Category Archives: sexual revolution

RIP German sex educator Oswalt Kolle (1928 – 2010)

Oswalt Kolle played a significant role in the sexual revolution in Germany.

Of all sexual revolutions (see here), the one that occurred in the 1960s was the most pervasive, due to mass media, the pill and general economic prosperity.

It was a funny revolution. A friend once told me that it was just an excuse for all alpha males to bang as many women as they could get their hands on. This is an exaggeration, of course, but contains some truth.

It was the start of sex education in state schools, like the Sexualkundeatlas of 1969, but also of state-funded sexual education films Helga – Vom Werden des menschlichen Lebens.

Illustration Zázrak Lásky (Czech translation of Wunder der Liebe by Oswalt Kolle). For more visuals of Oswalt Kolle’s products, see my old page here[1].

Charles Fourier’s Hierarchy of Cuckoldry (1924)

Charles Fourier: Hiérarchie du cocuage – Les presses du réel (book) Hiérarchie du cocuage by Charles Fourier (1924).

Charles Fourier‘s Hiérarchie du cocuage (1924)

“… let us first establish a hierarchy of cuckoldry and introduce into this serious debate the beacon of analytic method, which the philosophers regard as the path to truth. ”

“Among cuckolds, it is possible to distinguish nine degrees of cuckoldry, both among men and women, for women are cuckolded far more often than men; indeed if the husband has horns as tall as a stag’s antlers, the wife’s may be said to be as high as the branches of a tree.” —The theory of the four movements [1]

I stumbled upon this work via the excellent Anton Constandse Eros – de waan der zinnen (1977). The hierarchy of cuckoldry is part of a defense of free love.

RIP Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1950 – 2009)

RIP Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1950 –  2009)

Epistemology of the Closet by Eve Kosofksy Sedgwick

Please let me know if you know the origins of the cover.

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (May 2, 1950 – April 12, 2009) was an American theorist in the fields of queer theory and critical theory. She is best-known for her literary study Epistemology of the Closet (1990) in which she referenced Herman Melville, Henry James, Marcel Proust, and Oscar Wilde. A pity she did not use film as a basis for her analysis. She could have been the American Zizek.

She was popular with the American left, witness the review in The Nation. It’s not hard guessing how she was perceived in the bible belt.

RIP Peter “Carry On” Rogers (1914 – 2009)

RIP Peter Rogers (1914 – 2009)

Carry On… Up the Khyber

Peter Rogers (20 February 1914 – 14 April 2009) was a British film producer. Rogers is best-known as producer of the Carry On series of British sex comedy films, beginning with Carry On Sergeant in 1958.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkqHI3-KXCs&]

“It sounds bizar but the Carry On films are as much part of the sixties as Pink Floyd” (documentary by the BBC, 2007).

The Carry On films were a long-running series of British low-budget comedy films, directed by Gerald Thomas and produced by Peter Rogers. An energetic mix of parody, farce, slapstick and double entendres, they are seen as classic examples of the low end of British humour in the British comic tradition of the music hall and seaside postcards, best documented in Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema by Simon Sheridan.

Maurice Girodias @90

Maurice Girodias @90

Tropic of Cancer, first edition published by Maurice Girodias's father. Cover drawing by Girodias himself. by you.

In 1934, at the age of 15, Girodias drew the disturbing crab picture seen on the original cover of Tropic of Cancer.

The cover states: “Ne doit pas etre exposé en étalage ou en vitrine,” in English that is: “Cannot be displayed in show window.”

Ah … the good old “sous le manteau” days

“I remember a very funny story told to me by Maurice. He once had to take the train to Belgium, where he needed to bring a great deal of money. He had hidden the money bills in his shorts. Once on the train, he was overcome by diarrhea and forgot to remove the money from his shorts when he went to the toilet with the unfortunate result of soiling this small fortune. He cleaned the money as best as he could and afterwards reserved those bills to use as — quite literally — dirty money.” —Sholem Stein

Maurice Girodias (12 April 19193 July 1990), was the founder of the The Olympia Press. At one time he was the owner of his father’s Obelisk Press, and spent most of his productive years in Paris.

Girodias’s involvement with his father’s business started early. In 1934, at the age of 15, Girodias drew the disturbing crab picture seen on the original cover of Tropic of Cancer. After his father’s early death in 1939, Girodias took over publishing duties, and at the age of 20 managed to survive Paris, World War II, Occupation and paper shortages.

