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ISSUE 3 • AUTUMN 2011 ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


Storyville: Lulu White and “The District”

of cougars and other nonsense

Feitiço: An evolving concept

A scar by any other name • how to spank

Luma Rouge: The art of your desire

Cara Crass Styling • Flirtation à la parisieNne

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CONTRIBUTORS Cristiano Elizondo, San Francisco; Jonathan Fogel, San Francisco; Michel Rider, San Francisco; Andrew Schmidt, Tennessee.

custom photography

G. Allen; Dastardly Dave, New Hampshire; Kumaar; David Monroe, New York; Ian Vollmer, New York; Michael Webb, New York; Stephan X, San Francisco.

special photographic contribution


Unless otherwise specified, historical images are public domain and/or available under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0, United States License custom illustration

Theo Mann

photo manipulation

Christina Bowden


Bob Christoph (


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The Jet Set: What Is “Fetish”? 14

An Intentional Slut 16

Of Cougars and Other Nonsense 22

The Strange Glamour of

the Female Bartender 30

A Scar by Any Other Name 36 Bang Bang: The Armed American Woman 42

Down and Dirty: How to Spank 48 Feitiço: An Evolving Concept 54

Storyville: The District and Its Denizens 60

Luma Rouge: The Art of Your Desire 76

The Flapper Also Wore Pants 84 Cara Crass & Death Glam Couture 90

Chainsaw Fuck Doll 96 • Interview: Sabina England 100

Belles du Jour 102 • Up Our Skirts 112

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“An animal howl says it all. ”

– Patti Smith, 1976


ilk stockings, Catholic schoolgirl skirts, and artfully displayed garters—it’s hardly a secret that women and their clothing are deeply entangled in if not at the epicenter of a countless number of fetishes. Bettie Page anyone? The

delight sexy items can evoke is well known and FDA approved. Recently, however, the wearing of fishnets and spike heels has become central to a hot and heavy political movement. Last year in Toronto, Canada, a police officer made an ill-advised comment that women shouldn’t dress provocatively if they didn’t want to be harassed. That statement and the ire it aroused launched SlutWalk, a celebration and assertion

of the right to dress and comport oneself as one pleases without threat of sexual or

Walk women defying victim blaming through

physical violence. The first march in Toronto saw women come out in droves—

frank sexual expression is, sadly, rather old-

many dressed “appropriately”—to make the point that rape is not the victim’s

fashioned. Showing our skivvies in public does

fault, no matter how much cleavage is on display. Since then, marches have

not, in and of itself, challenge oppression;

erupted all over the world without any official organization, even in countries

however, that act can effectively serve the cause

where sexual misconduct is punishable by death. Constable Michael Sanguinetti’s

of transcending shame. Despite great gains in

unguarded comment has sparked what feminist writer Jessica Valenti has referred

women’s equality (we almost had a female

to as the “most successful feminist action of the past twenty years.”

president), shame is still alive and thriving,

Valenti is supportive, but many are not. A number of women were disturbed by

and it remains a great battle on the frontier of

this bold and saucy brand of feminism. Rebecca Traister wrote in The New York

actual equality. This issue of Whore! magazine

Times Magazine that “at a moment when questions of sex and power, blame and

celebrates exciting women who, whether wear-

credibility, and gender and justice are so ubiquitous and so urgent, I have mostly

ing spiked heels, tight leather, or nothing but a

felt irritation that stripping down to skivvies and calling ourselves sluts is passing

dusting of glitter, have been kicking shame in

for keen retort.” It has long been the lot of certain feminist writers to dismiss the

the face.

sexual question when discussing women’s rights. Traister’s criticism of the SlutPHOTO THE NORTH AMERICAN COUGAR (PUMA CONCOLOR) PHOTO ART G., 2007

So how do we transcend, rise above, and tri-



umph over the limitations

cial sacrifice that can bring

that confront us? In her

one closer to the sublime.

seminal feminist tome, The

SlutWalk organizer Creat-

Second Sex, Simone de Beau-

rix Tiara marched nude in

voir argues that men,

last year’s march. Her cour-

throughout history, have

age in proudly showing her

denied women the ability to

body, which had previously

engage in transcendence

been the subject of assault,

except through the man, that

inspired countless other

woman instead has been

women to tell their stories.

given the role of immi-

These stories and the sup-

nence—“the brutish life of

port of the crowd—a crowd

subjection to given condi-

that included every race,

tions.” Essentially, feeling

every gender, and all manner

power through being desired

of lingerie—created an envi-

is imminence, while desiring

ronment of connection and

is transcendent. She insists

genuine joy. We were there,

an individual “achieves lib-

we saw, we cheered, we

erty only through a continual

became stronger.

reaching out towards other


liberties” and advocates for

“I am trying to make the

women to influence the

unbearable bearable,” says

world through their own

British performance artist

desire and vision.

Franko B, whose art involves

Maxine Holloway, photographer and webcam star on

extreme cutting, blood, and nudity. It is about what is, expresses her own brand of transcendence through a unique combination of fun slut-

bearable, beatable, and ulti-

tishness and fetish exploration. She also advocates for the right of women to freely express their lust

mately transformable. In

in her all-female live-sex show called Cum & Glitter, which aims to arouse the audience while also—

refusing to be overwhelmed

and more importantly—evoking a mighty spirit of exultation. Petite and very feminine, this issue’s

by pain, shame, and societal

cover girl, Beth Prouty, engages in her own transcendence by being a crack shot, regularly going to the

condemnation, his work

firing range to delight in the gunpowder-scented euphoria of shooting off her pistols. Calamity Chang

shares the essential purpose

survived a life-threatening illness that changed her reality. She now flaunts the gorgeous scar that

of SlutWalk and, indeed, of

marks that transition on stage during her frequent burlesque routines. These women know that it is

all those fighting to make the

possible to go beyond fear and into an ecstatic state of grace.

world a better place.

The feeling of being elevated into a cosmic oneness with all things—what religious practitioners

Humans have the peculiar

have described as grace—was, in fact, the original notion behind the term we know of as “fetish.” A

possibility of transcen-

piece of wood is just a piece of wood, but long ago in Africa and other traditional societies, that same

dence—in fact, we are the

piece of wood, carved, blessed, and properly venerated, could embody the power of a god. That con-

only creatures who have

cept has stuck around. It isn’t just a cup of wine, it is the blood of Christ. An amulet worn around the

need of it. As such, it is a

neck can protect you from illness, negative energy, and the evil eye. The belief that an object could

universal human constant

be imbued with the power to heal, help, and protect is older than the earliest civilizations and has

and is, it can be argued, our

led to interesting interpretations. For some, the iconic YSL “Tribute” Pump is just an expensive ode

sacred and sexy duty to strive

to bourgeois elitism. For others, it is a near-divine manifestation of beauty worthy of an act of finan-

for it in everything we do.



Guy Bisson is a Londonbased writer who married a girl from New Orleans. Interest in early jazz led him to discover The District, which he has been fascinated with ever since. He is working on a series of novels set in Storyville.

Jessica Jameson is a writer and traveler who likes postapocalyptic landscapes, poems, and kitty cats. The best times in her life are when she is turning it upside down and shaking it like a box of junk.

Ginger Murray is editor in chief of Whore! magazine.

Calamity Chang is a burlesque performer and producer in New York City. She likes to spend her spare time sleeping or playing with her Brussels Griffon, Chewie.

Amanda Levin has good hair, strong opinions, and may or may not be a cougar.

Meghan Rosatelli has a PhD in media, art, and text and teaches American Studies at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

Jonathan Fogel is a staunch supporter of Whore! magazine and likes to hang around famous fountains in Rome.

Carrie Leilam Love is a style whore and roller derby queen who also writes for WritersCorps of the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her stomping and skating ground is Oakland, CA.

Luma Rouge has devoted herself to capturing the beauty and danger of the human form. Her favorite subjects are strippers, burlesque dancers, and fetish queens—strong, sensual performers who will keep you on your toes and leave you begging for more.

SPECIAL CONTRIBUTORS Belles du Jour Contributors: Joel Canon, Liz Farsaci, Miss Lagsalot, Madeleine Mei, Vanssa L. Pinto, Irene Strandenes

Special Thanks To: the Royal Cuckoo, Kurt Rudolph, Pamela Santos, Viracocha (, and Lauren WK


Tina Horn is a queer pornographer, kink educator, and rock ’n’ roll exhibitionist slut. She lives in Bronxville, NY, and cannot tell you how badly she could use a spanking right about now.

Jay Moynahan is a retired professor of criminal justice who now specializes in the history of prostitution in the Old West from 1849– 1920, on which he is publishing a series of books.

The Poetry Brothel, a unique and immersive poetry experience, takes poetry outside classrooms and lecture halls and places it into the lush interiors of the bordello. The Poetry Society of New York’s other projects include Brothel Books, Quartier Rouge, and the New York Poetry Festival.


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Feti s h? ‘f´t ˆß / N. ORIGIN 1605–15; earlier fateish < Portuguese feitiço charm, sorcery (noun), artificial (adj.) < Latin facticius made by art, artificial


etish. The first thing that many of us automatically think of when hearing that word is ”shoe.” Owning and loving shoes can legitimately be considered a fetish, but the concept behind the term is far more varied, complex, and powerful. As

rial object, the fabric of a stocking, for example. “Spiritual love” referred to obsession with mental phenomena. Calling oneself a hopeless romantic

always, the OED gives a nice early definition: “An inanimate object worshipped for its

can be seen as fetishizing romance. Both obses-

supposed magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit.” Here,

sions, he asserted, denote an inability to fully love

the object itself embodies the potency of the supernatural. This applies more to tradi-

the whole. This aspect has led certain researchers

tional religions based on animism and sympathetic magic than it does to your

to see fetishism as a disorder, proposed cures for


which have included medication and cognitive

A later definition, one that gets much more play these days, is “a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object.” Be

behavioral therapy. Nineteenth-century sexologist (yes, there were

it having a turn-on for leather, rope, Catholic schoolgirl skirts, spanking, or a concept

a few) Richard von Krafft-Ebing challenged that

or act such as bondage, sexual fetishism has long been treated as dangerously perverse

idea by writing that “Fetishism is normal so long as

and a psychological impairment. Yet increasingly in more liberal-minded circles, it is

some essential feature of the attractive person is

fully embraced and celebrated as an act of identity.

involved, and so long as the emotion it arouses

The root of contemporary usage in which the word is associated with sexuality lies with French psychologist Alfred Binet, who, like many early members of his field, was

embraces the entire personality of this person.” In an age where fetish balls and leather parties

apparently a bit messed up. “For me, the girl does not exist; what attracts me is her

are becoming commonplace and all manner of

beautiful hair,” he wrote in his 1887 work “Fetishism in Love,” which was published in

kinks, quirks, deviances, and obsessions are

the Revue Philosophique. He employed the term fétiche to describe this specific and over-

beginning to be accepted as intrinsic to healthy

whelming power of attraction. (Incidentally, Binet was also a lawyer and a student of

sexual expression, we owe Krafft-Ebing (and

hypnotism who, along with Théodore Simon, invented the IQ test.)

doubtless his wife, Marie Luise) a nod of thanks.

Binet proposed that fetishes be classified as either “spiritual love” or “plastic love.” The latter fits into the more common idea of fetishes that we have, the love for a mate-



muscle boys, boobs, and booties.

shoes as if they were a lover—

lated object can be more excit-

But the fetish can also be an

finding every stitch and crease

ing than sex toys. Porn, toys,

amazing testament to the power

and fold, noticing every subtle

and sex are surrounding us,

of the human imagination and

shift in material or texture or

magnifying media claustropho-

a celebration of independent

color, knowing its particular

bia and heightening social anx-

thought. In this age of the force-

scent and redolence—that is

iety to a level never before

feeding of our psyches with

fetish. My hands might wander

conceived. This causes us to be

images of what we are supposed

over the body of someone deeply

more unresponsive than ever to

to find a turn-on, wonderfully

“When I handle a new pair of

meaningful in the same manner, and my countenance would reflect a similar joy and resolve. It is at once being able to exert

more acceptable means to

unusual fetishes challenge the

achieve sexual satisfaction.

floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall-

Ergo, inanimate objects. The

carpet commercial images we

object or situation that creates

see. Viva that man who likes to

the fetish could be tied to an

dress up as a clown and stick

ignited moment that resonated

his dick in UHT cream.”

control by owning whatever

within, marinating until one

object I fetishize and also being

day we discover that green

possessed by it, allowing myself

chairs or fluffy suits make us

to be enchanted. My hands


explore the body of a lover because I am both utterly transfixed and entirely empowered.

– Whizz Biddlecombe,


“Fetishes are exotic paths to erot-

Some things may never be

icism that many can’t under-

accepted in society, but that

stand, but which are conduits

may just be the reason why

to sensuality hidden in the

fetishists are only growing in

pull of this power in an (objec-

underbrush of less-traveled

numbers, especially here in San

tively speaking) simple object. I

trails to pleasure. Those who

Francisco. I, for one, say let

can have it, but at the same

follow standardized highways

your freak flag fly.”

Fetish is the constant tug and

time, it certainly has me.” – Madeleine, san

– Michelle, san

may not understand fetishists, francisco


who themselves adventure along the hidden path in the obscurity of shadows and ele-

“That one image, idea, or sensa“The fetish is a place for the spirit

tion that flicks your switch and

that is in you. The packets

turns you on—that’s a fetish.

attached to it give it efficacy.

Tattoos, feet, farts delivered

The blood sacrifices feed the

rapidly into the face, older

spirit and make it strong.”

women with hairy bushes—

– Mamadou,


these predilections for one particular facet of life repeatedly feed a fetishist’s sexual mind

Fetishes need not be distasteful. Inanimate objects? Why not? It is complete sexual freedom.

which in turn fires their sexual body. We have collective cultural fetishes – the schoolgirl,

vate the mundane to transcendence.” – Miss Lagsalot,

new york city

“The fetish is what we call wood. It doesn’t matter if it’s new or old, the wood has no value to us but it does to others, so we sell it to them. – Fawzi,

art runner , bamako




An Intentional Slut


riving in a pickup truck on a winding road in Santa Cruz, my friend asked me what I planned to do after my divorce. I told him that I planned to try to fuck the world. I was twenty-eight years old and had spent the majority of my youth in the thrall of a

pedophile. I was only fifteen when I met him and he was a romantic figure promising the fairy tale.

He told me that we were soulmates, that we were meant to be, and that we would fight against the world to preserve our love. At the time, I wanted that myth of protection and perfection. I had grown up the child of drug-addicted hippies. My parents are beautiful people, but as a teenager all I saw was a couple of irresponsible adults reliving their youth at my expense. I craved stability and my â&#x20AC;&#x153;rebellionâ&#x20AC;? against their lifestyle was to marry young, buy a home, get a degree, and start working. It had seemed like a good plan except that I was too young and he was too old. I endured the myriad of consequences attached to such poor decision-making. He was a thirty-year-old man controlling an adolescent girl and calling it love. At first I thought I was in love with him, but later it was fear and insecurity that made me stay. He held me down with guilt to start, then began the slow process of convincing me that I was fat, ugly, stupid, boring, and talked too much. Just for good measure, he also convinced me that all other men were evil and selfish. I was certain that if I left him I would TEXT JESSICA JAMESON LEFT CIVIL WAR PERIOD MANACLES. PRIVATE COLLECTION ABOVE: MODEL JESSICA JAMESON PHOTO ANDREW SCHMIDT


spend the rest of my life alone. This might have continued if it weren’t for my parents, who

shame and sadness came pouring out. By the end, I was

insisted that I go on vacation with them. I hadn’t seen them much

ready for a divorce. Weeks

over the years, since my husband made me feel too guilty about

later, I knew I had made the

spending time with anyone but him. However, this time they

right decision, when I spent

wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and I spent two glorious weeks

my first night alone in a

“I cut my hair. Suddenly I felt attractive, exciting, and even intimidating. I was proud and he hated it, and that was when I knew it was finally over.” partying with my parents. We drank, we smoked, we danced, and

strange bed and felt better

life seemed finally to have a little bit of playful promise.

than I had in years. The sec-

Shortly after returning home, I cut my hair. Suddenly I felt attractive, exciting, and even intimidating. I was proud and he hated it, and that was when I knew it was finally over. One night, alone in our car, I sobbed and all those agonized feelings of

ond he was out of my sight, I felt nothing but hope. I moved out immediately. In the interest of getting my

life back together, I tried (very hard) to wait a few months to start having sex with other people. The trouble was, I had never been allowed to really explore and enjoy myself as a sexual being and it really couldn’t wait. I remember so clearly the first time I set my sights on someone, played the seduction game, and then made love to him. Everything from our first drink together to running my hands over his very smooth, very naked skin was fresh and agonizingly sweet. It was the dawning of a golden age. I had discovered that I could seduce boys—and that I liked it. In the months that followed, love didn’t interest me. I had been under the thumb of an old, perverse, manipulative man for most of my adult life and the only way I could reclaim my power was to wield absolute power over my romantic life. I took pleasure in deciding what I would do and with whom. Mostly, my romantic interests were very

and flirted endlessly. I remember surveying rooms full of boys to

obliging. I had woken hungry

choose whom I wanted to have later. I loved the exhilaration and

from a nine-year sleep. The

the excitement of it. I explored the bodies of each of my lovers

moment I became available, I

with the fascination of a tourist. I still recall the details of all

found myself surrounded by

those naked hip bones, the skin stretched over bellies and thighs,

attractive young men who

the soft hair. It was amazing how different and beautiful each

seemed to be waiting for me to

man could be, how each encounter was an entirely new journey.

seduce them. Those first few

After everything my ex had coerced me into over the years, I felt

months were delicious. I

there was nothing left to fear in the bedroom. The only mystery

schemed, plotted, pondered,

left to me was pleasure, and I explored it with relish.



“The next agreement was that I would not ‘go home’ with anyone I did not fully intend to have sex with.”

This is not to say I made no

scrubby, and

for men. We have, of course, been challenging this idea for

mistakes. I did wake some

generations, but I’d like to point out that we still “lose our vir-

mornings glad to see the night

ginity,” and, even worse, “get hit on.” I’ll tell you right

over, resolving to make wiser

now that this has little to do with how I get

me. He

choices next time. There was

laid. I found that with all this clear


that night I found myself alone

intention and consent,

in Seattle with a boy who was

close to

give a straight

my lovers,

in turn,

handsome enough but he was

treated me with kind-

a terrible lay—all ego

he stood too

ness and respect. Most wanted to

answer to anything and his beard needed trimming. We didn’t like each

and enthusiasm but no

stay in touch and many wonder—even years

other at first. I remember

finesse or empathy. That

later—if I am available.

wondering who this strange

night was more about loneliness than attraction, and I felt a little filthy for it the next

I didn’t realize at the time that I had turned the myth of the slut on its head, but I had. I was a slut, no doubt, but I was no slave to emptiness, no sad

man was, and he thought I was pretentious and prissy. Then I got up to read. The poem was a

morning. Experimentation

girl seeking solace. I was a pioneer exploring the most incredible

body image piece with an

with sex led naturally to exper-

landscape. But the most stubborn challenge I’ve faced is how to

obscure T. S. Eliot reference

imenting with how I made my

be both slutty and powerful. Though strong, intelligent, and

in it—one I thought no one

decisions. I made an agree-

occasionally fierce—I don’t identify with most of the positive role

would recognize, but Baraka

ment with myself that it is

models available to women. I’m not a queen or a strong survivor

called me out on it. He cor-

always okay to say no, even

or a respectable woman preserving my inner goddess. I am a

nered me after the show and

when I’d already said yes. The

badass bottom. A careful slut. A submissive feminist. I like to be

asked for my number. I

next agreement was that I

held down, to be bitten and to bite, to suck dick, to make a mess

dodged the question until he

would not “go home” with

and be noisy. I realize how contradictory this seems. How can an

said he wanted to rehearse

anyone I did not fully intend

empowered, self-loving woman also be a masochist? The truth is,

together. I couldn’t resist tak-

to have sex with. I chose my

they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. The rough

ing a risk on a potential poetry

lovers very deliberately. Once

play I want from my lovers has nothing to do with the care and

partner and I gave him my

I had taken one home, I had

self-respect I employ in choosing and seducing them. A smart,


no need to hesitate, to be

strong woman can enjoy a good role-play sex battle and still wake

afraid, or to play hard to

up with her ego intact.

get. There is a troubling pre-

While I was having a great time being an independent, non-

Rehearsals ensued and we quickly fell in love with each other’s “let all hell break loose”

conception that having sex is

romantic slut, there was still more to learn. In so many other

attitude. We had agreed to

always a concession for

areas of my life, I was still afraid, timid, and uncertain. Then I

work together out of sheer

women and always a conquest

met Baraka Noel Mumbles at a poetry workshop. He was short,

artistic impulse, but slut

attracts slut and it wasn’t long

reveled in bouts of drunken seduction. It was a profound exercise in

pushes me to find my weak-

before the hot texts started. I

letting go. I let go of my income, my belongings, my friends. Then I

nesses and change them, to

told him I thought biblical ref-

let go of my little proclivities, my need for neatness, order, space,

become a better person and a

erences were sexy. He told me

plans, habit, sleep, exercise, security. And I learned to trust. I trusted

better partner. I am more

he would build an ark of my

my tour mates with utter abandon on the stage, in the car, with my

honest than I have ever been

spine. We made our own world.

money, in every way the road called for. I also learned to trust myself

and more patient because of

at last. We gave birth to the performance group We Are theUnreal and

him. These days I am consid-

With Baraka, I found out that my writing was not meant to exist in a vacuum as it had for so

we were full of the roar of living, on and off stage. On that road I honed my skills as a poet. I also learned to give

ering raising a family and finally beginning to wonder

many years. We formed a pact

the best head of my generation. I learned that pain has a bright,

how my parents held onto their

that made sex, poetry, and alco-

hot center I can dive through into another state of mind that is

freedoms, their joys, while

without fear. I found I can’t change the part of me that loves to be

raising me. I am dancing deli-

held down and fucked, and I don’t want to. My inner slut who

cately between poet and pro-

together led to the Soulfeast

loves to have her hair pulled, does not, in any way, compromise

fessional, between feeling like

Wintour. Baraka and I and two

me when I walk on stage in my boys’ clothes, put my mouth to the

a child and wanting to be a

other poets spent nine months

mic, and bring my audience to their knees with my words.

mother, between delighting in

traveling around the country

More recently, I have found something new to appreciate.

the wildness and in the delib-

performing, writing, and living

Though letting everything go was an ecstatic and freeing experi-

erateness. And as I walk down

on only what we could earn with

ence, after two years, I was ready to settle into a life that did not

this very crooked path, I am

our art. We pursued cities as

embrace quite so much change. I came across a new lover whose

beginning to think that I am

though they were lovers and

lovemaking is convincing me that I may never need another. He

making the life I have always


dreamed of.


hol sacred. Our pact and the sweat and intensity that fused it





NONSENSE I have been going to The Gym religiously for the

past few months as part of an effort to alleviate a

younger women.” “Really?”

knee injury which, I was told, has much to do

“Yeah. Like how I guess they have done all this

with my age and overuse of said knee. The doctor

other stuff and now they are just, like, able to get

basically described the problem by saying that while

what they want and stuff.”

