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'The King's Sex Chair'
July 2, 2012 9:45 AM   Subscribe

"He would sit in this most incredible bath that had a swan-necked mythological figure with a with a lady of his choice, not with water in it, but with champagne in it, and I guess they would both sit there and listen to the sound of his father spinning in his grave.” - on King Edward VII and his voracious appetites, and his favorite mistress, Daisy Warwick.
A perfect illustration of his twin loves of wine and women, then. Edward’s many mistresses(Google Books), tolerated with some irritation by Alexandra, famously included the actress Lillie Langtry, Jenny Churchill (Winston mother) and – in another neat parallel with modern times – Camilla Parker Bowles’s great-grandmother Alice Keppel, whom Alexandra permitted to join her at Bertie’s deathbed.

But the greatest love of his life is accepted to have been the wealthy and stunningly beautiful Daisy Warwick. Writer Victoria Fishburn, who is researching a biography of Daisy, gives a fascinating insight into Bertie’s lifestyle ...
Lady Warwick’s Horticultural & Agricultural College for Women

Daisy, Countess of Warwick, Socialist and Mistress of Edward VII


And for some tea gowns:The tea gown, and What is a tea gown?

Available for download: 'The King In Love, King Edward VII's mistresses-- Lillie Langtry, Daisy Warwick, Alice Keppel, and others .'
posted by the man of twists and turns (48 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
In a very strange turn of events, it appears that Lady Warwick is, in a roundabout way, responsible for Gustav Holst's The Planets
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:51 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I presume that this is where somebody is going to explain to us how this thing is going to work. I think I sort of see a set or two of stirrups there, but otherwise I can't really make sense of it.
posted by koeselitz at 10:00 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


...otherwise I can't really make sense of it.

Little-known fact: Edward was UK's first cephalopod king.
posted by odinsdream at 10:02 AM on July 2, 2012 [15 favorites]


And yet Edward VII refused to have Elinor Glyn's 1907 erotic romance novel Three Weeks so much as mentioned in his royal presence. The greater the show of morality political and public figures put on, the less moral they actually are.
posted by orange swan at 10:04 AM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


odinsdream, see also Gaiman's A Study in Emerald (PDF)
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:09 AM on July 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think I sort of see a set or two of stirrups there, but otherwise I can't really make sense of it.

It's something only a gentleman would understand
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:11 AM on July 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Youtube clip on the history of the chair which includes an illustration of the chair in use (NSFW).

Edward was a large man, apparently, and the chair was designed to allow him to have intercourse without crushing his partner.
posted by notyou at 10:11 AM on July 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's an illustration of the sex chair in use in Tony Perrotet's book The Sinner's Grand Tour.

So he stood in the little foot things and held onto the big handles, while the lady lay down with her feet in the stirrups as one does for a GYN exam.

The padded bit underneath is for when another lady was required for testicle and/or prostate play. She would scoot under like a mechanic under a car.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:13 AM on July 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


Also, Reddit has skeletons. Using the chair. Sort of NSFW. But no flesh.
posted by chavenet at 10:13 AM on July 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Edward weighed maybe 300 to 350 pounds. Lots of people who weigh way more than that can be on top in fucking and not crush anyone. I think he was just kinky is what.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:15 AM on July 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, Reddit has skeletons. Using the chair. Sort of NSFW. But no flesh.

Is there something I can sign to ensure my remains are eventually used for something like this
posted by theodolite at 10:18 AM on July 2, 2012 [14 favorites]


Sounds reasonable, Sidehedevil.

Somebody should mention that to Tony Perrotet so he stops misleading people on youtube.
posted by notyou at 10:21 AM on July 2, 2012


I love picturing some historian coming up with that illustration. Makes me 10 different kinds of happy.
posted by pomegranate at 10:21 AM on July 2, 2012


notyou: Edward was a large man, apparently, and the chair was designed to allow him to have intercourse without crushing his partner.
Yeah, I'm going to file that with "knights couldn't mount their horses in armor", and "spices were used to cover the taste of spoiled meats": enticing "just-so" stories that are pure fiction, and don't even stand up to common sense analysis.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:22 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I saw a documentary on Penn & Teller, and Penn had the electric chair from Sing Sing prison and a sex-swing in his personal kink room off the bedroom. I like the simplicity of that vision. This thing seems a bit... baroque.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:37 AM on July 2, 2012


Oh, good heavens! The tea gowns, the tea gowns!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:40 AM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


So I see someone else has the Page-a-day trivia calendar. It's funny how often I see something posted on the blue that is directly related to a recent trivia question.
posted by Ickster at 10:49 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's good to be the king.
posted by jquinby at 11:11 AM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lots of people who weigh way more than that can be on top in fucking and not crush anyone.

