the wisdom of wearing balloons

Prior to reading the Smoking Gun, the only Norman Wisdom I knew of was the British comedian and actor who played a character called “The Gump”.  He seemed a nice enough fellow, he was immensely popular in Albania and Queen Elizabeth knighted him in 2000. No scandalous behaviour on record unless you count an attempt to convince the Inland Revenue that they didn’t deserve a share of his money.

Norman Wisdom found here

But Norman Wisdom of Missouri, USA, is a different kettle of fish according to this police report…

“At approximately 16:07 hours I was on patrol, stopped at a westbound red light on Highway 24. I observed a female eastbound, also stopped at the light. She was waving frantically at me so I pulled my patrol car in front of her vehicle to make contact. 

image found here

She pointed at the vehicle next to her, which was occupied by a white male. The female advised that the male subject had been following her and rubbing himself. I requested both parties to pull over into a nearby parking lot.

As I was pulling in behind the male subject’s pickup, I observed that he removed two balloons from underneath his shirt. He then removed a white bra which I later recovered behind a dumpster. I also recovered the balloons as well.  I told the subject several times to put his hands on the truck and when he refused I placed him in handcuffs. I identified the male subject as Norman Wisdom.

image found here

The female subject advised that prior to me stopping her, Mr Wisdom had been following her on Highway 24 for several miles. She said that he continued to drive next to her and would pull up beside her at stop lights. Every time she looked at him he would lift his shirt and expose a bra filled with balloons that he was wearing. She said that he would massage the bra and would then raise his crotch and rub it through his jeans.

I wonder if this sort of behaviour would go down well in Albania…..

more great Albanian images here

the taming of the shrew

Shrews have a very high rate of metabolism and therefore need to devour enormous quantities of food. To be impressed by the appetite of a shrew you only have to capture one and try to keep it fed. You will soon weary of any attempt to catch enough worms, grubs and insects to satiate it and will have to resort to teaching the shrew to eat dog food and ground meat.

Elephant Shrew found here

C. Hart Merriam, an American mammalogist, once confined three shrews under a glass tumbler. Two of them promptly attacked and ate the third. Eight hours later only a single shrew, with a slightly bulging stomach, remained.

fat shrew found here

Gerald Durrell wrote about his delightful encounter with a shrew here

I witnessed an extraordinary comedy that almost seemed performed for my own special benefit. On the tree-trunk where I was sitting, out of the undergrowth, up over the bark, there glided slowly, laboriously and regally a giant land-snail, the size of an apple.

image found here

I realised that as the snail was making its rather vague progress along the trunk it was leaving behind it a glistening trail, and this trail was followed by one of the most ferocious and bloodthirsty animals, for its size, to be found in the West African forest.

image found here

Out on to the log strutted a tiny creature only as long as a cigarette, clad in jet-black fur and with a long slender nose that it kept glued to the snail’s track, like a miniature black hound. It was one of the forest’s shrews, whose courage is incredible and whose appetite is prodigious and insatiable.

Wedgwood black cigarette jar found here

Chittering to himself, the shrew trotted rapidly after the snail and very soon overtook it. Uttering a high-pitched squeak, it flung itself on the portion which protruded from the back of the shell and sank its teeth into it. The snail, finding itself unceremoniously attacked from the rear, did the only possible thing and drew its body rapidly inside its shell. The muscular contraction of the snail was so strong, that as the tail disappeared inside the shell the shrew’s face was banged against it and his grip was broken. The shell, having now nothing to balance it, fell on its side, and the shrew, screaming with frustration, rushed forward and plunged his head into the interior, in an effort to retrieve the retreating mollusc. However, the snail was prepared for his attack and greeted the shrew with a sudden fountain of greenish-white froth that bubbled out and enveloped its nose and head. The shrew leapt back with surprise, knocking against the shell as it did so. The snail teetered for a moment and then rolled sideways and dropped into the undergrowth beneath the log. The shrew meanwhile was sitting on its hind legs, almost incoherent with rage, sneezing violently and trying to wipe the froth from its face with its paws.