I am forty, my knee is actually more like that of a

“Well, yeah, I mean, that makes sense. I mean, if

sixty-year-old. Hence, The Gym. As I was working

you are forty, what else is there? It is not like you can

my way through my circuit the other day, two girls,

do anything else like go settle down or something.

who were obviously there together as some sort of

You are so old you might as well get what you want.”

team effort to “get fit,” ended up sharing my space.

I was looking straight at these two at this point.

Like everyone else in that environment, I can’t help

Either I did not appear to be one of those purpose-

but do that immediate, yet cursory, comparative

less old people or they really were as clueless as their

evaluation of the people around me. These two

conversation indicated.

women were clearly younger than I but not as toned or athletic. They had that soft quality that somehow is okay in youth. I carried on with my workout. They began to chat. “I was listening to the radio on the way to drop my

Forty. Too old to do anything else. Might as well get what you want. I kept lifting weights and considered various interpretations of this conversation. Am I a sexcrazed, past-the-point-of-redemption, goal-ori-

kids off at school today and it was talking about how

ented, middle-aged woman deserving pity? Or

women in their forties want sex way more than

could it have been jealousy I heard? The conversa-


tion went on: “Yeah, I guess. Kind of like Cici. Have you seen her on my Facebook? She’s smoking hot. She’s so tight. And she’s like that.” “I haven’t seen her except for that little picture.” “Oh, well, she’s like thirty-six and she looks so good. Of course, I’d look like that too if I didn’t have kids.” “Yeah, me too.” I walked away contemplating the implications of women joining in on this stereotyping and pigeonholing of single women who are beyond their early thirties and not raising children or married—happily or otherwise. Now it is not just men doing the labeling, but other women as well. They look, judge, and cry “Cougar!” The double standard of men being lauded for having younger partners and women being condemned for the same is obvious and deserves little examination beyond reiterating its barefaced ignorance and baffling durability. In high school, the guys who have sex with lots of girls are studs. The girls who do the same are sluts. It is a universal tradition. As we get older and people begin to pair off into legally sanctioned couples, the men who remain single are called bachelors, a term with plenty of panache and class. The women? They are spinsters, desperate, divorcees, cougars. At my twenty-year high school reunion I was one of maybe five single people. Of that five, I think I was only one of two who had actually never been married. My male friend was congratulated by all his buddies. I was questioned: Are you married? No? Never? Huh? How come? Why not? ABOVE HOMAGE TO THE GRADUATE (1967) LEFT HOMAGE TO HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971)

Seriously? Yes, seriously. All the stranger because, in my experience, I have found that it is the

The “Cougar Manifesto” From, which is credited with having

men who seem far more desperate to settle down than the women, and

coined the term (grammar, spelling, punctuation,

while I have no evidence beyond the empirical about this, I think it

and insane concepts all original).*

would be an interesting study to see if the asymmetry lies in some strange, buried rejection psychology. Given the mainstream male/


female relationship dynamic, the women who remain single likely

The largest North American cat, top of the food

have rejected potential partners rather than never been propositioned

chain with Grizzly Bears, carnivorous solitary hunter,

or considered. Therefore, it seems to me that the women who remain

aka Mountain Lion, Puma.

single into their thirties and forties may trigger some sort of deepseated resentment in men—and, consequentially, in women. What of these women who are joining in on the labeling and judg-

Also describes women in their forties who smoke, drink and go to clubs to pick up young men in their

ing? To say it is simply jealousy seems short-sighted, but why do other

twenties. Cougars are usually divorced, sometimes

women care about the single ladies? When they fling out the term

with cubs, and financially independent.

“cougar,” they are stipulating that one of the things they find offensive is their target’s tendency to seek out younger men, which means that

The most successful cougars are those that married

their husbands are not even under consideration. I suppose that

well and got huge divorce settlements. Lesser

makes me a cougar; the type of man that catches my eye is never the

Cougars were feminists who clawed their way to the

middle-aged guy with a wife and kids. Ever. My tastes have remained

top and made their own money. They have charge

consistent from my earliest interests as a single teenaged girl. This is

cards and big bank accounts, often living off second

the root of any sort of cougar nature that I have. It lies purely in the aes-

mortgages and money lending. They own cars but

thetic. It is like everyone around me has grown up and out and older

The type of man that catches my eye is never the middle-aged guy with a wife and kids. Ever. while I still appreciate the man who is out there being single and put-

use them sparingly because of their concern for the environment. Species characteristics include a penchant for home decorating, an interest in dogs (the only other species they can live with), an avid consumption of home products such as tinfoil and Cheez Whiz, and a limited interest in technology.

ting a little effort into his game. Perhaps this rankles because it is a reminder of a lifestyle that they mistakenly believe they have given up—

They have a high fat diet but are usually in shape

though I would be quick to point out that no single woman I know has

because of sheer genetics and extensive shopping,

ever even suggested that having a husband and/or children somehow

dinner party planning and traveling. They often wear

should require a) an older man; or b) a resignation to the world of

clothes that they’re a bit too old for such as Spandex

abstinence or (perhaps worse) self-conscious sex.

and high heels. They dye their hair and wear lots of

Further, it is important to consider the basic mathematical circum-

makeup and jewelry.

stances that we are dealing with. Women live longer than men. Women (through their own mental torture and the insistence of society) are

Cougars-in-training (ie. women in their thirties) are

expected to stay in better shape than men. Women are more likely to

called “pumas”. Women in their twenties are “cougar

be single by choice than men (again, this is unsubstantiated beyond


my own years of observation, but let’s use it as a given here). There are more women on the planet than men (this happens to actually be substantiated at the time of writing by the CIA’s World Factbook). Together, these elements lend a level of understanding to the existence—perhaps

* Accessed May 25, 2010



necessity—of an increasingly measurable and therefore visible part of the female population currently being labeled cougars. There are numerous studies coming out around the world

Simone de Beauvoir

describing the plight of men as the gender gap takes on new char-

Author of the seminal feminist

acteristics (see Thomas G. Mortenson’s Where Are the Boys? The

tome The Second Sex, Simone de

Growing Gender Gap in Higher Education as an example). In China,

Beauvoir seems an unlikely cou-

men struggle to find wives amidst a female population embracing

gar. She maintained a lifelong

academia and professional options. In America, women are out-

relationship with existentialist

pacing men academically and professionally (in spite of the fact

Jean Paul Sartre but had a number

that their salaries are yet to be truly commensurate) and feel less

of affairs with both men and

inclined to settle for a relationship where this discrepancy could

women, including documentarian

cause friction.

Claude Lanzmann. She was 44 and he was a mere 27.

Catherine the Great

Women in their forties are better equipped to seek and create sexual relationships that are more satisfying. This stems from experience, knowledge, and diminishing concern about needing to behave a certain way based on the age-old social rules of “How

She died while trying to have sex with a

To Get a Man.” This equates to confidence. And herein lies the real

horse. False. She had a string of

issue behind the cougar label. Confident women freak people out

young lovers. True. She had three

in just about any circumstance: dating, work, politics, school, and

great love affairs. The dashing and

on and on and on. This is a conundrum because there is a general

brutish Grigory Orlov (-5 years);

understanding that confidence is somehow desirable and benefi-

Stanislaw August Poniatowski,

cial, but apparently it follows in the footsteps of Goldilocks: She

whom she made the King of

must be confident but not too confident.

Poland (-3 years); and the moody

The term cougar is often misused. Carrying with it a clearly

yet brilliant general Grigory

negative connotation, the label suggests a woman seeking prey—

Potemkin (-10 years). She later

and in the specifics of this term, the prey is younger. Younger

streamlined her tastes with lovers who

because it is easier to snare or to manipulate? Maybe, but I would

were often 20 or more years her junior. Not

guess that, like me, it is more likely to do with aesthetics than any-

only was she a cougar, she was a cougar empress.

thing else. No one ever asks Hef why he likes buxom blondes in their twenties. It is obvious, yet I rarely hear him being described

Radclyffe Hall

in predatory terms, although I am sure we could all agree that

Most famous for her 1928 book, The Well

would be far more appropriate than suggesting a forty-something

of Loneliness, Radclyffe Hall was as

woman with a thirty-something boyfriend is predatory. The cougar

scandalous as her book, but never

label does little to consider the actual nature of any sort of relation-

lonely. Throughout her life, she

ship between an older woman and a younger man, and the implicit

had a number of affairs and rela-

suggestion that the woman had to chase, capture, and claim her

tionships with women, but her

young man is offensive at every level. If Hef is excused from label-

first significant relationship was

ing because the women come to him rather than his chasing them,

with Mabel Batten, who was 34

it seems obvious that the assumption a woman has had to capture a

years older than the boyish Hall.

younger man only gives further credence to the chauvinism that

They stayed together until Batten’s

perpetuates such labeling in the first place. How could anyone

death in 1916. Okay, Hall was a cub,

know if the woman sought the young man or if it was the other way

not a cougar, but you get the point.

around? I can say with absolute certainty that I am not a chaser, yet I certainly date younger men. It’s not like these men even need to be chased. The widespread

assumption that a younger man could not possibly be attracted to a

and they were generally impressed by the ladies

woman past her reproductive prime just doesn’t hold up in the twenty-

who might earn the label. Bartenders were very

first century. The current crop of men in their thirties are the first to

positive—apparently because older women tend to

have been raised with feminism as an embedded element of their

tip very well. Young drunk frat boys were also very

worldview. Whether they buy into it or not, it’s there. Unlike their pre-

positive, though I assume they would have been as

decessors, many of them don’t feel compromised by a woman who has

equally enthusiastic over a bacon-wrapped hot dog

No one ever asks Hef why he likes buxom blondes in their twenties. It is obvious. more experience and knowledge or who is more successful, and they

in their condition. My married male friends saw a

often freely admire her abilities. Long accustomed to earning love

place for the term, but likened it more to Sex and the

because of our beauty, sweetness, and nurturing abilities, it’s a nice

City’s Samantha, whom they appreciated far more

change to be appreciated instead for skill, strength, and intelligence.

in celluloid than the possibility of reality. Everyone I

The cougar issue has the potential to turn gender expectations and

asked assured me emphatically and repeatedly that I

power dynamics on their heads. I recently began asking men (generally single) what they thought of

was in no way a cougar. This made me laugh because in just about every situation where the subject came

the term cougar. Did they think of me as a cougar? Did they think it had

up, I was either with a younger man or had last been

positive or negative connotations? The results of my informal straw

with a younger man. It belied their acceptance of the

poll were predictable but still interesting. The men I know whom I

term, showing that in fact they do all see it as an

consider confident and intelligent took the term with a grain of salt,



insult they would not levy on a

more subtle hen of the species. Any time a woman acts in a way that is

person that they know or like.

considered traditionally more masculine, she is bound to run into

Of note, they defended their

some friction. Hence the double standard, which I expect will far out-

insistence that I was not a cou-

live the current terminology and will morph into a series of new

gar on the basis of my apparent

descriptors as humanity carries on, especially in light of the fact that

confidence and unwillingness

the current trends in gender disparities appear to be on a trajectory

to pursue. Another backhanded

that will only intensify the situation. From harlot to whore to slut to


dyke to bitch to desperate housewife to cougar and beyond.

In even a superficial exami-

A few years back I met a nice young man at the Hong Kong Rugby

nation of history, it is easy to

Sevens. I was in the latter half of my thirties and he was just at the mid-

see the discomfort that females

point of his twenties. I would describe this young man as strapping—he

who own, promote, or embrace

was one of the famed New Zealand All Blacks, 6’2”, 230, according to

their sexuality have engendered.

his official stats page, and with what I will describe as negligible body

This has long been the domain

fat. Clearly younger than I, that fact was of no consequence to him (or

of the fancy peacock, not the


me) as we walked around the city all night. We heard nary a word regarding our (unlikely?) pairing. The following year I met a nice young man from Chicago at the same tournament. Our presence together should have garnered far less interest than my sports-star pairing from the year before. Yet as we walked around the alwayscrowded corner at the top of D’Aguilar Street in Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong, a group of boisterous Aussie and British guys who had attended the tournament dressed in matching pink tutus and sparkly cowboy hats (also pink) looked right at me and started to point and yell, “Cougar! You are such a COUgar! Hey, here’s a COUGAR for you!” I went from stunned to mildly irritated to embarrassed to enraged in less than five taunts. A man (sans wedding ring, by the way) in a sparkly pink dress was trying to insult me because I was with someone younger than me. Seriously? Yes, seriously. And so it goes, around and around. The cougar label suggests far less about those to whom it is attached and discloses far more about those who choose to throw it around. At its root, it is a way for those who feel threatened by less conventional women to disenfranchise them through put-downs and insults. In terms of a cultural phenomenon, the existence of a “cougar” population seems a completely logical outgrowth of the demands that society—and particularly the namecallers—have put on women for years. You demand we look good, be achievers, and embrace the virgin-whore dichotomy, and this is what you are going to get: a growing group of women terribly disappointed with their available options, embracing singledom, and considering unconventional partners. I am reminded of any number of tales of genies bearing promises of wishes granted. Be oh so careful what you wish for. Rarrrwww!

Recent “Cougar” Timeline The concept is ancient but the term is surprisingly recent

1999 Canadian dating website is founded by two women, one of whom reputedly got the term from her nephew, who said that the pair were “like cougars in search of small, defenseless animals.” The nephew is said to have gotten the term from his mates on his hockey team. The site includes the “Cougar Manifesto” reproduced above.

2001 Valerie Gibson releases Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men, which supports many of the values expressed on

2007 The term cougar enters the Oxford English Dictionary as “An older woman who romantically pursues younger men.” The OED does not mention Cheez Whiz, at least in this context.

2009 ~ Courtney Cox brings it mainstream by depicting a cougar, albeit a reluctant one, in ABC’s Cougar Town. ~ Linda Franklin releases Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am!: The Real Cougar Woman Handbook. Franklin eschews the ageist dating definition, focusing instead on selfconfidence, self-image, and financial independence. According to her website, www.therealcougarwoman. com, “The Real Cougar Woman is a fabulous female who is reconstructing the role of women today.” She is “any woman over 40 who is turned on and excited (referred to as carats): • A woman who isn’t afraid to knock down walls and crash through glass ceilings. • A woman who adores men but refuses to be defined by the age of the man she chooses to be with. • A woman who goes inside herself for the answers. • A woman who knows how to keep her body healthy, her beauty radiant, and her spiritual reservoir full. • A woman who puts financial freedom high on her priority list.


about life.” She is summed up by five bullet points



The Strange Glamour

of the

Female Bartender


here she is, a little pensive and a bit defi-

“Once you are behind the bar, you instantly become more appealing. I

ant, perhaps tinged with lingering sadness.

can try to talk to someone out elsewhere and I am just some dope. But

She can be a gracious and comforting

behind the bar, that same person will flirt with me, give me their

presence, or maybe an alluring femme fatale

number, try to be my friend. There is something about the bartender

spurring on a drunken frenzy. She is a bartender

that people dig. Whether you are male or female.” Or gay. Tattoo art-

and, whatever her true nature may be, she is rich

ist Tanya Wischerath, who serves mostly queer women, says that “the

fodder for fantasy. On any given night, patrons

appeal comes from that slight distance of the bartender. We are

anchor the stools of her bar, able to gaze to their

accessible but removed, like a celebrity’s face on a movie screen. It’s

hearts’ content. Apart from the runway and the

as though glitter is thrown over the bar; we seem to sparkle just a little

strip club, there are few other establishments


where live bodies are so available to be gazed at.

Not everyone thinks that the bartender sparkles, but for those who

Like models and strippers, bartenders also expe-

do, it can lead to large tipping, regular patronage, and even a rela-

rience their fair share of being alluringly iconic,

tionship that can last for years. Most bartenders have experienced

even to the point of being fetishized. What is this

this but I’m going to argue that, more often than not, it is the female

all about, besides her customers’ enjoyable view?

bartender who garners the most committed of this attention. Why

Marianna Southey, sexy bartender extraordi-

should you care what I think? Well, I’ve been shaking martinis for

naire, holds that “the bartender is a natural focal

fourteen years and, in that time, I’ve receieved flowers, numerous

point. I am sometimes the only girl in the joint

confessions of undying love, and even a few marriage proposals.

and certainly the only one required to talk to you

Maybe I’m just particularly proposal worthy? Hmm ... no. I’ve never,

and pretend to be happy about it. I call it the ‘sit-

not once, been proposed to outside of the bar. Of course, inebriation

ting duck syndrome.’ I’m also the dispenser of

can inspire wild acts that are often regretted the next morning, but

the goodies! Goodies that can make us all more


attractive and interesting.” Barman and musician, Brice Frillici agrees.



known to most. It is widely assumed that women resist sexual advances because they are usually the pursued, whereas men, as the often-rejected pursuers, are considered fortunate to be propositioned. In truth, sluts abound in all sexes, but erotic exploration still has greater potential to damage a woman’s professional status, reputation, and emotional safety. Add to that a fact that many a gin-slinging woman has learned: much of the admiration she receives can fade faster than beer foam once the bar is removed. In 1852, French writer Charles Baudelaire began to pursue the much-sought-after courtesan Apollonie Sabatier. For years he sent her poems and passionate letters. He called her his muse, his inspiration, his supposed reason for being, and even wrote his famous work, Les Fleurs du Mal, in her honor. She continually refused him until, at last, she I’ve had customers who come to the bar only on my shift, confessing

gave in. The result? By the next

their love again and again. Of course, I’m not all that special. The

morning he had lost interest.

other female bartenders I know also have their devoted patrons.

His conquest finished, he

More than a few bar owners have figured out that most lone male drinkers at the average bar enjoy interacting with attractive women,

moved on. Like Apollonie, from time to

and they hire accordingly. Attractive and all but unattainable. We

time, I’ve let all that attention

always want what we can’t have and these female bartenders are

go to my head and bedded a

notoriously hard to get. “YOU WILL NEVER FUCK A FEMALE BAR-

seemingly devoted customer

TENDER! It just does not happen,” asserts bartender and blogger

only to discover that he was just

D’Abate, who also holds that the male bartender is a “whore.whore.

scoring status points. One actu-

whore.whore.whore!” D’Abate may be a tad emphatic—and not

ally admitted that he had made

entirely correct—but he’s right in that for many a barmaid, existing

a bet with his friends to see if

professionally as an object of desire makes being desired a much

he could “get me.” I’ve learned

less interesting prospect.

that my actual self often isn’t

The unequal sexual dynamic of the heterosexual scene is well

what they’re really after. But, as

with all things, there are exceptions. Marianna has dated customers almost exclusively. One even penned a story in her honor. “I was happy to go out with him after just one meeting because his writing and the bar banter that it inspired was clever and interesting. In that case, I probably was objectified or even fetishized a bit. What he wrote was absolutely a fantasy, but because of who it was coming from, it was flattering rather than annoying. We had a few lovely dates and realized there were some incompatibilities, but I’m happy to have had the experience.” She has no regrets and, indeed, has high hopes for her current relationship with a bar patron. Stewardesses, strippers, sex workers, and bartenders all share the quality of being thrilling yet potentially dismissible. These professions also share a financial imperative to be at our best. Smiling even when it feels like our faces will crack, we’re compelled to be interested in our customers’ woes and worries. A male bartender can get away with being surly, but females are more frequently expected to be full of good humor and cheer. Sass is good but sullenness is not. We’re a bit like those housewives who quiet the kids before the husband comes home to his waiting slippers and chilled martini. That said, there’s a special kind of intimacy that can be engendered when a woman is behind the bar. I often feel grateful for what people share with me there. Though often cynical and introverted in my private life, at work I’m far less judgmental. As long as a customer is respectful (and tips), I see them as unique and deserving of care. I want to hear their stories, help them with their issues, and create an experience of comfort or celebration for them. Those that get a little soused, cry after a bad date, or confess that the wife just kicked them out? I don’t think any less of them and, indeed, I’m sympathetic to their revelations. But customers are not the only ones who get to experience catharsis. I’ve lived a life outside of the proverbial box. I was raised by hippies, have not striven for conventional “success,” and have lived off LEFT APOLLONIE SABATIER, “LA PRÉSIDENTE” BY VINCENT VIDAL, 1840s, PENCIL AND WATERCOLOR ON PAPER, 55.5 X 37.5 CM, COLLECTION OF THE MUSÉE NATIONAL DU CHÂTEAU DE COMPIÈGNE ABOVE MARIANNA SOUTHEY AT THE LONE PALM, SAN FRANCISCO. PHOTO BY ANDREW SCHMIDT ABOVE FLYER BY BARTENDER AND ARTIST TANYA WISCHERATH




douard Manet’s Un bar aux Folies Bergère premiered at the Paris Salon of 1882 and stands today as one of the

greatest works of the Impressionist period. The barmaid in the foreground wears a fascinatingly complex expres-

sion. We see a guarded curiosity wrapped in physical and spiritual exhaustion, together with an impenetrable blankness that seems to mask inner emotional turmoil. By treating a common woman as the subject of high art and revealing her as a complex, fully realized human being, Manet steps decisively into modernity. There is a self-contradictory, double reality presented that leaves us wondering: Is the background a mirrored reflection (if so, the geometry is impossible), or is it a memory of an earlier interaction? The story in this painting is not so much told as hinted at. It piques our interest, but leaves it up to us to decide what the story is, how it began, and how it will end.


the grid in four different countries, where I ulie Reiner has been elevating the cocktail scene in NYC for the last decade, most notably with the opening of

regularly consorted with poets, punkers, and prostitutes. The normal expectations of the

mixology landmarks The Flatiron Lounge (2003), The

world don’t do much for me, but give me that

Pegu Club (2005), and, her latest venture, Brooklyn’s Clo-

beer-soaked stage that is the bar and suddenly

ver Club. As co-owner and beverage director of the Flat-

everything that makes me feel insecure and isolated

iron Lounge, Reiner drew much of her inspiration from her

becomes glorious. I can put my particular intensity and

native Hawaii by utilizing the freshest fruits and premier-

appreciation of the beauty of the moment to good use.

quality spices and spirits available in her original cocktails.

