those mmmarrying mmmen

In 1923 a General Zakhari Mdivani appeared in Paris. As a Mohammedan chieftain of the Caucasus, he was recognized as a Bey or Prince by the Russian Imperial Court which acknowledged all Georgian “Princes” possessed of a pair of shoes, a stone house, a flock of sheep and a rifle. Prince Mdivani (pronounced Mmmdivani) had little money, but he had his jewels; five children, three boys and two girls, all very good looking.

Ceremonial Men’s Dress of the Russian Imperial Court found here

First to arrive was David, the oldest and shaggiest. At that time Gloria Swanson had just married a French Marquis. Pouting blonde Mae Murray, then at the height of her career, decided that she too could afford a title. She took as her fourth husband Prince David Mdivani. With David married, brother Serge, the handsomest, promptly arrived, to be snapped up by Pola Negri.

David and Mae found here

As husbands, the two Hollywood Mdivanis proved an expensive luxury. With the first pinch of Depression, Pola Negri decided to get rid of her handsome Prince Serge. While Mae Murray was pondering whether to divorce David, he and Serge struck oil back of her bath house in Venice, California. They organized the Pacific Shore Oil Co. with Mae Murray putting up most of the cash. After he bankrupted her, she divorced him on grounds of “extreme cruelty, unreasonable jealousy and hostility toward her guests” in 1933. He was then involved with French actress Arletty for a time but ended up marrying Oil heiress Virginia Sinclair. They divorced in February 1964 with her claiming mental cruelty and continual harassment. 

Serge and Pola found here

Divorced by Pola Negri, Serge’s second venture was to marry Chicago Opera Singer Mary McCormic. But the indisputably most successful of the marrying Mdivanis was Alexis, the youngest and last to arrive in the U. S.  Shrewdly, he avoided Hollywood, confined himself to the hard money fortunes of the East, and got himself married to Louise Astor van Alen, great-granddaughter of the late, great Mrs. William Astor. When she divorced him, Alexis, undaunted, drifted over to Paris, then had the inspiration of marrying Miss Barbara Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth store millions.

Alexis and Barbara found here

He and Hutton divorced in Reno in 1935 and he moved on to Baroness Maud von Thyssen-Bornemisza. In August 1935, while driving his Rolls Royce en route to Perpignan he died in a car crash. He had careened into a culvert, turned over five times and was pronounced dead on the spot. His passenger Maud was reported as only slightly injured but also as having bit her tongue off and was rendered permanently speechless thereafter.

Baroness Maud found here

Reluctant to see the Astor Van Alen millions disappear from the Mdivani clutches, Serge married his former sister-in-law, Louise, in February 1936, but died in March in a polo accident in Delray Beach, Florida when his pony fell and kicked him in the head as Louise stood on the sidelines.

William Van Alen found here

a venerated place

Many of the world’s cultures recognize more than two genders. The notion that there are those of us who do not fit precisely into either a male or female role has historically been accepted by several groups (excerpt from this article)

Among Native Americans, the role of third, fourth, or even fifth genders has been widely documented. Children, who were born physically male or female and yet showed a proclivity for the opposite gender, were encouraged to live out their lives in the gender role, which fit them best. The term used by Europeans to describe this phenomenon is Berdache.

Berdache found here

The berdache could adopt the clothing of women, associate and be involved with women, do the work normally associated with women, marry a man and take part in many spiritual ceremonies of the tribe. The Arapaho of the plains believe the role existed due to supernatural gifts from birds or animals.

image of Arapaho men (1898) found here

Parents would watch a child who seemed to have a tendency toward living as berdache and would assist him in pursuing it rather than discouraging him. Berdaches excel in weaving, beadwork, and pottery; arts associated almost solely with the women of the tribe. One notable attribute of the berdache is that the work of these people is greatly prized both within and without the tribe. 

image by Robert Freeman found here

Although there is much fluidity in alternate gender behavior, a berdache reaches some absolutes when it comes to adopting biological female roles. This limitation has not eliminated attempts at mimicking such female biological processes such as menstruation and pregnancy. The Mohave alyha were known to have gone to great lengths to simulate mock pregnancies. They would self induce constipation and then “deliver” a stillborn fecal fetus. Appropriate mourning rites and burial were performed with the involvement of the alyha’s husband.