frothy minted sake found here

The whole thing was so ludicrous that I started to laugh, and the shrew, casting a hasty and offended glance in my direction, leapt down into the undergrowth and hurried away……

Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 8:36 am  Comments (62)  
Tags: , , , ,

she had to eject it somewhere

An Environmental Health Inspector wrote this report in 1995 after viewing a performance by Stephanie Evans at the Ice House club

Princess Stephanie NOT Stephanie Evans found here

At 8:30pm Stephanie Evans appeared on stage. Approximately 35 people stood round the stage area to view Ms Evans on her back inserting ping pong balls in her vagina.  She then ejected the balls into the crowd where a small percentage of people attempted to catch the balls in their mouth or hands. Ms Evans agreed to autograph the balls after the show.

image found here

Pizza was available at all times and people ate during and after the show. Unlimited non alcoholic drinks were offered and most patrons had drinks on their table during the ping pong portion of the show. I served myself a slice of pizza from the delivery boxes on the bar. The temperature of the pizza was around 80 degrees F.

pizza art found here

At 10:15 Ms Evans re-appeared on stage. There were approximately 25 drink glasses on the counter that lined the stage from one end to the other being used by customers. There were no pizza slices on plates on the counter however there were people eating at several tables directly in front and to the sides of the stage.

old burlesque stage found here

Ms Evans sat in a large model of a champagne glass filled with liquid. She then rose out of the vessel and ejected water from her vagina into the crowd. Aim did not appear to be a concern. She repeated the actions several times and on the last occasion jumped out of the vessel and walked around the stage. It was obvious she had retained fluid in the orifice and was going to eject it somewhere.

Dita Von Teese found here

A customer was beckoned to move near her groin area whereupon she violently ejected the fluid she had retained directly in the customer’s face then walked back to the vessel to secure additional fluid. In order to observe the event I had to be in rather close proximity to the act but by now Ms Evans was ejecting fluid on almost everyone in the crowd and in order to avoid getting doused I left the establishment.

Wet Men by Francois Rousseau found here

In my judgement, the act of ejecting water from the vagina onto any food then consuming the food could create a health threat. My suggested compliance action would be to prohibit the serving of any food or drinks during any show that involves fluid being violently ejected from a vagina.

the excitement of white shoes

Komodo Dragons are the largest living species of lizard growing up to ten feet (3 metres) in length.

image found here

“The Komodo’s sense of smell is its primary food detector. Its long yellow forked tongue samples the air, after which the two tongue tips retreat to the roof of the mouth, where they make contact with the Jacobson’s organs. These chemical analyzers “smell” prey such as deer by recognising airborne molecules. If the concentration on the left tip is higher than that sampled from the right, then the Komodo knows that the deer is approaching from the left. 

image found here

The muscles of the Komodo’s jaws and throat allow it to swallow huge chunks of meat with astonishing rapidity. A female who weighed no more than 50 kilograms was seen to consume a 31 kilogram boar in less than 17 minutes.  Komodos eat almost their entire kill including bones, hooves and swathes of hide. They also eat intestines but only after swinging them vigorously to scatter their contents and remove faeces. 

image from Big Tits Zombie 3D found here

Although males tend to grow larger than females, no obvious morphological differences mark the sexes. One subtle clue does exist: a slight difference in the arrangement of scales just in front of the cloaca, the cavity housing the genitalia in both sexes. Sexing Komodos remains a challenge to researchers; the dragons themselves appear to have little trouble figuring out who is who

Cross With Care image found here

A male initiates courtship by flicking his tongue on a female’s snout and then over her body. Before copulation can occur, the male must evert a pair of hemipenes located within his cloaca. He then crawls on the back of his partner and inserts one of the hemipenes, depending on his position relative to the female’s tail, into her cloaca. 

