erotic engineering

Porte-jarretelles, known in the US as a garter belt and in the UK as a suspender belt, is a machine of modest dimensions, designed to hold up women’s stockings. Suspended from a belt that runs around the waist are four strips of elastic fabric that reach out to grab both stockings by the cuff.

For a secure connection to be made, however, an intermediary connective device had to be invented, one that could hold a soft, fragile fabric that was sensitive to strong tensile forces. The problem was complex and multifaceted. Stockings made of silk were extremely delicate and would fare badly if attached to a rigid device. Additionally, there is much stretching and friction in that particular region of the human body, not to mention the considerable strain caused by the independent movement of the legs.

The resulting device consisted of a bottom plate covered with elastic cloth; at the tip of this plate sat a small button, over the top of which would slide a gynomorphic steel-wire clasp. The cloth for the clasp came in three colors: white, black, and pink. In deluxe models, a satin ribbon was folded over the mechanism, mainly for aesthetic reasons, but also to prevent overlaying clothing from getting entangled.

This solution was a piece of engineering so brilliant that later connoisseurs of fashion and historians of engineering and technology reasoned that only the greatest engineer of them all—Gustave Eiffel—could have been its inventor. Therefore a story, as unimaginative as it was apocryphal, began to circulate: that Eiffel’s wife suffered from sagging stockings and that the great man, in a moment of marital understanding, sat down at the kitchen table and drew a sketch of a new device—a garter belt designed around the famous slip-clasp.

I found the above information about my favourite lingerie item after typing “Erotic Engineering” into google. It’s an intriguing phrase also encountered here in an article written by John Ryle and published in the Guardian in 1998

The RuPaul lookalike in a lace microskirt plying his trade on the Avenida Augusto Severo in downtown Rio is one of the wonders of the world. His eyelashes are like spider’s webs; his hair, straightened and dyed, tumbles to his shoulders; his decolletage would put Pamela Anderson to shame. And there are others. They are wearing satin hot-pants, leather bikinis and denim cut-offs, carmine lipstick and six-inch heels: all the dress-sense of international hookerdom.

Ru Paul found here

During carnival in Rio, men en travesti are highly visible, on the street, in the pages of glossy magazines, and on the floats of some minor samba schools. There are even carnival groups that parade entirely in drag. These are mostly amateurs, though, out for the day. They would not want to be called travestis, a word that, in Brazilian Portuguese, normally implies a sex worker. For professional travestis the partial inversion of social order that is one of the features of carnival – and the unrestrained pursuit of pleasure that accompanies it – are a year-round phenomenon.

Travesti found here

Hormones and injections of silicone simulate female secondary characteristics. Nips and tucks do the rest. What travestis do not go in for are sex-change operations. Such operations are illegal anyway in Brazil, despite its reputation as the world capital of cosmetic surgery. But this is not why travestis don’t go the whole way; it is because, by their account – and there is no other available source of information – their clients are looking for a sexual partner who is neither male nor female, but a paradoxical combination of the two, a sexual chimera, a fantasy of polymorphous perversity, with the look and feel of the feminine and the penetrative capacity of the male.

image found here

There’s a book about this, just published in Brazil, called Erotic Engineering, an assemblage of photographs and interviews with travestis – and one or two of their mothers. I was sitting on the plane home reading it. It’s a curious book, halfway between a medical text and a chat-show transcript, with pictures to make your eyebrow stud rattle. It certainly kept my neighbour’s elbow off the armrest.

image found here

cover in sauce and no one will notice

Remember when I went to Hardys Bay? The house we stayed in contained some very odd items… like a small plastic bag of white powder hidden in a decorative box behind some books. Yes of course I tasted it. But it was only baking powder, probably put there as a joke by some bored teenager who had rented the house before us. Another interesting find was a selection of Handy Hints from a magazine published in 1979.

Irish Snow Blow found here

“You can make your own insulated picnic box by lining a biscuit tin with pieces of polystyrene. Pack the tin, leave it in the fridge until you are ready to leave, your food will be fabulously fresh when you arrive at your destination.

Polystyrene houses found here

Buy a cheap toothbrush. This you will find very handy for scraping celery clean. It gets the dirt off very quickly.

Toothbrush by Thomas Keeley

If the outside of your pudding is burnt, carefully cut away the burnt pieces, flame it then cover in sauce and no one will notice.

Germknoedel recipe here

When you are peeling onions, cut the end off a large transparent polythene bag and slip it over both hands like a muff. You can peel the onion inside it in no time, and without tears.