Indian burial platform found here

One of the most entertaining stories associated with the adoption of female dress and attitude comes from a  famous berdache, We’Wha. In 1886, she went to Washington DC to meet President Grover Cleveland accompanied by anthropologist and debutante, Matilda Coxe Stevenson. Because she passed easily as a woman, she was allowed into the ladies rooms and boudoirs of the elite. She delighted in telling the Zuni upon arriving home that “the white women were mostly frauds, taking out their false teeth and ‘rats’ from their hair.”

image found here

There are some characteristics of the sexual practices of berdache, which differ from those of other same sex relationships. Berdaches almost always observe an incest taboo which involves the avoidance of sex with another berdache. One explanation for this is that sexual partner of the berdache must, by nature, be masculine. This belief is consistent with the emphasis on the gender aspects of the role rather than the sexual aspects. It also dovetails with the information on berdache marriages to masculine men. In these unions, the berdache is considered a wife and is valued by the husband not only for the domestic duties the berdache performs, but also for the socially acceptable homosexual relationship.

image found here

Berdaches frequently are available for sex with both unmarried adolescent boys and married men who occasionally seek out same sex partners. Because of this, female prostitution is not needed. Traditional berdaches were also available as sexual partners during hunts and in war parties. This was yet another reason why they were welcomed on these excursions.

Sioux War Party (1907) found here

Published in: on October 3, 2011 at 10:58 am  Comments (45)  
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the Baroness balances a birthday cake

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1875-1927) was known as the Queen of the Dada Movement.

Elsa found here

Her father, a mason, sexually and physically abused her in her childhood. She practiced prostitution, and had numerous affairs with both men and women throughout her lifetime, including the writer Djuna Barnes.

Djuna found here

Elsa married August Endell in April 1901 but by 1903 she had left him for his friend Felix Greve. In July 1909, Greve disappeared from Germany after staging his own suicide. Elsa played a part in the faked suicide, she sent a letter to his publishers accusing them of working her late husband to death. He sailed from Liverpool to Montreal, where he renamed himself. Later, as the Canadian author Frederick Philip Grove, he described staging his death and reinventing himself in his first autobiography. 

Felix Greve found here

It is unclear how Elsa made her way to New York. However, it was there she met and married Baron Leo von Freytag-Loringhoven, the black sheep of his illustrious family, in November 1913. Through her marriage to Leo von Freytag-Loringhoven she became a Baroness but little is known about their relationship. Baron von Loringhoven hurried back to Germany at the outbreak of the war and then, not liking war, shot himself – an act which his wife characterized as the bravest of his life. 

black sheep found here

From 1917 on, she published a fair amount of her mostly Expressionist and sometimes Dada-style poetry in various magazines. She also created “ready made” sculptures and collages from random items she stole or salvaged from the trash. Her most famous “ready made” is the plumbing pipe irreverently called “God”

God found here

By the early 1920s, von Freytag-Loringhoven had become a living legend in Greenwich Village. Often arrested for her revealing costumes and ongoing habit of stealing anything that caught her eye, she “leaped from patrol wagons with such agility that policemen let her go in admiration“. She continued to pose for artists, and appeared in a short film made by Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp descriptively titled The Baroness Shaves Her Pubic Hair.

Duchamp and Ray playing chess found here

Margaret Anderson vividly recalls the Baroness’ first entrance into the Little Review’s office: “So she shaved her head. Next she lacquered it a high vermilion. Then she stole crêpe from a house of mourning and made a dress of it. She came to see us. First she exhibited the head at all angles, amazing against our black walls. Then she jerked the crepe with one movement. It’s better when I’m nude, she said.”

Elsa found here

When many of her friends moved to Paris after the First World War, von Freytag-Loringhoven tried desperately to join them. Eventually she returned to Berlin in April 1923 – a time when inflation of the German currency was at its worst. She was reduced to selling newspapers on a street corner of the Kurfüstendamm in the winter of 1923–1924 and was a more or less permanent inmate of several insane asylums. Her outrageous blackmail attempts and demanding propositions to André Gide, George Bernard Shaw, and perhaps other celebrities for living expenses did little to keep her out of trouble. Her notoriously elaborate costumes were not of much help either. In an undated letter to Djuna Barnes, von Freytag-Loringhoven describes an ensemble she wore to the French Embassy in Germany:

Andre Gide found here

“I went to the consulate with a large, wide sugarcoated birthday cake upon my head with fifty flaming candles lit – I felt just so spunky and affluent! In my ear I wore sugar plumes or matchboxes – I forget which. Also I had put on several stamps as beauty spots on my emerald-painted cheeks and my eyelashes were made of gilded porcupine quills – rustling coquettishly – at the consul – with several ropes of dried figs dangling around my neck to give him a suck once and again – to entrance him. I should have liked to wear gaudy colored rubber boots up to my hips with a ballet skirt of genuine gold paper with lace paper covering it (to match the cake) – but I couldn’t afford that! I guess that inconsistency in my costume is to blame for my failure to please the officials?

