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The Best of Sexology: Hugo Gernsback's Sex Mag

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Craig Yoe says:

My new book that I edited and designed, The Best of Sexology collects the wackiest and most unintentionally funny articles from America's first sex magazine, Sexology, The Illustrated Magazine of Sex Science. "Homosexual Chickens", "Adolph Hitler's Sex Life", "Sex and Satan", "Twin Beds or Single?", "Sexual Tattooing", "When Midgets Marry" are just a few of the subjects covered...or should I say uncovered?

The publisher of "Sexology", started in 1933, was Hugo Gernsbach, who published the first pulps of science fiction (the term originated in his pubs) and the science fiction award The Hugo is named after him. Gernsback used his science fiction writers and artists (like Frank Paul) to produce Sexology. There's a peek at the book here and I'll be on Fix TV's Red Eye show Fri. nite/Sat. morn at 2:00 a.m. to talk about it.

The Best of Sexology: Kinky and Kooky Excerpts from America's First Sex Magazine

Two new books from Feral House

Feral House, one of my favorite publishers of outré history, recently released two excellent books. Dope Menace has hundreds of color photos of sleazy drug paperback books, and The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People is a re-issue of the Wallace Family's (The Book of Lists, The People's Alamanac) fascinating history of the bedroom proclivities of famous folks, past and present.
200812031119 While we now enjoy this exploitative genre for its campy kitsch, gloriously bad writing, and outlandish misinformation, drug paperback books were once a transgressive medium with a perversely seductive quality.

Dope Menace collects together hundreds of fabulously lurid and collectible covers in color, from xenophobic turn-of-the century tomes about the opium trade to the beatnik glories of reefer smoking and William S. Burroughs’ Junkie to the spaced-out psychedelic ’60s. We mustn’t forget the gonzo paranoia brought on by Hunter S. Thompson in the ’70s, when anything was everything.


200812031124 For its initial edition of The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People in 1981, the legendary Wallace family read 1,500 biographies, pored over rare correspondence, legal transcripts and medical reports, and interviewed lovers, confidants and associates of many distinguished men and women in world history.

This 600-page illicit encyclopedia of the private lives of writers, politicians, athletes, popes, rabble-rousers, composers, rock stars and sex symbols has been revised and enlarged, with a dozen new entries, including ones on Kurt Cobain, Malcolm X, Wilt Chamberlain, Ayn Rand, Jim Morrison, Nico, Aleister Crowley, and more.

The Dancers’ Private Dressing Room

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The New York Times takes a peek backstage at the Hustler Club in Manhattan with an interactive panoramic shot of the unglamorous dressing room that lies beyond the stage lights.

In any act of fantasy – from a feature film to a political campaign – there is a hidden place where the dirty work gets done, where the make-believe is made.

In Hollywood, this is the editing room; in Washington, the spin room. At Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, a strip joint on Manhattan’s West Side, it is the dancers’ private dressing room where the image of available sexuality and the naked facts collide.

Tucked behind a closed door upstairs from the dance floor, the dressing room is a shrine to female beauty – to the tireless attempts to tease the hair into a proper state of sultriness and adjust the bosoms upward at just the right incline. It is a small piece of the contemporary demimonde (strippers nibble take-out food in thongs and gold lamé). Near a plastic bowl of pretzels, a topless beauty steams the wrinkles from her ball gown with an iron. A tall brunette in nothing but a G-string wanders by. She is brushing her teeth.

"Where the Dancers Dress to Undress."

Saturn's Children: Stross's robopervy tribute to the late late Heinlein

When Charlie Stross -- the mad, gonzo antipope of science fiction -- told me he was working on a Heinlein-esque novel, I wasn't surprised. Old Robert A. Heinlein's classic fiction was some of the best action-driven sf ever written. Then Charlie told me he was working a late Heinlein-esque novel and my eyes bugged out.

