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The Sex Pistols, The Clash and Siouxsie and the Banshees on early TV documentary ‘Punk’ from 1976

There had been a killing. But no one was quite certain where it had happened or where the body was hidden. Maybe it was in the library bludgeoned with a lead pipe? Or sprawled across the conservatory floor throttled by some rope? The press carried snippets. People were shocked by the news. How could this happen on our streets? How could this happen to our children when Abba was still number one? There was outrage. There was fear. There was a dread that this was only the beginning of far greater horrors to come.

They were right.

In some ways, it was a mercy killing. It had to happen. It was inevitable. It was putting the poor beast out of its misery. The old horse was now lame and blind and in constant pain and could barely perform its act. Yet still, they wheeled it out for one more turn for the rich people to ride and clap and cheer while the old nag bravely tried to canter around the ring.

But the children turned away. They wanted something different.

There had been noises of strange new things going on for months. Small signs in venues all across London. A growing sense that something had to change. The old horse was dead and the business was out of touch with its audience. The kids wanted something to happen.

A band called the Sex Pistols were playing gigs in and around London. Promoter Ron Watts saw them rip up the joint at a gig in High Wycombe in early 1976. It was like nothing he’d ever seen before. This was the start of the future. This was what everyone was waiting for. He booked the band to appear at the legendary blues and jazz 100 Club in London. He organized a weekend festival called The 100 Club Punk Special for September 20th and 21st, 1976. The line-up was the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Damned, the Buzzcocks, Subway Sect, Stinky Toys and Chris Spedding & the Vibrators.
Sex Pistols poster for the 100 Club Punk Special, September 1976.
When the Sex Pistols hit the stage, everything changed. “In one night,” Watts later wrote in his autobiography Hundred Watts: A Life in Music, “punk went from an underground cult to a mass movement.”

The Sex Pistols had killed off one generation’s music and announced something new.

...[T]his was the big one, the first day of a new era. Nothing could compare with it either before or since.

Onstage, Johnny Rotten was “insulting, cajoling everyone in the room, his eyes bulging dementedly as he made the audience as much a part of the show as the band.” The group tore through their set to a thrilled and enthusiastic audience. The Clash played their set, while Siouxsie and the Banshees had improvised a set around “The Lord’s Prayer.” A week later, a crowd 600 deep formed a line at the door of the 100 Club.
Watch the Sex Pistols, Clash and Siouxsie in “Punk,” after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Smoker’s Delight: Vintage photographs of opium dens
10:03 am


opium dens

Opium. The word conjures up a louche exotic world of artists, writers, low-life criminals and nubile young women out looking for kicks. The word alone is intoxicating. It imbues a feeling of both fear and longing.

According to the dictionary, the word opium comes from Middle English, via Latin, via the Greek word opion, from diminutive of opos meaning sap or juice. Apparently, the word “opium” was first used in the 14th century.

Opium is cultivated from the papaver somniferum, a poppy which has white or purple flowers and a globe shaped capsule containing yellow seeds. This plant has been cultivated in India, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and China. Its principal active ingredient is the alkaloid morphine or C17 H19 N O3.

Opium gained its notoriety in the 19th-century with the advent of global trade and mass migration. Across Europe, upper-class writers and artists indulged their fancies by taking laudanum or eating opium leaves and pellets. The calming, soporific qualities of the drug were used in numerous medicines to treat babies, children, and adults. From teething problems to nervous disorders—opium was the medicine of the masses.

The word opium has a complex history that can often be misrepresented to mask racist and xenophobic fears. In the 1920s and 1930s, many writers of popular pulp thrillers (like Sax Rohmer) regularly featured villainous oriental types who intoxicated innocent blonde damsels with opium before selling them on to the horrors of “white slavery.”

It is always worth pointing out that the Chinese had grown the poppy for twelve centuries and used it medicinally for nine centuries before the middle of the seventeenth-century when “the practice of mixing opium with tobacco for smoking purposes was introduced” into the country—most likely by the Dutch or the Portuguese. Foreign opium was first introduced by the Portuguese via Goa at the start of the 18th-century. By 1729, opium’s deleterious effect led Emperor Yung Ching to issue an edict making opium smoking and the sale of all foreign opium illegal. It had little effect.

By the 1790s some 4,000 chests of opium were being imported into China. An all-out ban on the importation of foreign opium followed in 1796. Again, it had little effect. By 1820, 5,000 chests were imported. By 1830, 16,000. By 1858, 70,000. What was forced on China inevitably spread throughout the world.

