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Love and Affection: Vintage photos of gay and lesbian couples
11:39 am



A couple’s photographic portrait is an affirmation of their relationship. It states for all to see: “We love each other. We care for each other. We are proud of who we are together.”

During the Victorian era many gay and lesbian couples proudly expressed their love for each other in studio portraits. Unlike the common belief that such relationships were “the love that dare not speak its name,” as Oscar Wilde so famously described same sex attraction in his poem “Two Loves,” gays and lesbians often dared to show their love. Indeed, many gay and lesbian couples more or less lived openly together throughout their lives. This was far easier for women than for men as women were expected to live together if they were not married, or to live with the euphemistically termed “female companion.”

Men, no historical surprises here, had their own haunts for meeting like-minded souls. In London these could be found in the “Molly houses” and gentlemen’s clubs or pick-ups haunts at Lincoln’s Inn, or St. James Park or the path on the City’s Moorfields, which was charmingly referred to as “Sodomites Walk.”

Theaters and circuses were also well-known dens of homosexual activity—this can be traced all the way back to Elizabethan England, when male prostitutes plied their trade at theaters.

The armed forces, in particular the Royal Navy was notorious for gay relationships—understandable with all the horny seamen looking for any port in a storm. Apparently word got around.

It is a moot point that the change in public attitude towards homosexuality commenced with the Labouchere Amendment to the Sexual Offences Act in 1885, which “prohibited gross indecency between males.” This was the law under which Wilde was infamously prosecuted and the law that heightened discrimination against gays.

Before that there had been the Buggery Act—against anal penetration and bestiality—which was introduced during the reign of Henry VIII. This led to numerous executions (hangings) and imprisonments. It was briefly repealed, then reinstated by Elizabeth I. However, there were few prosecutions under the act and it was repealed again in 1828—though “buggery” remained a capital offense. James Pratt and John Smith became the last two men to be executed for buggery, in 1835.

The Labouchere Amendment outlawed homosexuality and made it more difficult for gay men to live the lives they desired. Labouchere did not include lesbians in the act as he believed drawing attention to lesbianism would only encourage sapphic desires amongst most Victorian women.

So even when gay relationships were outlawed in England, they still thrived in open secret. In America, the sodomy laws varied from state to state. What one state tolerated or had no opinion about, another state punished. However, as with England in the Victorian era, America gay and lesbian couples would often openly express their love for each other in portrait photographs.

This collection of beautiful, brave people gives us a small visual history of LGBT relationships from the 1860s-1960s. Many of the couples are unidentifiable, but where possible their names have been given. (Editor writes: Mild disclaimer: Of course it’s difficult to say that in all cases these photos are of gay couples.)
Anna Moor and Elsie Dale, 1900.
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
You could get some work done today, or you could visit the online Museum of Endangered Sounds
10:43 am

Pop Culture

Museum of Endangered Sounds

Brendan Chilcutt is, like many Dangerous Minds readers surely are, a collector of cultural ephemera. But his trove is not of real world objects, but once-common sounds that we no longer regularly hear. This is a relatively recent phenomenon on Planet Earth—the changes in the technological components of everyday life that became very rapid in the second half of the 20th Century have been accelerating even faster since the 1980s, to the point where now a gizmo that’s only a few years old can seem like a relic of a bygone time.

According to the about page for Chilcutt’s online Museum of Endangered Sounds:

I launched the site in January of 2012 as a way to preserve the sounds made famous by my favorite old technologies and electronics equipment. For instance, the textured rattle and hum of a VHS tape being sucked into the womb of a 1983 JVC HR-7100 VCR. As you probably know, it’s a wonderfully complex sound, subtle yet unfiltered. But, as streaming playback becomes more common in the US, and as people in developing nations like Canada and the UK get brought up to DVD players, it’s likely that the world will have seen and heard the last of older machines like the HR-7100. And as new products come to market, we stand to lose much more than VCRs.