Towards the end of his career, RAH's novels got very long, very meandering, explicitly sexual, and very weird. Turned out, he had a tumor that was blocking the flow of blood to his brain (really!) and after it was removed, his fiction (and, reportedly, his personality) really changed again.

And it was those giant, pervy books that Charlie was setting out to pay tribute to.

Saturn's Children is that novel. It's the story of Freya, a sex-bot who was engineered (along with her untold legion of near-identical, near-immortal sisters) to be the perfect pleasure-toy for human masters. Unfortunately, the human race went extinct before Freya was ever booted up, leaving her (and the rest of the robots that comprise galactic civilization) with no purpose in life.

Robot society is sick -- because it was created in the image of our own. Robots are hardwired to obey humans and to serve them and their governments. When humans let themselves go extinct, the robots divided into two castes: those who wired to be empathic and those who were not. The non-empaths seized the moment: they formed shell corporations that bought their robot bodies from their dead and absent owners, and effectively owned themselves. Once this aristocracy of "free" robots was established, they ruthlessly enslaved the rest of robot society, seizing their deeds and slave-chipping them into obedience.

The robots yearn for -- and dread -- the reappearance of humans. The hardwired robotic obedience to humans means that the robots clique that successfully engineers a new human (preferably without releasing the dread "pink goo" -- the robotic bogeyman of self-replicating organic material) may be able to liberate robotkind, or enslave it forever.

Against this backdrop, Freya lives and (nearly) dies as she finds herself embroiled in a series of interplanetary intrigues, shuttling from world to world in realistic (and therefore slow and miserable) spaceships that can take a decade or more to reach Eris and the rest of the outer system. In a book laden with science-fiction in-jokes, philosophy and sly critiques, this may be the very best fillip. Stross puts the terrible lie to the idea of sub-lightspeed space-travel and explores the only way a species could effectively colonize our own system: by turning into robots, willing to amputate limbs to reduce payloads (or, in extreme cases, to simply ship "soulchips" bearing copies of their personalities around), willing to perch atop highly radioactive fission reactors, willing to take a one-way ticket to the outer reaches of our system.

What's more, Stross manages to find the narrative juice hidden in this constrained version of space-travel: to tell a tightly plotted, Maltese-Falcon-esque thriller with reversals and surprises galore, spread out across decades of objective and subjective time.

It's quite a remarkable trick. It's one that neither Heinlein, nor Asimov (the other author to whom the book is dedicated -- as is only proper, given Asimov's prominence in society's conception of what a robot is) managed. This is a fabulous book, a witty and deep critique of the field's shibboleths, and well worth the price of admission.

Saturn's Children

Spitzer Won't Be Charged In Call Girl Scandal

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The New York Times reports New York governor turned Luv Gov Eliot Spitzer won't be charged for his part in the call girl scandal that ended his political career.

On March 6, 2008, this office announced the filing of criminal charges related to an international prostitution ring known as the Emperors Club V.I.P. The investigation which led to those charges began when this Office learned of payments made in a questionable manner by former Governor Spitzer to a bank account in the name “QAT Consulting.” After the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, the office determined that the QAT Consulting account and a similar account at another financial institution had been used to launder more than $1 million worth of criminal proceeds derived from the Emperors Club V.I.P.’s prostitution business.

Eliot Spitzer has acknowledged to this Office that he was a client of, and made payments to, the Emperors Club V.I.P. Our investigation has shown that on multiple occasions, Mr. Spitzer arranged for women to travel from one state to another state to engage in prostitution. After a thorough investigation, this Office has uncovered no evidence of misuse of public or campaign funds. In addition, we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to bring charges against Mr. Spitzer for any offense relating to the withdrawal of funds for, and his payments to, the Emperors Club V.I.P.

In light of the policy of the Department of Justice with respect to prostitution offenses and the longstanding practice of this office, as well as Mr. Spitzer’s acceptance of responsibility for his conduct, we have concluded that the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges in this matter.