Other bartenders, especially women, have similar views. It’s a


very particular person who becomes a bartender. I am not talking o one seems to know just where the term cocktail

about the ones who did it while they were in college but the ones for

came from, but one legend tells of a colonial bar-

whom being a bartender is a part of their identity. We love the

maid, Elizabeth “Betty” Flanagan, who is frequently

diversity, oddness, closeness, and ever-present possibility of the

credited with its creation. She was immortalized by

miraculous that is the job.

James Fenimore Cooper (the author of The Last of the

It can be about real strength too. Whether lifting a keg or pouring

Mohicans) in his 1821 novel The Spy. He wrote that “Fla-

a pint, the bartender is not a passive image but mistress of her

nagan was peculiarly well qualified by education and cir-

domain. She has the authority not just over the alcohol but over the

cumstances to perfect this improvement in liquors,

entire room. She can throw people out. She manages the drunks,

having been literally brought up on its principal ingredi-

the fights, and the social dynamics. “Marianna is so tough. She once

ent.” In 1700, the term appeared in a comic poem, The

tasered an annoying customer in the balls,” recalls one of her

Prelateiad; or, the Rape of the Holy Bottle. “All Ceylon’s

admirers. Anime heroine or Manhattan maker, female badassness

spicy gifts its moisture mends, And Kyan’s Pep. its cock-

has an undeniable allure.

tail virtue lends.” The term was first defined in 1806 in

Though women often tend to be hired in preference to men in

The Balance and Columbian Repository, which notes that

this field, certain fellows are putting the “cock” back in “cocktail”

it is “an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it

with the increasingly popular trend of mixology. The gender bal-

renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.” Whatever its origin, we are glad that it exists.


ance has shifted here before. After the repeal of prohibition, a

way to the Supreme Court in 1948. Writing the majority opinion in

union of New York and Atlantic City barmen lobbied to exclude

Goesaert v. Cleary confirming the law’s constitutionality, Justice Felix

women from the bar business. The Troy Record applauded their

Frankfurter “seemed downright amused that anyone would think

efforts in print and wrote, “Who wants the hand that rocks the cra-

the equal-protection clause of the fourteenth Amendment would

dle mixing whisky sours?” It was argued that those women would be

apply to the question of women and cocktails.”* He observed that

Michigan passed a law in 1945 outlawing any woman to mix drinks professionally except for the wife or daughter of a saloon keeper. Even California barred women from “pouring whisky” unless they were on the bar’s license. Sue Castle, current owner of Randy’s Place in San Francisco, bought her first bar in 1965. Frustrated with thieving and disrespectful male employees and wanting to hire her female friend, Sue worked her way around the law. She put the friend on the license as owner of a $1 share. You can’t keep a good barmaid down. In response to the Michigan law, Valentine Goesaert and three other bartenders fought to declare the statute unconstitutional. They took their case all the

the court “cannot give ear to the suggestion that the real impulse behind this legislation was an unchivalrous desire of male bartenders to try to monopolize the calling.” In 1957, the Michigan legislature repealed the law, and California followed suit in 1971 as a result of a legal case involving a topless bar called Sail’er Inn. With Craig v. Boren in 1976, the battle for whiskey women was won. As long as there are those who enjoy a good happy hour, “sprightly and ribald” alewives, as Frankfurter called us, will continue to swagger in the peculiar liminal space that is the bar. Behind the wood and zinc, reflected by mirrors and flattered by the light of the night, she’ll continue to splash and sparkle. So go ahead, come have a drink (and a look) and bend her ear. Just remember to tip. * Much of the information for the legal portion of this article came from the article “Women Behind Bars” written by Eric Felten for the Wall Street Journal.


“bad conversationalists, inefficient, and flirtatious.”




Scar by Any Other Name I stood behind her, waiting in line at the school cafeteria. I could smell the powdery, soapy scent

from her shoulder-length blonde hair and I stared at her gold earrings, brightly colored T-shirt,

expensive Guess jeans, and white canvas Keds sneakers. Shannon Fisher. She was the epitome

of beauty to my twelve-year-old existence. Even when I became a teenager, this look—blonde, peppy, and buxom—remained my idea of beauty because the boys at home responded to it. Growing up as a teenager in Texas, I can tell you that being Chinese then was not exactly the flavor du jour that it is

now, where it seems like every guy (especially Caucasians) wants Asian arm candy. The feelings of utter unattractiveness and invisibility to the opposite sex that developed during my formative years in junior high and high school, as well as the accompanying conventional notions about what is “pretty,” took a large part of my adulthood to unlearn. A big part of the avenue to doing so ran through a strange combination of burlesque and emergency surgery. Many of my fans at my burlesque performances have noticed the long vertical scar that runs six inches down my stomach. I don’t think much about it; in fact, ninety-nine percent of the time it barely registers in my mind. I’ve grown so accustomed to seeing it every time I look in the mirror naked that I honestly forget about it, much like I do the tattoos on my forearm and back. So it is surprising and slightly thrilling when people notice it for the first time. Performers often ask how I got the scar, but usually only once they’ve gotten to know me. Many people seem to assume that it’s from a C-section, but these days those scars run horizontally, just above the pubic bone (and last time I looked around my apartment, I did not have a child). I am open to talking about it, but I wish I could say that I got cut up in an alley fight over a man, a drunken brawl over rhinestoned stilettos, a gang fight defending a friend’s honor, or some such. But alas, the truth is nowhere nearly as glamorous or exciting as the fiction in my mind. I got my scar because of an obstructed bowel. What that means is part of my intestines got tangled around some old abdominal scar tissue (left over from appendicitis TEXT CALAMITY CHANG LEFT AT THE MACAO TRADING COMPANY, NEW YORK CITY PHOTO MICHAEL WEBB, 2010


surgery when I was eight)

ten staples down my stomach

and became strangulated,

and some more inside. I was

blocking everything in my

in the intensive care unit for a

digestive system from mov-

week and then spent another

ing regularly. Unfortunately

week sharing a room with ran-

for me, I thought it was food

dom elderly ladies while wait-

poisoning and stayed home

ing for my intestines to

for three days before realiz-

reconnect and get going again.

ing that something was seri-

Every morning a group of

ously wrong when I looked in

young and attractive male doc-

the bathroom mirror. I was

tors would come in and ask me

breaking out in torrential

if I’ve “had flatulence” or

sweat even though I felt extremely cold, my face was

“passed gas,” much to my embarrassment. When you

“I wish I could say that I got cut up in an alley fight over a man, a drunken brawl over rhinestoned stilettos, a gang fight defending a friend’s honor, or some such” pale, and my stomach was distended. I couldn’t even hold water

can do either of those activi-

down. My boyfriend, whom I lived with at the time, had no previ-

ties, it means your bowels are

ous experience with anything related to this, so he was no help.

functional again. Talk about

The pain was worse than anything I’ve ever experienced and it

humiliating. So that’s how I

came in waves that could be rated on the tsunami scale. Finally, at

got my scar, and it and I have

3 am, I called an ambulance, which took me to Cabrini Hospital

been on an interesting ride

in the East Village neighborhood of New York City. They misdiag-

together ever since.

nosed me and sent me home with Ibuprofen, also believing that it

As I said, performing as I

was a case of food poisoning. Cabrini has since been shut down

do has generated a lot of scar-

(hooray!). I was home for another two days before Dwight Yoakam

related questions. Recently

told me I was dying.

one of my Asian fans posted

I KID YOU NOT. In my fever, pain, and cold sweating, Dwight

on Facebook a picture of me

Yoakam—whom I had never listened to nor knew anything about—

performing with my arms

told me in a hallucination that I was dying and had to call 911

raised high and my scar full

ASAP. Thanks, Dwight! Fortunately, this time they took me to

frontal. That picture gener-

Beth Israel Hospital, where the staff knew I was in a bad place and

ated a long thread of com-

triaged me accordingly. Since after X-rays and a CT scan they still

ments from his predominantly

couldn’t see exactly what was wrong (bowels apparently show up

Asian friends (I assume

as a big, blurry, undistinguished mass), they promptly sent me

they’re Asian based on last

for “exploratory surgery.” Once inside, they found about a foot of

names). It was surprising to

dead intestines strangling everything else. I ended up with about

read the comments from the

women. Almost all of them felt that a naked woman with a body rendered imperfect by a prominent scar should not be showing her “defect” publicly. One woman wrote, “Ew … .” Another girl commented that she did not want to see something like that on stage. And another simply wrote, “Whoa ... .” The thread continued with a heated debate on whether I was “hot” or not, but discussed in a theoretical way about whether a marked body should be displayed in public. The “standard of beauty” phrase was thrown around. Many of the male commentators were pro-scar and wrote things like “Girls with scars are sexy ... lol” and “There is a standard for beauty globally. Sure, confidence and feeling secure about one’s self helps, but we can’t ignore the fact that some women have it and some have not.” And my favorite, “Of course, there are exceptions too. For instance, a girl might look good to a man

cents. If you’re going to talk about me, I will talk back. Quite

and look ugly to another man’s

frankly, I was excited that my scar generated such a controversy.

eyes. That is why there is the

I wrote:

saying, ‘Beauty is to the eyes of

For the record, my Chinese mom also thinks it’s odd that I would want


to show off my scar. It’s a common, traditional way of thinking, and I

To my fan’s credit, he deftly

don’t abide by that. I’ve never abided by anything conventional or

defended the art of striptease

common. The scar was an obstructed bowel surgery I had eight years

and “alternative” ideas of

ago where I almost died. To me it’s a big FUCK YOU to conventional

physical beauty to his friends.

ideas of beauty, and like I always say in my show, if you don’t like

Then I jumped in with my two

what you see, the door is right there.



I’m not impervious to negative comments and insecurities. There have been times when event pro-

Around that time, the boyfriend and I decided to move

moters asked to see pictures of me before booking me,

out of our two-bedroom apart-

and there is always that moment of doubt when I wonder

ment in a fashionable part of

if my scar makes me less desirable or if it literally

downtown Manhattan and, at

“marks” me and my acts as more “sideshow” for edgier venues. Although I’ve never felt ashamed or embarrassed by my

his insistence, we each found separate new places. He went

scar, I am well aware that putting yourself out there in public

home to New Zealand for a

means knowing that people will talk and “opine.” We do it to

month and asked me to house-

celebrities all the time. We do it to people on television. To any-

sit. While I was there, his

one who is in the public eye for whatever reason. We criticize. We

apartment had a major sewage

judge. We talk about whether so-and-so is ugly, fat, too skinny,

backup problem and the

shouldn’t be dating this or that—on and on and on. For the most

entire bathroom was flooded

part it’s just fun talk, but the desire and drive for it are there in

with foul-smelling brown

everyone. I understand that and I’m not afraid of it, except for

water. I stood at that bathroom

sometimes worrying that it might be limiting. It never has been,

door and looked at the over-

at least as far as I know.

flowing toilet, the threaten-

After the operation my surgeon admitted to me that he was

ing-to-overflow bathtub, and I

worried during the procedure. He didn’t realize at first the sever-

thought, “I am REALLY sick of

ity of the situation and apparently I was really close to the edge.

blocked-up shit.” When he

Because my surgery had happened so fast (and I had no health

returned, I broke up with him,

insurance at the time either), I didn’t have the luxury of having a

which I should have done a

cosmetic surgeon come and make it all nice. It took six to eight

long time before. I’d been

months to regain enough strength to work out and a couple of

making far too many compro-

years before the skin around the scar readjusted itself to my body

mises and had changed a lot

so there were no strange lumps. But, more importantly, the real-

about myself to cater to his

ization that I’d rubbed up against death and come back again

tastes, preferences, and,

changed me in ways other than the obvious physical ones. When

above all, his quirks. It was

that sort of thing happens, your perception shifts and you begin

painful to end the relationship,

to really see where the bullshit lies.

especially since no one “did”


anything specific or cataclys-

course at Jo Weldon’s School of Burlesque. One thing led to

mic, but I knew I couldn’t pre-

another, and now, a few years later, I produce, host, and perform

tend I was happy anymore. It

in four regular shows in New York City, on top of performing in

was time to clear out the cob-

other producers’ shows. I’m on stage at least twice a week and

webs and make some room.

often as many as five times. My circle of friends has quadrupled if

Suddenly I had a lot of free

not increased tenfold since becoming a part of the burlesque

time. Free mental time to be

community. I’ve seen more live naked bodies and their various

curious and investigate things

secret body parts than I ever dreamed I would. I’ve never laughed

around town that intrigued me,

so much and lived so hard. And I’ve never felt more like I fit in by

and one of those things was

not being blonde and peppy.

burlesque. I was already going

My scar is a part of me. I can’t get rid of it. I can’t cover it up

to some of the few shows that

because I’m too lazy and cheap to spend money on expensive

were available at the time, but

makeup that doesn’t work anyway. It’s my life history mapped on

now I signed up for a month

my body. Take it or leave it. The exit door is right there.




BANG BANG! The Armed American Woman


hen a torrent of bullets besieged Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s stolen Ford V8 in the

spring of 1934, Bonnie Parker was already suffering from acid burns to her leg that had left her unable to walk for over a year. At four feet eleven inches, weighing around ninety pounds, and

either hopping on one foot or carried by Clyde, Bonnie was less than formidable, yet the two-year crime spree that made her and Clyde famous excited a public that was well-versed in fantastic criminal exploits.

It is no surprise, then, that upon her death fans flocked to what quickly became known as the “death car” and began scavenging her body for memorabilia. They cut locks of bloody hair from her head, tore pieces of clothes from her mutilated body, and snapped keepsake photographs of the bullet-ridden automobile. Pieces of Bonnie Parker were taken and sold back to the American public that helped create her. The myth of Bonnie Parker as a criminal lover grew from gag photos taken by the duo, which feature Parker smoking a cigar and brandishing stolen guns. Parker did not smoke and probably never fired a shot, but the photographs reinforced an already scandalous story of gangster lovers on the run. The public, Parker included, often conflated the reality of bank robberies and hostage-taking with the pulp fiction that both reflected and perpetuated their adventures. The Bonnie Parker of detective magazines mirrored the Bonnie Parker of Clyde’s gag photos, not the poor, scrawny girl from Texas who wrote poetry and enjoyed photography. Perhaps even more etched in America’s psyche is the image of Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker—tall, blonde, and ripe for adventure on the arm of a confident Warren Beatty (another far cry from the real Clyde Barrow). This image, the beautiful Dunaway and the charismatic Beatty, spins a romantic story about two outlaws—reckless and in love—no matter how far from the truth. TEXT MEGHAN ROSATELLI LEFT BONNIE PARKER, SNAPSHOT PROBABLY TAKEN IN MARCH 1933. SEIZED BY POLICE 4-13-1933 IN JOPLIN, MISSOURI. PHOTO FBI/FOIA


The narrative of women and guns follows the myth-making of Bonnie

tory books, postage stamps, and

Parker in almost every context. The

one rest stop in New Jersey.

sexy, femme fatales of noir classics

Not even worth a feminine

are spun from the same thread as

historical rewrite, Loreta

ultra kick-ass weapons experts of

Velazquez, a Confederate sol-

contemporary film. Whether we are

dier and spy, further compli-

talking about Brigid O’Shaughnessy’s

cates the history of the female

revolver shooting a horny Miles Archer in Dashiell Hammett’s classic pulp The Maltese Falcon, or Uma Thurman as The Bride in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, the juxtaposing of women and guns arouses audiences because it is counter to reality. The history of women and guns is much more complex than conflating female sexual power with masculine weapons in


Pitcher” of our childhood his-

soldier. The veracity of Velazquez’s memoir, The Woman in Battle, is up for debate, but her story, whether real, fictitious, or a mix of the two, tells of a woman who overwhelmingly embraced the role of a male soldier. Velazquez

an attempt to stimulate audiences or claim some sort of fictional

writes of her love of cross-

equality. As Laura Browder argues in Her Best Shot, Women and Guns

dressing and details her success

in America, “Our fascination with the armed woman is an expres-

in seducing more women than

sion of our societal ambivalence about women’s equality with men:

men. Unsurprisingly, her

We are titillated, but we are afraid.”

accounts met with immediate

The myth-making surrounding armed women in America is

condemnation after their pub-

centuries old. Molly Pitcher, the dutiful Revolutionary War darling

lication in 1876 and continue to

who stepped in to help fight the British, is a character comprised of

draw fire. Even imagining a

(at least) two women: Margaret Corbin, nicknamed “Dirty Kate” due

woman posing as a man, fight-

to a case of syphilis that eventually took her life, and the notably

ing as man, chasing other

masculine Mary McCauley, who is remembered for her whiskey

women, and criticizing the

drinking and foul language. Neither woman was a picture of eigh-

bravery of male soldiers seems

teenth-century femininity. Welcome the reliable, feminine “Molly

beyond the pale. At the very least, the female soldier in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries retained some of the nationalistic respect that was bestowed upon male soldiers at the time. On the contrary, armed women as outlaws are not the harmless anomalies of Molly Pitcher and Loreta Velazquez, but a contradictory mixture of sluttiness, foolishness, criminal voracity,

and perversion. The female gangster of the 1930s was a symbol of what was wrong with American society. Sluts, bad mothers, poor housekeepers, riddled with disease, and eager to commit murder, the gun moll seemingly masterminded the entire criminal underground of Depression-era America. According to Courtney Ryley Cooper, in his popular book Here’s to Crime! (1937), a woman with gonorrhea or syphilis seals her fate as a convicted gun moll—especially if she was pretty. Hammering home his utter distaste for both diseases, Cooper explains, “If I appear to be giving special emphasis to the fact that the average gangster and the average gangster’s moll are rotten with gonorrhea and syphilis, this is done with thorough deliberation. It seems to be the only way in which the tinsel can be stripped from these filthy beings, the pedestal torn from beneath them. … I have found them to be nothing but a selfish, law-hating, piglike crew of filthy sluts.” The public found the gun moll to be more entertaining than offensive, and the symbiotic relationship that arose between the fictional world of pulps and the sensational newspaper stories of Bonnie Parker, Kathryn Kelly (wife of “Machine Gun” Kelly), and others fed the imaginations of a deprived generation. Suddenly, the armed woman was thoroughly white, young, wild, and, consequently, sexy. Of course, the sexiness largely belongs to prop photos like the one of Bonnie Parker with the cigar and stolen guns, or the incredibly popular noir fictions of Black Mask magazine. The characters that drive these fictions ooze sex and use guns only to complement their carnal power. The young and beautiful Brigid O’Shaughnessy seduces men and women in her vigorous quest for the Maltese Falcon. She slyly sleeps her way closer and closer to the invaluable bird and when her sex fails her, she eliminates (or pistol whips) the competition. Brigid is certainly not the hero of The Maltese Falcon, but she is not



OBSERVATIONS BY GUN-TOTING CHICKS Laura Browder is the author of Her Best Shot. She observes, “Writing the book made me confront my own feelings about guns. I was uneasy when my toddler daughter began talking about bullets and pistols, and I talked to her about how guns were not toys, they hurt people. The effect of this speech was undercut when she found a photograph of me cradling a submachine gun and clearly having a good time: After all, it really had been fun, learning to shoot. Still, my life as the mother of small children seemed unrelated to those afternoons spent blasting away with an AR-15 at a worn-out target in the woods.” Beth Prouty is a model and has been shooting guns for years. “I love how it smells when you walk into the firing range. That hot gunpowder smell. It’s a strong, silent, Wild West thing. I don’t have to fire it but I know how. Just as a gun is a tiny little thing that holds a lot of power, I am a tiny little thing that packs a punch.” Karema Bey was a member of the Black Panthers for four years. She was involved in the Free Breakfast for Children program and served as

the villain either. Her character exists in a liminal space between crime and sex, between masculinity and femininity. Into this fic-

a bodyguard stationed to guard the children in the event of a raid. As a

tionalized space, women within spitting distance of a gun and any

member of the party, she was taught to break down, reassemble, clean,

sort of criminal activity were placed or strove to be placed.

and shoot her Luger pistol and 12-gauge shotgun. She was told that

By the 1960s and ‘70s the burgeoning of feminism clashed with

the guns were only to be used for defense.

the escalation in gun violence. Where the female gun moll of the

Pink Group is a guns and human rights organization whose tagline is

1930s was a pitiless slut and bad housekeeper, the radical feminist

“Armed Gays Don’t Get Bashed.” They advocate safe gun ownership for disadvantaged populations, particularly the sexual-minority, women, and the disabled.

of the 1970s was much more frightening. According to Laura Browder, “The image of the pistol-brandishing, sexually out-ofcontrol new woman, undermining the white race through her refusal to bear children, seemed much scarier now that she was armed with ideology and was committed to, at the very least, radically transforming, if not outright destroying, America.” To the Black Panthers, gun ownership was tied to political rights and equality. To the Weathermen, a radical leftist organization, gun ownership was a means to overthrow those in power: the United States government. In both contexts, the armed woman conflicted with the rumblings of female empowerment. Run overwhelmingly by hyper-masculine men, the Black Panthers, the Weathermen, and many other counterculture organizations often ignored equality for women. The armed woman was merely another tool to achieve political goals that did not always include gender. Such exclusion was not lost on many of the women who dedicated their lives to the cause, and the early 1970s marked a turning point for feminists. The armed femme fatale explodes through the prism of Hollywood, the fantasies of (largely male) writers, and the imaginations of journalists. If the myth of Bonnie Parker tugs on our most intimate feminist urges, it is not because she was a successful bandit (she wasn’t) or that she was a tall, strikingly beautiful blonde who ran away with her tall, strikingly beautiful lover (that was Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, respectively), but because she managed to flee what was destined to be a drab, poverty-stricken life in Texas and embark on an adventure. Bonnie Parker’s reality was far from glamorous, but her legacy is largely the result of her own creation.