Muff Diver found here

Wash your stockings before you wear them and freeze while damp in a plastic bag. This makes them last longer, eliminates sagging and gives them more elasticity. Thaw and dry carefully before putting them on.


Make an attractive cover for your umbrella from a discarded tie. Cut the tie to the right length then stitch edges neatly.

umbrella-tie found here

A sheet of foam rubber, stuck to the back of the headboard on a bed, will save the wallpaper from being rubbed or marked during movement.


On wash day, clip clothes pegs all around an old belt and fasten this around your waist. It saves continually stooping into the peg bag whan you are hanging out the washing.

Clothes Peg sculpture found here

Cut bed making time by marking the centre of blanket with coloured wool.

Before going shopping, write your shopping list on a luggage label and tie it to the handle of your bag. Much easier than groping around in your handbag or pocket later.

label found here

Published in: on January 13, 2011 at 8:05 am  Comments (43)  
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t shirt friday 29.10.2010

Warm the One You Love

After you watch the video, swing on by HMH; she’s sporting a t shirt today too

Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 7:06 am  Comments (38)  
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corset friday 22/10/2010

I’m going to be late for mah jongg if I stop to take any new photos so here’s some from a couple of years ago. I think I’ve posted two of these images before but at least one of them was an outtake so it’s not a total cheat.

I have no idea what The King is barbecuing but queenwilly has made Salted Caramel Ice Cream and I’ve made Buttermilk Pudding with Mango Sauce and Strawberries marinated in Brown Sugar and Balsamic Vinegar.

Published in: on October 22, 2010 at 7:37 am  Comments (38)  
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corset friday 8.10.2010

The brooch in the photo on the left of the middle row was given to me by my favourite uncle after he visited Fiji in 1970. It’s hard to see, but the blue background is made of butterfly wings . You can see a better example here

Today’s corset friday post is dedicated to alonewithcats, one of the funniest female bloggers around. Happy Birthday for yesterday AWC xx

Published in: on October 8, 2010 at 7:33 am  Comments (35)  
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corset friday 13.08.2010

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 7:55 am  Comments (41)  
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corset friday 6/8/2010

all photos taken by syncopated eyeball

Published in: on August 6, 2010 at 8:00 am  Comments (36)  
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corset friday 4.6.2010

all photos were taken by syncopated eyeball

Published in: on June 4, 2010 at 8:49 am  Comments (48)  
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corset friday 7.5.2010

The rosary beads I am wearing were a present for my First Holy Communion

Published in: on May 7, 2010 at 9:11 am  Comments (43)  
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one star per head

The Kenyah head hunters of Borneo didn’t like to have more than 30 heads hanging in their homes at any one time. When they moved house they took advantage of the upheaval to get rid of any surplus ones. These were placed in a specially built hut not far from the old house, but in case the spirits who surrounded those heads thought they were being abandoned, a fire of smouldering logs was kept burning.

Different tribes had different tattoo markings indicating their achievements.

Muruts – Men who have fought, or who have gone on risky expeditions (headhunting I presume) are tattooed from the shoulders to the pit of the stomach, and all down the arms three-parallel stripes to the waist.


Rundum Muruts – stars on the front of the shoulder, above the breast, are often seen… each star denoted a head having been taken. When the third had been taken, another star was placed on the throat; then the forearms and thighs were tattooed, but with no special design.


Kayans – A man is supposed to tattoo one finger only, if he has been present when an enemy has been killed, but tattoos hands and fingers if he has taken an enemy’s head.

For the Dayak of southern and western Borneo, tattoos and death were inextricably bound. When the soul left its human host, it journeyed through the murky depths of the afterlife in search of heaven. Dayak souls encountered many obstacles on their supernatural flight: The River of Death the most formidable. According to tradition, only the souls of tattooed women who provided generously for their families and headhunters who possessed hand tattoos – a token of their success – were able to cross the log bridge that spanned these dangerous waters.


Here is a description of the women’s tattoos written by William Henry Furness who travelled to Borneo early last century

“I was utterly amazed at their costume and rubbed my eyes to make sure I was not dreaming. The women who were descending to the river’s edge wore on their thighs and legs beautiful blue silk tricots or tights of an elaborate openwork pattern, and on their hands and arms delicate black silk mitts; I was not prepared for an elegant toilette in the jungle and my bewildered amazement continued until, on nearer inspection, I found that all the tracery I had mistaken for silken tights was tattooing.”

image by Mark Madden

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 7:38 am  Comments (38)  
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