The Affaire Miller ended with Girodias out of jail, but bankrupt and no longer in control of his company.

Olympia Press

Olympia Press was a Paris-based publisher, launched in 1953 by Maurice Girodias as a rebadged version of the Obelisk Press he inherited from his father Jack Kahane. It published a mix of erotic novels and avant-garde literary works, and is best known for the first print of Vladimir Nabokov‘s Lolita.

Most, if not all, Olympia Press publications were promoted and packaged as “Traveller’s Companion” books, usually with simple text-only covers, and each book in the series was numbered.

Olympia Press was also the first publisher willing to print the controversial William S. Burroughs novel, Naked Lunch. Other notable works included J. P. Donleavy‘s The Ginger Man; the French trilogy Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett; A Tale of Satisfied Desire by Georges Bataille and Story of O by Pauline Réage.

English-language presses in Paris

The Enlish-language literary expatriates depended on the presence in Paris of a substantial number of English-language presses, periodicals, and bookstores. These small presses included such famous names as the Contact Press (of American poet Robert McAlmon), the Three Mountains Press (of Bill Bird), the Hours Press (of Nancy Cunard), the Black Sun Press (of Harry and Caresse Crosby), the Obelisk Press (of Jack Kahane), and the Olympia Press (of Maurice Girodias, son of Kahane).

French erotica, and, icon of erotic art #42

In the history of world erotica I present you with Le Poitevin’s diableries.

Les Diableries Erotiques by Eugène le Poitevin (1806 - 1870)

From the Les Diableries Erotiques by Eugène le Poitevin

Eugène le Poitevin (18061870) was a French artist, author of Les Diableries Erotiques.

He is an underrated figure in the history of French erotica and his engraving above from the aforementioned Les Diableries Erotiques is icon of erotic art #42.

Diableries are an interesting genre and illustrates how — before the “invention” of erotica and pornography — body parts and the people possessing them were used for subversive purposes, here as a form of satirical pornography or pornographic satire. The genre goes back to Rabelais, although his masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel was more emetic than erotic.

Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais, illustrated by Gustave Doré in 1873

Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais, illustrated by Gustave Doré in 1873

Cardinal Armand de Rohan-Soubise by anonymous  Anonymous satirical caricature of the Cardinal Armand de Rohan-Soubise (1717-1757); this engraving is a good example of "pornography" as a tool for political subversion during France's ancien régime.

Cardinal Armand de Rohan-Soubise by anonymous
Anonymous satirical caricature of the Cardinal Armand de Rohan-Soubise (1717-1757); this engraving is a good example of “pornography” as a tool for political subversion during France’s ancien régime.

Of course, artists such as Le Poitevin deserve a place in the history of derision, a playful and benign derision that is turned toward ourselves, toward the very core of human nature. As such it is also a piece of toilet philosophy.

Remarkably, the writeup on a Poitevin engraving not depicted here in my edition of Erotic Art of the Masters the 18th, 19th, 20th Centuries Art & Artists , author and editor Bradley Smith notes “penises and vaginas fly through the air like butterflies, are gathered in baskets and, personified, play games with adults and children.” This quote echoes the following by Deleuze and Guattari, “Flying anuses, speeding vaginas, there is no castration” (A Thousand Plateaus, p. 32).

Lawrence Ferlinghetti @90

Lawrence Ferlinghetti @90

A Coney Island of the Mind by you.

A Coney Island of the Mind (1958)

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born Lawrence Ferling on March 24, 1919) is an American poet, painter, Liberal, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. Author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration, he is best known for A Coney Island of the Mind.

A Coney Island of the Mind is a collection of poetry by Lawrence Ferlinghetti originally published in 1958 and dedicated to Carl Solomon. It contains some of Ferlinghetti’s most famous poems, such as I am Waiting, and Junkman’s Obbligato, which were created for jazz accompaniment (see jazz poetry). There are approximately a million copies in print of A Coney Island, and the book has been translated into over a dozen languages. It remains one of the best-selling and most popular books of poetry ever published.

Coney Island was written in the conservative post-war 1950s, and his poetry resonates with a joyful anti-establishment fervor.