Cake Head found here

The true circumstances of von Freytag-Loringhoven’s death are still unclear. On December 14, 1927, she died of asphyxiation when the gas in her room at the Rue Barrault was left on overnight.

Margaret and her Marquis

Margaret Strong de Cuevas de Larrain, the twice-titled American heiress, was the only child of Bessie Rockefeller, the eldest of John D. Rockefeller’s five children.

Bessie Rockefeller found here

“As a young woman Margaret went to Paris to live. Following the Russian Revolution there was an influx of Russian émigrés into Paris, and Margaret developed a fascination for them that remained with her all her life. She was most excited to meet the tall and elegant Prince Felix Yusupov, the assassin of Rasputin, who had taken to wearing pink rouge and green eye shadow, and supported himself by heading up a house of couture.

Felix Yusupov found here

At that time Prince Yusupov had working for him a penniless young Chilean named George de Cuevas. The plain, timid heiress was enchanted, and promptly fell in love, thereby establishing what would be a lifelong predilection for flamboyant, effete men. The improbable pair were married in 1928.

Marquis de Cuevas found here

When World War II broke out, they moved to the United States. In New York, Margaret always kept a rented limousine, and sometimes two, all day every day in front of her house in case she wanted to go out. 

De Cuevas is well remembered for an episode of histrionics which took place in 1958. Fifty-two year old Serge Lifar became angry when the marquis’s company changed the choreography of his ballet Black and White. After a heated exchange of words the marquis, who was seventy-two at the time, slapped Lifar in the face with a handkerchief in public and then refused to apologize. Lifar then challenged de Cuevas to a duel and épées were chosen as the weapons. The location of the duel was to be kept secret because dueling was outlawed in France, but more than fifty tipped-off reporters and photographers showed up at the scene. For the first four minutes of the duel Serge Lifar leapt about while the marquis remained stationary. In the third round the marquis forced Lifar back by simply advancing with his sword held straight in front of him, and pinked his opponent. It was not clear, according to newspaper accounts of the duel, whether skill or accident brought the maraquis’s blade into contact with Lifar’s arm. “Blood has flowed! Honor is saved!” cried Lifar. Both men burst into tears and rushed to embrace each other. Reporting the event on its front page, the New York Times said that the affair “might well have been the most delicate encounter in the history of French dueling.”

Serge Lifar found here

As a couple, the Marqius and Marquesa de Cuevas became increasingly eccentric. George often received visitors lying in bed wearing a black velvet robe with a sable collar and surrounded by nine or ten Pekingese dogs, while Margaret grew more and more reclusive and slovenly in her dress. She only wore black and kept an in-residence dressmaker to make the same dress for her over and over again. When she traveled to Europe, she would book passage on as many as six ships and then be unable to make up her mind as to which day she wanted to sail. Once, unable to secure a last-minute booking on a Paris-Biarritz train, she piled her daughter, maid, ten Pekingese dogs, and her luggage into a Paris taxicab and had the driver drive her the five hundred miles to Biarritz. The trip took three days.

Pekingese found here

The apex of the social career of George de Cuevas was reached in 1953 with a masked ball he gave in Biarritz; it vied with the Venetian masked ball given by Carlos de Beistegui in 1951 as the most elaborate fête of the decade. The costumes were fantastic, and people spent most of the evening just staring at each other. Elsa Maxwell came dressed as a man. The Duchess of Argyll, on the arm of the duke, who would later divorce her in messiest divorce in the history of British society, came dressed as an angel. Ann Woodward, of the New York Woodwards, slapped a woman she thought was dancing too often with her husband, William, whom she was to shoot and kill two years later.