hemipenes found here

A variety of behaviors have been observed from captive specimens. Most become relatively tame within a short period of time, and are capable of recognizing individual humans and discriminating between more familiar keepers. Komodo dragons have also been observed to engage in play with a variety of objects, including shovels, cans, plastic rings, and shoes. 

animal shoes by Iris Schierferstein found here

Even seemingly docile dragons may become aggressive unpredictably, especially when the animal’s territory is invaded by someone unfamiliar. In June 2001, a Komodo dragon seriously injured a man when he entered its enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo after being invited in by its keeper. He was bitten on his bare foot, as the keeper had told him to take off his white shoes, in case they caused excitement in the dragon…..

white boot players found here

Published in: on June 7, 2012 at 8:16 am  Comments (51)  
Tags: , , ,

the mental anguish of seeing stars

Back in 1998, Paul Shimkonis was just enjoying his bachelor party in a Florida nightclub when things got a little out of control

Paul Shimkonis rests his neck

Shimkonis says he was attacked by Tawny Peaks, a 38-year-old exotic dancer and actress hired to perform at the party. According to the Florida man, Tawny approached him and slammed her oversized breasts into his face, knocking him out and giving him whiplash.

Tawny Peaks found here

“I was literally seeing stars,” said Shimkonis.”The best way to describe it is like a concrete block hitting me in the forehead.” Shimkonis filed suit in Pinellas County Court on June 30, seeking more than 15,000 U.S.dollars in damages from the Diamond Dolls club.

image of stars found here

According to the suit, Shimkonis suffered head, neck and other injuries that caused bodily harm, pain, suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life.

neck air cushion found here

The parties accepted binding arbitration on “The People’s Court” television show and the judge, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, ordered a female bailiff to examine Peaks in private.

wearable breast examination model found here

The bailiff found the breasts to be “soft” and to weigh about 2 pounds (0.9 kg) each. Koch ruled they were not dangerous and refused to award damages.

By  2005, Tawny had shed her oversized implants and put one of them up for auction on ebay.

“Why not … I don’t need it any more. Somebody might bid on it. It’s like the first boob to be sued in a lawsuit,” she said. Peaks said she would autograph the auctioned implant for the winner but would keep its mate “for good measure.”

She explained that she had her size 69-HH implants removed and underwent breast reduction surgery in 1999 after retiring from the business to start a new life. “They were like really big, crazy big,” said Peaks, who described herself now as a mother of three and happily married homemaker.

image found here

sexual relationships shall remain spontaneous

Myles Spires Jr. sounds like a hard man to please. In 1991, his lawyer drew up this contract for Mrs Spires to sign…..

NOT this Myles (Miles Davis found here)

1. Wife shall in no case obtain money from bank accounts of house emergency funds without express permission of the husband

German emergency money found here

2. Wife shall in no case divulge information which concerns marital difficulties, job status or financial information to anyone outside the marriage.

3. Wife shall in no wise attempt to influence status/intensity of relationships that husband has with other individuals outside the marriage.

image found here

4. In public, wife shall in no wise dispute husband on any matters. Matters of dispute should be handled in privacy and with due respect i.e. no profanity or badgering.

5. Wife shall conduct herself in accordance with all scriptures in the holy bible applicable to marital relationships germane to wives and in accordance with husband’s specific requests. Wife shall consult husband as to the applicability of the scriptures.

image found here

6. Wife’s sexual relationships shall remain spontaneous and solely with husband.

It comes as no surprise that Mr Spires, the bishop of an Internet church, and his wife subsequently divorced. He also has a conviction for misconduct while holding the office of mayor. I wonder if the private investigator he paid with misappropriated funds was checking for inapplicable badgering of scriptures…..

baby badgers found here

Published in: on May 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm  Comments (45)  
Tags: , , , ,

goatish gonads

One of our favourite characters here at the Gimcrack is Dr Serge Voronoff who has been mentioned in not one, not two, but three posts before. Serge was responsible for transplanting bits of monkey testes into aging men. John Brinkley went one step further – he became a millionaire during the twenties by transplanting goat glands instead.