Imagine a world where we never again hear the symphonic startup of a Windows 95 machine. Imagine generations of children unacquainted with the chattering of angels lodged deep within the recesses of an old cathode ray tube TV. And when the entire world has adopted devices with sleek, silent touch interfaces, where will we turn for the sound of fingers striking QWERTY keypads? Tell me that. And tell me: Who will play my GameBoy when I’m gone?

It’s questions like that last one that have never once kept me up at night, but to each…

While some of Chilcutt’s dozens of collected sounds date back to the turn of the 20th Century (the rotary phone dial) or the Great Depression (the teletype), most of the tech here comes from after the mid ‘70s—Space Invaders and Pac Man; the wheel-grind of a cassette player; AOL IM alerts; Brian Eno’s Windows95 startup sound; that satisfying THUNK of inserting video game console cartridges; the whirr of a rewinding VHS; the sound of a floppy drive reading a disc; and OF COURSE the dial-up modem connection sound sequence is present.

The interface allows for more than one sound to be played at once, and I definitely recommend creating some musical compositions by mixing and matching a few or several at once (a welcome dialog advises the user “if you like industrial music, try turning on all the thumbnails at once!”) It seems like there could be so much more to this collection, and devices are becoming obsolete at an ever-accelerating rate. But this also seems to be a bigger project for Mr. Chilcutt than just a web toy—he states that his ten-year plan is “to complete the data collection phase by the year 2015, and spend the next seven years developing the proper markup language to reinterpret the sounds as a binary composition.” So he may have more sounds collected than he’s posted so far.

The lag may also be due to the fact that, as he bluntly puts it, “I have eight gerbils.”

Hat tip to Mr. Lawrence Daniel Caswell for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Bettie Page’s vintage Guide for Strip-teasers: ‘This is as far as you can go’
09:41 am


Bettie Page

In 1953, Bettie Page posed for a guide to striptease entitled “This is as far as you can go,” in the Christmas issue of Carnival magazine.

Carnival was “a magazine of excitement” and Bettie P. was photographed to help its readers understand the laws pertaining to what they could or could not see, or rather what a stripper could or could not show when it came to stripping. Seven states permitted striptease, each with its own code, though there was often considerable leeway over what was permitted in a strip show depending on local ordinances.

In America striptease can be traced as far back as the carnivals that traveled across country.  The earliest striptease star was Charmion, who had a famous “dis-robing” act from around 1896 in which she stripped on a trapeze. This was later filmed by Thomas Edison in 1901—see below.

Here’s Bettie Page’s seven state guide for strip-teasers—“This is as far as you can go.”

…in Kansas.

You’ve got to be covered from thigh to shoulders, but you don’t have to use a horse blanket. To strippers, knowledge of local ordinances is vital.

003bettiepflo3.jpg Florida.

Coverage must resemble bra and panties whenever possible. What happens in the heat of summer is fun, too.

Bettie Page reveals more rules for stripping, plus Thomas Edison’s film of Charmion stripping, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘The Height of Goth’: Visions of goths enjoying a night of dance, 1984
02:18 pm



It’s something of a miracle that The Height of Goth: 1984: A Night at the Xclusiv Nightclub exists. According to Patrick Torsney, who was at the venue in Batley, West Yorkshire, near Leeds, that night and who posted it to YouTube in 2011, it was created by Ann and Pete Swallow, who managed the Xclusiv Nightclub, as a promotion and only about 50 VHS copies were ever made. The video Torsney found so many years later was “trashed, mildewed, beyond junk” but the restoration did a pretty good job of making it watchable on YouTube. The first few minutes are a little wonky but it settles down after that.

At the outset we see the impressive edifice that houses the Xclusiv and meet the Swallows—Pete hilariously says that his club’s clientele are mainly “way out young people.” The Height of Goth is a remarkable bit of amateur documentary, showing exactly what a night on the town at a typical, Goth-y nightclub was like in northern England in the halcyon year of 1984. It’s two solid hours, and almost all of it is just regular folks gyrating on a dancefloor while tunes like the Psychedelic Furs’ “Love My Way” supply the soundtrack.