Duchess of Argyll found here

Inevitably, the marriage of George and Margaret de Cuevas began to founder. They maintained close communication, however, and Margaret would often call George in Paris or Cannes from New York or Palm Beach to deal with a domestic problem. Once when the marquesa’s chef in Palm Beach became enraged at her unreasonable demands and threw her breakfast tray at her, she called her husband in Paris and asked him to call the chef and beseech him not only not to quit but also to bring her another breakfast, because she was hungry.

Chef found here

Then Raymundo de Larrain entered the picture. He was talented, brilliant, and wildly extravagant, and began making a name for himself designing costumes and sets for George de Cuevas’s ballet company. A protégé of the marquis’s to start with, he soon became known as his nephew. In 1960 the Marquis de Cuevas offered Raymundo de Larrain, with whom he was now on the closest terms, the chance to create a whole new production of The Sleeping Beauty, to be performed at the Théâtre de Champs-Élysées. George de Cuevas attended every performance up until two weeks before his death. He died at his favorite home, Les Délices, in Cannes, in 1961. Margaret, who was in New York, did not visit her husband of thirty-three years in the months of his decline.

Sleeping Beauty found here

Meanwhile, Margaret’s physical appearance had been deteriorating. She covered her face with a white paste and she blackened her eyes in an eccentric way that made people think she had put her thumb and fingers in a full ashtray and rubbed them around her eyes. She wrapped handkerchiefs around her wrists to hide her diamonds, and her black dresses were frequently stained and held together with safety pins. For shoes she wore either sneakers or a pair of pink polyester bedroom slippers, very often on the wrong feet.

image found here

Her behavior also was increasingly eccentric. In her bedroom she had ten radios, each radio was set to a different music station—country-and-western, rock ’n’ roll, classical—and when she wanted to hear music she would ring the butler and point to the radio she wished him to turn on.

Margaret and Raymundo became the Harold and Maude of the Upper East Side and Palm Beach. In 1977, the Marquesa Margaret de Cuevas, then eighty years old, married forty two year old Raymundo de Larrain, in a hastily arranged surprise ceremony. For the wedding, Raymundo told friends, he gave his bride a wheelchair and new teeth.”

Harold and Maude finger puppets found here

unlike women, pictures can’t talk back

Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen- Bornemisza De Kaszon, who died in 2002, was one of the richest men in Europe (his fortune had been estimated at more than $5.4 billion) and the owner of one of the world’s great art collections.

image found here

During his lifetime, the baron was considered a prime kidnapping target. All his houses were equipped with closed circuit surveillance, bodyguards and dogs. The author Dominick Dunne was acquainted with one of these guards whom he described as a cross between Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood. He packed two weapons beneath his suit, a pistol in a holster and what appeared to be a sawed off machine gun tucked into the back of his trousers.

image found here

”Heini” Thyssen inherited from his father, Heinrich, a collection of 400 old masters, to which he added another 200 as well as 900 modern works. By 1986, the collection had overwhelmed the Villa Favorita. Thyssen was concerned that the bulk of it should be kept together after his death and had secured an agreement with his children to that effect.

Villa Favorita found here

He then asked the Swiss authorities to fund an enlargement of his museum, but they offered less than $3 million. Piqued, Thyssen embarked on a search for a new site outside Switzerland which would be worthy of his patronage. Both Prince Charles and Mrs Thatcher flew to Switzerland to put in a bid for Britain; President Mitterrand lobbied for France; the Getty Foundation offered millions of dollars for the United States; and the Swiss Government tried to block the paintings’ export.

image found here

But in 1993 the pressure of the bedroom decided matters in favour of the birthplace of the baron’s fifth wife, Carmen ”Tita” Cervera, a former Miss Spain 22 years his junior and widow of Tarzan of the Apes actor Lex Barker. She negotiated successfully with the Spanish government who donated the Villahermosa palace in Madrid, near the Prado, to house it.

Carmen and Lex found here

Thyssen collected beautiful women rather as he collected homes and works of art – though he once observed that ”unlike women, the pictures can’t talk back”, and, as one newspaper put it, old mistresses tended to be more troublesome to him than old masters. He married first, in 1946, Princess Theresa de Lippe, by whom he had a son, Georg Heinrich.

In 1953 Thyssen began an affair with 17 year old Nina Dyer, an English model, to whom he gave a Caribbean island, two sports cars with gold-plated ignition keys, a black panther and a fortune in jewellery. He divorced Theresa and married Nina in 1954.

