very basement of the Museum, which specializes in Aphrodisiac drinks.

What did I have to drink??? A Persephone made out of Pomegranate, Mango, rum and honey crystal rim. It was delicious beyond belief and I was buzzed and flushed within fifteen minutes flat. Was it worth the $11 dollars? Hell yeah.

What little memento did I walk away for myself?? A pair of underwear for $18 (my husband fainted)

And a bottle of arousal pills for $3.50, thank you very much (which actually didn't work for shit. At least not for this hot blooded woman).

I could go on and on about how freakin AWESOME and TITILLATING this museum is but I hope you'll go dash and check it out yourself sometime. The Museum of Sex is located in New York City and deserved kudos and respect for tackling the history and evolution of sex in a artful, tasteful, intelligent and creative manner.

Until next time and wishing you much lusty potency,
Delilah Marvelle

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The power of Cornflakes

My dearest Reader,
As you are repeatedly learning through my blog, people of the past were probably bigger freaks then we will ever be because of an atmosphere created by male domination and world stupidity as a result of said male domination (sorry guys, it's true). My objective today is to make you realize that the things you eat are the thing you should be choking on because of their history and what it represents.

Diving into quick overview, let's introduce Mr. John Harvey Kellogg. Hm. Kellogg. Sounds familiar? You bet your bottom dollar it is the same bastard's name who is sitting in your cupboard at home encouraging you to slather the flakes with milk. Before you hunker down and shove in another mouthful, you MAY want to know WHO invented Cornflakes and WHY.

*Cracking knuckles*

Mr. John Harvey Kellogg (born 1852 and died 1943) was an over-educated, church minded asshole. (Note: this is the sole opinion of a romance writer based upon a single man and his beliefs not the church he belonged to. My opinion does not represent the romance genre or all of its affiliates. Heh). He was a Seventh-Day Adventist that was part of a Christian sect that distinguished itself by observing church on Saturday, as opposed to Sunday. He believed that God was in EVERYTHING. Well...except for the cock and the clitoris. He had incredible modern-day notions of being a vegetarian despite living in a society that ate ham and mutton as if they were sugar cookies. He passionately and ardently supported no meat eating not because of all the poor slaughtered animals but because he believed that MEAT increased sexual stimulation (which was very, very BAD) and that it brought out the BEAST in us (shudder). He was the chief medical officer of a Sanitarium and instilled strict no booze and no smoking rules on anyone and anything in his grasp. After all, it was no more good for the body than it was for the soul's conduct. With his sole focus on being grain and vegetarian diet that he firmly believes reduced sexual appetite and the vile need for masturbation, he and his brother, Will (which amusingly enough means "penis" in Shakespeare's fitting!) started the SANITAS FOOD COMPANY in 1897. The two created a recipe known as CORNFLAKES.

But alas, the two got into an argument. Will wanted to put sugar on the Cornflakes. Mr. john Asshole didn't want sugar in the flakes, so he sent his brother, Will, packing and the two became rivals that created a decade long feud. The guy who didn't want sugar on his Toasted Corn Flakes that are still being eaten today is the same guy who as a doctor and in his sanitarium specialized in rehabilitating "masturbators" (it was known as a serious condition at the time...). Part of his regimen for these masturbators included having his male and female patients eat a diet of Corn Flakes whilst employing disturbing measures of mutilating said patients by having boys and men who were NOT circumcised, clipped on the spot as he believed it would keep them from touching it. But the men got off easy compared to the women. He applied phenol (carbolic ACID) to a woman's clitoris to ensure she never felt anything ever again. Yes, it was a form of female castration. He lived until 91 and to the end believed he had done all of society including all his poor patients a favor.

So the next time you dig into your Cornflakes my dear readers, I ask that you momentarily pause and mourn for those poor souls before us who had to swallow Mr. Kellogg's views on sexuality. Then chew and swallow and hope to whatever god there is, you just didn't sentence your sex drive to hell.

Until next time, I bid thee much love,
Delilah Marvelle

Friday, April 1, 2011

Scandalous Women

My dearest Readers,
I have an amazing special guest post from my dear friend and writer and researcher extraordinaire, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon. It's ever so fitting to feature her book. Read and post a comment for your chance to win a signed copy of her incredible book, SCANDALOUS WOMEN. Be sure to post your email address. This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents. And without further ado....let Elizabeth strut her stuff.