About halfway through the dude pretending to be a local reporter type interviews some of the attendees; his attitude is actually pretty dismissive of all the crazy fashions and stuff, but hardly anyone seems to notice. The first couple he interviews, bedabbed with goth-y face paint, in all apparent sincerity claim to like Glenn Miller better than anyone else, a note that is also struck by the DJ, named Paul, at the beginning of the video. I don’t know what’s up with that except to say that where there’s dancing, you might find Glenn Miller fans?

One of the last songs in the DJ’s set, a little after the 1:55 mark, is David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?”—the homespun choreography for that bit has to be seen to be believed.

This was a goth-y kind of affair but in fact, what’s quite apparent is that a paying audience of adults (even if this was a special night for the filming) aren’t going to want just wall-to-wall Siouxsie and Echo, so there’s REM and Bowie and “The Monster Mash” and the Stranglers and goth-y precursors the Doors mixed in with New Order and Blancmange.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Photos of women and giant-ass mainframe computers from the 1960s
09:51 am



Computer Operators
All hail the vintage female geek culture from the polyester past! These splendid images come from Lawrence Harley “Larry” Luckham. Yep, that’s his name. Anyway, he used to work for Bell Labs back in ‘60s “managing a data center and developing an ultra high speed information retrieval system.”

I took a camera to work and shot the pictures below. I had a great staff, mostly women except for the programmers who were all men. For some reason only one of them was around for the pictures that day.

Women and giant-ass computers! What more could you ask for? So retro-looking that they’re almost futuristic!

Computer Operations Supervisor
Computer Operations Supervisor

More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Samurai Girl Power: Mess with these female Japanese warriors and you’ll regret it
11:52 am



When you watch Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai, which is set in 16th-century Japan, you are not exactly inundated with the stunning power of female warriors brandishing katanas—it’s a bit of a ソーセージ-fest, but such women did exist.

These warriors, known as onna bugeisha, find their earliest precursor in Empress Jingū, who in 200 A.D. led an invasion of Korea after her husband Emperor Chūai, the fourteenth emperor of Japan, perished in battle. Legend has it that she accomplished this feat without shedding a drop of blood. She used her position to bring about economic and social change and in the late 19th century became the first woman to be featured on a Japanese banknote.

Onna bugeisha generally eschewed the katana swords used by their male counterparts. instead opting for the naginata, a versatile polearm with a curved blade at the tip, a longer weapon that permitted the female warriors to remain effective against larger and heavier opponents. In addition, onna-bugeishas also used ranged weaponry such as bows and arrows.

Tomoe Gozen, Nakano Takeko, and Hōjō Masako are famous examples of onna bugeisha, although some of their exploits may belong more to lore than to history. Tomoe was active in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. She fought in the Battle of Awazu, in which she beheaded Honda no Moroshige of Musashi and killed Uchida Ieyoshi and for escaping capture by Hatakeyama Shigetada.

In The Tale of the Heike, it is written that

Tomoe was especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents.

Nakano Takeko lived in the 19th century. While she was leading a charge against Imperial Japanese Army troops of the Ōgaki Domain in south-central Japan, she was shot in the chest. Knowing her remaining time on earth to be short, Takeko asked her sister, Yūko, to cut her head off and have it buried rather than permit the enemy to seize it as a trophy. It was taken to Hōkai Temple and buried underneath a pine tree.


More impressive onna bugeisha after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘They are all about 12 years old’: The first time The Sex Pistols were ever mentioned in the press

Some of the stories about the early days of The Sex Pistols are as well known as that tale of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the nativity and the visiting of the three wise bears. (Kings, surely?-Ed.)