Nina Dyer found here

But it soon transpired that Nina loved an impoverished French actor. ”It sounds silly,” Thyssen once remarked, ”but I hate to divorce. It’s a most disagreeable operation.” Nevertheless, he swiftly divested himself of Nina who moved on to marry Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. Indifferent to gender when it came to love partners, Nina also dallied with a selection of ladies, who called her Oliver and vied with her husbands to shower her with jewels.

Nina Dyer’s black pearls found here

Heini’s third wife was another English model, Fiona Campbell-Walter, whom he married in 1956. She gave him two children, Lorne and Francesca. But Thyssen divorced Fiona in 1964 and took as his next wife Denise Shorto, a Brazilian banker’s daughter, who was to remain with him for 17 years and bear him another son, Alexander. Denise was known to have had an affair with the baron’s art dealer, Franco Rappetti, described as a playboy, gambler and drug user, who shared women with powerful men. In 1978, 38 year old Rappetti fell or was thrown to his death from the Meurice in New York.

Denise Shorto found here

Heini’s fourth divorce was his most acrimonious. In 1981 Thyssen met his fifth wife, Carmen ”Tita” Cervera, while holidaying on the Costa Smeralda in Sardinia, but marriage had to wait until 1985, when the legal battle with Denise was settled. Relations between ”Baron Heini” and his older children were aggravated by this marriage to Tita, whom Francesca described as ”the wicked stepmother”.

Carmen was an amateur painter with flamboyant tastes in interior design. The couple became an almost permanent feature of the pages of Hola!, the Spanish progenitor of Hello! magazine. Thyssen adopted as his fifth child Carmen’s son Borja, whose natural father she never publicly named……

Carmen and Borja found here

how does one lose four husbands?

Enid Kenmare lost four husbands, all by death

“She was a member of the Australian Lindeman wine family, and she thought nothing of walking through Mayfair with a cheetah or flying to Kenya on safari by private aeroplane in the 1930s.

Lindeman’s vineyard found here

Enid, a celebrated beauty, married four times, the first time in 1913 to a New York shipbroker when she was 21. Two of her husbands were fabulously wealthy and left her fortunes. Three of them had titles. All died before her and two died less than a year after marrying her.

Her second husband was Brigadier General Frederick Cavendish, better known as Caviar Cavendish. Enid is reputed to have slept with every officer in his regiment for a dare.  

caviar found here

In 1933 she married the very rich Lord Furness, known as Duke, short for Marmaduke. He had a private railroad car, two yachts and an airplane. They were each other’s third spouse. Lord Furness was himself no stranger to homicidal rumour and controversy. His first wife, Daisy, had died aboard his yacht while on a pleasure cruise and he had buried her at sea.

Marmaduke found here

Enid’s last marriage, to Valentine, the sixth Earl of Kenmare, took place in 1943. He was an enormously fat man, 225 pounds, who once accidentally sat on a dog and killed it. Previously he had been married to Doris Castlerosse who died of an overdose of sleeping pills and alcohol. When Kenmare also died less than a year after his marriage to Enid, his inheritance was to pass to his niece. But Enid, in one of her boldest ventures, claimed to be pregnant, although she was approaching fifty. She was thus able to hold on to the income from the ancestral lands for an additional thirteen months. 

Valentine found here

Her great friend, writer Somerset Maugham, dubbed her Lady Killmore. 

The beauty of the much married and much widowed Enid Kenmare was so renowned that it was said people stood on chairs in the lobby of the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo just to catch a glimpse of her as she passed through.

Lobby of the Hotel de Paris found here

She was also a constant and successful gambler who frequented casinos nightly. “She had fantastic posture, wore cabochon emeralds and dressed in diaphanous gowns” remembered one of her friends. She seemed to inhabit another sphere.”

Enid’s “other sphere” was dope. “She was a legally registered heroin addict” recalled a gentleman in New York whilst another gentleman in London said “Opium was her drug of choice.”

