Locked-up in chastity: Men’s anti-masturbation devices from a century ago

John Harvey Kellogg invented Corn Flakes as a means to stop masturbation. Kellogg believed a bowl of crispy morning goodness would stop youngsters from the evils of self-pollution, disease, and possible madness. Kellogg was a doctor, nutritionist, inventor, health freak, activist, and shrewd businessman. He wrote the treatise Plain Facts for Old and Young: Embracing the Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life in which he cataloged a startling array of side-effects caused by the “doubly abominable” “crime” of onanism. His list included poor posture, stiffness of the joints, infirmity, bashfulness, and even an unhealthy predilection for spicy foods.

Kellogg believed diet played an enormous part in why so many youngsters wasted their lives in self-abuse. He, therefore, insisted on a diet of bland food, a cleansing of the bowels through regular use of enemas, and a daily bowl of his tasty Corn Flakes.

Masturbation was considered a very serious threat to the good health and clean-living of every young man and woman up as far up as the 1950s and even the 1960s. Some may recall Monty Python’s spoof advert in their Brand New Bok which displayed a naked Graham Chapman under the headline “Masturbation The Difficult One”:

Some people find it difficult to talk about. Others find it difficult to do.

The mock ad went on to explain how masturbation:

...does not make you blind
It does not make your hair fall out
It does not make you vote Conservative
It does not stunt your growth

Mr. Chapman and that difficult one.
The writer, lawyer, and “champagne socialist” John Mortimer, probably best known for his fictional character Rumpole of the Bailey, recounted in his autobiography Clinging to the Wreckage a tale of one of his classmates, a boy called Tainton, caught masturbating by the school chaplain, the suitably-named Mr. Percy.

Mr. Percy was deeply shocked to discover Tainton playing with himself and admonished him by saying:

“Really my boy, you should save that up till you are married.”
“Oh, I’m doing that, sir,” Tainton answered with his rare smile, “I’ve already got several jam jars full.”

In a bid to stop such heinous behavior, various contraptions were invented to stop self-pollution. For young women, there was the chastity belt, and for men, well, a variety of painful devices including this one which was intended to lock the penis and testicles into a metal retainer to avoid any self-abuse.

This male chastity belt, or “surgical appliance,” was in use from the 1830s until the 1930s. The device may look like a novel fashion accessory or a variation on one of those “cock locks” favored by those into fetishism, cross-dressing, and a little S&M, but it was originally intended to put a stop to young men spilling their seed on stony ground, or rather in their hands or handkerchieves.
A male antimasturbation apparatus ca 1871-1930. According to the Science Museum:

This metal device is one of a number of similar devices which were invented in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries to prevent masturbation. A leather strap which would have kept it in place is now missing. Until the early 1900s, many people regarded masturbation as harmful to a person’s health, and it was blamed for a variety of ailments, including insanity.

More male anti-masturbation devices, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
08:49 am
Monty Python’s Graham Chapman’s curious, courageous, poignant video op-ed, 1984
03:26 pm

Graham Chapman
Among his other gifts, Graham Chapman may have been the Python most capable of eliciting feelings of pathos in the audience. Chapman arguably had the least range of the Python troupe but there was always something “realer” about his performances. It’s no coincidence that, even though he was the least reliable of the Python troupe due to his heavy drinking (this is well documented), he played the lead role in both of the two Monty Python narrative features, Holy Grail and Life of Brian. The world would later learn of his alcoholism and his homosexuality, and, for the millions of Python fans, his death in 1989 came as a true shock.

In 1984 Chapman participated in a Channel 4 program called Opinions in which, every week, a different person would make a case on some topic, direct to the camera like a newscaster. Chapman’s entry, which aired on November 16, 1984, is a remarkable blend of Pythonesque madness and brazenly unfiltered confessional of a type that utterly absent from, say, the Flying Circus run—nakedly autobiographical was the one thing the Circus never was. As a result, Chapman’s Opinions piece, from the viewpoint of 2013, feels distinctly modern. In tone, It’s not far off from one of Stephen Colbert’s “The Word” segments, although far more dangerous in more or less dispensing with the use of a “persona” outright.

Similar to a TED Talk in length and scope, Chapman dedicates his allotted time to a discussion of the role of peer pressure in fueling overpopulation—the subject is a clear proxy for a subject close to Chapman’s heart, the feelings of alienation that a gay man experiences; Chapman alludes to this aspect a couple of times directly, as does the voiceover intro. Watching it, you have the distinct feeling of Chapman finally getting something off his chest, and at times his actorly anger seems entirely synonymous with his own actual anger—the contempt and pain that mention of his “neighbors” elicits seems wholly unfeigned. In the years of Thatcher and AIDS, such a talk must have seemed bold indeed. Towards the end of the program, Chapman talks quite frankly about sex, links repression and substance abuse, and even addresses the proper attitude towards death.