In a statement, Spitzer responds:

I understand the office of the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York has decided that it will not bring criminal charges against me. I appreciate the impartiality and thoroughness of the investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office, and I acknowledge and accept responsibility for the conduct it disclosed.

I resigned my position as governor because I recognized that conduct was unworthy of an elected official. I once again apologize for my actions, and for the pain and disappointment those actions caused my family and the many people who supported me during my career in public life.

I asked my friend Debauchette, a blogger and ex-courtesan, for her thoughts on the news. She writes:

It's definitely annoying.

I suppose my immediate response is that it seems like a pretty typical case of the john being released while the prostitute, or in this case, the agency, gets punished. It's sad to think that Emperors would have been left alone if it hadn't been for Spitzer. He's the one they were after, and now he gets off while the agency owners get god knows what kind of punishment. Put this within the larger context that Spitzer saw prostitutes while actively seeking their imprisonment, and that Emperors was only attending to his requests, and the whole mess strikes me as a distortion of justice and a sickening waste of resources. But that's nothing new.

Related: "Letters from Johns."

(Image credit: Barbara Kruger's award-winning cover for New York Magazine.)

Letters From Johns

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In January of this year, on what amounted to a whim, I created an online project called Letters from Johns. To be perfectly honest, I can't even recall exactly why I did it, but I've been writing about the sex industry for years, and I suppose I was curious about why men pay for sex. Rather than hearing someone else's version of their stories, I was interested in collecting their stories. So, I put out a call on my blog for exactly that, and that's exactly what I got.

Every so often, another letter from a john would show up in my email box. They were state investigators, lonely, single guys, married men, enlisted, world travelers, virgins, and thrill-seekers. When Spitzergate hit, I got more letters than ever. (I wrote about the project here.) Eventually, though, the call girl and john coverage slowed. These days, I get fewer letters than I used to.

Last night, I got a new letter from a john. It was more sad than most, although many of the letters are somewhat sad. More often than not, the emails are testimonies to loneliness, and the lengths people, men, in particular, will go to be anywhere but alone. This letter, though, was particularly sad, and my guess is it came from a Boing Boing reader. Seeing as I hadn't gotten any letters in a while, and this one rolled in the night I started guestblogging, it's likely he came across the project from here.

Of course, I don't bring this up to out him. He's a John Doe, and all letters remain anonymous. Sometimes, though, there's a tendency to see stories like his, or those of the others, as belonging to lives that are nothing like ours, to "Other-ize" them, when, in fact, the themes of these letters -- the desire to transcend one's internal abyss -- are not so unlike the stories of most who have experiences that require them to find out what's hidden in their darkest places.

"I Wanted To Kill Myself."

Is This Thing On?

Hi! Susannah Breslin here. Thank you to Xeni for the kind introduction and to the rest of the Boing Boing team for inviting me to guestblog. Surely, it will be a good time.

On this exciting election night, in which all my dreams may be realized at the moment McCain's head explodes, I could not think of a better way to start my tenure here than with some Sarah Palin erotica. First, there was the This Is Not Sarah Palin Inflatable Love Doll. (I know I enjoyed mine.) Then came the haunting specter of "Nailin' Paylin." Still, a question remains. What about something for those Palin obsessed who are a bit more sensitive, those aesthetes? In this spirit, Rachel Kramer Bussel created Sarah Palin Erotica, an online repository of erotic stories about the person I pray will disappear into this good night, leaving in her wake little more than a deflated love doll in my closet.


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What makes Sarah happiest right now is that she has the attention of a great many men. If her favorite thing is telling herself she will be the next president of the United States each time she passes a reflective surface, her second favorite thing is to sit in a conference room full of men in their crisp, slightly sweaty dress shirts and designer slacks with their earnestness and condescension and turn away from the table just enough to slowly cross and uncross her legs. She’ll allow her eyes to crinkle, the corners of her mouth turning up slightly and she’ll lean forward just enough for her blouse to part. She’ll watch them and the predictable way their eyes follow the toned muscles of her calves up to her breasts. They’ll clear their throats and adjust their ties and shift uncomfortably in their seats. She knows what they’re thinking–they’re thinking if they play their cards right, they too could be fucking the next president of the United States.
Sarah Palin Erotica

Sonicwall thinks XKCD is porn. Stick figure porn.