Today, Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the face of the armed American woman, yet another chapter in the continuing fiction of women and guns as a reflection of the fears and perversions of American culture. An invention of her own making, and perpetuated by the media, she uses guns to define her position as an equal citizen and a


fierce mother. The image of a gun-toting Palin undermines the reality of women and guns—a reality that rarely ever benefits women. The public’s overwhelming ignorance of women actually using guns in the military and women who are the victims of gun violence can attest to that. While not prominent in the history that most remember, women so called because it could be concealed in a hand muff—was a reasonably common accoutrement in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The “purse gun” is its successor. But any purely objective analysis about the subject would be incomplete without noting the blatant fact that women (or, indeed, men) have rarely been positively served by the possession of, proximity to, or culture of guns. Despite this, to shoot or not to shoot remains a question that throbs at the very heart of what it means to be an American.


have, in fact, carried and used guns for centuries. The “muff gun”—



TH VN 0892



any people hesitate to indulge in erotic adult spanking for the very same reasons that it fascinates them: it’s taboo, perverted, forbidden, anxiety-ridden, and totally dirty. In my five years’ experience as a professional dominant and submissive, I

have seen that spanking can be a safe and simple way to explore BDSM.* Spanking can be play-

ful, sweet, silly, sensual, erotic, nasty, campy, solemn, serious, emotionally therapeutic, or ritualistic. It can be extremely light or extremely heavy. It can be foreplay to other sexual activities or an act unto itself. It can be partner care like a massage or powerful BDSM play, and it doesn’t involve fluid exchange. It’s gender-non-specific, queer-friendly, and possible for people with all kinds of physical conditions that might limit other sex acts. Often the spanker simply adores looking at and touching asses. Similarly, many people who enjoy being spanked do so because it makes them feel open, stimulated, and worshipped. After all, the ass is the flesh that surrounds the sensitive nerves of the genitals, and any manipulation of that area brings blood, sensation, and attention to those oh-so-sexy organs between the legs. In this guide, I will give you the tools for both the top (the spanker) and the bottom (the spankee) to fully enjoy an erotic, naughty, and intense sensual spanking. In its purest form, spanking doesn’t require fancy, expensive specialty equipment, costumes, or facilities, and once you have a consenting partner, IT’S COMPLETELY FREE! * A TRICKY LITTLE ACRONYM THAT STANDS FOR BONDAGE, DISCIPLINE, DOMINATION, SUBMISSION, AND SADOMASOCHISM

What you’ll need: A hand, an ass, and the willing partners attached to them.

What you might want: A punishment bench, hemp rope for bondage, wooden paddles, adult-sized plaid schoolgirl skirt, a suede flogger, or anything else you find fetishistic and inspiring.


down to it, it’s imperative to di scuss the boun In my experienc daries and desi e, setting aside res of both play this time to co ers. nnect breeds co comfort and tru mpassion, intu st to inspire th ition, and enou e loss of inhibi gh tion that makes Some importa sex so cathartic nt questions to . ask: 5 9 5 V C 0 ° What kind of warm-up does the botto H T m need? ° How strong an d heavy are bo th partners look ing to spank/be ° Does the botto spanked? m want to be br uised? ° Do you both get off on strugg ling? ° What are the limits for nudity ? Sexual touchi ng? ° Will you be ro le-playing or ju st being yourse want to be teac lves? If you wan her/student? D t to role-play, do addy/little boy? you scenarios hold Boss/secretary ? Vampire/mor a lot of naught tal lover? Classi y thrills becaus e of their establ c chology, but yo ished place in ur characters an our collective ps d the imagined yst ak It is imperative es are limited on to establish a sa ly by your dirty fe word before minds. huge part of th th is kind of play be e fun for both ca us e re si stance is often partners. The safe words I al a meaning slow ways suggest down and stop are yellow and , respectively. re O d, “Stop that!” an nce this is esta d “No!” can re blished, “Wha ally mean “Tha t are you doin t g?” fe el s amazing!” “Y Where there is ou’re so hot!” a discrepancy and “Oh yes!” between desire asserting your s, be prepared strong bounda to discuss com ries. promise, while

Before you get

Step One: “Tuning” - T he Negotiatio n

shment, and humiliais great for domestic discipline, puni The classic over the knee (or OTK) arms is beyond me) less chair (honestly, why any chair has tion. This is best executed on an arm OTK can be uncom. For that very reason, a prolonged to physically reinforce power dynamics ners. For a more ificant difference in size between part fortable, particularly if there is a sign h or with the top sitposition can be recreated on a couc sensual spanking, the same powerful across the lap. and the bottom draped comfortably ting up against the headboard of a bed something to to the ass and provides the bottom with Any position that gives the top access very militaristic, while your hands against the wall can feel brace against works. Standing with over a desk and a like a dog. A secretary might be bent being on all fours can make you feel over the head. slave might be bound with the arms

Step Two: tion “Composition” - Finding a posi


ody. K t loose ol. Onc ings tha d contr e their b s n th a a f e relaxes y o T it s r. il erab eir ea es. This e kind ln h th m u c v a u s in f to o e s y rd Th er der asty wo s remin les, feath hisper n deliciou ing, tick a m m is u r prep. W r a the er d nderwe nsity of ps, fing down u the inte , light ta s to e . s s p pulling r s e e to r b the h ca soft 4. num start wit entering tay at a signing , c s s d e a e il s y to h o b w p r ts , ex l an the r a crue e bottom ttom w one ano dues th dying fo your bo in with is k n c e p e h la h w c r and sub , 8 ou m-up across y a rough the war ain slut t using p o During e n th e n ’r e sation. 5 wh y, you y of sen t a nice This wa a it s . y s n ta k te s n a e in sp nt to auge th blood is on’t wa way to g dicates e, you d t in is a e w y r e ll g a ik r a L d ne , is nger an pink ge turn-on a light up the lo a huge r, g w lo o o in h c e s 10. b skin s to ides a day. d begin sed on on, bes re than vary ba eeper re o Colorati , d e m s A r t . s u d o la e of c e inner pank t will s like th it does, being s e arks tha h c a m e g la r u y P a o a . e h tr T ss hy be er in th of the a p punis rple ma g to gath for shar d or pu est parts a e d r e n r k u a r o beginnin a r this g. D never kest, (reserve thrashin ack, are the thic e e b r e r o th r e r a m w e k t d lo e lo har to span sting a e, like th t places erefore e surfac th th d to n a The bes e s clo padding organs n’t sexy. ave less internal e r a e which is r thighs h , e e g th a e r m e h t da Places w rmanen ment). ause pe c n a c hit. This okay to

hree: T g ng Up p i e spankin t m r S a ork for w o W ls a r sex a skirt o o” om for ifting up the bott L e ! s r u e v o “Temp r o s is da all n up an e the as iss ‘em

H VN 09 7 7

e harder blow go warmed up, th tly en ci ffi su . If you go fast, is m’s bottom e of your hand tto ap bo sh e e th th e as nc l O wel en ur smacks, as ur fingertips, th d location of yo ress. Use just yo ca th oo sm the intensity an a cks with and sideyour harder wha illing your arm up dm w in w llo y fo Tr d ! an , um o dr lighter ass like a bong e booty jiggle a fist. Play that ethod makes th m en is th th , ; lm on pa ad your it de . stead of hitting ing the skin in r longer periods netic energy fo swiping or graz ki e the ns te in re du her belts (with allows you to en spoons, or leat n de oo w , deliciously and es hairbrush ire practice pons that requ s like wooden ea m w ite e ar ld ey ho th se le Hou ts. Whi a hot instrumen same rules as p requires the ) are extremely hi up w d or lle p, ro ro le st ck , bu op ts such as a cr to coloration. using implemen d pay attention an p, -u m ar w and technique, fully u hit, give a slow keep you from reful where yo your body will g in ns Te spanking. Be ca e. th r to brea ur top a valuttom, remembe u are giving yo yo bo r, e th be re em u’ m yo If d pain. Re of pleasure an sition. ild sensations w g in nc lves in your po rie pe ex g to put themse in ill w is ne yo not ever able gift, since

Step Four: anking! p S e h T ” t “Rocking Ou fall. Vary s can begin to


5 TH VN 078


Step Five: “Intermezzo

TH VN 1018

” - The Pos sibilities

For a dominan t top, spanking can provide sa tisfying feelings of a bottom’s body. For a sa of power over dist, spanking and possession can provide a giving erotic pa m editative struct in. For a subm ure for effectiv issive bottom, ely being spanked ence of relinqu can provide a ishing control pr of theTph of ou nd ys ex H ic peribeing spanked Val Cbody1 0to0pl5ease a truste can provide a d top. For a m cathartic expe as oc hi st, rience of rece erotic pain.How iving simple, ever, many peop intense, localiz le who enjoy sp ed with pain, disc anking do so no ipline, or kinky t because of an fantasy play, bu y as so ciation t because it ju produces feel st feels great. as euphoric as The endorphins a runner’s high it or a great fuck Even though sp . anking can be a si m pl e w ay it doesn’t nece to explore your ssarily have to own sadomas ochistic desire hurt if you bo s, th prefer to ke speed and inte ep nsity accordingl th in gs se nsual. Adjust y. your

Step Six: “Finale” - Aftercare When your ears are ringing, aftercare is crucial! Help one another get grounded again. Snuggle, spoon, massage, and reward each other. If you’ve gone hard and the bottom is concerned about marks, ice the area immediately or rub arnica to prevent bruising. Just like dancing or playing an instrument, spanking is as much about personal passion and approach as it is about technique. Now you have the tools and insight, but the only way you are going to find your rhythm and soul is to find a play partner and jam out, man!


TH VN 1085



Fe i t i ç o

An Evolving Concept

Split a piece of wood, I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there. The Gospel of Thomas first to second century AD


ay what you will of Dan Brown’s awful The Da

Vinci Code, one benefit it brought to the world was a wider awareness that the basis of

Christian thought is not the stark monolith that it is usually expressed as but rather a tangle of vines, only a few shoots of which survived the ancient world. A large part of this early growth is generally referred to as Gnosticism. This is a system in which a fully divine Christ tends to figure as a messenger, the Old Testament god is regarded with considerable suspicion, esoteric knowledge (gnosis) is essential, and personal redemption involves returning to the world of light. One of the most prominent of the Gnostic religions was Manichaeism, which was at its height between the third and seventh centuries AD and, stretching as it did from the Roman Empire to China, ranked among the world’s most widespread religions. One of the major precepts of this religious system was the separation of light (the divine and the spiritual) from dark (the ill-created material world). The degree to which divine light permeates the darkness of creation is well illustrated in the excerpt from the Gospel of Thomas above, but how does one access the divine? The Mandaeans,* another important Gnostic religion that survives TEXT JONATHAN FOGEL * In a field of study thoroughly dominated by men at the time, the primary scholar of Mandaeism was British anthropologist Lady Ethel Stefana Drower. TOP LEFT THE MANDAEAN WARRIOR OF DARKNESS, SDUM, AND THE CACOPHONOUS ARCHONS OF THE SPHERES FROM THE DIWAN ABATUR IN THE VATICAN LIBRARY (BORG SIRIACO 175), BEFORE 1622 FROM E. S. DROWER, DIWAN ABATUR, OR PROGRESS THROUGH THE PURGATORIES, STUDI E TESTI 151, BIBLIOTECA APOSTOLICA VATICANA, VATICAN CITY, 1950 TOP INCANTATION BOWL WRITTEN IN JEWISH BABYLONIAN ARAMAIC FROM JAMES A. MONTGOMERY, ARAMAIC INCANTATION TEXTS FROM NIPPUR, THE UNIVERSITY MUSEUM, PHILADELPHIA, 1913 RIGHT SHRINE OBJECT MADE FROM A BABOON SKULL, CONGO/GABON. 19TH–20TH CENTURY, 8.25”, PRIVATE COLLECTION


Saints Relics Even if you were raised Catholic, a fun fact you may not know is

today in parts of the Middle East, and the related Nasoreans tradition-

that every altar in every Catholic church has a relic of a saint in

ally expedited their ascent from the material world through sexual

it. This was decreed by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787

abstinence and the adherence to a diet that emphasized melons and

and it has been that way ever since (and probably before).

squash, which were believed to be particularly loaded with light. Upon

Saints’ relics come in three forms, or degrees: First are physi-

death, one’s soul (light) would separate from the body (dark) and

cal remains such as bones, hair, or teeth; second are objects

ascend in an effort to rejoin the Alien God, the oblivious deity who is the

touched by a saint during his or her lifetime; and third are

source of all light and to whom light naturally attempts to return to when

things that have been touched by first or second degree relics.

freed. As the soul ascends through the spheres, the various archons

Different relics are popularly associated with various miracu-

(demons) it passes attempt to distract it with cacophonous music so it

lous powers, most frequently healing. The Bible contains two

can fall back into the clutches of the demiurge, or false creator god

passages that express the efficacy of relics (2 Kings 13: 20–21

(often associated with the god of both the Old and New Testaments).

and Acts 19: 11–12), but most information about them is con-

Once recaptured, the soul is returned to the dark clay of this material

tained in apostolic works ranging from the Martyrdom of

world, thus sustaining the physical reality that we see every day.

Polycarp to The Cure of Pagan Maladies, which infer that they


are imbued with the Holy Spirit and therefore have sacred

So, what does all this have to do with fetish? That’s a term we gener-

power. The theological implications of this are complicated,

ally relate to things that involve a lot of leather, latex, rope, and/or zip-

and contemporary Canon Law is non-specific about relics other

pers, and it is easy to forget that the primary intent of the term is a lot

than that under no circumstance are they to be sold. This is

more conceptual. Where the word now trends toward sex, it once was all

probably in response to the thriving market for relics that

about religion, and the thread between the two is extremely interesting

occurred in the medieval period, during which a vast number

and not at all as strange as it might seem.

of fakes were introduced. Whatever the official position of the

Getting back to our friends the Manicheans and the Mandaeans,

Holy See, relics have long been valued by the people who

they found themselves in a bit of a conundrum because the god they

owned them as the most important things in their lives, both

were trying to work with was completely uninvolved with—and indeed

as objects of veneration and as direct conduits to the saints,


Christ, and God, which have the power to positively affect the reality of their daily lives. Fetish.

African Ritual Objects unaware of—their day-to-day reality. Here, prayer, sacrifice, and other

There is no single “African religion.” When Islam and

traditional means of getting deities to help you out in the course of your

Christianity are removed from the mix, indigenous African tra-

daily life didn’t do much because, frankly, the Alien God just didn’t

ditions fall into about five broad categories covering hundreds

give a damn. You could eat squash, conserve your sperm (women were

if not thousands of localized practices. The coastal peoples of

at a clear disadvantage in this regard), and treat people decently, all of

West Africa and the lower Congo, for whose religious sculp-

which made you more buoyant in the ascension of light, but if you

tures the term fetish was coined, tend to be polytheistic with a

wanted an edge in getting things done on a daily basis, you had to

strong belief in nature spirits, reverence of ancestors, and revil-

resort to magic. This took the form of amuletic objects—in this case,

ing of malevolent sorcery. Ritual specialists tend to dominate

typically scrolls or terracotta bowls with text inscriptions and illustra-

African religious practice and there is often an emphasis on

tions—that helped with everything from childbirth to war. The objects

divination as a means of discovering what actions need to be

were seen as imbued with supernatural agency to work on behalf of

taken to maintain the health and balance of the community

their owners, and the power that they projected served to keep human

and the individuals within it. Certain objects are empowered to

activity separated from the malevolent or demonic forces that were

act as vehicles for spiritual forces, which can then act for the

working to muck things up. The rituals associated with these Gnostic

benefit of specific individuals or mankind as a whole. Some

objects are as lost to us today as the religions associated with them, but

effectively serve as a “seat” that a deity or ancestor can tempo-

amulets as a broad class of mystical object are a worldwide phenome-

rarily occupy, if the object is properly prepared. Whatever the

non and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a culture that does not rely

case, power objects are frequently supernaturally charged with

heavily on them.

ritual substances and the life force of hunted or sacrificed ani-

The term fetish applies directly to this practice. It comes into English via the Portuguese feitiço, which means charm or sorcery. Given this definition, its application to amulets and other objects of supernatural power is obvious, but the route it took to designate this specific religious meaning is not. Enter Henry the Navigator (1394– 1460) and the nascent African slave trade. The third son of King John I of Portugal, despite his name, Henry himself was in no way a navigator and probably never left Portugal. Rather, he figured prominently in sponsoring the development of Portugal as a maritime power and promoting the exploration of the western coasts of Africa. This was an effort to outflank the powerful Muslim empire that controlled North Africa and much of Spain, and therefore had a stranglehold on the rich trade flowing from sub-Saharan Africa. As Portuguese sea expeditions penetrated deeper along the African coast, they found village-based cultures that were not terribly dissimilar to their own. The people lived in houses made of thatch and wattle-and-daub (familiar building materials to Europeans at the time), were ruled by kings and regional chieftains (also familiar), and their economies were based on trade of all different kinds (the whole reason the Portuguese were there). The big differences were religion and the fact that the Africans didn’t have guns or steel. The Portuguese were Catholic with a capital C (Henry more so than most), but the Africans they encountered practiced a baffling system of sorcery that involved carved objects that were empowered to act on behalf of their owners in spiritual matters— something like the statues of the saints and Holy Virgin that everyone in Europe owned, but different because those were, well, Catholic. For

mals. Fetish.


L’Inconnue de la Seine Sometime in the late nineteenth century, copies of a plaster face cast of a young woman started circulating around Paris. The story went that a young woman’s body had been found floating in the Seine and that an attendant at the Paris Morgue was so taken by the placid beauty of her corpse that he cast a death mask. He apparently was not alone in this, as her Mona Lisa-like visage quickly became a fixture in the homes of Bohemian society. She became the “erotic ideal” of the period, inspiring a vast number of artistic works as well as literature in French, German, Russian, and English. More recently she became the face of the first aid mannequin Rescue Annie. Whoever she was, she has long exercised a strange and powerful erotic fascination that extends far beyond the grave. Fetish. lack of a better term, the Portuguese applied the word feitiço to these objects and, via the

nubile girls in short plaid kilts rather than to the

French fétiche applied to the same sort of object, it came into English to refer to an object of

saints’ relics and sanctified objects surrounding the

religious devotion, the power of which is far greater than the sum of its parts. Its efficacy

Host that are the true and enduring fetish objects of

could be enhanced by the addition of certain charged substances and by transferring life

that particular tradition. How did that happen?

force to it—by means of animal sacrifice, for example. For all they had in common, this difference between European saints and African

Not entirely surprisingly, the sexualized use of the term fetish comes to us from France. Whether or not

fetishes proved to be a major dividing issue, more so then than skin color, which was later to

he was the one who actually coined the term for this

become defining. Using their guns and steel, Henry had his expeditions round up a tremen-

context, French psychologist Alfred Binet is remem-

dous number of African fetishists to be converted to Christianity. In being saved, they were

bered as the first to employ it in an academic context

also enslaved, and the European slave trade, which had previously existed on a relatively

in his 1887 paper “Le fétichisme dans l’amour”

small scale, tragically kicked into high gear.

(“Fetishism in Love”). Here, the religious power of

The religious systems that were practiced by the vast majority of older African cultures are

the African fétiches that were beginning to attract

variations of those that have been pervasive throughout the world for tens of thousands of

attention in Paris due to overseas colonial activity

years—including among the Greeks and Romans, who relied on shamanism and sympa-

merged with the existing “magical” definition of the

thetic magic every bit as much as any African or Native American religion ever did. But the,

term to include something far more powerful—an

uh, “rational” Classical World gave birth to ours via Greece, Rome, and the Catholic Church,

object or person that holds mysterious and indefin-

so we don’t tend to think of them as religious fetishists. Whatever went on in those crum-

able power over an individual, in this case in the con-

bling marble temples was some nice, intellectual version of pre-Christian paganism, right?

fining and repressive sexual context of that particular

Taurobolium. Look it up.

time and place. In analyzing the “sickness” of sexual

To this day, fetishism continues to carry a stigma as a bad word that we apply to scary foreign religions, many of which were culturally dominated long ago but still lurk threateningly

fetishism, Binet writes of the “savage’s” adoration “for fish bones or bright pebbles. Except for the funda-

in the shadows of the Westernized world. Vodoo. Santeria. Shamanism. All that Carlos

mental difference that in the cult of the sick patient

Castaneda stuff from Mexico. The very mention of these still makes some people uncomfort-

the religious adoration is replaced by a sexual appe-

able. But oddly, if the term fetish is applied to Catholicism, the mind immediately jumps to

tite.” He clearly didn’t have much of a grip on either


Pony Play Contemporary sexual fetishism has many facets but one of the most interesting and extreme is known as animal play. Despite its name, it involves only humans, one or more of whom takes on the role of a particular kind of animal and embodies its various mannerisms. This can have a sexual dimension or not, but its primary goal is for the individual embodying the animal to be able to explore the constrictions and freedom of the mind space that the character allows. Among the most common of these in this uncommon kink are cat and dog play, but certainly the most elaborate is what is sometimes known as the Aristotelian Perversion, or pony play. In its most forward form, this can involve specialized hoof boots and mitts, tails, harnesses, bits, blinders, and even plumes. Pony play takes three basic forms, none of which are necessarily exclusionary: taking a rider (usually on the shoulders or on a specialized saddle worn around the hips), pulling a small carriage, and engaging in dressage exercises designed to showcase the pony’s grace and skill. Given horses’ intelligence, ability to bond with humans, and legendary obstinance, this allows for considerable range in the subspace it creates. Fetish. sauvage religious fetishism or the sexual quirks of his own compatriots, but thanks to him, a term that had long been applied to the power of “deviant” religions became closely associated with what were then considered deviant sexual urges. Today, what was once condemned has now been embraced as healthy expression by many communities, and the term fetish has moved beyond both religion and sexuality to embrace almost anything that has to do with an excessive fascination or obsession. From the ultra-violent films of John Woo to the towering heels of Christian Louboutin, fetishism is alive and thriving with a broader definition than any Portuguese explorer in the fifteenth century would have ever dreamed of, though he doubtless would have recognized the draw of it, since it is as pervasive as Thomas’ Gnostic Christ. The main difference is that he would probably feel guilty about enjoying it.