Brinkley and wife found here

While working as house doctor at the Swift meatpacking company, he was dazzled by the vigorous mating activities of the goats destined for the slaughterhouse. Later, after Brinkley had gone into private practice, a farmer named Stittsworth came to see him. Stittsworth complained of a sagging libido. Recalling the goats’ frantic antics, the doctor semi-jokingly told his patient that what he needed was some goat glands. Stittsworth quickly responded, “So, Doc, put ‘em in. Transplant ‘em.”

image found here

Most doctors would have ignored the bizarre request, but Brinkley was not like most doctors. In fact, he wasn’t a doctor at all. Although he had spent three years at Bennet Medical College in Chicago, he’d never graduated. He called himself a doctor on the basis of a $500 diploma he had purchased from the Eclectic Medical University of Kansas City.

“Eclectic” found here

Buying a degree from a diploma mill was not out of character for Brinkley. He had worked as a snake-oil salesman in a road show, and then, with fellow con man James Crawford, established Greenville Electro Medical Doctors. Under this name the pair injected people with colored distilled water for $25 a shot. Brinkley, therefore, had all he needed to capitalize on the farmer’s idea of goat-gland transplants: he was unethical, he had a wobbly knowledge of medicine, and he had witnessed the rambunctious behavior of goats.

image found here

Brinkley went to work, implanting a small piece of goat gonad in Stittsworth’s testicle. Soon the farmer was thanking the doctor for giving him back his libido. And when his wife gave birth to a boy, whom they appropriately named Billy, Stittsworth spread the word further. Brinkley’s business was booming and even at $750 per transplant, he couldn’t keep up with demand. All men needed the Brinkley operation, he declared, but the procedure was most suited to the intelligent and least suited to the “stupid type.” This, of course, ensured that few of his patients would admit that they had not benefited from the operation.

Baby Billy Bob found here

Revenue from the surgeries made Brinkley an immensely wealthy man. For $5,000, he would even implant genuine human glands, which he obtained from prisoners on death row. He had mansions, a fleet of Cadillacs, airplanes, and yachts.There were occasional problems like when Brinkley decided to use angora goat testicles instead of those from the more common Toggenberg goat. Recipients of the angora testicles were unhappy—Brinkley himself noted that they reeked like a steamy barn in midsummer. 

image found here

But ultimately Brinkley couldn’t cure himself. The Milford Messiah—as he was sometimes called—the man who had performed over 16,000 goat testicle transplants, the man who appropriately wore a goatee all his life, developed a blood clot, forcing doctors to amputate his leg. Till the very end, Brinkley’s scheming mind remained active. Confined to bed, he decided to study for the ministry and had visions of becoming a big-time preacher but he died before he could complete his degree.

the mesmerising dentist

Rachael Weaver uncovers an old Sydney murder case…..

News of the tragedy began with reports of an inquest into the violent death of Henry Kinder on 7 October 1865. Kinder was an official at the City Bank and lived with his young family in a comfortable home on Sydney’s north shore. Originally an Englishman, Kinder had arrived in the colonies from New Zealand with his wife, Maria, two years earlier.

image found here

The evidence presented at the inquest was of a man who was restless and excitable, smoked heavily, was careless about his personal appearance and anxious about unpaid debts. Bertrand, a successful Sydney dentist who saw the Kinders socially every day, deposed that Kinder had been drinking freely, that he had challenged Bertrand to a duel, and that he was jealous of his wife with everyone.

image found here

According to Bertrand and Maria Kinder they had been in the Kinders’ drawing room with Henry Kinder and Bertrand’s wife Jane on Monday evening when Kinder suddenly shot himself in the head. Dr Eichler described having been called in around five hours later to treat a large laceration, which had caused Kinder’s ear to hang away from its proper place. The wound had torn his face open from the jaw to the temple. Eichler described his treatments before offering his opinion that the deceased was an imbecile. Kinder was awake and remained conscious throughout the week, lingering until the Friday when he died.