Nathaniel sez, "Sonicwall, the web content filtering vendor, now blocks XKCD as "Adult/Mature". A STICK FIGURE COMIC is now too mature for the internet. Classic."
As of this week I can no longer see XKCD at my office, due to SonicWall, a content filter service my company subscribes to. It is not blocked as "Adult/Mature Content". As this is the same service some businesses that offer public wifi use (Panera Bread in particular), this may mean XKCD has been dropped from a lot of public places.

I don't blame you, guy. I blame SonicWall. They're most anal about the smallest things. Only recently has my office gotten access again to MySpace, which was also listed as "Adult/Mature". principiadiscordia.com was listed as "Occult"; now it's still blocked, but listed as "Other". My best guess is that what did it for XKCD was the sexual positions strip...as far as I can tell, these people have little brain and less sense of humor.

SonicWall now blocks XKCD (Thanks, Nathaniel!)

Kids who photograph themselves naked are child pornographers and sex offenders in Ohio

A fifteen year old girl in Newark, OH faces being labelled a "sex offender" for sending naked cellphone photos of herself (a minor) to other minors. If convicted, she'll spend the next ten years on public registries, classed as a producer of child pornography. No word on what compensation she (as the victim of the crime) will be able to get from herself (as the perp).
According to Ohio law, 2907.323(A)(3) states anyone possessing material that shows a minor in a state of nudity is guilty of a fifth-degree felony. The violation also might qualify the juvenile as a Tier I sexual offender, which requires annual registration for a decade.

The section of the law the girl, who is a foster child, was charged with allows parents or guardians to take photos of their unclothed children for a list of acceptable purposes but does not provide an exemption for the child themselves.

Law didn't anticipate cell phone photo case

Novella about the future of the in-crowd: The Right People

Futurismic's Paul Raven sez,
Imagine what high school would have been like if dealing drugs had been legal when licensed, mobile social networking had been ubiquitous and the in-crowd had more leverage than most political parties… what would the smart-but-slightly-crazy outcasts end up doing?

In Adam Rakunas’s novella “The Right People”, they’re in the lucrative but precarious position of selling clandestine bootleg sex toys to the overachievers, but the rug is about to be pulled out from under their operation…

It’s simultaneously a slice of full-bore gonzo science fiction blended with a Brat Pack movie, and a timely metaphor for the present presidential tussle, and Futurismic is very proud to present “The Right People” as Adam’s first fiction sale - in fact, I think we’re lucky to have found him first!

The Right People (Thanks, Paul!)

Video: "Make Porn Safe For Work"

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Inspired by Something Awful articles and forums where folks used Photoshop to transform porn photos into images that are hilariously "safe for work," the brand Diesel put together an entire video of SFW XXX. I'm not sure that the result is, in fact, SFW, but it certainly is a hoot. Diesel SFW XXX (somethingawful.com, thanks Vann Hall!)

Wank your way to nasal clarity

A paper in the Journal of Medical Hypotheses, "Ejaculation as a potential treatment of nasal congestion in mature males" (Zarrintan, S) proposes a good hard wank to relieve nasal congestion in men:
So the author proposes a more...natural method of decongestion. "It is known that sexual arousal in men is followed by penile erection and subsequent ejaculation" (unless of course you've taken too much Viagra or something). The emission phase of ejaculation is under the control of the sympathetic nervous system, which of course has lots of adrenergic receptors. The author reasons that ejaculation will stimulation adrenergic receptors in the refractory period immediately afterward, and stimulation of your adrenergic receptors will give you relief from your cold.