Performance Art Ranging from mundane to cathartic to shocking, performance art, more than most other art forms, explores the realm of the forbidden and the shunned. The space between the perforpsychological and emotional transformation. The work of Mexico City–born performance artist Gómez-Peña, for example, explores the idea of “The Border,” whether the physical, imagined, or ephemeral. He provokes dialogue by combining shamanistic ritual, cultural commentary, and the visual effluvia of the consumerist landscape to demonstrate that so many of our racial, cultural, and sexual assumptions are, in fact, fetishes. Fetish.


mance and the audience is charged, creating an experience of



Storyville Won’t-cha come a-long with me, To the Mis-sis-sip-pi? We’ll take the boat to the lan’ of dreams, Steam down the river down to New Or-leans The band’s there to meet us, Old friends to greet us Where all the light and the dark folks meet This is Ba-sin Street: Ba-sin Street, is the street, Where the e-lite al-ways meet, In New Or-leans, lan’ of dreams, You’ll nev-er know how nice it seems Or just how much it real-ly means, Glad to be, Yes, sir-ee, Where wel-come’s free, Dear to me, Where I can love, My BA-SIN STREET BLUES. EARLY LYRICS TO BASIN STREET BLUES, SPENCER WILLIAMS, 1926. PUBLISHED BY MAYFAIR MUSIC CORP., NEW YORK, © 1928–1933. SEVERAL YEARS LATER, GLENN MILLER AND JACK TEAGARDEN REWORKED WILLIAMS’ LYRICS INTO THE VERSION WE KNOW TODAY

Being a Fair and TRUE Account of

“The District” and its denizens T

here aren’t many who won’t recognize Louis Armstrong’s jazzy rendition of Basin Street Blues. However, few probably know what this famous song is really talking about, and fewer still know that at the time it was written, its namesake did not even exist. The Basin Street it refers to was the primary boulevard of New Orleans’ infamous Storyville red-light district, which was shut down by the city in 1917 after twenty years of notoriety. So eager was the municipality to eradicate all memory of its experiment with quasi-legalized and regulated prostitution that in 1921 the name Basin Street was changed to North Saratoga Street. Storyville itself was almost entirely razed some years later and replaced by the Iberville Projects, a massive low-income housing development that has been a hazardous blight on downtown New Orleans ever since. Spencer Williams, who wrote the music and most of the lyrics

for Basin Street Blues, lived on Basin Street as a child in one of the district’s finest brothels, the famed Mahogany Hall, which was run by his adoptive aunt, Lulu White. Not only does his sentimental ballad memorialize one of the world’s most notorious redlight districts, but the popularity of his song is almost certainly the sole reason that, in 1945, this extremely not-tourist-friendly thoroughfare was rechristened Basin Street.






toryville is a little city in itself. The denizens are the dregs of civilized society; they have no friends in court and in most cases out of it,” claimed one reporter in 1906 about the city-sanctioned sixteen-block district of New Orleans dedicated to the open trade of prostitution. On any given night, a visitor to the environs of Basin Street might be serenaded by the shouts of gamblers, the lively trill of ragtime jazz, and the saucy propositions of scantily clad women. Whether viewed as a site of degradation or an ode to the pleasures of life, Storyville was among the most interesting urban planning experiments in the history of the United States and its development was inextricably tied to the history of the city of New Orleans. The settlement of Nouvelle-Orléans was established in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and named for the French regent, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans. To secure the new community, Bienville felt that his men, who were a rough-and-ready lot, needed female companionship. He petitioned the French king for help and the government obliged by sending over a number of women from La Salpêtrière, the infamous Parisian institution for the destitute, insane, and immoral. Polite historians refer to these ladies as “correction girls” rather than prostitutes, but few maintain many illusions regarding their profession. Some years later, when a priest suggested to the governor that he banish all of the

disreputable women in the colony, the latter replied that if he did such a thing there would be no women left. Prostitution in New Orleans during the eighteenth century was loosely regulated and, as a result, the city developed a reputation for its brothels, prostitutes, saloons, festive atmosphere, and multiculturalism. French, Spanish, English, African, and Caribbean voices would mingle in the streets, echoing off French trellises, American columns, and Spanish iron verandas, each marking an aspect of the city’s history. It was the Deep South’s largest and certainly most cosmopolitan city, an exotic enclave with a subtropical climate, a mixed-race population, and a long history of sexual permissiveness and cross-racial relationships. As New Orleans developed into an increasingly important deep-water port city, prostitution was a prominent part of the cultural and economic scene. Most of the women plying this trade were white, black, or various formally identified shades in between, although legally these last were all considered to be black. No restrictions were placed on white Continued on page 64


Lulu White


The “Diamond Queen” Y

ou can still buy a drink in Lulu White’s saloon. The bar, owned by Storyville’s most famous madam, operated on North Basin Street next to her lavish brothel, Mahogany Hall. Step inside today on a hot and steamy New Orleans afternoon and you’re faced with a wall of ceiling-high refrigerators selling bottled water and soda. The Asian woman behind the counter eyes you suspiciously, diverting her attention from the youth buying single cigarettes at fifteen cents a pop. “What you looking for?” she snaps impatiently. You grab a soda and pay your dollar at the counter, scanning for signs of the building’s notorious past. There are none. Today the saloon is a rundown single-story building hosting a ratty corner store. Its upper floor was torn off by Hurricane Betsy in ‘65 and the area immediately behind it, once the Storyville tenderloin district, is now the Iberville housing project, where the residents sit out the day on their stoops, leveling stares at any stranger who dares venture in. A century ago, things were quite different. Customers arriving at Mahogany Hall at 235 Basin Street first stepped onto a massive engraved carriage stone set in front of the ornate structure that stretched four stories upward to grand cupolas. The name “Lulu White” was emblazed in jeweled stained glass above the door. White first appeared in the city directory in 1888 and within a few short years was running a house at 166 Customhouse Street (later renumbered in the 1500 block of Iberville). In the mid 1890s she built Mahogany Hall, which was to be the most famous and opulent sporting house in the city, if not the United States. It featured octoroon girls, said to be the most beautiful and stylish in New Orleans. The controversial Lulu White (not to be confused with civil rights activist Lulu B. White) quickly became one of the most successful female entrepreneurs in the city and also worked in defiance of Jim Crow racial segregation laws. Though more likely for personal gain rather than any higher-minded concept of civil Continued on page 65



men, who could seek the services of any prostitute, regardless of race. Black customers, on the other hand, were supposed to be serviced only by black women. That this rule was frequently broken only added to the sexual mystique and exceptional reputation of the city. By the mid nineteenth century, problems began to emerge. This had less to do with the women themselves and more with the circumstances that surrounded their activities. The dockworkers, seamen, and travelers that made up the port population were a substantial part of their clientele and they were natural targets for violent crime. Robberies, beatings, and murders were common in the areas they congregated. “The Swamp” (an area between South Robertson and South Liberty) and the picturesque lane that is now French Market Place (then called Gallatin Alley) in the French Quarter were particularly notorious. In response, the city passed the Lorette Ordinance in 1857, which attempted to confine prostitution to certain areas; prohibit it on the first floor of buildings (thus largely putting it out of sight); and limit “street-level solicitation, indecent dress, and the creation of scandal or disturbance.” This particular law did not survive constitutional tests but it set the tone for other civic legislation that followed. A slew of additional laws over the next twenty-five years brought increasing degrees of regulation to how and where “lewd and abandoned women” could ply their trade. Outlawing prostitution outright was never a useful option for the city since it was a significant part of the city’s economy, so containment seemed to be the wiser choice. Laissez les bons temps rouler! The allowable districts changed over the years but were always shrinking. In 1890, the city tried to clean up the downtown area, stipulating that prostitutes could work only between Poydras and St. Louis Streets, and Claiborne Avenue and the Continued on page 66 ABOVE MAP SHOWING THE AMENDED APPORTIONMENT OF “THE DISTRICT“ IN 1897, INCLUDING THE LESS-WELL-KNOWN “UPTOWN STORYVILLE.“ TOP ALDERMAN SIDNEY STORY, C. 1897 SCREENED BEHIND MAP OF NEW ORLEANS FROM THE WORLD ATLAS AND GAZETTEER, 1908, P. 204

rights, she fought and won legal battles for her right to work and to own property as a woman of color. Starting literally with nothing, she was a conspicuous influence at a time when women, and particularly black women, were largely dismissed. She did it in one of the few industries a woman could succeed in at the time, the business of prostitution. Lulu must have been particularly well connected. An 1892 investigation by New Orleans’ scandal sheet The Mascot found

Street Blues and Mahogany Hall Stomp. Lulu was born in Alabama as Lulu Hendley, sometime around 1868, but at different times during her career, depending on her social and business needs, she claimed

She was laden with diamonds, worn not selectively but just put on any place there seemed to be an inch to accommodate them. -- “René” that her Customhouse Street brothel was assessed for tax purposes at just $300, absurdly below its actual value. Such a low valuation of her property and those of her fellow madams was indicative of an illicit relationship between madams and New Orleans’ politicians and police, which eventually contributed to the passage of the Storyville ordinances. In Lulu’s case, the situation was particularly flagrant, given that she flaunted her wealth, reportedly owning “$2,000 worth of furniture, a $200 cut-glass chandelier, a carriage and a team of fine horses, and diamonds worth $10,000 including a $7,400 pair of earrings.” Say what you will about Lulu White, she was undeniably a bad ass. One of the major movers and shakers of The District, she also had a soft side, adopting Spencer Williams (who may or may not have been a relative) when his mother died. Inspired by his new home, Williams would go on to become a famous composer, penning jazz classics that included Basin ABOVE VIEW OF BASIN STREET, 1922, AS SEEN FROM A ROOFTOP AT N. RAMPART AND CANAL STREETS. THE TWO BUILDINGS WITH THE CUPOLAS ARE THE ARLINGTON (LEFT) AND MAHOGANY HALL (RIGHT) RIGHT HILMA BURT’S MIRROR BALLROOM AT 209 N. BASIN STREET, 1904. JELLY ROLL MORTON IS PLAYING THE PIANO.

variously to be a negro; to have not a drop of negro blood in her; to be of Cuban or Spanish parentage; and to have been born in the West Indies and raised in New York as the daughter of a Wall Continued on page 67


river. Burgundy, Dauphine, Basin, and Customhouse Streets became the main center of the city’s rip-roaring activities. An 1896 newspaper article detailing the arrest of two courtesans in the French Quarter gives some sense of the political climate of the time. “This class of creatures who inhabit a portion of Burgundy Street, grow more offensive each day… owing to the disgraceful manner in which these denizens of depravity roam about the street in deshabille costumes and disgustingly display

their nudity through the open windows of their bagnios.”1 Much of the flavor of this rhetoric derives from the Citizens’ League, made up of the city’s leading businessmen and social elite, which aimed to root out the corruption that had long plagued the city government. Among these politicians was Sidney Story, who was elected to the city council in 1896. Along with Mayor Walter C. Flower, another reform politician, he recognized the need to tighten the existing vice district to better contain and regulate the useful public nuisance of prostitution. On January 4, 1897, Story presented his party’s plan to the other members of the council. It differed from previous ordinances primarily in that it shrank the permissible area to a much smaller district (less than one-eighth the size designated in 1890). It did not include licensing or taxation, and it also lacked any kind of compulsory medical monitoring. The district was formally bounded by north Basin Street with the St. Louis Cemetery #1 anchoring the southeastern corner, Customhouse (changed to Iberville in 1904), St. Louis, and North Robertson against the walls of the St. Louis Cemetery #2. Substantial brothels run by Minnie Ha Ha, Kate Townsend, Hattie Hamilton, Lulu White, and many others had already been established in this area. Prostitution ordinances were to be vigorously prosecuted outside this sixteen-block area. Story’s proposals were accepted and, much to his lasting chagrin, the media named the new restricted district after him, styling it Storyville. Locally, it was simply known as “The District.” An amendment a few months later slightly expanded The District and designated a second, smaller red-light district a few blocks away, which became known as “Uptown” or “Black” Storyville. George L’Hote, a prominent lumberman, former alderman, and member of the Citizens’ League, was initially supportive of the Story legislation, but in a spectacular case of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard), he sued the city in an effort to halt the amended expansion, since his lumber business and family resiContinued on page 68 1. “Clean ‘Em Out: Burgundy Street Needs Police Attention,” in the New Orleans Daily States, October 9, 1896, p. 6, as included in the exhibition Hidden from History, Unknown New Orleanians.

Street broker. One former client interviewed by New Orleans historian Al Rose said, simply, “She was clearly negro.” Whatever her origin, she marketed herself and her girls as octoroons. Officially one-eighth black, octoroons and the slightly darker-skinned quadroons, though overwhelmingly Caucasian by heritage, legally were still perceived as black. They were particularly sought after for their association with Creole New Orleans and, considerably less elegantly, because they looked like white women but were perceived to possess the “animalistic” sexuality that was projected onto the idea of the black woman. Lulu and “Countess” Willie Piazza were the only two high-class madams in Storyville offering exclusive access to this most desirable class of women. Their clientele was

Whore House: managed by a larceny-hearted landlady, strictly business. Brothel: juice joint with rooms, and a bunk or a cot nearby. Sporting House: lots of stimulants, women, music. An old queer or cripple serves. Crib: Two or three stars venture for themselves, future landladies. House of Assignation: women pull shifts and report where they are needed. Clip joint: While one jives you, another creeps or crawls in and rifles your pockets. -- Danny Barker entirely white. Mahogany Hall “was a pleasure house where those rich ofay (white) businessmen and planters would come from all over the South and spend some awful large amounts of loot,” remembered jazz legend Louis Armstrong, who delivered coal to Storyville brothels as a child. Lulu was large in all kinds of ways. As one client described, “she was laden with diamonds, worn not selectively but just put on any place there seemed to be an inch to accommodate them. She wore a big red wig that hardly pretended to be natural in color and she smelled overpoweringly of perfume. [...] She had one of those masculine type voices that ring with authority and remove all traces of femininity.” In less than ten years in New Orleans, Lulu had amassed a substantial amount of cash through the contributions of her clients, at least three of whom were extraordinarily wealthy. When it came time to build Mahogany Hall, no expense was spared and the building went up at a reported $40,000 (in excess of one million dollars today). It is said to have had five themed parlors and fifteen bedrooms. Jelly Roll Morton, the famed jazz pianist and a one-time employee of Lulu, remembered years later, still in awe, that the mirrors in one of Mahogany Hall’s parlors alone cost $30,000. There were so many in the room, he said, that “you couldn’t find the door.” Indeed, Lulu’s place was commonly referred to at the time as the “House of Mirrors.” What was a visit to Mahogany Hall like? Lulu’s was a “five dollar house,” the highest class of brothel in The District. But

as one regular patron of Storyville recalled, such a classification was highly inaccurate: “The real truth is that an evening in any house, no matter what the going rate was reported to be, always cost you as much as you had in your pocket.” Perhaps aware of this reputation, Lulu attempted to offset the expenditure with the claim in her Blue Book advertisement that she ran “the only one house where you can get three shots for your money: the shot upstairs, the shot downstairs, and the shot in the [bed] room.” The work of photographer Ernest J. Bellocq gives some hint to the interior of Mahogany Hall. Several of his images of Storyville prostitutes are believed to have Continued on page 71



dence now fell within the new district’s boundaries. In court testimony,2 when asked about the effect the new district would have on his property, one can practically hear him sputtering, “For that purpose, sir, it would be entirely destroyed, and become a—it would be entirely destroyed, and no respectable family could remain in that neighborhood, for the simple reason that any locality inhabited by those women—the disturbance and general condition of things—that the streets are impassable by any respectable person.” L’Hote’s personal distress aside, his testimony reveals an interesting dimension of the Story ordinances. The ground-story restriction from the Lorette Ordinance forty years earlier was apparently still in force and the new district was made up largely of single-level cottages that thus were unsuitable for prostitution. By L’Hote’s own calculation, the number of buildings in the district that could legally house prostitutes was only onequarter of what would be needed for all of those in the city, and, even if they were to occupy every structure, the district would still be too small. As such, it remains unclear to this day whether the new council’s intention was actually an attempt to support conservative morality by reducing prostitution through forcing it into an impossibly small area or to cater to the tourist trade by boxing the practice into a heavily concentrated area. This legal battle went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found for the city.3 In the meantime, Storyville kicked into high gear, first as a de facto operation in 1898 and then officially in 1900. All New Orleans prostitutes were expected to live or at least work within one of the two districts and most complied. Those who failed to do so were subject to possible fines and imprisonment. Eviction notices were served throughout the former 1890 district and, due to high demand, rents within the new one skyrocketed to as high as fifty times the rest of the city. New buildings went up (probably using L’Hote’s lumber) and Storyville became a vibrant and thriving community of brothels, “houses of assignation,” cribs (singleroom apartments), dance halls, saloons, and the businesses that served Continued on page 72 2. Civil District Court, December 16, 1897, in Records and Briefs of the United States Supreme Court, October Term, 1899. 3. The L’Hote case ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1900 (177 U.S. 587). The court ruled against the plaintiffs, soundly confirming the city’s legal right to create such a district. The justices’ opinion may strike the reader today as … unusual. It upheld the district because it was created for prostitutes and “no woman of that character is challenging its validity; there is no complaint by her that she is deprived of any personal rights, either as to the control of her life or the selection of an abiding place. She is not saying that she is denied the right to select a home where she may desire, or that her personal conduct is in any way interfered with. In brief, the persons named in the ordinance, and against whom its provisions are directed, do not question its validity.” It further notes that no landlord outside the district had complained either and that, in any case, the ordinance is written in such a way that any actions these lewd women might take were to be kept well out of sight, so what was the problem? LEFT, TOP TO BOTTOM INTERIOR VIEWS OF THE ARLINGTON: THE AMERICAN PARLOR, THE MUSIC HALL, THE VIENNA PARLOR, AND A BOUDOIR. PHOTOS FROM AN EDITION OF THE BLUE BOOK (ABOVE) BETWEEN 1898 AND 1915 RIGHT REMARKABLY FEW PHOTOGRAPHS OF STORYVILLE’S MADAMS HAVE SURVIVED, BUT THEIR NAMES ARE REMEMBERED FROM THEIR ADVERTISING PAGES FROM THE BLUE BOOK. THESE ARE C. 1910

A few OF THE OTHER MADAMS OF BASIN STREET There were many other madams in Storyville, several of whom developed notoriety at least equal to that of Lulu White Josie Arlington, born Mary Deubler, was another long-time madam who began her career as a prostitute and later ran brothels on Customhouse Street alongside Lulu White. She had a reputation as a brawler but seems to have settled down after the creation of Storyville, where she opened the Arlington, a high-class house two doors from Mahogany Hall and with a strikingly similar design—turrets and all. She was a lover of the defacto “Mayor of Storyville,” Tom Anderson, in the 1890s, and it’s thought he renamed his bar, the Arlington Annex‚ in her honor. The Arlington was touted as “absolutely and unquestionably the most decorative and costly fitted out sporting palace ever placed before the American public.” Despite this opulence, in later years she increasingly distanced herself from the world of The District, moving into a purpose-built house on Esplanade with her lover, Tom Brady, and caring for her niece, whom she had educated at a Parisian convent. She kept her “other life” secret and installed a friend as manager of the Arlington. She fell ill in 1913 and didn’t live to see the fall of Storyville. She was buried in Metairie Cemetery in a $8,000 marble tomb, but was moved to an unknown location after the grave became a tourist attraction. “Countess” Willie V. Piazza, like Lulu White, ran an octoroon house. She was born in Mississippi to an Italian father and a mulatto mother but, unlike Lulu, could easily pass for white. Highly cultured and a local fashion icon, she spoke at least five languages, wore a monocle, and smoked Russian cigarettes with a two-foot ivory and gold holder. Music was an important part of the environment of her house and she recognized talent, employing both Tony Jackson and Jelly Roll Morton. The latter’s reminiscences to Roy Carew in 1938 provide much of what is now known of her, including the fact that her piano was one of the few in The District that was kept in tune. One of only two negro owners of the Basin Street establishments, Piazza teamed with White to challenge the 1917 ruling that would have seen all black and mixed-race prostitutes moved to the smaller uptown District. After the close of Storyville, Piazza continued to live at her house on Basin Street until her death in 1932 at age sixty-seven. In response to the liberalizing sexual mores that contributed to the closure of Storyville, she is remembered to have said, “The country club girls are ruining my business!” Without doubt, the most notorious Storyville madam of all was Emma Johnson, who ran a brothel called, simply, The Studio. She was The District’s largest employer, with fifty-five girls on her books, many of whom performed in her nightly “Circus.” Noted for her masculine appearance, she was a voracious lesbian and sadomasochist, who thought nothing of selling children of both sexes to the highest bidder. Yet she also offered men a “60-second plan”: any man who could hold his orgasm for sixty seconds after penetrating her was excused payment. Jelly Roll Morton, who also played piano for Johnson, said, with uncharacteristic understatement, that she did “uncultured things there that probably couldn’t be mentioned.” But some clue as to exactly what went on at the Circus comes from the recollections of a former child prostitute interviewed by Storyville chronicler Al Rose. She started working for Johnson at age twelve at $100 a night, performing a lesbian act with another girl of about the same age. Her mother, she said, also worked at the Circus, adding bluntly, “She’s the one who used to fuck the pony.”