For example, we all know by now how John Lydon was spotted wearing a Pink Floyd tee-shirt with “I hate” scrawled across it, how he auditioned in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s shop SEX by singing along to Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen,” or how Steve Jones propelled the group into national infamy on teatime television by calling local news channel host Bill Grundy a rude word:

Jones: You dirty sod. You dirty old man!

Grundy: Well keep going, chief, keep going. Go on, you’ve got another five seconds. Say something outrageous.

Jones: You dirty bastard!

Grundy: Go on, again.

Jones: You dirty fucker! [Laughter from the group]

Grundy: What a clever boy!

Jones: What a fucking rotter.

Etcetera, etcetera….

Ah yes, some of these stories are so well known they’ve become part of the furniture of modern pop culture. So pull up a chair and have a seat. When that infamous interview happened in December of 1976, the PIstols’ manager Malcolm McLaren feared the band had blown their one chance at fame. How wrong could he have been? The next day (of course) the front page of nearly every tabloid newspaper in England featured the Pistols with headlines raving on about “the filth and the fury.”

From that forth, the Sex Pistols were never ever out of the news again.

Yet, here’s the thing—the very first words ever written about the Pistols in the MSM actually appeared in the New Musical Express a year before the Grundy show incident in the December 27, 1975 issue of the New Musical Express, in a review about a student ball.
Peter Gabriel scrubs up nice: The NME when its writers were good.
The Pistols were just seven weeks old and had played only three gigs when they appeared at the “All Night Christmas Ball” at Queen Elizabeth College, Kensington, London, on November 27 1975. The Pistols were on a bill topped by the likes of Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, Mike Absolom and Slack Alice. It was in a review of this all nighter by NME staffer Kate Phillips that the Sex Pistols were to be given their very first media name check.

“Oh, yes,” says the Social Sec, “and then there are the Sex Pistols. You missed them.”

“Were they any good?” I asked brightly.

“They played for expenses,” he countered.

The Sex Pistols were huddled against a far wall of the dance floor. They were all about 12 years old. Or maybe about 19, but you could be fooled. They’re managed by Malcolm, who runs ‘Sex’ in the King’s Road, and they’re going to be The Next Big Thing. Or maybe The Next Big Thing After That. Meanwhile, we drank a lot.

It’s been long assumed that the first mention of The Sex Pistols came from a review by Neil Spencer of the band’s Marquee gig in February 1976. Now we know different.
Journalist and author Paul Gorman who first unearthed this little barroom fact also notes:

Phillips was accompanied to the Queen Elizabeth College event by her partner and NME assistant editor, the late Tony Tyler (who was also with Spencer at the February 76 gig at The Marquee).

In the “On The Town” section on page 27, it was tucked beneath the lead review by Chris Salewicz of a Birmingham gig by the briefly popular hard-rock outfit Mr Big (headlined: “A yob in a support band is something to be.”).

Phillips started her column-and-a-bit thus:

“I was there for six hours and I can hardly remember a thing. It must have been a great party. Looking back it was meeting the Sex Pistols that started my downfall…”

She also wrote:

“I was soon in no condition to meet the rugger student who reeled over to our little island of determined hipness.

‘Why is your hair so short?’ he burbled. ‘I mean are you in a gwoop or something?’

I warmed to the man. He had taken me for a Sex Pistol!

A jig band came on. The students broke into the Gay Gordons.

‘What a monstrosity,’ muttered a Sex Pistol gloomily.”

Criticised that day on the bus by my then-girlfriend for my absorption in the music paper, I packed the issue away but kept hold of it, understanding even then that halfway down page 27 of that week’s NME, Phillips and Tyler had stumbled across the future.

So, there you have it. These then are the very first words, the very first first drops from which a deluge of salacious copy would follow.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Most historical chastity belts were probably created as naughty novelty items
12:30 pm


chastity belts

Chastity belts—pretty fucked up, right?

There’s a lot of competition for the most powerful symbol of oppressive patriarchy, including hijabs, foot-binding, and female genital mutilation, but there’s little doubt that chastity belts are deep in the mix.