From the 1850s on, the opium den spread across the world as a seedy place of refuge for commoner and lord. In Europe opium was viewed as a potentially liberating and creative touchstone. In America, it was seen as an evil and degenerate drug that led to vice, squalor, poverty, madness and death.

However, it should be noted that when the use of opium and the opium den was most prevalent or most virulent—depending on your view—that both America and Europe were at the peak of an industrial, social and cultural revolution. Opium did not appear to make people slackers. Even a fictional hero like Sherlock Holmes indulged in the occasional pipe—all in the line of duty, of course.

By the 1900s, the opium den was no longer quite so ubiquitous. There were dens still to be found in most cosmopolitan cities like New York, San Francisco, London, and Paris, but opium was now mainly a fashionable prop for the bohemian, artistic, and literary class to indulge. Those who wanted a real kick sought opium in other forms—first as morphine then as heroin.

In a rather horrific twist of fate, morphine was originally considered to be the cure for opium addiction. In the late nineteenth century, morphine pills were introduced to China to help cure opium addicts. These pills were called “Jesus opium” as they were given out by missionaries. This “cure” was also sold in America right up until the 1906 U.S. Pure Food and Drug Addict which meant drug content had to be specified and banned the sale of products with false claims.

Opium addicts and opium dens became a fixture of Hollywood movies and pulp fictions. In Hollywood, these low-rent places were often depicted as some kind of exotic harem, with scantily-clad women draped over cushions, while eunuchs looked on and a nefarious hand-rubbing villain cackled. The reality was far more disappointing and seedy. Dens were airless, usually windowless spaces with air vents and doors sealed with blankets to prevent the telltale smell of opium smoke from escaping. They were also makeshift, as they had to be easily dismantled or rearranged in case of a police raid.

The following selection of pictures show opium smokers in various locales—from seedy boarding house den to salubrious book-lined apartment.
Opium den 1920’s New York.
More opium dens, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Perpetual Pills,’ the reusable laxatives of the Middle Ages
06:10 am



Not really antimony, but silvered pills, via Marieke Hendriksen
The story of Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun is interesting enough—it’s the basis for Ken Russell’s The Devils, hardly a dull movie. Yet the book is full of entertaining digressions, such as a lengthy parenthesis on the medical uses of antimony:

Certain compounds of antimony are specific in the treatment of the tropical disease known as kala-azar. In most other conditions, the use of the metal or its compounds is hardly worth the risks involved. Medically speaking, there was no justification for such indiscriminate use as was made of the drug during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. From the economic point of view, however, the justification was ample. [Loudun pharmacist] M. Adam and his fellow apothecaries sold Perpetual Pills of metallic antimony. These were swallowed, irritated the mucous membrane as they passed through the intestine, thus acting as a purgative, and could be recovered from the chamber pot, washed and used again, indefinitely. After the first capital outlay, there was no further need for spending money on cathartics. [Antimony-as-medicine opponent] Dr. Patin might fulminate and the Parlement forbid; but for the costive French bourgeois, the appeal of antimony was irresistible. Perpetual Pills were treated as heirlooms and after passing through one generation were passed on to the next.

If you coveted grandma’s Perpetual Pill, you might not have had to wait too long to get your hands into her chamber pot, because another result of taking antimony is death. Some researchers believe that Mozart died as a result of his “treatment” with antimony. Its reputation as a wonder drug coexisted uneasily with its reputation as a lethal poison. No matter how great the savings passed on to you, the consumer, in the little metal pill that lasts forever, there is such a thing as bad publicity, and one of its forms is agonizing death. Around the time of the Enlightenment, history’s real “greatest generation” stopped fishing Perpetual Pills out of their toilets.

An apothecary jar containing antimony, via Phisick
Nature reports: “A more refined alternative, generally used in the 1600s after the pellets were outlawed, was to drink wine that had been left standing in an antimony cup overnight.” But the English translation of Pierre Pomet’s Complete History of Drugs, published in 1748, contained some DIY advice for the unregenerate Perpetual Pill-seeker in the chapter “Of Regulus of Antimony with Mars or Iron” (“made of Antimony, Salt-petre, and Points of Horse-nails, or small Nails melted together”):

Whereas most People who have Occasion for the Goblets or Cups of the Regulus, find difficulty to come by them, let them apply to a Founder, and they may have what Sorts and Sizes they will, at a cheap Rate, without troubling themselves with Moulds, as several have done to their Labour and Cost, who have at last been obliged to give over the Attempt, not being able to make one Cup without a Hole, or some other Defect. You may also get these same Founders to make you the perpetual Pills, or you may easily make them yourself with a Musket-ball Mould.

