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Secrets of The Great British Sex Clubs by Tony Perrottet
December 14, 2009 4:18 PM   Subscribe

(NSFW) So Much For the Stiff Upper Lip. Slate writer gets jiggy wit the history of Georgian Britain's aristocratic sex clubs.
posted by jason's_planet (38 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
So that stuff in Eyes Wide Shut wasn't totally made up?
posted by exogenous at 4:27 PM on December 14, 2009


Man, Wolverine is going to be pissed.
posted by Artw at 4:29 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not many secret Welsh sex clubs. The clientele were too sheepish.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:35 PM on December 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


Oh dear.
posted by Artw at 4:38 PM on December 14, 2009


Amazing to learn the 20th century didn't invent sexual pleasure. I enjoy reading My Secret Life from time to time, an 1880s reminder that the Victorian era wasn't all prudish either. What's amazing about it isn't that one guy was bawdy, but the way he writes about his adventures suggests there was quite the community of bawds. It's a fun read, if sometimes disturbing.

de Sade wrote 120 Days of Sodom in 1785. It's entirely theoretical, not historical in any way, but maybe it fits in the context described in the Slate article?
posted by Nelson at 4:38 PM on December 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Amazing to learn the 20th century didn't invent sexual pleasure.

According to de Sade, it was the 18th.
posted by GuyZero at 4:41 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


dammit, scooped on de Sade!
posted by GuyZero at 4:42 PM on December 14, 2009


Oh what fun you can have when the puritanical colonists are out of your hair. You can even run around with pubes in your hat and no one will bat an eye.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:44 PM on December 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


But you might get pubes in your eye if they fall out of the hat, kuujjuarapik.
posted by mmmbacon at 4:45 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon [insert rural area] is indeed the land where men are men and [insert common farm animal] are nervous
posted by Blasdelb at 4:46 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


... and rakes wore them like cockades in their hats as talismans of potency.

I'm so glad this fell out of fashion. The idea of today's sleazebags walking around with tufts of pubes in their fedoras makes me queasy.
posted by CKmtl at 4:47 PM on December 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


... and rakes wore them like cockades in their hats as talismans of potency.

Though the pubic cockade is a little OTT, I do wish men still wore hats, and ladies still had pubes. I'm tired of this drearily hatless and bald-snatched 21st century.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 4:53 PM on December 14, 2009 [14 favorites]


And before that, you had the Restoration with writers like John Wilmot. Strange to realize that Charlotte Bronte in her time was at least somewhat aware who he was, too.
posted by dilettante at 4:54 PM on December 14, 2009


I'm so glad this fell out of fashion. The idea of today's sleazebags walking around with tufts of pubes in their fedoras makes me queasy.

Which? Wearing hats? Wearing pubes in your hat? Or having pubes at all?
posted by mosk at 4:54 PM on December 14, 2009


Fun article, but it really underestimates the degree to which accounts of these phenomena are blended with myth and tabloid exaggeration on every level. On the other hand, even if we don't know for sure to what extent Londoners were into kinky sex clubs and whatnot, at least we definitely know that they loved to read about them.
posted by nasreddin at 4:58 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the tradition of Ffeatherstonehaugh's - stand up, John Wilmot.
posted by tellurian at 5:00 PM on December 14, 2009


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRZKQ1SrkDM&feature=related
posted by billybobtoo at 5:01 PM on December 14, 2009


dilettante!
posted by tellurian at 5:01 PM on December 14, 2009


For me, this was more thrilling than fondling King Arthur's helmet.
Oo-er missus, etc.
It was a famously debauched era and you don't have to be that familiar with the surviving literature and that to be aware of that. This guy's had a page up on the history of gay life in (mostly) England for a while that has stuff on Georgian times and the molly houses and the shelf-bending pop history 'biography' of London by Peter Ackroyd has plenty on sex of all orientations.
The 'stiff upper lip' idea of Englishness (I think the other British nations got their own stereotypes) I suppose is best known because it was the image we wanted to project of ourselves at the high-point of empire, rather than letting colonials see the venal dogs we truly are. Not that we fooled them for more than five seconds of actual acquaintance.
On preview, nasreddin makes a good point too, of course.
posted by Abiezer at 5:01 PM on December 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


A creative leap of imagination is needed to picture Covent Garden, now given over to flower markets and Body Shops, as the city's most sordid red light district...

Seems like a bit of a reach, to be honest. Yes, Covent Garden is very upmarket now - that doesn't suggest that Georgian England was much more exotic than it is now, it's just that the sleazy areas have moved around a bit over the years. Making creative leaps of imagination is the very last thing you want to do if you ever find yourself wandering around Soho.
posted by ZsigE at 5:05 PM on December 14, 2009


Fun fact: I only posted this article so that I would have an excuse to use the phrase "gettin' jiggy wit' __________" on the front page of MetaFilter.
posted by jason's_planet at 5:07 PM on December 14, 2009


Which? Wearing hats? Wearing pubes in your hat? Or having pubes at all?

Pube hats.