THE STORYVILLE ORDINANCES Ordinance No. 13,032, council series, approved January 29th, 1897, by the common council of the city of New Orleans: “1. That from the first of October, 1897, it shall be unlawful for any public prostitute or woman notoriously abandoned to lewdness to occupy, inhabit, live, or sleep in any house, room, or closet, situated without the following limits: South side of Custom House street from Basin to Robertson street, east side of Robertson street from Custom House to St. Louis street, south side of St. Louis street from Robertson to Basin street. Provided, that no lewd woman shall be permitted to occupy a house, room, or closet on St. Louis street. Provided further, that nothing herein shall be so construed as to authorize any lewd woman to occupy a house, room, or closet in any portion of the city. 2. That it shall be unlawful for any person or persons, whether agent or owner, to rent, lease, or hire any house, building, or room to any woman or girl notoriously abandoned to lewdness or for immoral purposes outside the limits specified in section 1 of this ordinance. 3. That public prostitutes or notoriously lewd and abandoned women are forbidden to stand upon the sidewalks in front of or near the premises they may occupy, or at the alleyway, door, or gate of such premises, or to occupy the steps thereof, or to accost, call, or stop any person passing by, or to walk up and down the sidewalks, or to walk up the city streets indecently attired, or in other respects so as to behave in public as to occasion scandal, or disturb and offend the peace and good morals of the people. 4. That it shall not be lawful for any lewd women to frequent any cabaret or coffee house or bar room and to drink therein. 5. That it shall be unlawful for any party or parties to establish or carry on a house of prostitution or assignation without the limits specified in section-of this ordinance. 6. That wherever a house of prostitution or assignation within or without the limits established by this ordinance may become dangerous to public morals, either from the manner in which it is conducted or the character of the neighborhood in which it is situated, the mayor may, on such facts coming to his knowledge, order the occupants of such house, building, or room to remove therefrom within a delay of five days, by service of notice on such occupants in person, or by posting the notice on the door of the house, building, or room, to remove therefrom within a delay of five days, and upon such occupants failing to do so, each shall be punished as provided in section-of this ordinance. 7. That in the event that the occupants of such house, building, or room referred to in section 6 do not remove therefrom after the infliction of the penalty, the mayor is authorized to close the same and to place a policeman at the door of such premises to warn away all such parties who shall undertake to enter. 8. That any person or persons who shall violate the provisions of this ordinance, or who shall disturb the tranquility of the neighborhood or commit a breach of the peace, shall be punished by the recorder having jurisdiction, for the first offense by a fine not exceeding $5, and in default of payment by imprisonment not exceeding ten days for the second offense by a fine not exceeding $10, and in default of payment by imprisonment not exceeding twenty days, and for any subsequent offense by a fine not exceeding $25, and in default of payment by imprisonment not exceeding thirty days. 9. That each day any person or persons shall continue to violate the provisions of this ordinance shall constitute a separate offense. 10. That on and from the day this ordinance takes effect all ordinances in conflict therewith be and the same are hereby repealed, provided that nothing herein contained shall affect ordinance 12,456, C. S., relative to prostitutes in the fifth district.” Ordinance No. 13,485, council series, approved July 7th, 1897, by the common council of the city of New Orleans: “That section 1 of ordinance 13,032, C. S., be and the same is hereby amended as follows: From and after the 1st of October, 1897, it shall be unlawful for any public prostitute or woman notoriously abandoned to lewdness to occupy, inhabit, live, or sleep in any house, room, or closet situated without the following limits, viz.: 1. From the south side of Custom House street to the north side of St. Louis street, and from the lower or wood side of North Basin street to the lower or wood side of Robertson street. 2. And from the upper side of Perdido street to the lower side of Gravier street, and from the river side of Franklin street to the lower or wood side of Locust street, provided that nothing herein shall be so construed as to authorize any lewd woman to occupy a house, room, or closet in any portion of the city. Be it further ordained, that section 1 of ordinance 13,032, C. S., as amended above, be and the same is hereby re-enacted.”

been taken in its bedrooms and parlors. The over-the-top Victorian entrance hall was graced with potted palms, elaborate chandeliers hung from the ceilings, and oil paintings adorned the walls. Despite the expediture, this was not to everyone’s taste. A New Orleans society roué identified only as “René” interviewed by Rose paints a slightly different picture. He recalled, “The instant we stepped inside the door it became apparent that, though ornate, the taste reflected in the furnishings and decor was just miserable. [...] the main parlor [was] a melange of parquet flooring and rugs, overstuffed and overcarved furniture and ill-selected art‚ and sculpture.” He also recalled, to his surprise, that the piano player was white (most of the entertainers in The District at the time were black, and therefore less expensive to employ), a fact backed up by Jelly Roll Morton, who remembered that “a white boy, Kid Ross, was one of the outstanding hot piano players in the country [...]. Kid Ross, he was the steady player at Lulu White’s.” Opinions about the decor ceased to matter, however, when the customer entered the main viewing parlor. As René observed, “The girls were something special, they lounged on sofas and chairs and were dressed in extremely revealing evening clothes.” He was taken upstairs by a beautiful nineteen-year-old for his first sexual experience. After an inspection for clap and a wash in a solution of permanganate, the business of the evening began: “The mechanical procedure that followed lasted for perhaps a minute,” he admitted. The fee: $10 (now about $250). Whatever the reality of the Mahogany Hall experience, the mystique surrounding Lulu White and her octoroon girls made her a wealthy and notorious woman. She had innumerable brushes with the law for operating an immoral Continued on page 73 ABOVE DOCKET CARDS FOR SEVERAL OF LULU WHITE’S ARRESTS ON CHARGES RANGING FROM KEEPING A DISREPUTABLE HOUSE TO STABBING WITH INTENT TO MURDER. FROM HIDDEN FROM HISTORY: UNKNOWN NEW ORLEANS: HTTP://NUTRIAS.ORG/EXHIBITS/HIDDEN/ HIDDENFROMHISTORY_INTRO.HTM RIGHT LULU WHITE’S MUG SHOTS, 1920. NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT


them. The police largely stayed away from the new red-light district unless there was a serious problem, and this further enhanced New Orleans’ reputation for promiscuous pleasure and illicit sex, which, of course, increased tourism. A series of guide books, known as the Blue Book, were published for The District so visitors could more easily find their preferred pleasure providers. These were distributed through newsstands, saloons, and at steamship and train terminals. They listed the women’s name, address, and race: “W” for white, “C” for colored, and “Oct” for octoroon. Some editions also designated Jewish and French prostitutes. Despite segregation laws, racial diversity was a major selling point for The District, second only to its workers’ “French talents.” Musician Danny

and on. There were also gay offerings by such characters as Lady Fresh, La Sylvester, and Miss Big Nellie. Saloon and brothel owner (and member of the Louisiana legislature) Tom Anderson was widely acknowledged as The District’s mayor. The place was, as one commentator eloquently phrased it, “the show place and scandal of the city.” By its official opening, Storyville had attracted an estimated 2,000 prostitutes. Many did well financially. The crib girls often charged 50 cents and up for their sexual services, at a time when the average wage was 22 cents per hour. When typical daily earnings were around $2, the lower- and middle-class brothels charged $1 to $4 per (short) session, depending on the social class of the house, but most had few amenities. The elegant Basin Street establishments were the most expensive of the lot at a so-called $5, and if a man chose to stay overnight, the fees were astronomical. Because of ruinous rents, it was usually the landlords and not the prostitutes who benefited from these high prices. Prostitution then was a messy and exploitive business, but despite this, The District was oddly progressive. While there was

... standing in their doorways nightly in their fine and beautiful negligees, faintly calling to the boys as they passed their cribs. -- Louis Armstrong Barker remembered the colorful names he encountered there: Flamin’ Mamie, Crying Emma, Bucktown Bessie, Dirty Dog, Stell Arm Johnny, Mary Meathouse, Gold Tooth Gussie, Big Butt Annie, Naked Mouf Mattie, Bird Leg Nora, Bang Zang, Boxcar Shorty, Sneaky Pete, Coke Eye Laura, Yellow Gal, Black Sis, Boar Hog, Yard Dog, Roody Doody, Big Bull Cora … and on

no shortage of pimps and hustlers, many of the businesses were run by women, and remarkable women at that. Despite laws prohibiting blacks and whites from living together, Storyville was one of the first racially integrated neighborhoods in the United States. In a Blue Book dating from 1910/11, of the more than six hundred women listed in it by name and address, slightly fewer than half are identified as “colored” or “octoroon.” While movies like Pretty Baby evoke an opulence about The District, squalid is probably a better description. A visitor took his pocketbook and quite possibly his life in his hands when he was there. But it was worth it. Sex aside, musicians were in high demand and Storyville became a pressure cooker for what was already a distinctive New Orleans sound. Claiming it as the birthplace of jazz is still a matter of debate, but unquestionably the joint was jumpin’. Storyville thrived for almost twenty years but Continued on page 74 ABOVE SHEET MUSIC FOR BASIN STREET BLUES BY SPENCER WILLIAMS. PUBLISHED BY MAYFAIR MUSIC COMPANY, 1933. PRIVATE COLLECTION LEFT 200 BLOCK OF BASIN STREET, C. 1900. MAHOGANY HALL IS THE RED BUILDING AT THE RIGHT. TINTED PHOTO POSTCARD

house, selling alcohol without a license, and even “stabbing with intent to murder,” but none of it amounted to anything while she was at her zenith. As her wealth increased, she looked for investment opportunities and eventually set her eyes on Hollywood. Rose writes that her intent was to break into the film industry, but this seems unlikely given that her interest predated 1910, when the first movie was made there. What is more likely is that this was a region that was being aggressively marketed for development of all kinds, though quite possibly not for what she had in mind. Lulu and her longtime “fancy man,” George Killshaw, took an investigative trip there in 1906. In January of the following year, she sent Killshaw with about $150,000 (millions today) back to California to consummate the investment, and that was the last anyone heard of him—or her money. Apparently deciding to keep business closer to home, in 1908 she built the saloon directly next door to Mahogany Hall. By 1915, Storyville had lost much of its luster. Clientele was off, prices were falling, and even some of the grand houses were falling into disrepair. Having once employed as many as forty women, Lulu was down to fewer than ten. Lawmakers started clamping down on The District early in 1917, beginning with an attempt to force all colored sex-workers to move to the smaller, low-class uptown area that was also set aside for prostitution. Lulu and Piazza took the city to court. With the added support of twenty black prostitutes, the pair successfully secured an injunction preventing their eviction, but their success was shortlived. Storyville was forcibly closed down on November 12 of the same year. The money train ground to an abrupt halt and the madams and their girls were scattered far and wide across the city. Lulu’s troubles were just beginning. Armstrong remembers that after Mahogany Hall was shut, “Lulu moved to 1200 Bienville Street [her bar] and tried her luck at another house. That’s where she did Continued on page 75

E. J. Bellocq In 1970, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City held an exhibition of enigmatic photographs of women posed in a variety of Victorian environments. The prints were created by photographer Lee Friedlander but the glass-plate negatives were by New Orleans photographer E. J. Bellocq, who had shot them around 1912 using the prostitutes of Storyville as subjects. Despite this prestigious venue, little was remembered about Bellocq at the time. He was rumored to have been reclusive, antisocial, and possibly even a hydrocephalic dwarf with a flair for photography, yet he had somehow gained the trust of The District’s prostitutes so that these remarkably intimate yet workaday portraits could be created. As with many stories from New Orleans, the truth had been mixed with a strong dose of fantasy. John Ernest Joseph Bellocq was born in 1873 to a well-to-do family of the French Quarter. By 1898, he was advertising himself as a commercial photographer. While little of his professional work can now be identified, it seems he took pictures of everything from shipyards and industrial equipment to portraits to local landmarks and events. What were apparently private side projects involved the opium dens of Chinatown and the prostitutes of Storyville, but his motivation and intent for these is unknown and, again, very few of his original prints survive. Upon his death in 1949 (by which time he was indeed quite reclusive and antisocial), his brother Leon, a Jesuit priest, is believed to have destroyed most of Bellocq’s photographs and negatives, but the eighty-nine negatives later acquired by Friedlander somehow survived. They remain the most vivid and personal view of Storyville and its inhabitants that is known today.





1 2

2 3 3

by 1915 it was on the decline. Social change was in the air (i.e., young women were finding greater sexual freedom), and certain civic leaders declared The District a threat to women and an affront to the increasingly rigid racial order. In early 1917, strict racial legislation attempted to force black prostitutes out of Storyville and into the uptown district. This included the owners of the octoroon establishments such as Lulu White and Willie Piazza, who, despite their wealth and success, would not be allowed to do business in, lease, or even live in their own properties. They fought this part of the ordinance in court and it was sent back to be rewritten, but their victory was moot. Four soldiers were killed in Storyville within weeks of each other, shocking military officials, who were already concerned that venereal disease would hospitalize large numbers of muchneeded fighting men. Josephus Daniels, the Secretary of the Navy, invoked


the Selective Draft Act, which prohibited prostitution within “reasonable distance” of a military facility (in this case, the Eighth Naval District Station on the West Bank) and compelled the city to shut The District down, despite the protestations of many local officials. As Mayor Martin Behrman put it, "You can make [prostitution] illegal, but you can’t make it unpopular.” Even so, on November 12, 1917, the Storyville Experiment of quasi-legalized prostitution came to an end. As Behrman and others had predicted, prostitution did not suddenly disappear, and underground dens emerged around the city. The saloons and dancehalls in The District continued for a time, becoming ever more dangerous and run down. As automobile traffic increased, many of the buildings were replaced by parking lots. The passage of the 1937 U.S. Housing Act was the death knell for most of the rest of the structures, which were pulled down to clear space for the construction of the massive Iberville Housing Projects. The grand houses on Basin Street (which by then had been renamed North Saratoga Street in an effort to eradicate the memory of The District) lasted a little longer. The ones that survived destruction for Iberville were leveled to make way for the Krauss Department Store. Of the hundreds of buildings that once housed the sin, glamour, and ragtime roar of Storyville, only three remain today— saloons that once belonged to Lulu White, Frank Early, and Joe Victor. Rarely has such a major metropolitan area been so intentionally and thoroughly effaced, yet its memory lives on. And today, not surprisingly, prostitution in the city of New Orleans still thrives.





the wrong thing, to try to continue running her house with the law on her like white on rice.” She was arrested yet again in 1918 for violating the morality provision of the Draft Act. She was sentenced to one year in prison but was released after three months. Undaunted, she continued to fight for her livelihood. “It seemed like everyone was pulling for Lulu White to give up and lead a decent life. But she just wouldn’t. She held on to her horses and her carriage and her negro driver as long as she could. But the law she defied dragged her down like a dog until they broke her completely,” Armstrong said. What happened to her after that is something of a mystery. Rose reports that a bank clerk claimed to have seen her withdrawing money from a local branch of the Whitney National Bank of New Orleans as late as 1941. Other rumors circulated that she died penniless and broken in the baggage car of a train en route to her hometown of Selma, Alabama. More recent sources hold that she died on August 20, 1931, perhaps in Piazza’s home. The location of her grave does not appear to be known. It was an obscure end to a remarkable life. Most of Storyville was demolished in the 1940s to make way for the massive Iberville housing project. Having served as a storage warehouse for the nearby Kraus department store, a low-rent hotel, and housing for the unemployed and itinerate, Mahogany Hall, by then stripped of its stately bay windows and towers, was among the last buildings in The District standing in 1949 when the bulldozers finally moved in to flatten it. Like its mistress, it also perished in obscurity.


* * Supplemental lyric for Basin Street Blues, added by Jack Teagarden and/or Glenn Miller in New York, 1931.







Luma Rouge the art of your desire




y aim is to capture the beauty, creativity, movement, and

ers is what first attracted me to draw the art form. There is also

spectacle of dance. I have been sketching neo-burlesque

an incredible sense of joy and love in the burlesque community

performances on an informal basis, while seated in the

which is unique among dance disciplines. Often no photography is

audience, for many years. I usually cannot see what I am drawing or

allowed at these events, so sketching is my way of remembering the

painting because of the darkness in the theater, but my biggest chal-

acts. I do this both for my own enjoyment and also as a way to

lenge is having to choose which movements to capture as they

thank the performers and help them get publicity. They put enor-

unfold in front of me. Getting to know the performers personally has

mous energy into creating original acts that are often seen only

been a wonderful help because I do not always have to watch their

once, and then, only by the people who attend the live performance.

every expression or study their body shape—I can draw their act

Each dancer researches their own themes, constructs their own

more quickly because their personal features are already in my head.

props and costumes, and then carries them to distant venues in all

My art involves how I feel when the dancer is performing and I try to

sorts of weather. I want to honor their efforts by creating a perma-

incorporate the entire experience. I often jot down the lyrics of the

nent record of their choreography, costumes, sets, makeup, and

music or the reactions I overhear from members of the audience.

music. I wish they could see their own performances from the audi-

I have drawn at fashion shows, ballet performances, and strip clubs. The freedom of sexual expression of neo-burlesque perform-

ence’s perspective, so, in that sense, my artwork is first for the performer.









The Flapper W

hen we think of the Roaring Twenties, one of the first things that comes to mind is the flapper, with her straight lines, mannish haircut, and independent ways. In the States, she was considered

shockingly masculine and perhaps dangerously independent, while in Europe a movement took the trend far further. Enter la garçonne with her tailored suit and masculine swagger to represent the new, emerging, sexually liberated woman. This was a French term for a flapper or tomboy that was derived from the scandalous 1922 novel by Victor Margeuritte, who adapted the word from the French term for young man, le garçon. Not long after the book was published, the term was co-opted by a more literal interpretation: women who dressed and carried themselves in ways that had been traditionally male.

It also eventually became the name for a German lesbian journal and at least one underground club. Underground cafés, salons, and clubs in the red-light districts of Weimar Berlin and the Montparnasse district of Paris began to cater to this new breed of woman. Garçonne clubs in Paris included Le Monocle, Frede’s Cabaret, and Chez Moune, where the nights were jazz hot and the clientele was devastatingly modern. While not exactly “out,” these were havens where garçonnes danced and drank with artists, prostitutes, and each other (since most often she was into other women, if not defiantly a lesbian). This lively scene was immortalized by the photographs of Brassai, the public persona of Marlene Dietrich, and the 1936 film adaptation of Margueritte’s book. The latter shocked audiences, not in the least because of a lesbian seduction performed by none other than the Sparrow of Paris, Edith Piaf. Sadly, this vibrant world could not last forever. With Nazism came an end to the burgeoning homosexual rights movement in Europe. It revived after the war but it was never quite the same, although Moune Carton continued to run her Chez Moune until she retired in the mid 1960s. As an ode to that gloriously progressive era, we present here the style of la garçonne, those tantalizingly tomboyish flappers. A well-cuffed trouser leg and a smart tie have been known to turn more than one lady’s head, especially when sported by one of her own.

Also Wore Pants





THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS See that elegantly dressed fellow in the suit and tie? His outfit is the result of centuries of development and standardization. While women’s fashion changes radically from season to season, men’s, at least at a certain level, is thoroughly entrenched. Within this uniform, individualism is expressed through a limited palette of colors and textures, as well as a number of subtle variations in specific details. Neckties ~ The roots of the modern necktie are thought to lie in the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), when a type of Croatian neck scarf became a fashion craze in France. After centuries of variation, New York tailor Jesse bowtie

Langsdorf came up with the bias-cut long tie that is worn today. They are generally made of silk and their patterns are innumerable. Those with diagonal stripes generally refer to particular schools, fraternities, military regiments, or other affiliations. There are four basic knots in use today, each providing a subtle variation in shape and size: the four-in-hand (the simplest and most common); the Pratt, or Shelby; the half-Windsor; and the Windsor (the most complex, shown at left). Bowties are an entirely different beast. The majority of men today no longer know how to tie one and rely on pre-tied versions that hook in the back. Those who do know how recognize that the trick lies in step 6 of the diagram on this page. Shirt collars and cuffs ~ Until relatively recently, these were made as separate elements from the shirt and were attached by often-elaborate metal studs. Cufflinks are a leftover of this era. They retain a practical aspect, since shirt buttons (which


She left with the trumpeter? Oh, man ...

should always be white shell) can crumble in the harsh process of French laundering (which entails boiling, soaking in starch, and steam pressing). Each collar variation is named. Cuffs can be straight or French (a double length that folds back). French cuffs require cufflinks, while straight ones can have options for either buttons or links. Coats ~ Two basic models of suit coats are available: single and double breasted. The latter has pointed lapels while the former has notched ones, although it can sometimes have pointed ones. The buttons should always be horn and the bottom one is left open. Each sleeve can have three or four nine types of shirt collar

cuff buttons. One way to recognize a custom, or bespoke, suit is when these are operational. Vests ~ Generally single breasted, vests, or waistcoats, are sometimes double breasted. They always have two pockets but sometimes have four. They occasionally have lapels. The fabric can match the rest of the suit or be a contrasting color and texture. If single breasted, the vest is always worn with the bottom button open. Trousers ~ Perhaps the most contentious element of the suit, the silhouette of the trousers changes the most with fashion trends. Flat fronted or pleated, baggy or tapered, the cuffs can be either straight or turned up. The length should be such that the front

nine types of shirt cuff

crease breaks slightly above the shoe, no more, no less.


Cheer up. I’ll pomade your hair!

Say, that’s pretty swell. How about we— Oh wait, look who’s back ...

What the heck! Let’s make this a SHAVING PARTY! (Don’t try this at home, kids. It’s very dangerous.)


Mmm ... so smooth!



Cara Crass

Death Glam Couture



The art of haberdashery can be taught, but a fierce aesthetic sensibility is an innate gift that few possess. What began as a hobby for New Hampshire–based Cara Crass has become a unique artistic synthesis of two of her abiding passions—lacy girly things and what she refers to as “dead critters.”* Striking somewhere between gothiness and Victorian confection, her hats and jewelry, produced under her Death Glam Couture label, bring a fresh perspective to the diminishing world of haberdashery, and they have become regular fixtures in edgy and often fetishy photo shoots. Another facet to her work is styling many of these same shoots, which she does using her own designs as well as those of others. In her guise as Cara Crass Styling, she has worked with some top-of-the-line folks and the results of these collaborations have been extraordinary, as the images in this feature demonstrate. * The skulls and other animal products she uses are largely the result of road kill or natural death. The feathers are farmed. TOP LEFT DEATH GLAM COUTURE HAT WITH VELVET BOW AND SKULL CENTER LEFT: PHOTO G. ALLEN MODEL - V R - MAKEUP DOE DARLING HAT DEATH GLAM COUTURE STYLING CARA CRASS LEFT DEATH GLAM COUTURE EARRINGS WITH BRONZED FOX JAWS ABOVE CARA CRASS PHOTO DASTARDLY DAVE RIGHT DEATH GLAM COUTURE HAT WITH FOX SKULL AND FEATHERS





None of the men in my dreams have faces They are not agents of their own design Chiseling bone from obscurity, expression from the blindfold The more you are carved out, The more you can hold. The whittling, the scratching, the gouge isn’t enough I’m leading you to the gallows as the Queen of Hearts Maybe now you’ll do what you’re told The more you are carved out, The more you can hold. My ax filets thigh after thigh You’re wearing my hips like a hockey mask Now you’re beginning to fit the mould The more you are carved out, The more you can hold. The stump of a tree and the scream of a saw A thousand faces litter my path, if you saw, There will be sawdust, I’m told The more you are carved out, The more you can hold.