Carl Solomon (1928-1993) was an American writer, artist and criminal. He was friend of Allen Ginsberg and an important inspiration for Ginsberg’s “Howl” (full title: “Howl for Carl Solomon.”). Ginsberg had met Solomon in the mental institution of Bellevue Hospital Center and became friends with him. Outside of being a member of the The Times Square Underworld, Solomon was a Dada and Surrealism enthusiast (he introduced Ginsberg to Artaud) who suffered bouts of depression.

Solomon wanted to commit suicide, but he thought a form of suicide appropriate to dadaism would be to go to a mental institution and demand a lobotomy. The institution refused, giving him many forms of therapy, including electroshock therapy. Much of the final section of the first part of “Howl” is a description of this.

Ginsberg admitted later this sympathy for Solomon was connected to bottled up guilt and sympathy for his mother’s condition (she suffered from schizophrenia and had been lobotomized), an issue he was not yet ready to address directly.

Although in style and theme Ferlinghetti’s  writing is very unlike that of the original New York based Beat circle, he had important associations with the Beat writers, who made City Lights Bookstore their headquarters when they were in San Francisco. He has often claimed that he was not a Beat, but a bohemian of an earlier generation. Over the years Ferlinghetti published work by most of the Beats, most notably Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs. He was Ginsberg’s publisher for over thirty years.

Havelock Ellis @150

Havelock Ellis @150

Psychology of Sex by Havelock Ellis

Pan Piper was an imprint of Pan Books

Havelock Ellis (February 2, 1859July 8, 1939) was a British sexologist, noted for his seven volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex and for his translation of Against the Grain by Joris-Karl Huysmans.

He was an astute observer, a quote I use regularly is:

What we call ‘Progress’ is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance. —Havelock Ellis

Havelock Ellis

The sexologist and writer Havelock Ellis “looked like a tripartite cross between Tolstoy, Rasputin, and Bernard Shaw; was one of the many semi-pagan ideological nudists that England produced at the end of the nineteenth century; and never achieved full sexual arousal until his second wife urinated on him in his late middle age.” (Our Culture, What’s Left of it by Theodore Dalrymple)

His impotence and urolagnia

According to Ellis in My Life, his friends were much amused at his being considered an expert on sex, what with the fact that he suffered from impotence until the age of 60, when he discovered that he was able to become aroused by the sight of a woman urinating. Ellis named the interest in urination “Undinism” but it is now more commonly called Urolagnia.

His marriage

In November 1891, at the age of 32, and still a virgin, Ellis married the English writer and proponent of women’s rights, Edith Lees (none of his four sisters ever married). From the beginning, their marriage was unconventional; Edith Ellis was openly lesbian, and at the end of the honeymoon, Ellis went back to his bachelor rooms in Paddington, while she lived at Fellowship House. Their ‘open marriage‘ was the central subject in Ellis’s autobiography, My Life.

On sexual inversion

His book Sexual Inversion, the first English medical text book on homosexuality, co-authored with John Addington Symonds, described the sexual relations of homosexual men and boys, something that Ellis did not consider to be a disease, immoral, or a crime. The work assumes that same-sex love transcended age-taboos as well as gender-taboos, as seven of the twenty-one examples are of intergenerational relationships. A bookseller was prosecuted in 1897 for stocking Ellis’ book. Although the term homosexual itself is attributed to Ellis, he wrote in 1897, “‘homosexual’ is a barbarously hybrid word, and I claim no responsibility for it,” the hybridity in question being the word’s mix of Greek and Latin roots. Other psychologically important concepts developed by Ellis include autoerotism and narcissism, both of which were later taken up by Sigmund Freud.

On sadomasochism

A lot has been written on masochism, from Freud to Reik, but one of the best descriptions is by Havelock Ellis:

“The essence of sadomasochism is not so much “pain” as the overwhelming of one’s senses – emotionally more than physically. Active sexual masochism has little to do with pain and everything to do with the search for emotional pleasure. When we understand that it is pain only, and not cruelty, that is the essential in this group of manifestations, we begin to come nearer to their explanation. The masochist desires to experience pain, but he generally desires that it should be inflicted in love; the sadist desires to inflict pain, but he desires that it should be felt as love….” — From an unidentified volume of Studies in the Psychology of Sex

Many of Ellis’s texts are featured at the public domain library Gutenberg.org. I do wish I could lay my hands on an indexed copy of Studies in the Psychology of Sex for a reasonable price. He is, I feel, an underappreciated writer.