image found here

The inquest into the death of Henry Kinder caused ‘some sensation’ at the time. But this was nothing compared with the outpouring of public excitement two months later, when Henry Bertrand, his wife Jane Bertrand and Maria Kinder were charged with Kinder’s murder. The sensation surrounding the case arose from the idea of ‘profligacy, and something akin to madness, occurring in a respectable circle’.

the respectability question found here

Those involved were young, good-looking, affluent and fashionable. Their relationships were wildly unorthodox and everyone who had come within their orbit had strange tales to tell. Maria Kinder was invested with a seductive malice and Henry Bertrand with deep eccentricities and charisma. Bertrand’s distinctive traits and peculiar behaviour added greatly to the case’s sense of intrigue, but perhaps most fascinating of all was his professed ability to control others using hypnosis.

image found here

If analysts of the case loved to dwell on Bertrand’s dangerous powers of hypnosis, they were perhaps even more seduced by the idea of Maria Kinder as a femme fatale, whose passions had driven the men around her to insanity and murder. Perceptions of her magnetic sexuality, infidelity, gold-digging and cunning criminality coalesced with stereotypes of the evil woman that were circulating in the sensational popular fiction of the time.

Femme Fatale by Patrick Demarchelier found here

Maria Kinder first met Henry Bertrand as a patient at his Wynyard Square practice, and their relationship quickly evolved into an illicit affair. They did little to conceal it from family and friends, who seem to have looked on with a peculiar level of acceptance. They used Bertrand’s young assistant, Alfred Burne, as messenger and he carried letters between them. 

Wynyard Square c 1938 found here

Shortly after the lovers met, Francis Jackson, another key figure in the case, arrived on the scene. He had been Maria Kinder’s lover in New Zealand and upon meeting again in Sydney, Jackson and Maria Kinder quickly rekindled their affair. During his testimony at the trial he described having orchestrated drinking sessions with Henry Kinder so that he could have his way with Maria when the banker fell unconscious. Meanwhile Bertrand sought to play his rivals, Jackson and Kinder, against each other. He tried to incite Kinder to violence and then threatened to implicate Jackson in Kinder’s death if he remained in Sydney. To get him out of the way, Bertrand offered to pay Jackson’s passage back to New Zealand and Jackson took the money and departed, but travelled only as far as Maitland in regional New South Wales.

Maitland floods 2007 found here

Meanwhile, Bertrand was also plotting against Kinder. He asked his assistant, Alfred Burne, if he knew where a pistol could be bought, and they arranged to purchase one from a city pawnshop. Bertrand turned up disguised as a woman.  The next morning Bertrand asked Alfred Burne to buy a sheep’s head from the butcher. Back at his Wynyard Square surgery he cast his own bullets before testing them out by firing at the sheep’s head.

sheep’s head found here

Just two weeks later Kinder was dead. According to Jane Bertrand’s testimony, she and Maria Kinder had been standing by the window arranging flowers when they heard a shot. They turned to see Kinder drooping in his seat by the piano, a pistol falling from his hand, Bertrand standing over him. Dr Eichler was sent for and arrived a few hours later. Kinder was conscious but sank into a wordless stupor when the doctor told him to put his affairs in order.

flower arrangement found here

The next day, Eichler examined Kinder again and found him much improved. That evening at the dental surgery Bertrand showed to Alfred Burne a phial of white liquid, telling him it was the poison he would use to murder Kinder. On 6 October Kinder died. 

Following the coroner’s inquest into Henry Kinder’s death, Bertrand and Maria Kinder continued their affair. She came to live with Bertrand and his wife, who was sometimes forced to share a bed with the lovers—a salacious detail that generated nearly as much moral outrage as the murder itself. 