However, what you may not know is that their use is probably vastly overstated. There were definitely instances of chastity belts in use in Italy around the 15th century, but ... well, most examples of medieval chastity belts derived from much later, between 1700 and 1900 and should perhaps be more properly considered as naughty novelty items.

In Fake? The Art of Deception, a book edited by Mark Jones and published by the Trustees of the British Museum—and really, who better for information about fucked-up practices in medieval times?—chastity belts are presented as one example of a thing that was not so much of a thing after all.

Here’s historian Timothy Wilson elaborating on the phenomenon:

There is evidence for the existence of chastity belts from the beginning of the fifteenth century onwards. E.J. Dingwall in The Girdle of Chastity ... concludes that they were invented in Italy around 1400 and were in actual use, albeit occasionally, right into the present century. The evidence for their use in the Renaissance period, however, is largely anecdotal or in burlesque fiction. It is probable that the great majority of examples now existing were made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as curiosities for the prurient, or as jokes for the tasteless.

So there you have it. If your curiosity on this subject isn’t yet satiated, you’ll be glad to learn that that Dingwall book Wilson mentions is available on Amazon.

Meanwhile, real or fake, here are some spine-tingling pics of chastity belts (click any image for a larger view):


Much more after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Back in the ‘70s: Vintage photos of people posing next to their sweet rides
09:24 am



Ah, the Seventies when people wore puka shell necklaces, feathered their hair and posed next to their sweet, sweet rides. As I write this post, I’m doing it in the voice of “Wooderson” from Dazed and Confused.

People posing with cars today simply don’t look as cool as these folks did. They just don’t.




More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Sven Hassel and the strange obsession with Nazi fiction

The Second World War claimed over 60 million lives and flattened most of Europe. Seventy-one years after it ended, the Second World War is still the got-to global conflict for hundreds, nay, thousands, of books, movies, TV series, comics, and gung-ho trigger happy violent computer games. The Second World War is the war that just keeps on giving.

One old soldier who made a small fortune from writing about his exploits fighting with the Nazis during the war was Sven Hassel. His fourteen semi-autobiographical books have sold 53 million copies worldwide, with a staggering 15 million sold in the UK alone.

Hassel’s books were “pulp fiction staples in the 1960s and ’70s to a male cohort that may have its equivalent today in those who sustain a billion-dollar industry in war-themed video games.” His tales of the band of renegade German soldiers, deserters and prisoners—a Nazi “Dirty Dozen”—who fought on the Russian front were supposedly based on the author’s own experiences. This band of brothers hated Hitler, hated war, killed their superior officers and indulged in “steamy sex with consenting local women.” It all sounds rather fantastical—and led one Danish newspaper to denounce Hassel as a fraud, claiming he never fought with the Germans but saw out the war at home and based his best-selling novels on secondhand stories and movies.

These claims can still be found on Hassel’s Wikipedia page—despite Hassel presenting documentary evidence in the form of his Heeresstammkarte (Hassel’s official military record—issued by the German army), photographs, medals and scars to prove he had indeed fought with the Wehrmacht. This led to a retraction from the newspaper that published the allegations.
Author and soldier Sven Hassel.
Hassel was born Sven Pedersen in Fredensborg, Denmark, on April 19, 1917. He did military service with the merchant navy, before leaving Denmark to look for work in Germany. Hassel later claimed:

Germany was obviously not the right country to move to, but then again, you must remember that those times were chaotic and at that point there was still no war.

There may have been no war, but the persecution of the Jews was well under way and the Germans had been involved in horrific bombings of civilians during the Spanish Civil War—so, it does seem (shall we say) rather unbelievably strange why he chose to move to Nazi Germany rather than France or Belgium or even the United Kingdom.

