Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The 98-cent sex manual

This-here vintage ad for a marriage manual, a classic of enlightenment and orgasmic edification, is going to require a little translation. I PROMISE you I am not adding anything or taking anything away, though deciphering the bleary grey letters may prove to be a challenge.

Will Their Dream Come True, or will Sex Ignorance Mar their Happiness

Thousands of marriages end in misery and divorce because so many married people are ignorant of the Art of Love. Is your marriage on the brink of ruin? Do you search for the joy of a perfect union? Now YOU can change despair into heavenly happiness -

if you know the secrets of  the intimate physical contacts of marriage.
Dr. Marie Stopes, in the preface to her world-famous book, said, "In my own marriage I paid such a terrible price for sex ignorance that I felt that knowledge gained at such a price should be placed at the service of humanity." This volume, "Married Love", courageously fulfills this noble purpose.
Editor's note. I didn't think they were even going to use the word "sex", what with all those references to the Art of Love, "perfect union" and "intimate physical contacts". This Marie Stopes is painted as a sort of Albert Schweitzer or Madame Curie of the fuck-book set, selflessly sharing all the hot gyrations she learned (somewhere, certainly not in her marriage) with mankind.
The thing is, these books use such remote, stilted, even clinical language that it's hard to even fit it together with the sweaty realities of sexuality, the squeezes and groans, the slippery. . . oh never mind, let's go on.

Partial Contents
The practice of restraint to please the wife.
Surest way to prepare wife for union.
The marital rights of the husband.
 What the wife must do to bring her husband's physical desires
in harmony with her own.
Regulation of physical marital relations.
Sleeplessness from unsatisfied desires.
Nervousness due to unsatisfied desires.
Charts showing periodicity of natural desire in women.
The essential factors for the act of union.
Greatest physical delights in marital union.
How some women drive their husbands to prostitutes.
Natural desire for physical union.
Joys of the honeymoon.
Ignorance of the bride and unwise actions of the groom.
The man who has relations with prostitutes before marriage.
Causes for unhappiness in marriage.
Frequency of marital relations.
Stimulation of physical desires.
The problem of the strong-sexed husband and the
weak-sexed wife.
Physical relations during pregnancy.
Problems of childless unions.
All this makes me long to get my hands on a copy of this thing, but I am sure it has gone out of print by now. Also, this looks suspiciously like one of those ads in the back of a comic book. Good grief, imagine exposing our innocent youth to such a thing! "Joys of the Honeymoon"? What sort of filth is this? And prostitutes are mentioned not once, but twice. When you think about it, however, if virginity is assumed for both "bride" and "groom", then who the hell is going to know anything about this at all? It will be like the poor bloke who kept shoving himself into his wife's belly button and wondering why he couldn't get her pregnant.

With remarkable frankness, and in simple, understandable language, Dr. Stopes explains the intimate and important details of wedded life. Point by point, and just as plainly as she would tell you in private confidence, Dr. Stopes takes up each of the many troublesome factors in marriage. She makes clear just what is to be done to insure contentment and happiness. She writes directly, forcefully, concretely, explaining step by step every procedure in proper sex relations.

1,000,000 COPIES SOLD
This whole thing reminds me of that old vaudeville routine, "Niagara Falls! Slowly I turn. Step by step. . . inch by inch. . . " Though this may sound like instructions for building a birdhouse, it's actually a guide to ecstasy and spasmodic, flailing pleasure for both Bride and Groom. It's just that they had to use this sort of clunky, unsexy language to leach out every trace of erotic content. "Point by point", "step by step",  "directly, forcefully, concretely": this sounds like something from some sort of 1950s home repair manual. But my favorite is the last line: "explaining step by step every procedure in proper sex relations." If these proper procedures had been followed to the letter, the whole human race would have died off by now.

Can't read this worth a darn, but it seems to be saying there was some sort of "ban" on this obviously filthy, salacious material and that now it has been lifted. Could this be a ploy to get people interested in this smut? The federal judge, who looks like Andy Hardy's dad, is obviously reading the back cover with great interest. I am also intrigued that to get this book, you have to send your 98 cents to the American Biological Society on East 34th Street in New York. I wonder what it looked like. 

Sex in a can (or, the Secret of Married Love)

After yesterday's extremely depressing fiction, which I only left up because I am sure nobody will want to read it, let's once again return to the land of Ha, Ha, Ha.

Every once in a while I dig one of these up: magazine ads that, while they seemed unremarkable then, now strike us as either ludicrous or downright dangerous.  Many of them originally appeared in vintage comic books - OK, vintage NOW, but then they were brand new, and pretty hot stuff, let me tell you.

As a kid, I wanted to send away for "100 Dolls for $1", "Grog Grows Own Tail", onion gum ("tastes like. . . like. . . onions! It's too funny!"), and the little monkey who sat in a teacup and plaintively asked, "Will you give me a home?" I never had enough saved up to send away for anything, I didn't have American money, plus for some reason I thought my parents wouldn't like me doing it (in particular the monkey).

But these ads still hold power and sway over me. Some of these go much farther back than the early '60s versions I saw when we stayed at the cottage in the summer and my brother and I read the Jimmy Olsen Annual.

Jimmy Olsen was nearly as potent as the sand, the lapping lake, the bullfrogs, and all the magic of being let off the leash for a couple of weeks every year. We consumed him eagerly, along with burnt marshmallows and enormous porterhouse steaks eaten with practically no vegetables.

I remember going to the back of the comic book first. Strange child, I was. "Look at this. Onion gum. I'm going to get it."

There are so many of these ads, hundreds, thousands, that I finally had to pick a general category: Health and Wellbeing. These include some very ancient remedies that would probably send you to the morgue if you actually tried them.

What startles me is that nobody saw anything wrong with this.

Why does he have a giant shrimp behind his head (or is that the cure)?


Three guesses who this steroid-inflated hunk is. (Hint: he had an illegitimate child with his maid, and his initials are M. U. D.)

I'm happy for them. (But what's the Lard Information Council?)

 #1 Cure for obesity:  cigarettes!

There's a disgusting story - sorry, I just have to tell you this - claiming that opera superstar Maria Callas discovered this painless reducing method and lost a ton of weight, but one day when she was sitting in the bathtub, something green and slimy began to "emerge". That's all I want to tell you.


Ball cozy. Purpose unknown.


Note they call it "periodic pain", which must have something to do with the Periodic Table of Elements. There's a version of this ad still on TV: the "poor Sue!" one, where she's out gleefully shopping her period away. The product is now called Midex or Midexatron or something, but it's probably the same stuff.

That bulge??

Oh, THAT bulge.


And here it is, that mysterious secret of marital happiness. It appears to come in a spray can and only costs 98 cents. A lot cheaper than a divorce.