Opium smokers found here

“I don’t think Enid killed anybody” said a friend of her son Rory, “but she may have given them drugs and helped them along.”

a man’s life

Extracted from The Digest of Hygiene’s “A Man’s Life” by Joseph M Lee

image found here

“Masturbation is a habit that must be practiced alone and may lead to depression and a deep dissatisfaction with oneself. Married men have been known to masturbate. If you do so, even in your married state, you should try to work out some solution with your wife.

image found here

If young men have an idea that they would like to marry a girl who has not cheapened herself, we suggest that you consider leaving a few of them around. While we are on the subject of people who come to a marriage with a “past”, confession may be good for the soul, but it might be a good idea to do your confessing to your doctor or your minister or to the diary you are going to burn before you get married, instead of to your fiancee. 

image found here

If your wife knows nothing of the matters of sex, you must act as a sort of instructor. Explain the function of the marriage ritual as delicately as possible. Explain how she may have an orgasm, and why. Even if it is possible to have coitus on your wedding night, it is possible that it may not be wholly satisfactory. Remember – be a man – not an animal.

image found here

Inability of the man to withstand the stimulation of friction until the wife reaches her climax is one of the main causes for failure and chagrin for many couples. Massaging several times daily with desensitizing cream – to be prescribed only by a physician – will have a calming effect on the male organ. Though there will be erection during the massage, it is not masturbation, but conditioning. 

image found here

Remember, most women, even if strongly sexed, do not experience an orgasm every time. About three successes out of four contacts is considered normal. Inadequate erection or short duration of sexual contact will cause failure of a woman’s response, but the husband can caress the genital area to supplement intercourse and the wife can fortify her husband’s erection by rhythmic manual stimulation. This is neither unnecessary nor undignified for her to do so.

the romance of travel

Edward Wortley Montagu (1713 – 1776) was an English author and traveller.

image found here

In spite of Mr Wortley’s incurable habit of travelling, or because of it, he was equally addicted to matrimony, though he was as much a wanderer in this activity as in any other for he married, first a washerwoman, and then, bigamously, Caroline Dormer.

washerwoman found here

Nor did his thirst for domesticity content itself with these two ladies, for he deserted Miss Dormer for a Nubian girl, and, as well, eloped with Miss Ashe. His death took place at Padua in 1776, and he no doubt left several inconsolable widows.

Nubian mummy found at this fascinating site

Louis de Rougemont (1847-1941) was also a traveller, but not quite as adventurous a one as he claimed to be

Louis found here

“De Rougemont” was born Henri Louis Grin in Paris, France. He left home at the age of sixteen. He became a footman to the actress Fanny Kemble, servant to Swiss banker de Mieville in 1870 and butler for the governor of Western Australia, Sir William Robinson. In that job he lasted less than a year.

Fanny Kemble found here

He tried various ventures with very little success. He worked as a doctor, a ‘spirit photographer’ and an inventor. He also married and abandoned a wife in Australia.

spirit photography found here

In 1898 he began to write about his invented adventures in the British periodical “The Wide World Magazine” under the name Louis De Rougemont. He described his alleged exploits in search of pearls and gold in New Guinea and claimed to have spent thirty years living with Indigenous Australians in the Australian outback. He claimed that the tribe with whom he had lived had worshipped him as a god. 

Larapinta Dreaming found here

Various readers expressed disbelief in his tales from the start, for example, claiming that no one can actually ride a turtle. De Rougemont had also claimed to have seen flying wombats. The fact that he could not place his travels on the map aroused suspicion. Readers’ arguments in the pages of London newspaper, the Daily Chronicle, continued for months.

Flying Wombat found here

Rougemont said he could not specify exactly where he had been because he had signed a non-disclosure agreement with a syndicate that wanted to exploit the gold he had found in the area. He also refused to talk about Aboriginal languages he had supposedly learned. 

Then it was announced that a certain F.W. Solomon had recognized De Rougemont and identified him as Louis Grin who had presented himself at Solomon’s firm as an entrepreneur. Grin had collected tidbits for his exploits from the Reading Room of the British Library. 

more great libraries here

Grin tried to defend himself by writing a letter to The Daily Chronicle, in which he expressed his consternation that anybody would confuse him with Louis De Rougemont. The Wide World Magazine exploited the situation and prepared a Christmas double issue. Sales of both papers soared. De Rougemont himself disappeared from the public view.

In 1899 Grin travelled to South Africa as a music-hall attraction: ‘The Greatest Liar on Earth’; on a similar 1901 tour of Australia, he was booed from the stage. In July 1906 De Rougemont appeared at the London Hippodrome and successfully demonstrated his turtle-riding skills. During World War I he reappeared as an inventor of a useless meat substitute. He died a poor man in London on 9 June 1921.

turtle riding a jellyfish found here


Edvard Westermarck (1862-1939) was a Swedish sociologist who wrote about the history of marriage and associated ancient customs around the world.