On top of what size person, though? And for how long?
posted by DU at 11:18 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


"On top of" isn't even an issue, is it? The purpose of the "chair" seems to have been to make sex easier with Edward standing up.
posted by koeselitz at 11:24 AM on July 2, 2012


Not to derail, but Penn has the electric chair from Sing-Sing in his kink room? Surely you jest. That's not (just) kinky, it's (also) morbid and disrespectful and creepy as fuck. Seriously, what the fuck. You must be joking.
posted by Scientist at 11:24 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I presume that this is where somebody is going to explain to us how this thing is going to work. I think I sort of see a set or two of stirrups there, but otherwise I can't really make sense of it.

oh thank god someone else asked i was wondering
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:25 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


And on lack of preview - Scientist, I find that I'm more bothered bythe fact that Penn is revealing ANY of what he has in "his kink room."

No problems with kink, me, I just don't necessarily need to know details about anyone's sex life -- that's all y'all's business and none of my own, you know?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:27 AM on July 2, 2012


Now I can't help but wonder who would clean that chair, and how.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:29 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was going to leave that sing-sing sentence's parsing ambiguous but now I fear we will sadly have it disambiguated.
posted by DU at 11:30 AM on July 2, 2012


It doesn't sound like "kink room" is really a completely apt description of Penn Jillette's place, although I'm not sure I could come up with a better one. Somehow the smoking monkeys seem worse, to be honest.
posted by koeselitz at 11:32 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now I can't help but wonder who would clean that chair, and how.

Surely, this has always been what the lower classes are for?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:34 AM on July 2, 2012


Yeah, I also realized that it was probably ironic that I was hand-wringing about "I don't want to hear about people's kinks" after reading an article about Edward VII's sex chair.

I guess I should clarify that "I don't want to hear details about people's sex lives unless a) I'm part of the aforementioned sex life or b) they're dead."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:35 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


theodolite: Is there something I can sign to ensure my remains are eventually used for something like this

Why yes, there is: the Necrocard, courtesy of Stewart Home
posted by Len at 11:40 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe if Kaiser Wilhelm II (apparently faithful to his Kaiserin) had taken after his uncle and spent more time chasing the ladies and less time coveting conquest and glory we could have avoided the First World War.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:48 AM on July 2, 2012


Good post, thanks.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:49 AM on July 2, 2012


Not to derail, but Penn has the electric chair from Sing-Sing in his kink room? Surely you jest. That's not (just) kinky, it's (also) morbid and disrespectful and creepy as fuck. Seriously, what the fuck. You must be joking.

Not joking. If you can find the "Bravo Profiles" episode on P&T, it's in that vid. I believe the line was "Hey, at least this electric chair isn't gonna kill anyone else".

And, well... is it not a small degree of "Celebrating life" while engaging in the sex act on a former tool of death? I mean, if sex is the ultimate demonstration of the urge to life, how much more poignant a seat could one find for some reverse-cowgirl?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:51 AM on July 2, 2012


Another famous bath with a swan.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:52 AM on July 2, 2012


"I mean, if sex is the ultimate demonstration of the urge to life, how much more poignant a seat could one find for some reverse-cowgirl? Hey, come back, we don't have to use the chair!"
posted by glhaynes at 12:19 PM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not to take the wind out of the fascinating article at the beginning of the post, but "Tea for Two" was written by Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar, not Cole Porter. Don't think it's connected to sex orgies either. cue hairsplitting tag
posted by Gordion Knott at 1:32 PM on July 2, 2012


the original version is from a Prohibition-era musical and not closely tied to the Edwardian era
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:37 PM on July 2, 2012


notyou, how weird that Perrotet would say that on YouTube because it contradicts what he reports having been told about the chair in his own book.