Hassel signed up for the Wehrmacht in 1938—after falsely claiming his father was an Austrian—enrolling in the “2nd Panzerregiment and later in the 11th and 27th Panzerregiment (both in the 6th Panzer Division).”

We were trained to become the world’s best soldiers through the use of Prussian methods that surpassed any evil and terror you can imagine.

Maybe that was why Hassel attempted to desert. He was caught and sent to the penal battalion of the 27th. Here he met many of the characters who later appeared in his novels. He was wounded eight times, and “transferred to the Abwehr (espionage) in Denmark for a few months (from December 1944 to January 1945).” Denmark was occupied by Germany throughout the war—4,000 Danish volunteers died fighting alongside the Germans on the Eastern Front.
Photograph of two German soldiers purportedly “Tiny” and Portas who featured in Hassel’s books.
After the war, Hassel was a P.O.W. in various prison camps, before he was returned to Denmark where his citizenship was canceled and was again sent to jail. It was during his time in prison that Hassel started writing The Legion of the Damned. Since its publication in 1953, The Legion of the Damned has never been out of print—making it the only “Danish novel that has been sold consecutively for more than six decades since its first edition.”

Hassel’s novels are but one part of the bizarre enduring fascination the West has with the Second World War, in particular the Nazis, those scum-sucking evil psychopaths who perpetrated genocide on the Jewish people and slaughtered anyone else who disagreed with their policies or didn’t quite fit the desired profile.

This cultural obsession with these fuckers attracts some very strange bedfellows including hipster favorites like Lemmy—who liked collecting Nazi memorabilia; Bryan Ferry—who once admitted a passing regard to the stylishness of Nazi iconography; punk rockers who wore swastika armbands to allegedly shock the very people who had fought the Nazis back in the day; just as Brian Jones had once dressed up as a Nazi—with his then girlfriend Anita Pallenberg—to shock the flower power generation; and let’s be honest, even those damned hippies, gott in himmel, drove Volkswagon Beetles—which are nothing short of Hitler mobiles.
Sid in swastika T-short, Lemmy and his collection, Brian posing for the camera.
Not that any of these lovelies were or are Nazis—rather they are examples of a strange cultural phenomenon—an interest in Nazism—be it uniforms, iconography, medals or weaponry—that has lasted for over eight decades. It should also be pointed out that these musicians are all English—as the country has a very strange relationship with the Nazis and the Second World War.

In England or Britain as a whole, Der Fuhrer and his gang of merry Nazis are fodder for long-running sitcoms like Dad’s Army or ‘Allo ‘Allo! or failed sitcoms like Heil Honey I’m Home or skits by Monty Python and Spike Milligan.

And then there are the endless TV dramas of life during wartime like Colditz, Back to the Land, Secret Army, Danger UXB, Foyle’s War.

The Brits, you see, have this thing where they can go on and bloody on about past battles, victories, defeats and yon noble war heroes who sent people homeward to think again or died for King and Country. From Gordon of Khartoum, to Wilfred Owen, to Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Normandy landings. It’s in our national anthems. It’s in our street signs and place names. It’s deep within our national psyche.

It’s no accident the Brits produce TV series like Downton Abbey as we love to wallow in an idealized nostalgia of a fantasy past where people are reassured that things were better in the olden days when life was structured (or class-ridden) and everyone knew their place.

This cultural obsession with the past might also explain why the Brits, or in particular the English, have an obsession with the Nazis as they represent the uber bogeyman whose defeat (in two world wars and one World Cup) enhance the national self image as one of great strength, bravery and utter moral superiority.

Of course, none of this mattered a jot to Sven Hassel who just counted the royalty checks. Anyway, Hassel considered his books as anti-war:

My books are strictly antimilitary. They correspond to my personal view of what I experienced. I write to warn the youth of today against war. I am writing the story of the small soldiers, the men who neither plan nor cause wars but have to fight them. War is the last arm of bad politicians.

Hassel died a wealthy man at the grand old age of 95 in 2012. Not a bad innings.
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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