In Madagascar, the women had a unique way of choosing a husband. The man in question would stand at a certain distance from a proficient athlete and be obliged to catch between his arm and side every spear that was thrown at him. If he displayed fear or failed to catch any of the spears he was rejected.


Among the Dongolowees, if two men are suitors for one girl and she has difficulty deciding between the rivals the following method is adopted. The girl ties a knife to each forearm so that the blades project below her elbows. She sits on a log of wood, the men on each side with their legs loosely pressed against her. Raising her arms she leans forward and slowly presses the knives into the thighs of her suitors. He who best undergoes this trial becomes her husband. Her first duty after marriage is to dress the wounds she herself inflicted.


Among the South American Uaupes a swollen calf is considered one of the best attractions a young lady can possess, the result being that girls wear a tight garter below the knee from infancy. The Hottentots are charmed by women’s long and pendulous breasts which can assume such monstrous dimensions that the usual way of giving suck when the child is carried on the back is by throwing the breast over the shoulder.


Among the Arawaks and some people in the province of Paria, a virgin bride had to spend the first night with the local priest. In Venezuela, legitimate wives, but not concubines, were deflowered by priests and it was considered a great crime not to conform to this custom. Among the Senegalese the king not only has the power of life or death over his subjects but also le droit du seigneur everywhere in the tribe and no girl can marry until she has been deflowered by him.


Every year the Kurds have a great feast, assembling in a large room for promiscuous intercourse. After the congregation have kissed the priest’s hand he cries out “I am a great bull.” The most recently married woman steps forward and replies “I am a young cow”, after which the lights are dimmed and the orgies begin.


On the coast of Malabar, Brahmans act as deflowerers of brides. They are not always willing to preform this duty and often oblige husbands to pay four or five hundred ducats to make it worth their while.  In Central Africa when a young girl is “danced” or “initiated” a father has to pay a man to sleep with his daughter by giving him a fowl, a bowl of flour and a small bowl of beer.


Published in: on September 21, 2010 at 8:51 am  Comments (38)  
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a dark and stormy night

golliwog perfume of romance

On 10 July 1923, London experienced its worst storm for many years.

For over two hours the sky was illuminated by continuous flashes that gave buildings an eerie appearance, and at least once what seemed to be a gigantic fireball broke into a million fragments of dazzling fiery sparks.

wedding night

At the height of this thunderous activity, Prince Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey who was staying at the Savoy Hotel, was shot dead by Marguerite, his French wife of six months. She claimed she was trying to protect herself from his violent sexual advances.


“He had spoken of his responsibility to extend the Fahmy dynasty, but his sexual modus operandi, done behind her back, so to speak, was neither purposely nor incidentally towards that end. Being petite of rump, she was physically pained as well as mentally disturbed by his unconventional approach.

1950s spanking

She shot him three times during a heated argument about, among other things, an operation which she wished to have in a Paris hospital and her husband preferred her to have in London.

“Her ailment had been caused by her husband, and made worse still, by the continuance of the pastime that had caused it.

Sir Edward Marshall-Hall, the barrister who defended the  Princess, cast aspersions upon the murdered husband’s character and implied an improper relationship existed between the Prince and his male secretary. Many believed Marguerite was acquitted because the jury found the idea of a beautiful white woman being constantly watched by black servants too abhorrent


The testimony that turned the tide and made Marguerite Fahmy a free woman was her recital of how her husband had her shadowed “by ugly black men,” who in obedience to his orders invaded even the privacy of her boudoir and the room where she slept.

That melted the heart of this stern English jury. They could not think of finding her guilty after hearing how she had been followed while she waked and slept, while she dressed and undressed, followed through all the most intimate moments of a woman’s life by the eyes of these spies.

One presumes the acquitted Princess was able to then have her surgical procedure at the hospital of her choice. She was welcomed back to Paris as a heroine, appearing in the social pages for a few years before dropping into obscurity. Marshall-Hall was criticised for his racist remarks but remained a popular figure in legal circles. The dead Prince became another name on the list of those who were cursed by the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb…..


Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 7:29 am  Comments (31)  
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