The Pills serve for those that have the Twisting of the Guts, or Miserere mei, so called. When they are returned from out of the Body, it is but washing and cleaning them again, and they will serve as oft as you please; which gives them the name of Perpetual.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The Woman in Black: The strange story of a crossdressing ghost
09:39 am


strange but true

Part the First, being the tale of a haunting in rural England in the 1920s.

Almost a hundred years ago now, out on the fields and winding lanes by Curry Rivel in Somerset, there came stories of the ghostly apparition of a woman who walked at night. A woman dressed in black, her face sinisterly veiled. It was said that anyone who ever looked upon this specter’s face, looked into her blackened soulless eyes, would be struck dead on the very spot where they stood.

Who was this ghost?

Some said she was the spirit of an old governess who had lost her charges in some terrible accident—most likely drowned by the old weir—who now roamed the misty meadows and hedgerows looking for their bodies to bring them home once more. Others said she was an evil wraith looking to snare the unwary soul.

When children wouldn’t go to sleep at night, their mothers told them to close their eyes or the woman in black would find them out and feast upon their bones.

Terror gripped the sleepy village. It became so bad that some would ne’er leave their houses after sundown for fear of meeting the dreaded woman in black.

For four years, this ghostly figure was seen by moonlight drifting over fields, wandering brambled lanes, waiting at the crossroads for hellbound travelers.
Then one night, a group of men gathered in the local pub, the King William Inn. The sightings of the woman in black had been more frequent of late and the villagers said that when the black specter is seen three times in a week someone was going to die….
Find the secret of the ghostly woman in black, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Love and Demons: The 19th century erotic art of Mihály Zichy (NSFW)
10:07 am


18th Century
Mihály Zichy

“Falling Stars” (1897).
Sometime in the mid-1870s, while living in Paris, the Hungarian artist Mihály Zichy produced a series of erotic illustrations. These pictures featured men and women having a right old time fucking and wanking, sucking and licking. What inspired Zichy is unclear. A mid-life crisis? A raging hard-on? The current fashion for erotic illustration? Or perhaps wealthy patrons looking for some “dirty pictures”?

Most of these ink drawings lay undiscovered until after Zichy’s death in 1906. They were then collated together and a selection published in a book entitled Liebe (aka Oh, Liebe) in 1911. This nicely produced volume caused a bit of a stir. Zichy might have been pleased—he had often caused controversy with his work. His most famous picture was the demonically-charged anti-war painting “The Triumph of the Genius of Destruction” (1878). This painting was banned by the militaristic French authorities as deviant propaganda. He also managed to offend many Catholics with his work “Autodafé” (1868), which depicted the horrors of Spanish Inquisition. That said, Zichy was a very respectable artist. He painted the portrait of Lajos Batthyány, the first Hungarian Prime Minister. He was commissioned to produce paintings of the Empress of Austra, “Queen Elisabeth Laying Flowers by the Coffin of Ferenc Deák” and “Drinking Bout of Henry III.” He also supplied 27 illustrations for the poem The Knight in the Panther’s Skin in 1881.

Zichy was born in Zala, Hungary on October 15, 1827. He started out studying law before taking up a career as an artist. He traveled to Vienna where he became a pupil of the painter Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller. Under Waldmüller’s recommendation, he became a teacher. He then became a court artist for the Russian Tsar Alexander II. When he left St. Petersburg, he traveled around Europe before settling in Paris circa 1874.

Another intriguing question about Zichy’s erotic illustrations is whether he worked from life models? The drawings look more than just the work of some fevered imagination—most noticebly by the fact Zichy’s couples appear to be enjoying each other as equals and not portrayed as mere titillation for the male gaze. He also depicted gay sex and masturbation—which would have been shocking at the time. His style of drawing, the clear lines, the soft penciling, would influence succeeding artists producing similar erotic illustrations.
“The Triumph of the Genius of Destruction” (1878).
“Autodafé” (1868).
See more of Zichy’s erotic artwork, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Secret Hitler’: Board game of the year (from the same people who sold you a box of Bullshit)
02:32 pm


board games
Secret Hitler

A few years ago, I was living in New York City but had struck up some friendships in Cleveland, where I would eventually relocate. I had heard about this funny game Cards Against Humanity and it had struck my fancy, so I plunked down 25 bucks in some virtual kiosk and got myself a set. At a New Year’s Party in Cleveland a few months later, I unveiled it to the assembled revelers, and it rapidly became the dominant activity of the party. A few months later, and it was hard to find a party where it did not get mentioned as a possible activity.