DU, I'm about the same volume as Mrs. Keppel and have had missionary position sex with men larger than Edward without being crushed.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:46 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Edward weighed maybe 300 to 350 pounds. Lots of people who weigh way more than that can be on top in fucking and not crush anyone.

I'm a ... big guy, and have never had problems being either on top or on bottom, with ladies ranging from "skinny" to "extra stout".

(also: big girls, stop worrying that you're going to crush the guy and just jump on and have fun; think of the weight I already carry around all day. If I say "I can probably lift you with my hips", I'm not joking...)
posted by mrbill at 1:58 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I mean, if sex is the ultimate demonstration of the urge to life, how much more poignant a seat could one find for some reverse-cowgirl? Hey, come back, we don't have to use the chair!"
posted by glhaynes at 12:19 PM on 7/2
[−] [!]

Somehow I'm really thinking that if you get past the real human skeleton and the real human skin with a tattoo and all the other shit he has, and you've gotten to the Sex-with-Penn-Jillette stage… the freaked-out-by-the-chair crowd has been weeded out
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:02 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm about the same volume as Mrs. Keppel

Is this one of those units of measure left over from the Empire? 'Yes, I'd like to order three Keppels of brandy, we're having a soiree'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:12 PM on July 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm about the same volume as Mrs. Keppel

Is this one of those units of measure left over from the Empire? 'Yes, I'd like to order three Keppels of brandy, we're having a soiree'


The order probably was more like "Three Keppels AND brandy…"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:37 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel like that Edward Gorey story about the couch has been suddenly demystified.
posted by Calzephyr at 2:38 PM on July 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Daisy Warwick is my favourite person ever. I looked into making a post about her, but I couldn't find enough information online (but ok, I was going for the socialist angle, rather than the sex chair angle, live and learn...) She has woven herself through my life, popping up all over the place, and it was only last year that I realised that it was all the same person.

I grew up near Warwick in a farming family, knew about the Women's college in Studley (although it was shut before I was born). Later, I did my undergrad archaeology dissertation on Warwick Castle and distracted myself from mediaeval defensive architecture by reading all the Victorian gossip I could. Two years ago I moved to Walthamstow and went to a talk give by Roger Huddle on Radical Walthamstow, he started talking about Daisy and all the pieces fell into place.

She was actively involved in the Socialist movement in the East End and would organise picnics for the workers of Walthamstow on her country estate. Roger had a fantastic picture of her standing with a group of striking dockers, them in overalls and flat caps, her in furs and pearls. I've tried to find it, but it doesn't seem to be online, which is a shame because the internet would be a better place for it.

She tried to donate her estates to the Communist Party, but they wouldn't take it. It was against their ethos. Which I still don't understand... but hey, I'm not an Edwardian Communist.

Oh, and the first song I performed in public? Daisy Bell on the recorder in school assembly.
posted by Helga-woo at 3:44 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this one of those units of measure left over from the Empire?

Mrs. Keppel's volume was definitely an Imperial measure.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:49 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Helga-woo, if you want to write more on Lady Warwick, socialist and candidate for Parliament, please go ahead. I was having a hard time finding stuff online that was substantial.

And always go for the sex chair angle.

It's easier on the back
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:04 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this one of those units of measure left over from the Empire?

I think that Lillie Langtry could describe a unit of liquid volume as a "battleship".
posted by ovvl at 4:18 PM on July 2, 2012


Oh man, I would love to write more on Daisy the socialist, but that's about all I can remember. And there's so little about her out there.

Can you hear me internet? More Daisy please!
posted by Helga-woo at 3:55 PM on July 3, 2012


Cool! This post returns on the first page of google!

BBC: The Socialist Socialite

Easton Lodge, where she lived, has a bit on their website. The National Portrait Gallery has several photographs, and there's another small bit on American Style, Yankee Money, and British Class Standards that features her. Same blog (Esoteric Curiosa) has a post on the Eaton House. The Women in History blog has more. And Two Nerdy History Girls features a painting of Lady Warwick.

The Grimsby Labour Party remembers her on their website.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:53 PM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


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