What the Butler Saw in Düsseldorf

The butler visited Diana und Actaeon – Der verbotene Blick auf die Nacktheit with a fellow butler and a maid.

He was thrilled to see Étant donnés[1] by Marcel Duchamp. And he did not realize it also looked like this[2]. He saw the famous metal doll sculpture[3] by Hans Bellmer and Bad Boy by Eric Fischl. He saw the most beautiful penis in post-war photography, yes he meant the Robert Mapplethorpe one[4].

He saw and liked photographs[5] of the Linley Sambourne collection, paintings by French figuratist Jean Rustin[6], paintings by Michael Kirkham[7], his first viewing of the fauvist Erich Heckel[8], Phryne[9] by French academic cult painter Jean-Léon Gérôme, waxworks by Belgian sculptor Berlinde De Bruyckere[10], and paintings by Roland Delcol[11].

The butler was also very much taken by Johannes Hüppi[12]; his first viewing of his fave John Currin[13]; his first real Félix Vallotton; and a Lisa Yuskavage[14]. But not that one.

Butler wants you to know that the works he pointed to are for reference only and may not correspond to the works at the exhibition. He also wants you to know that some of the links may be NSFW.

A flawed piece on the origins of dark cabaret

Hildegarde Knef

A flawed piece on the origins of the dark cabaret strain in the American entertainment industry, the roots of American cabaret in German cabaret and the aesthetics of death.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX30orkOScQ&]

Wieviel Menschen waren glücklich[1] is a 1970 musical composition interpreted by Hildegard Knef and released on Decca Records as the b-side to “Tapetenwechsel“.

Café Elektric

Click for credits

I’m cross-posting this from Facebook. It’s a very sad song and I associate it with boudoir noir[2] and dark cabaret traditions, along the current fad in music criticism: hauntology.

Hildegarde Knef, German actress, singer and writer, probably best-known outside of the Germanosphere for her interpretation of “Mackie Messer” and her performance in Die Sünderin. Along with Marlene Dietrich, she is most firmly associated with dark cabaret, a genre of music represented by The Dresden Dolls and Marilyn Manson(The Golden Age of Grotesque) but the aesthetics have older ancestors.

Hildegarde Knef in the German film Die Sünderin

Click for credits

Two iconic images illustrate dark cabaret: the album cover to Swordfishtrombones[3] and the Charlotte Rampling‘s cabaret scene in The Night Porter[4] [5], and here[6] in a Youtube clip. Note the suspenders both on Rampling and Waits.

In the history of cabaret, three or four local histories have been written: French cabaret (Le Chat Noir), German cabaret (Überbrettl) and American cabaret (Cabaret). British cabaret isn’t documented because in the United Kingdom cabaret has historically been called music hall and existed much longer, since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

The clearest mental image most of us have of cabaret is Liza Minelli in Cabaret with its iconic songs Willkommen[7] and “Life Is a Cabaret[8]. The imagery of this musical was inspired by German cabaret as witnessed by Anglo-American writer Christopher Isherwood in Goodbye to Berlin (1939) during the 1920s in Berlin.

Jo Steiner (1877-1935) - Manifesto per spettacolo di cabaret di Claire Waldoff, a Berlino, nel 1914.

Click for credits

So the archetypical American cabaret is rooted in German cabaret. German cabaret was the darkest of them all because it happened in 1920s Berlin, the birthplace of, literature (Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz, 1929), film (Lang, Metropolis, 1927 and M, 1931, Dietrich, Der blaue Engel, 1930 and German Expressionism), painting (Grosz, Circe [9], Dix, Großstadt-Triptych[10]), music (Weill, Threepenny Opera[11], 1928), criticism (Benjamin), philosophy/psychology (Jung), and fashion.

Most of these dark manifestations of Weimar’s culture were labelled degenerate and banned after Hitler’s rise to power.

Dietrich in The Blue Angel is the most iconic image of dark cabaret. The film was directed by Josef von Sternberg in 1930, based on Heinrich Mann‘s novel Professor Unrat. The film is considered to be the first major German sound film and it brought world fame to actress Marlene Dietrich. In addition, it introduced her signature song, Falling in Love Again (Can’t Help It). This song was originally entitled Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt[12] and was composed by Frederick Hollander for Der Blaue Engel. The English language words were written by Sammy Lerner, but are in no way a direct translation of the original.