Cards Against Humanity, the self-styled “party game for horrible people,” was the brainchild of multiple people, one of the most prominent of whom was Max Temkin, who has now teamed up with video game producers Mike Boxleiter and Tommy Maranges to find out if they could create a “social deduction” board game with the addictiveness of CAH.

My money says that they have.

The subject of an attention-getting Kickstarter that amassed nearly $1.5 million, Secret Hitler became available to consumers around the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration, which certainly speaks to impeccable timing on the part of Goat, Wolf, and Cabbage LLC, the company that is distributing the game. The game made a minor splash in late February when they shipped a free copy to all 100 U.S. Senators, thereby making explicit whatever metaphorical connections to the daily headlines may have been buzzing around your brain. 

As with Cards Against Humanity, the people behind Secret Hitler have taken a staunchly populist and what might be termed anti-corporate approach—and the two games are united by a similar sense of cheeky humor. In both cases users have been encouraged to print up their own sets of the game for free, if they so choose. Here’s the GitHub online implementation of the game. To celebrate Black Friday in 2014, the CAH people invited people to send them six bucks in exchange for “Bullshit,” which is exactly what they ended up receiving.

In the game, it’s Germany 1932, and the Liberals are pitted against the Fascists (one of whom is Hitler). The Fascists know which players are Fascists (and by extension, which players are Liberals), but the Liberals don’t know what side any of the other players is on. Gameplay varies according to the number of players (5-10), but in most versions Hitler does not know who his (or her) supporters are.

Every game begins with a clever ritual in which all players close their eyes, and then, on a given cue, Fascists open their eyes and ID one another. The game comes with an app in which a recorded message by Wil Wheaton guides you through the process.

The game proceeds by repeatedly naming a President who must select a Chancellor, the two of whom then must collaborate to place Liberal or Fascist policies on the board. Both sides have two paths to victory: if the Liberals place 5 policies on the board, they win, and the same is true of the Fascists, except they need 6 policies. The Liberals can win by assassinating Hitler, and the Fascists can win if they manage to get Hitler elected Chancellor after sufficient information about the players’ identities has been distributed (that is, after three Fascist policies have made it onto the board).

Basically, at every point in the game, all players will be claiming to be Liberals; the trick is to track game moves to figure out who is actively pushing Fascist policies and who has been forced by circumstance to promote them against their will.
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Banana: After 50 years the ultimate Warhol Velvet Underground mystery is finally (almost) solved!!

It was fifty years ago this week that the future began with the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol, and his banana. The destruction and rebuilding of rock ‘n’ roll music as it then existed commenced. This was all taking place even though only a few people knew about it at the time. The right few, as always. I have to think that anyone reading this knows the history of the Velvet Underground so I’m not going to rehash it here.

In the thirty years since Warhol’s death, the human race has bought and sold more “Andy” than Andy himself could possibly have dreamed of and more. Much more. Too much even. Year after year there are more Warhol books, toys, giant banana pillows, clothing lines, shoes, Andy Warhol glasses, movies, action figures (or maybe inaction figures, this being Warhol), pencils, notebooks, skateboards—literally everything ever! There’s been more most post mortem Warhol merchandising than for practically anyone or anything you can name. Even more than for Elvis, Marilyn or James Dean who had head starts.

Warhol and his entourage were infamous speedfreaks—speedfreaks with cameras, tape recorders, and movie gear who talked a lot and didn’t sleep much—and his every utterance was recorded, long before museums, historical posterity and millions of dollars were the reasons.

With the advent of the Warhol Museum, Andy’s every movement, thought, and influence has been discussed, dissected, filed and defiled ad nauseum. Every single piece of art he ever did can be traced back to an original page in a newspaper, an ad in the back of a dirty magazine, a photograph, a Sunday comic, or an item from a supermarket shelf and they’ve ALL been identified and cataloged.

Except for one.