Commander’s Palace

1403 Washington Street,

New Orleans

Tel: (504) 899-8221 •


oday this elegant eatery is a major New Orleans destination. Tour busses disgorge their passengers into its cavernous downstairs dining room in

stark defiance of the coat-and-tie elegance that once characterized it. If

you go there and avoid the crowds, you’ll probably find the service impecca-

ble, the food remarkable, and the experience festive (especially at lunch with the signature twenty-five-cent martinis). Two chefs who are household names, Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse, used their stints in its kitchen The upstairs private dining rooms at Commander’s to develop their respective trademark cuisines. Mark Twain ate there and so proved to be just the thing. Good place for gambling did Jefferson Davis. But while the restaurant has been renovated many

too, apparently. Add the advent of prohibition in 1920

times (extensively after Hurricane Katrina), the walls of its many smaller

and the party was really on. Interestingly, the larger

upstairs dining rooms have witnessed behavior that would likely either hor-

downstairs dining rooms continued as a family-friendly

rify or titillate diners there today.

venue. Presumably the heavy Victorian architecture mit-

Commander’s Palace was opened in 1880 by Emile Commander in its present Garden District location and catered to the city’s growing postbel-

igated the racket from upstairs. The end of Prohibition in 1933 calmed things down a

lum “American” populace (in contrast to the city’s Creole population who

bit and a transfer of ownership in 1944 restored the

lived in the older parts of town). It quickly became popular as an eminently

eminent respectability that the restaurant had been

respectable dining spot for the carriage trade and everything went along very

renowned for nearly three decades earlier. The Brennan

decorously until around the end of WWI, when, as the restaurant’s website

family took it over in the mid seventies and gave it a

says, “Riverboat captains frequented it and sporting gentlemen met with

heavy facelift that reconfigured much of the interior, so

beautiful women for a rendezvous in the private dining room[s] upstairs.”

there’s little sign today of the antics that once took

That’s to put it mildly. The fact of the matter is that, with the dissolution of

place there. Be careful, though. Commander’s is said to

the Storyville red-light district in late 1917, there was a sudden shortage of

have a resident ghost— perhaps a shade of the wild

what were known as “houses of assignation,” that is, places where you

times that once were there—who will drink your cock-

could meet for a quick romp with a lover or a paid companion—or both.

tail if you don’t keep track of it.

F A S T ,

F E M I N I S T ,











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My first sighting of Sabina England was within the confines of a tiny avatar thumbnail. There was a little brown smudge of a face, a giant vermillon Mohawk, and downcast eyes swathed in heavy black liner. This image anchored a comment that was articulate, angry, and all about how she wants to see more women of color when she’s doing a burlesque image search. I wanted to get a better look, not just at her bold punk aesthetic, but at her big sexy brain. Turns out Sabina is a self-described “Deaf Indian Punk Playwright,” who has been published in national and international media and produced shows on stages in London and New York. I was immediately intrigued by the titles of her works: Chess for Asian Punks, Greek Losers, and Dorks sounded like it might promise cheeky irreverent comedy on cultural relations. How the Rapist Was Born provoked discomfort and curiosity. I wanted to know more about Sabina and thought you, dear reader, would too, so I invited her to talk with me about fashion, feminism, punk rock, and politics.


about beauty and women’s bodies, so isn’t that a good thing?

CARRIE: You use the word “punk” to describe yourself. What does that mean to you?

CARRIE: I would argue that it’s not even a subtle way, it’s a big way.

SABINA: Punk is not just about the music or the aesthetics, but also

Appearance and dress are a huge part of the way societies control

the social attitudes and the feeling of community.

culture and behavioral expectations. Challenging those is a big deal! Ask anyone with tattoos who’s tried to get a corporate job ...

CARRIE: I dig it. “Hip-hop” is more than the music in a similar way,

SABINA: When I used to have a Mohawk and dress like a ‘77 street

though it’s been co-opted and commercialized more than punk, I

punk, I was once approached by this conservative Christian couple.

think. How do you think the aesthetics of the punk movement

They asked me why I dressed that way. The woman told me that if I

reflect its politics, or visa versa?

dressed “normal” then I would look beautiful. I told her that this

SABINA: If you look at the origins of the punk scene in London and

was my choice to dress like that and it made me feel beautiful. They

New York City, it gave young people the freedom and the courage to

even invited me over to their house a few times.

dress outrageously and to defy gender norms. Many of the early punk icons, like Soo Catwoman and Jordan and Siouxsie, dressed

CARRIE: Did you actually go to their house?

outrageously and challenged the idea of how women could look in

SABINA: Yes, I did! They treated me warmly and the food was good.

music and scenes. It was a major shock for many people who had

Their beliefs were pretty fucked up and I argued with them about it,

never seen a punk, much less a woman with really short hair and

but cordially. We were always cordial to each other and we knew we’d

combat boots and lots of crazy makeup all over her face. Punk rock

never agree on anything, so we left it at that.

gave a new meaning to feminine beauty. The aesthetic is something I’ve always been attracted to. Once in a while I’ve been accused by other people of being a “fashion poser” because, being deaf, I’m not really into the music. But so what? For

CARRIE: That’s a lovely story. If only we could all have this kind of respect for each other. You said you used to dress like a street punk but you don’t now. Is

some punks and non-punks, fashion is a subtle way to challenge

there a political transformation that goes along with the aesthetic

society, even if it’s not that profound. A girl walking around with


piercings on her face—she might shock some people who have never seen such a sight before—but maybe it’d make them start thinking

SABINA: I’m a Muslim and I used to wear the hijab for three years,


which played a huge role in how people treated me. That was before I had the Mohawk, which made people treat me very differently than when I wore the hijab. When I had the hijab, people treated me like I was retarded and helpless, especially because I’m also deaf. But a few times I was called a terrorist and racist names. When I had a Mohawk, people either treated me like utter trash or like a queen. Some people wanted to befriend me because I looked “cool.” Other people refused to talk to me. People also treat me differently based on my complexion, whether I’m in the U.K., U.S., or India. Whenever I visit India, I am painfully aware of how super light I am (even though I’m actually brown like a brown paper bag). When I am surrounded by very dark-skinned Indians everywhere, including my own relatives, I stick out like a sore thumb. When strangers compliment me on how beautiful I am, deep down I’m thinking, “Oh really? Is that because I’m lighter skinned than some Indians are?” If a photo was taken of me in a nice shalwar kameez and put into a matrimonial ad seeking a husband, I would probably get more inquiries from parents than a dark-skinned Indian female would. CARRIE: Speaking of matrimonial ads ... I’ve had a few conversations about arranged marriage lately. I’m of the opinion that it is no

CARRIE: I can see the connection between your womanism and your

more or less problematic than the way we do things in the West. We

aesthetic choices. Does this use of aesthetics to express/provoke

don’t have arranged marriages, but we still have sexism and people

extend to the characters in the plays you write?

still get married for all the wrong reasons. It seems to me like

SABINA: In the last few plays I wrote, I created a lot of characters

arranged or not, the important part is that both people going into

who were punks, goths, hippies, anarchists, or Riot Grrrls. I’d put in

the marriage agree to the circumstances.

their character descriptions that they would wear certain clothes. I

SABINA: My parents had an arranged marriage and both consented

didn’t want them to look cartoonish, but rather authentic and sin-

to it, and they’re still happy to this day. I’ve seen most arranged

cere. I’m also interested in creating characters that are not “conve-

marriages working out. I have no problems with it as long as both

nient.” I like writing that’s jarring and will shake you and make you

parties consent to it. What bothers me is when non-Desi people try

think. That includes the ideas in the dialogue and the visual aesthet-

to say that arranged marriages are horrible and shouldn’t be prac-

ics of the play—the costumes, the makeup, the scenery, the props.

ticed anymore. It’s not their fucking place to say that. But I have no desire for an arranged marriage myself. It won’t work for me, but if it works for other people, more power to them. I wouldn’t be able to have a successful arranged marriage any-

CARRIE: Would you say that any of your characters could be called a whore? And what do you think a whore is? SABINA: Society says that a “whore” is a woman who sleeps around

way—most Desi “aunties” would be horrified to have their sons

and has no dignity. A few faux philosophers would say that a “whore”

marry me.

is a person who has sold their dignity. But I say that a “whore” is a

CARRIE: Are those non-Desi people you refer to feminists, by any

ety, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s because she has sex with lots of

person who is misunderstood, judged, spat on, and rejected by socichance? And do you consider yourself a feminist?

guys, or not, Or the way she dresses. Or for her politics. Or the fact

SABINA: I do consider myself a feminist, but sometimes I struggle

she is loud and outspoken. I have been called a “whore” because of

with the term. In some ways, I see myself more as a womanist or as a

how I dressed, because of my beliefs, because I was bold enough to

global feminist since I’m concerned with other issues that affect

expose my soul for the whole world to see. If I am a whore because of

women AND men in my community. Issues that have nothing to do

how I dress and how loud I am, then I am proud to be a whore.

with gender issues but rather just human rights.

Thanks Sabina! From one Whore! to another.


Belles DU Jour PEOPLE


Some might say Siouxsie Sioux. Horror buffs, perhaps Maila Nurmi, AKA Vampira. Slashes of eyeliner; black, black, and more black; and a sveltely wilting manner are the calling card of the Goth chick and seemingly synonymous with the angst-ridden nineties. But before Bauhaus and the Cocteau Twins there was Sarah Helen Power Whitman. Who? Whitman was a poetess, literary critic, and the almost-wife of Edgar Allan Poe. A more Gothic figure than Poe is not to be found, and her passion for dark things and melancholy words earned his admiration. Black was not her everyday color, but she was fond of shawls, drapey fabrics, and theatrically flowing garments. Around her neck she wore a tiny coffin as a reminder that death was always close. And death was ever on her mind. A mystic and spiritualist who sniffed ether to aid in her poetic explorations, she spent most of her days in ecstatic contemplation. The ether, she claimed, helped her heart disease, a condition that afforded her a certain frailness and a reluctance to give in to the romantic offerings of Poe, her junior by six years. He was too passionate and intense for her delicate constitution, she felt. Consequently, he offered her a relationship of REVIEW BY WHORE!

affection, respect, and celibacy, but Whitman, concerned by his excessive drinking, his other affairs, and his motivations for marrying her (he was poor, very poor), called off the wedding after a short engagement. Despite her supposed heart condition, she lived to the ripe old age of seventy-five.


But colder those wild words of doom—“Ye must part.”

Our Island of Dreams, 1853



The Poetry Brothel is a group of corseted underground

expression,” writes Poetry Brothel co-founder Stephanie

poets. It started in New York and has since started chap-

Berger. But in this liberating creative space also lie ques-

ters in Chicago, Leicester, San Francisco, and Barcelona.

tions central to the feminist dialogue:

These self-proclaimed poetry “whores” are taking the

~Where does the creator stand between object and subject?

underground cultures of their respective cities by storm,

~When poets take on the mantle of “whores,” does the term

melding poetry, identity, sex, and sex work in the minds REVIEW BY MISS LAGSALOT

The night-wind blew cold on my desolate heart

degrade them, empower them, or offer a new way to con-

of their audiences. Begun as an unorthodox poetry trans-

sider a term that is a source of pain for many sex workers?

lation project, it has since given poets around the globe a

~Is a poetry reading an intimate enough event to approxi-

chance to reinvent themselves in scantily clad and sumptuously sensual ways. “Central to this experience is the creation of character, which for poet and audience functions as disguise and as freeing device, enabling the Poetry Brothel to be a place of uninhibited creative

mate the relationship between sex worker and client? ~Is the pairing of poetry and sex mutually beneficial, damaging, or neither? Go to the next Poetry Brothel event in your city and find out for yourself.

Rants & Raves Past & Present



Elizabeth Taylor, it can be argued, was the movie star.

had became mysteriously ill with

Glamorous and notorious, she kept the public’s atten-

pneumonia. It was said she was so

tion for decades with her eight marriages, her stints in

sick that death was imminent.

rehab, her battle with weight, and, of course, her stun-

There were even reports that she

ning screen presence. She was someone we all watched,

had passed away.

wondering what she would do next. And then in 1959,

Fans are a fickle bunch. When

at the height of her fame, she started an affair with her

they heard Liz might actually be a

dead husband’s best friend, Eddie Fisher. This move

goner, they suddenly loved her

was slightly off color, but what made it the scandal of

again. Soon after, she announced

the decade was that Fisher was already married to

her good health and took her place

America’s favorite good girl, Debbie Reynolds. Before

back as reigning queen of the sil-

anyone could bat an eye, Eddie left Debbie and mar-

ver screen. Was it a publicity stunt

ried Liz while the world watched and–judged. The hate

or a real illness? We don’t know,

mail that came in was overwhelming and ugly. They

but what we can be sure of is that

called her a whore, a slut, a temptress, and a home

this powerful lady knew how to

wrecker. Fisher was given a bit more leeway. The pub-

wrangle the press as well as her

lic sympathized with poor hapless Eddie. How on earth

public to her favor.

could he resist the wiles of this lavender-eyed provoc-

Liz lived her life on her own

ative beauty. He was obviously overwhelmed by her guiles and charms. Oh, please.


In 1960, Liz and Eddie starred together in Butter-


mond-bedecked, fabulous bad girl of grand proportions. “Long

field 8, the tragic and dark story of a call girl who goes

do? Sleep alone? I am Elizabeth Taylor.” Damning

before our own celebrity age, Eliz-

too far. The studios used the media frenzy over their

words, perhaps, but why did she have to defend herself?

abeth Taylor carved the template

marriage to wrangle more attention for the movie. It

She was not the one who was married. She was not the

for how to be a movie star. So

seemed this part was Taylor made, as it were. Despite

one committing adultery. She did not leave a spouse and

many of the tricks of the trade can

ongoing hate mail, Liz stood her ground and stayed

kids for another. Where was Eddie’s responsibility for

be traced right back to her,” writes

with Fisher.

his bad behavior? But the public would have none of

William J. Mann in his book How

Then in a new turn of the screw, her good friend,

that. They wanted her head. The reviews of the film were

to Be a Movie Star. Indeed. Rest in

uber-powerful gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, who

so negative that she became box office poison, but Liz

peace, Elizabeth Taylor. The world

had helped her to stardom, struck out at her about the

was about to play the most brilliant part of her career.

is a more marvelous place because

affair. The response was, “What do you expect me to

Right before the 1960 Oscars, it was announced that she

you were in it.



“I’m a 26 YO girl who loves inserting pool balls in my ass.” Goodness.


terms. She was a stunning, dia-

they had collected into a book, which is available in various e-formats via Amazon, Lulu, and through their web-

At our issue one launch party, we projected a stream

site. The confessions within it run the gamut from funny

of bite-sized sex confessions on a curtain behind the

to titillating, and from sad to frankly disturbing. If you’ve

performers. These had been gathered by London-based

ever walked down the street and wondered what intimate

WTF Sex Secrets, which encouraged individuals to anon-

secrets the people around you are hiding, this is the place

ymously submit them. Successfully, apparently, since

to find out. A second volume has just been released.

people did so in the thousands. Based in part on their exposure at our event, they decided to edit the material





Though she is no longer with us, her name is a household word that speaks of style and elegance. Her designs in the 1920s and ‘30s utterly transformed women’s fashion, freeing them from Edwardian obligations of long hair and corsetry, and ushering in what we recognize as the modern age. In doing so, she amassed a vast personal fortune and lived a life of privilege in Paris. Her various love affairs were notorious, and when asked why she did not accept the proposal of the Duke of Westminster, she famously replied, “There have been many duchesses of Westminster, but there is only one Chanel.” When WWII broke out, Chanel closed down her businesses but continued to live in Paris. After the war she moved to Switzerland and did not return to France until 1954, at which time she restarted her fashion house. Her various biographers and Chanel herself have generally glossed over these years, though during this time she publicly maintained a lengthy affair with Baron Hans Günther von Dincklage. A canny and well-connected German intelligence officer in occupied Europe, she characterized him as a playboy and a harmless German patriot. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Last year, Hal Vaughan, in his Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, finally tells the story of Chanel’s wartime betrayal and her long-recognized role as a “horizontal collaborator.” Vaughan delved deeply into GerREVIEW BY WHORE!

man and French diplomatic and police records and outs


before to market it, rendering her one of the world’s wealthiest women. With her money and influential con-

New York Times reviewer Judith War-

personal gain. Using her German connections, she was

nections, she managed to get off virtually scot-free after

ner succinctly stated, “Gabrielle

able to gain control of her famed perfume, Chanel No. 5,

the war in a climate where other female collaborators were

Chanel—better known as Coco—was a

from the Jewish firm she had contracted with many years

utterly reviled.

wretched human being.”


BEDPOST CONFESSIONS BPC encourages further conversa-

Recently I was lucky enough to experience an evening with


In her note on Vaughan’s book,

her not only as a full-on agent for the Third Reich but one with a strong personal agenda of anti-Semitism and

the Austin-based BedPost Confessions (BPC) on their first

tion about touchy subjects such as this

venture outside their hometown. People are sometimes

on their Facebook page, on their blog at

uncomfortable when it comes to discussing sexuality, sensu-, and at

ality, and intimacy, even with their close friends, and BPC

regular live events that aim to “create

exists to promote open discourse on this subject, which, in

space for stories and artistic expres-

an ideal world, should be considered natural. Sadie Smythe,

sion about sexuality and the human

Julie Gillis, Mia Martina, and Rosie Q are the four women

experience.” At the Make Out Room

behind these daring and revealing evenings that feature both public and anonymous confessions.


event I attended in San Francisco, the women of BPC along with Mollena

band had known each other for almost three decades, and it is

Williams, Madison Young, Maggie

book, Open All the Way: Confessions from My Open Marriage, a

essentially about their relationship, how they came to the deci-

Mayhem, and Simon Sheppard pro-

compelling and honest story of her sexual life that, among

sion to open up their marriage, and how they dealt with the

vided us with laughter, food for con-

other things, reveals that she had her first orgasm when she

obstacles that emerged. An open marriage is not easy but, then

templation, and plenty of sweet and

was nine. When the book was published, she and her hus-

again, marriage itself is often difficult, open or otherwise.

salty sexiness.

In her own confession, Sadie read a chapter from her new




That is the plot, but the primary

People of color experience it. Queer people know it.

conflict of the film is how the main

And despite the fact that women are ubiquitous in mov-

character faces her fear. Her fear of

ies, they too easily recognize what it is like to have to

love, of her work, of her future, and

twist your mind to find any connection with the charac-

of the task she has to do. And very

ters that Hollywood confects. The first two see them-

afraid she is. She is not gracefully,

selves in film relatively rarely, and when they do, it is

red-lipsticked, holding-her-chin-

all too often in an unfortunate capacity. Most films


(except perhaps Reservoir Dogs) have a female character

the-window afraid. She is clumsily

or two in them, but these women are rarely relatable as

terrified. Stepping out of the train at

dimensional figures. They are images handed to us of

a depot stop, she trips and falls in

what we are seen as, desired to be, or hated for. Even

front of a German official. That one

films featuring a badass woman lead often show her to

small moment amid all the other

be emotionally removed, an object to admire but not to

powerful moments in the film made

relate to. In short, they are all too often someone’s fan-

my truth sensor perk up. In that

tasy but rarely my own.

instant I felt the depth of her anxiety

Because of this, I have a keen appreciation for those

so entirely. She is not painted as

films that show a woman walking through experiences

heroic or as enigmatically brave.

that I find familiar. These moments evoke an excited

She is sweaty, awkward, flawed, and very real. We are not meant to

“aha” and the kind of satisfaction akin to coming into a

admire her courage or idealism but

warm house after being out in a storm. Hysterical Blindness is one, Gas, Food, Lodging is another. But the film REVIEW BY GINGER MURRAY

Julia, which stars not only Jane Fonda but also Vanessa


Redgrave and Meryl Streep, so beautifully expresses

ship with her childhood friend, Julia, who has become a

risks because she has to, because

what I recognize as a woman’s experience that it made

leader of an underground group working to ferry Jewish

the world can be a brutal and awful

me angry I had never heard of it before. The film is

families out of Germany during WWII.

place, and because she loves. There is no romance here, only a story of

loosely based on the life of Lillian Hellman, who was a

The main plot of the film centers around a trip that

Jewish playwright and the lover of hard-boiled private

Lillian takes to deliver funds to Julia through the heart of

what it takes to face the challenge

eye author Dashiell Hammett. The film delves into her

Nazi Germany and into Russia. She succeeds and sur-

and do our best even when it makes

struggle to be a writer but also explores her relation-

vives, though her friend is murdered soon after.

us shake in our boots.



Sometimes social change is radical and revolutionary,

much breadth, but his razor-sharp

and sometimes it’s a nod and a nudge. Science fiction

intellect is apparent in his widely

fans have known since the seventies that Star Trek cast

viewed online PSAs that take on anti-

member George Takei was gay, but even in a pre-LGBT

gay statements from politicians and

rights era, no one seemed to care one way or the other.

other public figures. The most recent

He publicly came out in 2005, copping to—gasp—an

of these was in response to the pend-

eighteen-year committed relationship with his partner,

ing Tennessee “Don’t Say Gay” legis-

Brad Altman. They were married in Los Angeles in 2008,

lation, which would prevent K–8

before California’s notorious Proposition 8 removed the

public school teachers and students

right for same-sex couples to wed in that state.

from discussing issues of homosexu-

Over the years Takei has been involved with various


to sympathize with exactly how difficult taking such a risk is. Lillian

ality. In the absence of being able to

LGBT organizations and is a spokesman for National

say “gay,” Takei proposed using his

Coming Out Day (October 11). He used his Star Trek

rhyming name as a substitute, allow-

celebrity to support a 2006 national speaking tour called

ing students to watch the Takei Pride

Equality Trek, but he also tackles issues on their own turf,

Parade or dismiss one another with

with him and Brad appearing on The Newlywed Game

“That’s so Takei.” According to

(which they won) and the British All Star Mr. & Mrs. (which they did not). Few of his acting roles have allowed him


George, “It’s okay to be Takei.” We can only agree.




The Chinese “Dragon Lady” is an unfortunate stereotype, but at least one actress used it as a stepping-stone to achieve greater things. Audiences were wowed by a brief appearance by Anna May Wong as a Mongol slave in Douglas Fairbanks’ 1924 The Thief of Bagdad. She was to become a cinematic pioneer and the first Chinese-American actress to achieve international fame. At a time when Asian Americans were given no respect in the political arena or in Hollywood, she worked on dozens of films and stage productions in Europe and America, and she impressed audiences with her strength, dignity, and beauty. She could be demure or vicious, but sadly was often limited to playing only those two extremes, as overwhelmingly white Hollywood had great difficulty in conceiving that a Chinese woman could be anything else. Yet, given only this narrow margin within which to work, she managed to bring a rich complexity to her many roles, transcending both racism and the limitations of celluloid. She was born a third-generation American in Los Angeles in 1905 as Wong Liu Tsong, which means “frosted yellow willows.” Ten years later, the city’s Chinatown became a popular location for Hollywood movie shoots. Anna May was fascinated with these from an early age and would often skip school to loiter around the busy film crews. Ever diligent, Anna May landed her first movie role when she was just fourteen. The role was just an uncredited extra in The Red


Lantern, but it was a start. After steadily work-


ing small parts, she earned her first screen credit two

Hollywood, most Asian characters were played by Caucasian

her. She was the first Asian Ameri-

years later in Bits of Life. The following year, in 1922, she

actors in heavy makeup. Myrna Loy, who shared many film

can to host a documentary on China,

played her first starring role in The Toll of the Sea, which

credits with Anna May, often had these roles. Several times,

the footage for which was taken

was an early Technicolor film. One of her most famous and

Anna May was rejected for Chinese roles, including the lead

during a trip she took there years

scandalous roles was as murderer and courtesan Hui Fei

role in The Good Earth, a film about a Chinese woman,

earlier. With her talent and style,

in Shanghai Express (1932). Though Marlene Dietrich was

because they said she did not “look Chinese enough.”