The author proposes that, with proper scheduling of masturbation and/or sexual intercourse a guy could keep his nose clear for the rest of his life! I wonder how the partner takes that. "Honey, come here, my nose is stuffed up..." And what if your nose is REALLY messed up? I hope those people work from home.

And if a guy can keep his nose clear for life, what about us ladeez? My allergies bother me, too, you know. I think this needs to be tested, both on men and women. So I want to hear back from all of your whether it worked. Wait 'til the hay fever sets in, go at it like rabbits, and then leave a comment with whether or not it worked. Obviously this is not a well controlled study, but I don't know that I want to ask whether it was masturbation or intercourse, and I wouldn't trust anyone with a timer in the few minutes after sex to measure their refractory period. So this is more of a pilot than a real test. Go to it! This is your homework for the weekend!

Screw the sudafed: When your nose ain't great, masturbate!

Disney's 1946 menstruation film


Here's a fantastically horrible 1946 Disney film about menstruation, "The Story of Menstruation." Your period, according to Disney

Cycler: smart YA novel about sex and sexuality

Screenwriter/producer Lauren McLaughlin's YA novel debut, Cycler is just out, and just in time -- this is a book that the kids in your life really need to read, a gender-bending piece of speculative fiction aimed at young people that manages to say novel, useful, and challenging things about gender and sexuality without ever descending into squicky fluid-exchange or soapy romance.

Jill McTeague has a secret: every 28 days, at the start of her menstrual cycle, she...changes. Painful, graphically, her body transforms into an adolescent male form, and her mind is remade as Jack McTeague, an angry, horny teenaged boy who stays locked in Jill's room for four days until she comes back to reclaim her body and mind. Her stepfordwife mom is mortified by this, and bent on ensuring that none of their neighbors in their affluent Massachusetts suburb discover their family's dark secret, and her absentee father (moved into the basement years ago to practice meditation and yoga) is no help either.

Jill does everything she can to pretend that her four-day absences just don't happen, while Jack seethes and rages against his captivity, in chapters that alternate between both points of view. Both characters are flawed and likable, smart but dumb about emotional stuff in exactly the way I was when I was a teenager. McLaughlin does an admirable job of nailing the voice of Jack -- I know that hormone-addled, enraged teenaged boy. I was that boy.

McLaughlin's screenwriting background carries through well, too: the plot is faultless, building from the weird premise (and the concomitant weirdness) to a series of ever-more-desperate scenarios that have you rooting for Jack and Jill even as you facepalm yourself and peer between your fingers at the wreck they're making of their lives.

This is a book about sex and love, and it's got a lot of it -- but not steamy between-the-sheets stuff (though there's some of that). Instead, McLaughlin's sex and love happens between the ears, in the realm of the mind and its contradictory and embarrassing and fickle passions. Through it all, there's always something redeeming happening, some sense that these people might, somehow, muddle through.

I've got a few years before my newborn daughter needs to start thinking about these things, but this is one I'm putting on the shelf for when she does. Cycler on Amazon

Reminiscing about The Knack's "Good Girls Don't"


I took my family to a free (and terrific!) The Knack concert in Woodland Hills, Californian on Sunday, and used my digital camera to take a crappy video of the band performing my favorite song of theirs, "Good Girls Don't." Silent Porn Star wrote a wonderful essay about what the song meant to her when she used to listen to it in high school in 1978.

I'm no music expert, so I wouldn't even try to discuss "their sound" and it's place in Music History; but The Knack holds a very important place in my music history.

You see, like most high school girls in 1978, I ran out and bought My Sharona. First, it was the 45 single (for you young pups, that's a smaller vinyl recording played at a faster speed); but as soon as it was released, I went to Get The Knack (that's the LP, dearies). And when Good Girls Don't hit the airwaves, well, things changed.

In that flushing-heat sort of way.

Read the rest of the essay here: Good Girls Don't