Just one.

Probably the second most popular of Warhol’s images, standing in line right behind the Campbell’s soup can, is the banana image found on the cover of the first Velvet Underground album. Thee banana! But where did it come from? Everything else was appropriated from somewhere. What about this one?

I KNOW where it came from and I have known for around thirty years. Oddly enough it only just now occurred to me (when I looked up Warhol’s death date) that I found this thing, which I am about to describe, mere weeks before Andy’s untimely demise.
I grew up in the sixties and I’ve loved the Velvet Underground since even before the advent of punk. And I love Andy Warhol, too. Just look at my Facebook profile photo. I have shelves of books on Warhol and all things Velvets and have amassed quite a collection of Warhol and Velvets rarities. My favorite book of all time is Andy Warhol’s Index from 1966, a children’s pop-up book filled with drag queens, the Velvets, 3-D soup cans and even a Flexi disc record with Lou Reed’s face on it with a recording of the Velvet Underground listening to a test pressing of their first LP. The one with the BANANA.
The author’s Facebook profile pic. Duh.
Andy Warhol’s number one right-hand man in the sixties and the person who turned the Factory silver (among many many other things including being the primary photographer of the Factory’s “silver years”) was Billy Name (Linich). An online comment described him this way:

You can’t get more inside than Billy Name in Warhol’s Factory world. In fact he lived in the Factory - and to be more specific he lived in the bathroom at the Factory - and to be even more specific he stayed in the locked bathroom without coming out for months (years?).

And so to quote this definitive “insider” Billy Name on the history of the banana:

...bananas had been a Warhol theme earlier in the Mario Montez feature film Harlot mostly as a comedic phallic symbol. In the general hip culture, Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” was going on [mellow yellow; roast banana peels in an oven, and then roll and smoke them]. The high was called “mello yellow.”

The specific banana image Andy chose came from I know not where; it’s not a Chiquita banana or Dole fruit company, because Andy’s banana has ‘overripe’ markings on it, and the fruit companies use whole yellow bananas on their stickers. Anyway, Andy first used this particular banana image for a series of silk-screen prints which he screened on white, opaque, flexible, Plexiglass (sort of like 2 feet x 5 feet). First an image of the inner banana “meat” was screened on the Plexi in pink, and then covered by the outer skin screened on and cut out of a glossy yellow sticky-back roll of heavy commercial paper (ordered from some supply warehouse). Thereby each banana could be peeled and the meat exposed and the skin could be replaced a number of times, ‘til the sticky stuff wore out. Naturally this was intentionally erotic Warhol-type art.

When thinking of a cover for the first Velvets album, it was easy for Andy to put one of his own works on the cover, knowing it was hip, outrageous, and original and would be “really great.” Andy always went the easy way, using what he had, rather than puzzling and mulling over some design elements and graphics for cover art that don’t really work. His art was already there, hip, erotic, and cool. The Plexi silk screen art definitely came first, in 1966. The album came out in ‘67. I do not recall any other design being thought of or even considered. The back of the album cover was a pastiche amalgam of photos from Andy’s films, Steven Shore, Paul Morrissey and myself and was messy and mulled over too much.

So here we are on the fiftieth anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico and its mysterious banana cover art, and I felt that I have held this secret for way too long. I always wanted to use this in a book or something but it never happened.

This thing was hanging on my kitchen wall for three decades, in New York and LA and is now in secured storage for reasons which are about to become obvious. This is how I found it: One day in the mid 80s I was cruising around the Lower East Side aimlessly—as I had done most of my life up to that point—running into friends, looking at stuff people were selling on the street, stopping into Manic Panic, Venus Records, St. Marks Books, and any junk shops that caught my eye. There was one on Broadway that I had never seen before right down the street from Forbidden Planet and the greatest place ever, the mighty Strand Book Store. I went in and there was a lot of great stuff for me. I found some old records, a huge stash of outrageous and disgusting tabloid newspapers from the sixties which I kept buying there for a couple months afterward, and some cool old knick-knacks. I knocked into something on a crowded table full of junk and heard a big CLANG on the cement floor. I bent down to pick it up. It was one of those cheap triangular tin ashtrays that usually advertised car tires or something mundane. I picked it up (it was face down) and when I turned it over I was surprised to see…THE BANANA!!

It was an ad for bananas printed on a cheap metal ashtray.