What the show isn’t, particularly, is funny, although I’d presume it was a good deal more amusing than the other Opinions pieces. Full of a kind of enraged whimsy and complete with the engagingly “meta” device of onscreen graphics tallying his use of various tropes, it fits comfortably in the impressive Python gallery of silly talking heads on telly. It’s a fascinating, risky document—one that will definitely leave you with more insight into the “real” Graham Chapman—as much as a produced television program can, anyway.

via {feuilleton}

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Monty Python to reunite for new stage show!
Monty Python vs. God

Posted by Martin Schneider
03:26 pm
Monty Python: The true story behind the ‘Dead Parrot Sketch’

John Cleese would spend hours finessing a script—choosing the right word, or considering where best to place a comma for greatest comedic effect. His writing partner, Graham Chapman preferred to sit quietly, listening, smoking his pipe, and from time-to-time suggest an idea that would often turn an average sketch into something extraordinary. One such example, was Chapman’s inspiration to insert a dead parrot into some old material that led to the writing of one of Monty Python‘s most famous routines.

The “Dead Parrot Sketch” developed out of something Cleese and Chapman had previously written for a one-off special called How to Irritate People. Produced by David Frost, How to Irritate People was a collection of sketches introduced by Cleese, and co-starring Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Michael Palin, Connie Booth, Gillian Lind and Dick Vosburgh. The programme was notable for being the first time Palin worked with Cleese and Chapman, a year before they created Monty Python’s Flying Circus, as Palin explained in Bob McCabe’s biography of Chapman, The Life of Graham:

‘...that was the first time I’d ever worked with John and Graham, as an actor, and that was very much like a miniPython, except that I wasn’t writing with Terry [Jones]. I was an actor with their material, but we changed it a little bit in rehearsal and we’d really enjoyed doing that, even though the end result had not been successful, largely due to problems with recording.’

The show appears never to have been shown on British television, but was aired in the US on January 21st, 1969. The programme contained elements of material later used on Python, in particular the “Car Salesman” sketch, which eventually became the famous (Dead) “Parrot Sketch.”

The “Car Salesman” was more than a piece of creative comedy, it was an idea suggested by Palin, and based on his own dealings with a less than scrupulous garage owner, as Cleese explains:

‘..that was based on a man called Mr Gibbins, which is Helen [Palin’s] unmarried name. And Mr Gibbins ran a garage somewhere in Michael’s area, and Michael started to tell me about taking his car in to Mr Gibbins if there was something wrong with it, and he would ring Mr Gibbins and say, “I’m having trouble with the clutch,” and Mr Gibbins would say, “Lovely car, lovely car.” And Michael said, “Well, yes, Mr Gibbins, it is a lovely car, but I’m having trouble with the clutch.” “Lovely car, lovely car, can’t beat it.” “No, but we’re having trouble with it.” “Well, look,” he says, “if you ever have any trouble with it, bring it in.” Michael would say, “Well, I am having trouble with it and I have brought it in,” and he’d say, “Good, lovely car, lovely car, if you have trouble bring it in,” and Michael would say, “No, no, no, the clutch is sticking,” and he would say, “Sign of a quality car, if you had a sticky clutch first two thousand miles, it’s the sign of good quality,” and he was one of those people you could never get to take a complaint seriously. And Michael and I chatted about this, and I then went off and wrote a sketch with Graham about a man returning a second-hand car…’

The sketch has Chapman, as a Jacques-Tati-like customer, dealing with Palin’s furtive car salesman.

More on the metamorphosis of the “Dead Parrot Sketch,” after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
12:49 pm
Monty Python on the Yorkshire Moors: Seldom seen interview from 1973

An early interview with some of the members of Monty Python (John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin), recorded during filming on the Yorkshire Moors - “Of course it’s changed a bit now. They’ve put the rocks in, haven’t they? That used to be the bathroom over there,” quips Palin, while Jones seeks attention by falling over, and Chapman sips his G&T. Filmed for the BBC regional news program Look North, this was originally broadcast on May 23rd, 1973.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

‘Away From It All’: Little-known Monty Python ‘travelogue,’ 1979

‘Sez Les’: What John Cleese did after ‘Monty Python’

Monty Python vs. God


Posted by Paul Gallagher
06:29 pm