Cinderella of my heart

Pierre Arnold Bernard (1875-1955) had an abiding interest in Tantra

“Known in the popular American press as “Oom the Omnipotent,” Bernard became notorious throughout newspapers and journals as a spiritual leader and philosopher as well as a philanderer, seducer of women and purveyor of scandalous indecencies.

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Wily con man, yogi, athlete, bank president, founder of the Tantrik Order in America and the Clarkestown Country Club …the remarkable “Doctor” Bernard was all of these.

Bernard simulating his own death

In 1904, Bernard established a clinic in San Francisco where he taught his own versions of self-hypnosis and yoga, which eventually became known as the “Bacchante Academy.” Even then, Bernard had become something of a scandal in the California press, who charged that the Academy “catered to young women interested in learning hypnotism and soul charming by which they meant the mysteries of the relations between the sexes”

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Teaching Hatha Yoga downstairs and offering secret Tantric initiation upstairs, his Oriental sanctum quickly became an object of scandal in the New York press: the notorious “Omnipotent Oom” was charged with kidnapping and briefly imprisoned, though the charges were later dropped. “I cannot tell you how Bernard got control over me or how he gets it over other people,” said one of the alleged kidnapees, Zella Hopp, “He is the most wonderful man in the world. No women seem able to resist him.” The press reported “wild Oriental music and women’s cries, but not those of distress”

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Apparently, Bernard also believed that for certain individuals (particularly overly-repressed women of the Victorian era) more drastic surgical measures might be needed to liberate their sexual potential. Sexually unresponsive women could be helped by a form of partial circumcision in which the clitoral hood was surgically removed, an operation believed to improve female receptivity by exposing the clitoral gland to direct stimulation.

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One of the wealthy men associated with Bernard was Ed Browning, better known as Daddy Browning.

Real estate multi-millionaire Edward West Browning married Nellie Adele Lowen in 1915. He built a 24 room Manhattan penthouse for them that included an interior aviary, a miniature lake stocked with Japanese goldfish, and a turtle and frog garlanded fountain that spewed the colors of the rainbow. In 1918 Nellie adopted three-year-old “Little” Marjorie, and in 1920 five-year-old Dorothy “Sunshine.” But by 1923, Adele had had her fill of Edward, and she ran off with a dentist, taking Little Marjorie with her. Divorce followed.

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Browning tried to make up for the loss by providing Sunshine with ponies and miniature railways. For transportation she selected a peacock-colored, stretch Rolls Royce “equipped with a 4 foot high motion picture screen.” The child, however, still suffered from loneliness and Edward placed adoption ads in 1925: there were 12,000 applications from which he chose 16 year old Mary Louise Spas. The adoption was later annulled as it was discovered she was 21.

To assuage his failure at marriage and adoption, Edward became active in sponsoring youth-oriented dancing clubs and high school sorority dances where he met Frances Belle Heenan, a tenth grader. She was described as buxom, with a peaches and cream complexion. “Peaches is the Cinderella of my heart,” he said. Thirty-seven days later, on her sixteenth birthday, fifty-one-year-old Daddy married Peaches.

Daddy doted on Peaches, spoiling her with a four and one-half carat diamond ring and Fifth Avenue shopping rampages. There was much activity after their marriage, including social engagements and a stroll along the Long Beach boardwalk with their pet African Honking Gander on a red ribbon leash. But six months after the marriage, Peaches left Daddy, claiming abuse.

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Court room details of Peaches’ assertions of Daddy’s excessive eccentricity, included contact with the “Love Cult” High Priestess of Oom, sandpapering shoetrees at night, prowling and barking on all fours, and placing at the end of his lit cigar a white tablet that produced a large snowflake.

Michael Greenburg has written a book about their exploits called “Peaches and Daddy”. And on this site here you can see more photographs like the one below of their pre-marital abode.

Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 8:10 am  Comments (37)  
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37 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I would never have anything to do with a man who sandpapers shoetrees at night ……

    • Quite right daddyp. Neither would I.

      • Especially if it’s a metaphor!

      • Now that hadn’t occurred to me dinah

  2. A Honking African Goose? Isn’t it every young lady’s dream to be goosed?

    • Well it does rather depend on who is doing the goosing

  3. If I could get my hands on Bernard (Oom the Omnipotent) I’d take drastic measures to liberate his own sexual potential with a pair of rubber gloves and a large, cold zucchini.

    • How very Lisbeth Salander of you Mitzi.

  4. She left without Dorothy. Guess Dorothy was LIttle miss sunshine after all.

    • Strange thing for a mother to do – take one daughter and leave the other.

  5. No! No! Not the tablet that turns into a snowflake!! Oh the horror. . .

    *The press reported “wild Oriental music and women’s cries, but not those of distress”* Ah yes, the cries not of distress. . . I used to have bad fantasies about my neighbors calling the police, who would come knocking at the worst possible time. Fortunately, that has never happened. Yet.

    • Haha… don’t speak too soon HMH 😉

    • my neighbors are apparently quite deaf. or terrified. perhaps a combination of the two!

      • If the neighbors want the noise the stop, they’ll buy us a ballgag.

      • you two should get a room

  6. The depravities of the rich and infamous. Never let it be said the mundane rule, or fail to wed into total weirdness. What a fascinating, if somewhat less then sane, dude.

  7. “Purveyor of scandalous indecencies.” That’s a sure-fire selling point.

  8. in the first photo, Oom looks like a real dick.

  9. I’m trying to figure out how to put a four-foot motion picture screen on a Rolls-Royce. It’s certainly going to adversely affect its aerodynamics.

  10. Yogis… there was something I read once about a Yogi practicing orgasms and learning to have them backwards. He believed that sperm was power, and that giving it up was giving up his power. Women were taking his energy away from him, so he meditated and practiced and eventually learned out to orgasm backwards so he could suck the power out of his partner rather than the other way around. Maybe it was some Marco Polo novel or something like that? I don’t remember. I just remember that the entire idea was exceptionally strange, which sort of makes it stick in your head.

  11. I bet such shady characters are still around.
    Well they are, you hear them on the news every day

  12. Why did I never meet inappropriate gentlemen like that? Why did I have to make do with fumbling 17 year old boys?

    • Why why why? I ask myself the same question Madame

  13. Sandpapering shoe trees? THE PERVERT!

    • I KNOW! How dare he??

  14. I need to become a philanderer I think

    • Your wife thinks otherwise Malach.

  15. Clitoral “gland”? Whose anatomy book was he reading?

    • Oh it would have to be one of his own creation I think.

      • It certainly puts a new spin on “gladular fever.”

      • Do you want me to stick an ‘n’ in there Kyk?

  16. I can’t even find a plain old place to practice yoga lately, let alone one that induces “women’s cries, but not those of distress”, seems like such a luxurious bonus in my yoga barren times….

    • When I did the occasional yoga class the only sounds I heard were fanny farts. Not mine of course.

  17. Purveyor of scandalous indecencies. That sounds like a perfect job.

  18. He liked them a bit young it seems.

  19. “Wily con man, yogi, athlete, bank president, founder of the Tantrik Order in America and the Clarkestown Country Club …”

    Best resume ever. Bet he could find a job in this economy.


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