Well Behaved Women Don't Make History" Laurel Thatcher Ullrich
From the moment I first read that quote, I knew that I wanted to write about those women who weren't so well-behaved, the stories of the brave and ballsy women who made waves since the dawn of man. It's the sinners that we remember far more than the saints of this world! Those are the stories that drew me to writing Scandalous Women. Outrageous women like Barbara Castlemaine, Duchess of Cleveland who once threatened to dash out the brains of her child unless her lover Charles II of England acknowledged him. The dramatic fire of Lola Montez as she danced the Spider Dance that lured men like Franz Liszt, Alexandre Dumas pere and King Ludwig of Bavaria into her web. I wanted the reader to see these women not just as icons or as symbols but as human beings, warts and all.
Writing this book was a labor of love but it was tough narrowing the book down to just 35 women. So many Scandalous Women, so little time! I wanted to include a wide range of women, some that readers would know, but I also wanted to include some forgotten women like Carry Nation and Anna Leonowens. Even though I adore all the women that I wrote about, there were some of course that I loved more than others. I hate to play favorites but I can't help myself.
Eleanor of Aquitaine - Who hasn't watched The Lion in Winter numerous times? I know I have. Wife to two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was the most powerful woman of her time. As the heir to Aquitaine she ruled over an area half the size of modern France. Complex and boldly original, she broke the mold for women, and lived life on her own terms. Not content to stay at home while the men waged war, she joined her first husband Louis VII of France on Crusade. During her difficult and troubled marriage to Henry II of England, joined her sons in rebellion, spending eleven years imprisoned for her daring. Even in her eighties, she continued to be a force, holding England strong for Richard the Lionheart, while he away was on Crusade, before finally retiring at last to a convent. During her lifetime she was the subject of vile rumors, that she rode barebreasted like an Amazon while on crusade, slept with her uncle, murdered Henry II's mistress Rosamund Clifford, ignoring her achievements as Duchess of Aquitaine. Isn't that always the way?
Anne Boleyn - My favorite of all of Henry VIII's wives, Anne has fascinated me for years. Sultry and tempestuous, Anne caused a sensation when she returned to England from France, cutting a swathe through the gallants at court. Fashion forward, she not only introduced the adorable French hood, but also made brunettes the rage. The original Rules girl, she kept the King of England him at arms length until he made her Queen. Where did she get the chutzpah? Not only did he divorce his wife, but he broke with the church of Rome, creating the Church of England, all for her tawny hand. Her greatest legacy, her daughter Elizabeth, arguably England's greatest Queen.
Jane Digby - called "one of the most remarkable women of the nineteenth century', Jane married at the tender age of seventeen to the much older Lord Ellenborough, but within a few years she left him for an Austrian prince resulting in one of England's most scandalous divorces. Subsequently she fell in love with a young Greek count who then fought a duel for her. In middle-age but still beautiful, after vowing to renounce men, she met and married the love of her life, a Bedouin nobleman, who was twenty years her junior. Today we would call Jane a serial monogamist but in the Regency and Victorian era, they had some not so nice names for her. I prefer to think of her as a passionate nomad, searching for her one true love.
This is just a sneak peek of some of the women that you can find along with a host of other rule-breakers in SCANDALOUS WOMEN.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Perfect Scandal....

My dearest Readers,

In honor of THE PERFECT SCANDAL which is officially out in stores, I give thee the story behind the story. Although there are many facets that made this book come together, there is one facet in particular that I'll be delving into because I'm all about the scandal, baby. Which is why we'll be touching upon Catherine the Great. Catherine the Great is what I define as the ultimate female mover-and-shaker of the 1700s and one who had quite the reputation. Was she one of Russia's strongest monarchs? Or one of the most over-sexed rulers? It depends upon who is writing Her-story.

She was born in 1729 and named Sophia Augusta Frederika. Her parents were German royalty, and through her mother's line, Sophia could lay claim to the crown of Sweden. Sophia grew up to marry the nephew of Elizabeth, the Empress of Russia (who had been engaged to Sophia's uncle).
Empress Elizabeth considered Sophia a suitable wife for Peter, her heir, so in the winter of 1744, she invited Sophia to meet him. Sophia fell in love, not with her husband-to-be, but with Mother Russia. She learned the language, the culture, and to the delight of Elizabeth, converted to the Russian Orthodox Church. With her conversion, she was given a new name Yekaterina - Catherine. Some say this conversion was political expediency, but given Catherine's later efforts at reform, it seems at least some of it came from her heart.