Don’t you like a banana? ENJOY BANANA. Presented by WING CORP. designed by LEO KONO production”

I thought wow, this is cool! But over time I realized that I had quite literally stumbled across a true missing link. I figured I’d use it for something big one day, but I never did. UNTIL NOW. Ladies and germs, Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground fans and scholars, without further ado I bring you THE MISSING LINK! A true Dangerous Minds mega exclusive! (As Jeb Bush would say “Please clap.”).

A primitive, pounding Moe Tucker drumroll please for the reveal of THEE BANANA…after the jump

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Curse of the Masturbator: The painful battle against self-abuse
09:30 am


Jugum penis

Street scene. New York. Time—the past. Man on a sidewalk named James McC., aged fortyish. He has a regular job, a regular life. He is nondescript, commonplace—just like any one of the other men walking up and down the sidewalks of this city. But today death has come for James McC. He has been infected by plague—the worst plague of all. A plague that will eventually rob him of his senses, his sanity, and his very life.

James McC.‘s mind is filled with the most “sickening pictures of lust, disease, melancholy, and insanity.” When the police arrest him on the corner of 6th Avenue, James McC.was literally trying to obliterate these images from his mind by smashing his head on the sidewalk. It was already too late to save him. The duty sergeant at the 29th Precinct Station House recognized James McC. He had been arrested twice before that same week. The sergeant knew it was too late. His only recourse was to send him to Bellevue where he’d be put in a straitjacket and locked in a padded cell—another victim of the curse of masturbation.

James McC. lasted almost a week before he succumbed to a painful wasting away from his obsessive self-abuse. According to his doctors at Bellevue:

Upon examination he is found to be suffering from acute mania, alternating with periods of intense melancholia in which he invariably attempts to take his own life. His language when excited exceeds in obscenity anything ever heard. During the intervals of quiet he is constantly practicing the vile habit which has undoubtedly been the cause of his insanity. He has lost all sense of shame and continues to practice before visitors, attendants and physicians. He makes no effort to go to the water-closet, and his clothes and cell are in a filthy and disgusting state. Ever since admission he has refused all food, and it has been necessary to feed him with a stomach pump. He is losing flesh and strength every day, and is fast wasting away.

From his relatives who have twice called to see him it was learned that his mental trouble came on very suddenly, although his memory and faculties have been failing for some time past. They say that he complained of sleeplessness, numbness and tingling sensations in the arms and legs, headache, and a peculiar itching of the skin, for months before any distinct symptoms of insanity appeared. They attribute it all to self-abuse, which he has admitted practicing from an early age.

August 28th.—Is now paralyzed in both lower limbs. Still violent.

Sept. 3d.—Died this morning about 1 A.M. Is so emaciated that he is little more than skin and bones. Rigor mortis entirely absent. Shortly after death the skin of the whole body changed to a dark chocolate hue.

A portrait of James McC. attempting to masturbate to the very end…
This story about James McC. is actually true. And his fate was the kind of “possible” scenario presented to hundreds of thousands of young men living in America and Europe during the 1800s. Scientists and medical practitioners declared there was a plague destroying the lives of young men which once contracted was nearly always fatal. These men were victims of a disease called Spermatorrhœa—an excessive and debilitating loss of sperm either involuntarily or through continuous “self-pollution” or over-indulgence of masturbation.

The best cure offered by the chief medical doctors was either circumcision or castration. Not exactly the kind of options most young men wanted. Therefore a whole new medical industry was created offering dubious cures for the curse of Spermatorrhœa.
Another poor man has wanked himself to death….
This may seem farcical today but it was a genuine fear backed up by the authority of doctors, scientists, politicians and OF COURSE religious leaders. We may laugh now but so too will future generations laugh at some of our own current SJW panic attacks.

Masturbation was described in the 1860s as a hideous “vile demon” which “like the vampire” will:

...suck his very life-blood, steal away his strength and life and vivacity, besmirch and weaken his mind, take the strength from his muscles, the courage from his heart, sap the very foundation of his existence, unsex and unnerve him, render him feeble, wavering and imbecile, dog his footsteps to the very steps of the altar, to curse and blacken and disappoint those joys of parentage and marital right that should be his. The shadow deepens with him as life advances, and follows him, bringing shame and misery and despair at every step, until the poor victim, driven too far, sinks into an early grave by disease or suicide, or is lost to the world and to all joys and friends behind the doors of an insane asylum.

Who knew…?