I don't really care about hats one way or the other. Ditto for shaving... with the exception that one should put the necessary maintenance into it if one goes down that path. Getting friction burns on your hand/face/etc from someone's wire-brush week-old stubble is not cool.
posted by CKmtl at 5:24 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Neck beards.
posted by Artw at 5:27 PM on December 14, 2009


Is this an acceptable accessory for hats of meat?
posted by zippy at 5:47 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


[insert common farm animal]

You're doing it wrong.
posted by Forktine at 5:51 PM on December 14, 2009 [17 favorites]


What, pray tell, is an "erotic garden," exactly?
posted by Hoenikker at 6:48 PM on December 14, 2009


It's a shame we don't use that beautiful phrase, the Mount of Venus, in modern English.

George Brassens has a song where he talks about "going climbing on her mount of Venus", which sounds more elegant in French than in English. Though still, frankly, a bit dirty. Googling it just now turned up the fr.wikipedia page for "mont de VĂ©nus", which has a perfectly deadpan photo caption. (Who would allow a picture of their mount of Venus to be available on Wikimedia Commons? The internet is strange indeed.)
posted by lapsangsouchong at 7:00 PM on December 14, 2009


The en.wikipedia entry for mons pubis (redirected from mons veneris) is considerably more clinical, both photo and caption.

Sorry about this, everyone.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 7:06 PM on December 14, 2009


As anyone who has read some of my writings might guess, Sade is a hero and mentor of mine. He was wrong on many things, as often happens when you are the first to ply the waters of the ocean you are navigating, but in many ways he created the culture of the 20th century.

Sade spent half his life in prison for the trouble of writing down what he thought. I think the thoroughgoing knowledge that he was wright kept him going through that.

What is funny is that the more earthy and voloptuous world of the sex clubs is much closer to Sade's vision than anything extant today. I suspect if Sade were alive today he would have founded Insex. But I think Sade had a bit more style than PD.
posted by localroger at 7:14 PM on December 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


What, pray tell, is an "erotic garden," exactly?

Alas, many a garden has now been shorn into a well-kept lawn.
posted by graventy at 7:33 PM on December 14, 2009


Alas, many a garden has now been shorn into a well-kept lawn. barren post-apocalyptic wasteland.
posted by Forktine at 8:32 PM on December 14, 2009


Mr. Pego approves.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:12 PM on December 14, 2009


...ladies like Oyster Moll, who would "open the wicket of love's bear garden to any bold sportsman who has a venturesome mind to give a run to his puppy."

Man, escort ads these days are for shit. If someone in Vegas handed me a flyer with the above written on it, I would be all over it.

Also...

Metafilter: Pubic Cockade
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:28 PM on December 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


localroger:
As anyone who has read some of my writings might guess, Sade is a hero and mentor of mine. He was wrong on many things, as often happens when you are the first to ply the waters of the ocean you are navigating, but in many ways he created the culture of the 20th century.

You mean like kidnapping random poor folk and children then brutally raping them for months at a time before tiring of and discarding them? I think you mean that.

A complex study of deSade's work reveals a man with complex ideas that indeed shaped much of the modern world for the better however most of that benefit comes from the intense reaction of the kinds of folk he preyed on realizing that he was symbolic of an entire system of power that was long past worth removing. To call deSade a mistaken hero is to simplify a much more complex, exciting and terrifying figure in human history who is worth thinking about in more detail
posted by Blasdelb at 7:21 AM on December 15, 2009


It's a fun read, if sometimes disturbing.

Incredibly disturbing! The sheer amount of power an upper-ish class man had over any woman lower than him is INSANE. Any woman on the street (unescorted was considered fair game to proposition, if only cause his loose change would be more money then they'd seen in a year. Combined with the occasional story we get to hear about the girls (And My Secret Life is unquie in that occasionally the women get to talk) are so fuckin' heartbreaking.

That and the sheer boredom-studious accounting nature of his adventures makes it feel depressingly real. Although his account of the girl-guy three way his mistress asked for is ...very amusing.
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 AM on December 15, 2009


FOUND IT!

"How strange seems the handling of another's prick tho it's so like one's own. "Show him your cunt." Back she went on the bed exhibiting her charms. The delicious red gap opened, his prick stiffened at once, and after a feel or two of his rigid gristle, I made him wash it tho already clean as a whistle. I'd already washed my own. Then a letch came on suddenly, for I had arranged nothing, and taking his prick in my mouth I palated it. What a pleasant sensation is a nice smooth prick moving about ones mouth. No wonder French Paphians say that until a woman has sucked one whilst she's spending under another mans fucking, frigging, or gamahuche, that she has never tasted the supremest voluptuous pleasure. Some however had told me that they liked licking another woman s cunt, whilst a woman gamahuched them, better than sucking a prick in those exciting moments. But erotic tastes of course vary."

How imagine it in Stephen Fry's voice.
posted by The Whelk at 8:30 AM on December 15, 2009


You mean like kidnapping random poor folk and children then brutally raping them for months at a time before tiring of and discarding them?

And don't forget that monster Jonathan Swift, advocating the slaughter and then preparation for consumption of all those poor Irish babies!
posted by FatherDagon at 11:49 AM on December 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh what fun you can have when the puritanical colonists are out of your hair.

The Puritanical colonists got up to some non-puritanical hijinks of their own.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:02 PM on December 18, 2009


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