Peter III turned out to be a great choice as a route to the throne and a less-than-adequate choice for husband. He suffered from poor health, a virulent temper and seemed to be emotionally stunted -- he loved to play with toy soldiers, drank to excess and eight years into the marriage both Peter and Catherine were apparently still virgins. At the very least, there was no heir. Catherine spent those eight years reading history voraciously. Peter spent it playing with his toy soldiers. It is rumored that Elizabeth, anxious about the succession, condoned Catherine taking a lover. A male heir was produced, which Peter acknowledged as his own. In 1761, Elizabeth died a happy Empress, thinking the crown was secure.

As Empress, Catherine turned her attention to applying all she'd learned into helping the country she loved. She enacted reforms in agriculture (the study of soil, travel grants to England to purchase new machines), built new factories, and reformed trade. By 1765, three quarters of the debt she'd inherited from Empress Elizabeth was paid off. Public health also came under scrutiny. She invited to her Court Dr. Thomas Dimsdale (a Scotsman who did groundbreaking work on a small-pox vaccine) and took the vaccine herself. Then, education. She established schools and increased the number of grants to study abroad. Finally, with her great love of Russian culture, she commissioned art and built theaters, including The Hermitage.

Amidst all this incredible history, and during her marriage, she fell in lust with many men and followed upon that lust. However, the one lust of her life we'll be touching upon is the one that created the basis of my story. Before the young Polish Count Poniatowski became the King of Poland in a formal coronation that took place in Warsaw in 1764, he was Catherine the Great'slover.

They were introduced, of all things, through England's politics. Catherine was so smitten by the young, intelligent and handsome Count and knew she had to have him. The Count, in turn, was also smitten. And so the torrent relationship commenced, being kept in utmost secrecy. She would dress as a servant and sneak out of the palace where he would be waiting with a carriage. He, in turn, would dress as a musician and carry in an instrument (we know which one!) into the palace and they would sneak off into one of many hidden rooms. One of these hidden rooms, I included in the book itself. It was a room where the Empress escaped to and few even today know of. The room was hidden behind a bookshelf beyond her bedchamber and when you descended into it, you found yourself in a lush room whose walls were completely covered with mirrors. You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'? Oh yeah. I've no doubt she made DAMN good use of it. And I made sure I made damn good use of it in MY book *wink, wink*.

Her affair with Poniatowski carried on until she became pregnant with Count Poniatowski's child. A girl by the name of Anna Petrovna (not to be confused with Catherine the Great's OTHER daughter, Grand Duchess, Anna Petrovna who died at 20). Anna's birth was recorded to have taken place in 1757. Mysteriously, this child died 15 months after her birth and there is little to no information about this child. Catherine the Great, who kept a detailed diary, didn't even speak of her. And so....this mysterious death created a "what if" spark in my mind. What if the death had been staged? There certainly would have been reasons for it and it whispered of possibilities. Possibilities I tweaked to create THE PERFECT SCANDAL.

What further fueled this idea for me was that shortly afterward, the Empress had also made Count Poniatowski King of Poland by seizing the throne for him by force, hoping to have complete control over Poland. She found that her lover wasn't playing by all her rules. Everything rapidly fell apart between them as well as under his rule and the whole of Poland was partitioned into three sections by Prussia, Russia and Austria. The first partition was in 1772, the second partition was in 1793, and the third and last partitioned that eliminated Poland as an independent nation was in 1795.

Catherine the Great dethroned Poniatowski and took Poland for her own, overruling her passion for her pride and her country. Interestingly enough, Poniatowski became a prisoner of sorts to the Empress. He was brought out to Saint Petersburg and was kept under close surveillance until his death in 1798, even two years after the Empress had died (in 1796).

Either way, Russia was changed forever by Catherine. She died in 1796 and as for the cause of her death -- the rumor about the horse is a lie. It was spread by haters since she did things that women of that time period weren’t supposed to do -- take over a country and take on as many lovers as her heart desired.

Amen to power, lust and scandal.
Cheers and much love,
Until next time,
Delilah Marvelle