Among the many “cures” for this dreaded Spermatorrhœa and/or compulsive masturbation was the Jugum penis.

This was a steel clip or ring with an inner ring of serrated teeth. The teeth would literally bite into the penis when it became engorged. The searing pain inflicted on the encircled member by this nasty cock ring would stop any erection or possible episode of “self-pollution.”

Medical doctors believed that when men lost sperm through a wet dream or masturbation they were literally losing their life force. Therefore it was advisable for all teenage boys and young men to wear a Jugum penis at night to prevent any “nocturnal emissions.”
Advert for the anti-pollution ring.
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Sorry guys, you’re not a REAL MAN until you’ve shaved your face with an ax
10:42 am



Civilian Conservation Corps ax shaving demonstration, 1933.
Believe it or not, there is photographic evidence of men, some who were lumberjacks or loggers, who shaved their own faces, and the faces of others, with an ax.

There were a couple of notable manly men who were known for performing the feat in front of crowds such as Paul Criss whose moniker was the “spectacular axe-man” and Oregon lumberjack Leonard Wallulis. Criss was also a popular pitchman for the Kelly Axe Company. One of the axes in the company’s product line was called the “Perfect Axe” and it would be this weapon of choice that Criss would use to demonstrate the tool’s ability to be used to shave a man’s face. Wallulis, on the other hand, was noted to have entered a Ripley’s Believe It or Not contest in Portland, Oregon in 1936 where he shaved with a double-bitted ax—a daring trick that got him to the finals.

If you frequent reddit, you may have seen an image of either Criss or Wallulis shaving dangerously. In once instance, I saw that someone had noted that Criss was some sort of traveling ax salesman. Which promptly got him torn to shreds by folks saying that there is/was no such thing as a traveling ax salesman. But here’s the thing about that—ax salesmen were real and businesses such as Oakland, Maine’s Emerson & Stevens employed salespeople who schlepped around axes, hatchets, and scythes to hardware stores and tool shops. So now that I’ve cleared that bit up, take a look at the images below of guys who make shaving with an ax look like a normal part of their day.

Paul Criss the “spectacular axe-man” giving an ax shaving demonstration with a Perfect Axe made by Kelly Axe Manufacturing Company.

Leonard Wallulis shaving with an ax.
More manly men shaving with axes, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Erotic engravings from a poem celebrating sex, 1825 (NSFW)
10:12 am



Volumes of vintage erotica are wasted on academics. Just think how many beautiful books filled with lusty, erotic engravings are moldering away under lock and key in some dark, dusty archive. They’re not for our eyes of course but rather for those of a disinterested professor or an ambitious Ph.D. student looking to reinterpret ancient sex manuals from a post-feminist, non-binary, neo-hermetic viewpoint.

Knowledge is power. Having access to knowledge makes us powerful. In the same way, memory can help define who we are, ye olde books can help us understand who we were. That’s probably why I sometimes begrudge all those wonderful books being kept from our grubby little paws—though in truth admit we must have our gatekeepers.

However, thankfully, there are those good people at the Wellcome Library who understand knowledge of the past helps us navigate the present. The Wellcome Library is one of my favorite websites. It is crammed with the most delightful and mind-expanding books, documents and artworks—which these good people have scanned and put online for our edification.

One day browsing through diseases and alike, I chanced upon a fine volume entitled Invocation à l’amour. Chant philosophique published in France in 1825. This is a “rare” and beautiful book containing a long poem celebrating sex and all the various sexual positions. The poem is a literal invocation calling on God the “Father of the human race and of pleasure, Love, come fill me with your divinity. So that from your transports I may render the ecstasies…”

It then goes on to “invoke the nine sisters of Apollo” to ensure everything “follows the supreme law” of well… I guess you’d call it S.E.X. Jane Austen was never like this. But it’s fascinating to find such an early paean to sex and sexuality—which also gives the lie to that hoary old chestnut sex was invented in the swinging sixties by the baby boomers….

It’s a strange and fiery poem which could do with a more nuanced translation than the one offered by Google. But if so inclined, you can read the original text by “A virtuoso of the good fashion” here.

Aside from the sex magick poetry, this slim red-leathered volume has some stunning illustrations. We don’t know who the artist was of these highly explicit engravings but we can at least admire their artistry, imagination and humor.
“The happy calculation.”
“The charms of masturbation.”
More illustrations from ‘Invocation à l’amour,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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