Meanwhile, Bertrand received a letter from Francis Jackson attempting to blackmail him by threatening to expose his relationship with Maria Kinder and his involvement in Henry Kinder’s death. Bertrand’s surgery was searched and his diary, a bottle marked poison, a pistol, gunpowder, caps and a tomahawk were seized. Bertrand was charged with murder.

image found here

Despite testimony that she had mixed the poison that had killed Kinder, a charge of murder against Jane Bertrand was dropped. Maria Kinder, likewise, escaped further prosecution due to lack of evidence. Bertrand was tried alone. After deliberating for twenty hours without reaching agreement, the jury was dismissed. A second trial began and was concluded the following day. This time the jury returned a guilty verdict and Bertrand was sentenced to death.

The Kinder Tragedy was described as the greatest criminal case on record in the Australian colonies. Keeping interest in the case alive was the fact that Bertrand had evaded the death penalty. From time to time he was moved to a new prison, and a fresh spate of newspaper articles recalling the case would appear. New Zealand’s Wanganui Chronicle reported in September 1879 that he had been relocated to Darlinghurst, and was ‘considered a valuable acquisition to that institution’. Maria Kinder made the news just once after the trial had ended, in July 1867, when she announced her marriage to a Mr Stanley Williams of Greymouth, New Zealand.

Darlinghurst jail, now the National Art School

By far the greatest rekindling of interest in the case, however, came in 1894 with Bertrand’s release after twenty-eight years in prison. Maria Kinder was dead by then. After a night or two spent at the Hotel Metropole in Sydney, Bertrand left Australia for good. It is believed he went to live under an assumed name in Paris.

Chinese George

George Ernest Morrison (1862 – 1920), also known as Chinese Morrison, was an Australian adventurer and The Times Peking correspondent.

image found here

He was born in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. During a vacation before his tertiary education, he walked from Geelong to Adelaide, a distance of about 600 miles (960 km). Landing at Normanton, Queensland at the end of 1882 Morrison decided to walk to Melbourne. He was not quite 21, he had no horses or camels and was unarmed, but carrying his swag and swimming or wading the rivers in his path, he walked the 2043 miles in 123 days.

image of Geelong found here

Financed by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, Morrison was sent on an exploration journey to New Guinea. The men Morrison chose to accompany him were a mixed and mostly comical lot. They included Ned Snow “remarkably short and of such eccentric configuration that, whereas his body seemed longer than his legs, his head appeared more lengthy than either’. There was a Malay named Cheerful (possibly because he was an opium smoker) and another, Lively, who was “curious”.

Mud Men from New Guinea found here

High mountain country barred the way, and it took 38 days to cover 50 miles. The natives became hostile, and Morrison was struck by two spears, one, driven into his head near his right eye, the other deep in his stomach. Retracing their steps, with Morrison strapped to a horse, Port Moresby was reached after many days. On a ship taking him home he blew his nose and shot out a two centimetre splinter of wood. 

image found here

In Melbourne, 169 agonising days after the ambush, a surgeon removed the spearhead that was wedged in the back of his throat. Without anaesthetic the surgeon took the tip of the spear (six centimetres long) through and up the throat and into then out of Morrison’s right nostril.

He sailed for London on 27 March 1884, where he had the second spearhead cut from his abdomen by surgeon Joseph Bell in front of no less than 16 other surgeons. Morrison graduated as a doctor from Edinburgh University two and a half years later. After graduation he travelled extensively in the United States, the West Indies, and Spain. He then proceeded to Morocco, became physician to the Shereef of Wazan, and studied in Paris under Dr Charcot. In Siam, where the British and French were vying for power, he worked as a British secret agent. 

George found here

In 1894 he journeyed from Shanghai to Rangoon. He went partly by boat up the Yangtze River then rode and walked the remainder of the 3000 miles. The journey was completed in 100 days at a total cost of £18. He was unarmed and at the time knew hardly more than a dozen words of Chinese. 