Anna May continued to dazzle audi-

the star of the film, many felt that Anna May shone far

Instead, German-born Luise Rainer was given the role. The

ences around the world until her death in 1961. And though her

brighter. It was also widely rumored that she and Dietrich

irony could not have been lost on her. The film industry was

were lovers. No one knows the truth, but she never did

banned from showing interracial kissing, another reason

father advised, “Don’t be photo-


that Anna May was often not given the lead roles that she

graphed too much or you’ll lose


your soul,” her films remain a leg-

What makes Anna May’s considerable cinematic achievements even more amazing is the social and politi-

Despite all this, she continued to be a pioneer. She was

acy to a brilliant actress who more

cal climate she lived in. Throughout the United States,

an early television star in the detective series The Gallery of

than earned her own bright star in

Chinese immigrants faced continuous discrimination. In

Madame Liu-Tsong (1951), which was written specifically for

the Hollywood Walk of Fame.



Presented in the guise of a children’s book, this is rich fodder for any argument against biological determinism. Beware those who fall into easy assumptions about gender equality; we are still not that far away from the belief that “girls need things fixed.” The thirty-eight plates of this square-format book are presented in opposition with boys’ activities on the left and girls’ on the right. The captions express traditional gender roles so starkly that Lucy and Ricky would recoil in shock. “Boys are strong; girls are graceful.” “Boys are doctors; girls are nurses.” “Boys invent things; girls use what boys invent.” Wow. Really? Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1909–1999) was a respected cartoonist for The New Yorker. He was an absurdist and


a satirist, but it is difficult to determine exactly what he was satirizing here. Was it gender assumptions or the women’s movement? Could he possibly have been serious? He never explained himself. TWO SPREADS FROM I’M GLAD I’M A BOY!; I’M GLAD I’M A GIRL BY WHITNEY DARROW, JR., WINDMILL BOOKS/SIMON AND SCHUSTER, NEW YORK, 1970



Despite my vocal affinity for sex,

woman should have one. Every man

kink, and general debauchery, I

should have one also to share with

have very few sex toys. I’ve cer-

his lady friends. It provides the per-

tainly had quite a few used on (or,

fect sort of penetration that approxi-

rather, in) me, largely during porn

mates (and perhaps even bests) all



but the most dedicated and talented

approached the pleasure of inter-

of cocks. I don’t consider myself a




course with another human being.

squirter, but the Pure Wand makes

All that hot breath and dripping

me gush over and over and over

sweat and the feeling that you

again until I’m exhausted, dehy-

might just explode, right there.

and my previous mediocre experiences with toys, I didn’t have particu-

Masturbation just doesn’t do it, at

larly high expectations.

My only complaint is a purely

Oh, I was so wrong.

pragmatic one, in that I wish it were

During a recent shoot, the

I’m not the type of girl who orgasms quickly or easily, and definitely

a little longer. My wrist gets a bit

director handed me an njoy Pure

not during shoots. But I came. Very quickly. And when I looked down at

fatigued after the fourth or fifth

Wand and asked me with a cute lit-

the poor chair, I’d left quite the mess. I had to have one of my very own.

orgasm. Wait, fourth or fifth orgasm?


least for me.

drated, and deliriously happy.

tle smile if I’d ever played with one.

The Pure Wand is hefty, heavy in the hands. Somehow, you get the

When I said no, she assured me it

sense that it’s really serious about getting you off. The stainless steel is

was fun. It looked quite large, a bit

cool to the touch but warms quickly after you handle it for a bit. And it’s

it. If you own only one toy in your life,

like a dumbbell or paperweight. If

just so pretty in its own understated way, whether in the hand or nestled

make it the njoy Pure Wand. Just

you didn’t know what it was, you

into the magenta satin of its box.

might not recognize it as a sex toy.

Simply put, this is the only toy that’s ever approached the pleasure I

Between its innocuous appearance

get from actual sex with an actual penis. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. Every

Never mind. Go out and buy this toy. Now. Do

make sure you’ve got a stack of towels by the bed. MORE? WWW.NJOYTOYS.COM




Dan Savage, writer, activist, and advice columnist is

have posted.

perhaps most famous for creating the concept of

In an interview with Savage for The New York Times,

GGG—”Good, Giving, and Game,” meaning that if your

journalist Mark Oppenheimer calls him old-fashioned

partner likes to have cake smashed into their face

and discredits the idea that Savage is subversive (despite

while getting down, then you should at least give it a try.

questions to his column in its early years leading with the

Or, if you’re not up to that, let them get cake smashed

jaunty salutation “Hey Faggot”). He accused Savage of

with someone else. He’s also known for the acronym

actually being deeply invested in family values. Correctly

DTMFA—“Dump the Mother Fucker Already,” which

so. Savage continually supports the idea of happy, honest,

applies to those partners who themselves are not GGG.

sexually healthy families. That is only a subversive idea

These concepts were coined in his long-running

when it exists in opposition to the societally prevalent

advice column, Savage Love, which has become as much

idea that family values stem only from rigidly monoga-

a part of the fabric of American culture as the all-night

mous, opposite-gender couples. Savage is not interested



In addition to his widely syndicated column, Sav-


age has written a number of inspiring books, but his

hung himself on September 9, 2010,

sexcapades. Instead, he promotes clear communication

words bring more than relationship advice. When

after having been subjected to

and vigorous freedom for the expression of sexuality in

Senator Rick Santorum spoke out against homosexuals,

extreme anti-gay harassment by

the interest of keeping couples together. Savage himself

Savage began a campaign through his column that

other teenagers, Savage began the

is a happily married husband and father.

asked readers to write in sexually related definitions

“It Gets Better” YouTube campaign.

for “Santorum.” The winner was, “a frothy mix of lube

Here he asked gay adults to post vid-

and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of

eos of themselves telling their sto-

sex for sex’s sake. He doesn’t differentiate sexual habits

anal sex.” As a result of the campaign, Santorum

ries of how they survived gay

for different genders. Bless him. When reproached for

became so synonymous with this definition that it

bashing and have gone on to live

being more focused on the male perspective, his

showed up first before the senator in a Google search

healthy, happy lives. The project

response was, “Well, I’m male. And women, straight

until his recent bid for the Republican presidential

was so popular it has sparked other

women, are in relationships with men. Doesn’t it help

ticket began to look viable.

organizations and to date there are

to know what we’re really like?” Yes, indeed it does.

136 Web pages of videos that people

Thanks, Dan, for everything you’ve done.

After Greensburg, Indiana, teenager Billy Lucas


CALAMITY JANE “I may have made a mistake about his gender but not about his talent,” shouts the owner of The Golden Garter Saloon in the midst of an Old West bar fight sparked because the men in the audience had just found out that the lovely singer with pretty red curls was not a woman. Hello, Dick Wesson. As the men storm the stage, Doris Day as Calamity Jane saves the day by singing them a song. We don’t have to mention here that this 1953 nod and wink to lesbianism is actually more of a roar. The movie tells us that Day sings


in overturning the system—in fact, he has been rather dismissive of open relationships and commune-style


Savage is radical on one point, however. He adamantly insists that, like men, women too may just want



Some folks have a thing for rope, others have a thing for leather straps, but the mother of modern dance, Isadora Duncan, had a thing for scarves. She adored those filmy bits of silk so much that they killed her. Born in San Francisco, Duncan revolutionized dance by freeing the movement of the human form from the stilted and formulaic postures of traditional ballet. She danced barefoot, her hair free, often wearing only a loosely draped tunic. She believed that dance should emphasize emotional expression and improvisation. Her style directly led to the modern dance movement as we know it. Personally she was also pretty loose. Bisexual, radical, and fond of gin, Duncan had two children out of wedlock and fought to become a citizen of the nascent Soviet Union due to her communist sympathies. REVIEW BY WHORE!

She continued to dance until she was fifty, but on September 14, 1927, while riding in a convertible through Nice, one of her famously elegant scarves wrapped around a rear wheel and strangled her to death. An ignoble end for a woman who had led a remarkably


vital life. Her odd demise led Gertrude Stein to wryly


remark that “affectations can be dangerous.” But it is Duncan’s own words that speak best to what she lived and died for. “I dance what I am. Sin, prayer, flight, the light that never was on land or sea? I dance what I am.”

BEARDSLEY’S TANNHÄUSER work and we can only assume that his

“Beardsley’s art is cruel and evil and so like dear Aubrey, who has a face like a silver hatchet, with

unpublished literary work met that fate at his

grass-green hair,” noted Oscar Wilde of his fel-

own hand. But one major piece survived, albeit

low Aesthete, Aubrey Beardsley. Although his

unfinished. His “romantic novel,” Under the Hill

working career spanned only six years before

(alternately called The Story of Venus and

being cut off in 1898 by the ravages of tuberculo-

Tannhäuser), was an object of great effort on his

sis, Beardsley’s artwork proved to be remarkably

part, and its early chapters, which were repeat-

influential. He eschewed established concepts

edly revised and reworked, were published in

of beauty and emphasized the decadent, the gro-

serial form in The Savoy. The surviving manu-

tesque, and the erotic. He worked largely in the

script, which is preserved in the Rosenbach

art nouveau style but was heavily influenced by

Foundation library in Philadelphia, gives little

Japanese shunga artwork, creating an amalgam

indication of where the rambling piece was

that made him one of the most controversial art-

headed, but plot is hardly the point of this exqui-

ists of his day, despite his young age.

sitely decadent work. What does survive is a trea-

Most people today will easily recognize his

sure. Its ten chapters detail the visit of the

drawings, which accompanied Wilde’s Salome,

Chevalier Tannhäuser (the Abbé Fanfreluche in

an infamous private edition of Lysistrata, Malo-

the published version) to the Hill of Venus, the

ry’s Morte d’Arthur, and countless other books

habits of the goddess of love and her courtiers

and magazines, and his name survives in the

who live there, and the elegantly sensual rela-

annals of art history as one of the nineteenth century’s most progressive talents. What is less well remembered REVIEW BY WHORE!

is that he was also a writer and a poet. This is hardly surprising, as the British Aesthetic Movement was largely a


tionship that develops between the two lead figures. The descriptions of the clothing, the environment of the Venusberg, and the opulence of life there are nothing

were published, primarily in London

short of pornographic, and the care and feeding of the pampered unicorn Adolphe is doubly so.

literary phenomenon and he would have been a poor

newspapers. We know that upon his

Aesthete indeed if he hadn’t thrown his hat into the liter-

conversion to Catholicism shortly

ary ring as well. The extent of his body of literary work is

before his death, he begged his pub-

remarkable literary movements of the English language.

unknown, since only a smattering of essays and poems

lisher to destroy his decadent art-


This is a largely forgotten work of one of the most




One of the most iconic Halloween costumes is the bunny, but did you know that in wearing it you may be

tights until 1962, when more com-

violating a trademark? The form-fitting outfit with its

fortable sheer black tights were

fluffy tail, white collar and cuffs (with Playboy cuff-

introduced. In 1968, Playboy worked

flinks), bow tie, and satin ears debuted at the Playboy

with a manufacturer to develop the

Club in 1960. It was designed by Ilse Taurins, the girl-

first professional dancers’ support

friend of then Playboy director of promotions, Victor

tights that were sheer to the waist-

Lownes. Hugh Hefner was initially resistant, since he

band. The first Bunny shoe was a

had conceived of the Playboy logo rabbit as male, but

plain black pump with a three-inch

was won over by the prototype, to which he added some

heel and pointed toe. This was later

details. While certainly not the first costume of its gen-

replaced with a satin pump dyed to

eral form, it was the first service uniform ever granted

match the particular costume.

registration by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (patent number 762,884). The costume was worn by Playboy Bunnies, who

Over the years, the Bunny outfit was modified to reflect current fashion. In the late 1960s, Pucci-

were the waitresses and entertainers at the Playboy

influenced psychedelic-print cos-

Clubs that were fixtures in most major American cit-

tumes were introduced. The mid

ies from the sixties until the late eighties. They are not

eighties saw theme costumes rang-

to be confused with the Playmates, whose nude photos

ing from the Cupid Bunny to the

appeared in the magazine, although there was some

Carmen Miranda Bunny.

crossover between the two. The original outfit resem-


Early Bunnies wore black mesh

Despite the fact that Bunnies

Starting with Gloria Steinem’s undercover exposé

bled a strapless, one-piece, rayon-satin bathing suit.

paid monthly fees for the mainte-

It came in ten colors and numerous sizes, which were

nance of their outfits, they did not

in 1964, much has been written about the implications

custom fitted to each wearer by seamstresses who were

own them and were not allowed to

of transforming women into rabbits. Arguably the

on staff at each club. Name-tag rosettes were added to

take them outside club premises.

most thorough study is The Bunny Years: The Surprising

the costume in 1961 and were worn on the right hip. In

They were kept by Playboy when

Inside Story of the Playboy Clubs: The Women Who Worked

1964, a foundation manufacturer worked with Playboy

employment was concluded, unless

as Bunnies, and Where They Are Now, first published

to develop a more durable costume that was also wash-

they were specifically gifted, in

in 1998 and rereleased last autumn. Author and one-

able. This lightweight, boned-foundation Bunny outfit

which case they were accompa-

time bunny Kathryn Leigh Scott interviewed some

came in a variety of colors—but only two sizes, 34D and

nied by a signed release from the

250 former bunnies, revealing a wide range of expe-

36D. The Bunny tail also changed from the original

company. Playboy has occasionally

riences and perspectives. Actress Susan Sullivan’s

design. The original was relatively small and made of

offered them at auction through eBay

account is particularly interesting and is available

nylon yarn. It was replaced in July of 1969 with a larger

and Christie’s. One sold at the latter

online on Scott’s blog: http://www.kathrynleighscott.

model fashioned from white synthetic fur.

in 2003 for more than $14,000.




When I was a captain in the army and in command of more than 100 people, I qualified for the karaoke finals at the Leadership Club (formerly known as the Officer’s Club). The competition was strong but a little soft on staging and costuming. That is, until I came running out on stage in a Britney Spears Catholic school girl outfit and sang “Oops! I Did It Again.” The entire room was laughing REVIEW BY JOEL CANON


and I ended up winning the contest. Everyone generally thinks of the army as a pretty stuffy institution, but I made the front page of the Fort Sill paper, so thousands of soldiers read about it and saw me in, well, a different kind of uniform. My boss (and his boss, a colonel) also saw the paper and found it quite entertaining. No one was really shocked that I did it. I was not exactly a “normal” sort of army officer.




Hate it when your iPod runs out of juice while you’re

to keeping your battery charged and your tunes

running/walking/whatever? So do we. And appar-

cranking. The more you move your leg, the more

ently so do Lithuanian designers Inesa Malafej and

energy you generate. The idea is similar to a self-

Arünas Sukarevicius, who decided to do something

winding watch.

about it. The result is Dancepants Kinetic Music

Sadly, we here at Whore! Magazine Labs have not

Generator, an odd name but a remarkably elegant

been able to test this ingenious device. It’s still in

solution. The concept is actually quite simple. A

development and is not yet available for sale, but

kinetic module is attached to the cuff of a pair of

it’s something that’s both so healthy and so green

workout pants; a wire runs up the seam of the leg

that it certainly looks like the wave of the future.

and attaches to the power input on your MP3 player.

Perhaps it will one day be able to power your

As you walk, run, dance, or do whatever you do that


involves moving your feet vigorously, the module generates a small amount of power that contributes




You may remember the British

of its colossal scale.” After observ-

spy drama The Avengers, but if you

ing its vague resemblance to the

don’t, it’s well worth a look. Pro-

vagina dentata, they then go on to

duced between 1961 and 1969,

relate it to the all-seeing eye of the

the show followed the adventures

goddess of truth and wisdom. “Mrs.

of smartly tailored British intelli-

Peel was, after all, goddess-like in

gence agent John Steed and three

her omniscience and omnicompe-

successive female partners as

tence, and Steed beat a path to the

they foil the evil intentions of a

portal of her sanctuary whenever

variety of villainous villains. The

he wished to draw upon her scien-

production was stylish in the

tific wisdom and powers of logical

extreme, excessively British, and


totally bizarre.

edge that they may be taking all of

produced by Independent Artists

this a bit further than Pottle may

and Harry Pottle was put in

have intended, but their observa-

charge of the production design.

tions are very much in keeping

The show was already unusual,

with the manner in which Peel’s

but this is where it got truly weird.

character was presented. In an era

Pottle brought a London op art sensibility to the overall look and


that saw few powerful female figures on television, Emma Peel

included such memorable ele-

she saves him as often as he saves her. Peel’s London apartment is fur-

stands out as a profoundly stylish

ments as black-and-white spiral

nished at the height of the style of the day, but its front door is by far its

and badass feminist icon.

floor treatments and human-

most striking feature. Its peep hole is covered on the outside with a large,

scale chess boards. Certainly the

heavily lashed feminine eye that snaps open and shut with a disconcerting

most overtly surreal element in

click. This device serves as a reminder of Peel’s femininity and whimsy,

Pottle’s design came in 1965 with

but there may be more to it than that. In their Reading between Designs:

the introduction of Steed’s sec-

Visual Imagery and the Generation of Meaning in The Avengers, The Prisoner,

ond partner, Emma Peel, played

and Doctor Who (2003), Piers D. Britton and Simon J. Barker have a lot

by Diana Rigg. Peel is a powerful

more to say about it. In their analysis, since this is the first thing that

character, portrayed as an intelli-

Steed encounters when he approaches Peel, it can be seen as her “making

gent, skilled, strong, and stylish

eyes” at her most frequent visitor while at the same time reversing the

woman who is generally given

male gaze. “The unflinching gaze of the cyclopean eye offered no submis-

greater dimension than her part-

sive encouragement to Steed—or by extension, to the male viewer. On the

ner. In their various adventures,

contrary, it emphasized Mrs. Peel’s empowerment, not the least by virtue



Britton and Barker acknowl-

In 1964, the show began to be



A PLACE FOR UNUSUAL BUT INTERESTING FACTS “Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.” – Margaret Mead, 1901–1978 Nothing says love like a dia-

lips below the clitoris, are

the lower body of a goat. Sound

in physics (and one of forty-

mond, right? Well, unless you

known in less scientific circles

familiar? Probably, because

three in any category), Maria

happen to be in northern Italy

as the “nymphae.” They are

the satyr was borrowed again,

Goeppert-Mayer (1906–1972)

in centuries past. There, when

named after the nymphs of

this time by Christianity,

had a great deal of trouble

a man popped the question, he

Grecian lore whose libidos

where it became the image for

finding a job. Though she was

did so with a knife, which he

were reportedly so wild that

its great evil beast, the devil.

honored in 1963 for her dis-

would present to the object of

they are the source for the

That’s mythology, but in

coveries in the shell model of

his affection as a gift. Despite

term nymphomania. Less

psychiatry, satyriasis refers to

the atomic nucleus, she devel-

its edgy nature, its intent was

commonly used is the term for

“a neurotic condition in men in

oped her theories while volun-

to unite rather than to sever.

a libidinous man, “satyriasis,”

which the symptoms are a

teering as an associate

This coltello d’amore, or knife

which is named after the horny

compulsion to have sexual

professor of physics at the

of love, was generally a large

and playful satyr. Satyrs have

intercourse with as many

University of Chicago begin-

folding lock-knife with a blade

gone through a number of

women as possible and an

ning in 1946 and as a part-

engraved with hearts, stars,

revisions throughout his-

and scroll motifs, and some-

tory. First they

times with figures of couples

were compan-

and romantic inscriptions.

ions to the

The handle generally had an

Greek gods

ornate pattern of dots and concentric circles intended to

inability to have lasting relationships with them.” “Gee,

time senior physicist at the nearby Argonne National Laboratory. The problem was not her qualifications, obviously,

golly ma,

but sexist university policies

Pan and


relating to nepotism. Her hus-



band, David Edward Mayer,

deflect the evil eye. It was often

and they

like every

held university positions and,

fitted with a ring so it could be

were known

man I know,”

as such, most of the places that

hung by the bride’s bedside,

to be rogu-

or so some

Goeppert-Mayer taught were

ready to enforce her husband’s

ishly subver-

would say.

unable to formally hire her. A

wedding vows if need be. Col-

sive as well as


rather undistinguished phy-

telli d’amore were sometimes

shy and cow-

niacs, on the

sist, Mayer is primarily

manufactured in pairs, one

ardly. They loved wine and

other hand, are “women with

remembered as Goeppert-

with a white handle for the

women (especially nymphs)

abnormal sexual desires.”

Mayer’s husband. Neverthe-

bride, so she could defend her

and playing musical pipes. In

honor, and one with a black

Greek depictions, they are

part of that definition and it

allowed her to pursue her

Pattern from the handle of a coltelli d’amore

Scratch the “abnormal”

less, her volunteer work

handle for the groom, so he

human in form with long hair,

sounds like a match made in

research, leading to a break-

could avenge her in the event

beards, and horse tails, but

heaven—or perhaps Mount

through in understanding

her efforts were not successful.

with the rise of Rome they

Olympus. So if you are feeling

atomic structure. As she said,

Want one? Certain Italian

became conflated with the

nymphlike, go find yourself a

“Winning the prize was half as exciting as doing the work.”

knife manufacturers still make

equally carefree faunus. The

satyr and may the gods smile

them. Prices run from 300 to

result? The satyr was cemented

upon you in your frolicking.

2,000 euros and up.

in mythical history as a lusty,

The labia minora, those soft

In 1960, Goeppert-Mayer finally became a full professor

horned and hoofed being with

One of only two women to have

of physics at the University of

the upper body of a man and

been awarded the Nobel Prize

California at San Diego.


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