Yangtze found here

In 1899 he went to England, and early in 1900 paid a short visit to his relations in Australia before returning to Peking. The Boxer Uprising broke out soon after, and during a prolonged siege, Morrison showed great courage, always ready to volunteer for every service of danger. Superficially wounded in July, he was erroneously reported as killed. He was afterwards able to read his highly laudatory obituary notice, which occupied two columns of The Times.

Boxer uprising found here

Morrison was a handsome, heroic man of action, much admired by women. In Spain he was captivated by a young girl named Pepita. In Paris he spent all his savings on Noelle and in Rangoon he had an idyllic affair with a Eurasian named Mary. In London, aged 43, he fell heavily for Toni, a 22 year old Hungarian. In Peking, he lusted briefly for Bessie and while visiting Sydney, spent time with a German actress. May, an insatiable American heiress, had him in the shadow of the Great Wall. He was spellbound by her sexuality and described her as the most thoroughly immoral woman. His diary contained an account of her industrious love life:

shadowy Great Wall found here

“May played with herself every morning even after passing the night in bed with a man. Seduced by a doctor, she went to Washington, slept constantly with Congressman Gaines, had four miscarriages, kissed all the way over Siberia by Captain Tremain Smith. Had for days in succession by Martin Egan. Her desire now is to get a Japanese maid to accompany her back to America and to kiss her every morning. In Tientson she had the Dutch consul and Mr Holcombe had her four times in two hours….”

Japanese maids found here

Morrison was dejected when May dumped him but at the age of 53, he married his thirty years younger assistant, Jennie. They had seven happy years together before he died of pancreatitis in May 1920.  

the pugilist poet

Arthur Cravan (born Fabian Avenarius Lloyd on May 22, 1887) was known as a pugilist, a poet and a larger-than-life character.

image found here

“Cravan was born and educated in Lausanne, Switzerland, then at an English military academy from which he was expelled after spanking a teacher

image found here

He set out to promote himself as an eccentric and an art critic, though his interest was showing off a striking personal style rather than discussing art. To a degree, Cravan was a charlatan as well as a genius. He staged spectacles and stunts with himself at the centre, pulling down his pants in public and once acting on the front of a line of carts where he paraded his skills as a boxer and singer.

After the First World War began, Cravan left Paris to avoid being drafted into military service. On a stopover in the Canary Islands a boxing match was arranged between Cravan and the reigning world champion, Jack Johnson, to raise money for Cravan’s passage to the United States. Posters for the match touted him as “European champion.” Johnson, who didn’t know who he was, knocked Cravan out solidly, noting in his autobiography that Cravan must have been out of training.

Jack Johnson found here

His style involved continuous re-invention of his public persona, and outrageous statements and boasts. As the nephew of Oscar Wilde (his father’s sister, Constance Mary Lloyd, was married to Wilde) he even produced hoaxes—documents and poems—and then signed them “Oscar Wilde”. In 1913 he published an article claiming that his uncle was still alive and had visited him in Paris. The New York Times published the rumor, even though Cravan and Wilde never met.

On the page and in person, Cravan paraded himself as “the poet with the shortest haircut in the world.”  Penniless most of the time, he drank in dive sports bars in the Bronx and slept rough in Central Park. Marcel Duchamp invited Cravan to a conference at Grand Central Palace. His lecture caused a sensation: drunk and undressing, he cussed out an audience who called the cops, shocking the Greenwich Village avant-garde.

Marcel Duchamp found here

It was in New York that he fell in love with the poet Mina Loy. They moved to Mexico together and married in 1918. The couple planned a trip to Argentina but did not have enough money for both of them to book passage on the same vessel. Loy took the trip on a regular ship and Cravan set out alone on a sailboat. He never arrived in Argentina and it is presumed that he died, aged 31, in a storm at sea. Mina gave birth to their daughter, Fabienne, in April. She spent a year searching for him, and decades fantasizing his return. Although theories abound, the mystery of his disappearance has never been solved. 

Mina Loy found here

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 164 other followers