YouTube channel Cinema History has posted the 1897 George Méliès film Après le bal, “FULL & UNCENSORED”, billing it as the “first adult movie”.

As you probably expected, it’s quite tame by “adult movie” standards of any later era. (The fact that the full, uncensored film can be uploaded to YouTube should have been a dead giveaway.)

Nonetheless, “adult movie” is a reasonable label. The main appeal of the film is titillation from watching the woman (played by Jeanne d’Alcy, who married Méliès thirty years later) undress and bathe. Films were mainly shown in vaudeville theatres at this time, as one “act” on the bill. Many vaudeville revues would have featured equally risqué live acts.

Cinema History’s blurb says the woman “takes a bath naked”, but she’s clearly wearing a flesh-colored leotard. And the water poured by her maid is clearly sand of some sort. Méliès was an early master of optical illusions and “special effects”, and these might be seen as low-tech, not particularly effective examples of that visual trickery.

So was Après le bal really the “first adult movie”? Identifying the “first” of anything is tricky for historians. It requires some consensus on (1) what exactly constitutes an “adult movie”, (2) whether Après le bal fits that definition, and (3) whether there are no earlier films that fit that definition.

What about The Kiss, filmed and released the previous year by Edison Studio? There’s less flesh on display, but it does depict an actual sex act of sorts, and it scandalized many at the time.

Many of Eadweard Muybridge’s motion studies in the 1880s featured full-frontal nudity, both female …

… and male …

… which certainly had an erotic quality.

Muybridge made a lot of these nude male Greco-Roman wrestling motion studies. Also nude baseball, nude tennis, nude fencing and so on. Someone really should animate and post more of them. Maybe I should stop kvetching and learn how to do it myself.

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Cropped detail from plate 347; see full plate at Wikimedia.

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A few days ago Daze Reader joined in the media frenzy over the discovery of new Brazilian bug species in which the females wield a “penetrating erectile organ” during sex. Most pop science headlines used variations of “the females have the penises!” This blog was no different: Females With Penises Mount and Penetrate Males.

Annalee Newitz splashes cold water on this headline boner over at io9. Your Penis Is Getting in the Way of My Science. The Neotrogla female sex organs are called “gynosomes” and calling them “female penises” is inaccurate.

When was the last time you found a penis that grew spines, absorbed nutrients, remained erect for 75 hours, or allowed its owner to get pregnant? Pretty much the only thing this organ has in common with a penis is that it’s used to penetrate a partner during sex.

Newitz avoids the cliched “male journalists are obsessed with their dicks” route this could have gone. Instead she makes excellent points about the value of science and intellectual curiosity.

By anthropomorphizing Neotrogla’s sex life, we teach people the wrong lesson about nature. Even if it’s meant in fun, calling every organ that gets erect a “penis” makes it appear that all animals are just like us. Not only is that almost sinister in its dishonesty, but it erases one of the most beautiful things about life, which is its awe-inspiring diversity.

Mea culpa. I fell into the anthropomorphizing trap for the sake of a fun headline. Plus I’m totally obsessed with penises and like to use the word “penis” as much as possible.

At National Geographic, Ed Yong responds to Newitz and defends the term “female penis” to describe the Neotrogla sex organ. Yong also makes good points. I’m not a scientist and take no side in this debate. I was an English major in college and fulfilled my science requirement with those bogus astronomy-without-math courses. Read them both, decide for yourself.

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Here’s a trend story I really, really hope is true. The Washington City Paper reports that Getting It On in Restaurant Restrooms Is More Common Than You Think.

The article relies heavily on interviews with owners and maitre d’s of restaurants mentioned online as good hookup spots. Some are unamused, some are good sports about the free publicity.

When Constantine Stavropoulos first opened Tryst in Adams Morgan, he couldn’t figure out why the wall-mounted sink in the men’s restrooms kept breaking.

“I was really going crazy, like what is going on here?” he recalls. Then he came across a website—he doesn’t remember which—that listed Tryst’s restrooms as a hotspot for, well, trysts.

“I had one of those ah-ha moments,” Stavropoulos says. “That explains everything.” So he installed legs to reinforce the sink. And the lesson stuck with him as he opened other restaurants: Don’t use wall-mounted sinks.

Stavropoulos has just has one request: “I would ask that people please not do it on the baby-changing table for two reasons: 1) Because it will break and 2) that is kind of creepy.”

The City Paper article focuses on relatively upscale restaurants and clubs. But what about fast food restaurants? What about all those folks getting busy in the Burger King (or McDonalds, or Taco Bell) bathrooms?

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Scientific American summarizes research published in the academic journal Current Biology. Female Insect Uses Spiky Penis to Take Charge. Subheading: “A cave insect’s marathon sex sessions extract nourishment along with sperm from a reluctant male.” Did that grab your attention?

In desolate caves throughout Brazil live insects that copulate for days, the female’s penetrating erectile organ sticking fast in a reluctant male’s genital chamber until he offers a gift of nutritious semen.

Is it weird that I find that opening sentence incredibly hot?

More detailed description of Neotrogla sexual practices later in the article:

When the flea-sized winged insects mate, the female mounts the male and penetrates deep into a thin genital opening in his back. Membranes in her organ swell to lock her in, and multiple spiky spines act as grappling hooks to anchor her tightly to the male. (When researchers tried to pull apart two mating insects, the female was gripping so tightly that the male was accidentally ripped in half, leaving his genitalia still attached to the female.) The tip of the female’s penis fits neatly into the male’s genitalia to allow her to receive a large, teardrop-shaped sperm capsule over their 40–70 hours of copulation.

The part about the “grappling hooks” doesn’t sound so appealing. But otherwise, yowza.

The article notes that the researchers are now “working to establish a healthy population in the lab, but the biggest challenge will be finding a suitable food to replace the cave-bat droppings”. OK, the infatuation is fading, these bugs are starting to gross me out.

The research team includes scientists from Japan, Brazil and Switzerland. They have identified four separate species of Neotrogla.

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Sotheby’s Hong Kong gallery is hosting “Gardens of Pleasure: Sex in Ancient China, An Exhibition of the Ferdinand M. Bertholet Collection” through May 3, 2014.

Good article about the show: “Erotic art offers glimpse of China’s ‘lost’ sexual philosophy” by Aaron Tam for AFP.

Dutch art collecter Bertholet has been collecting these pieces since his student days in the 1970s. He provides some background on classical Chinese erotic art:

Such explicitness should not be considered crude or pornographic, instead representing harmony with the Taoist philosophy that thrived in China before the communists took power and the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.

“Chinese art is so different in its expression than other erotic expressions because it has a philosophical background,” said the 61-year-old, adding that Taoism sees sex as a path to happiness and longevity.

Many paintings are set in gardens, representing the Taoist aspect of being at one with nature, the collector said.

The Sotheby’s media guide (PDF) to the Bertholet exhibition has photos of several pieces. Proving that prudishness comes in many varieties, the guide actually pixellates out the naughty bits in some reproductions.

gardens-pleasure-chinese-erotic-art-1
gardens-pleasure-chinese-erotic-art-2

Wow, that sure looks like one woman doing another woman with a strap-on. There really is nothing new under the sun.

More images from the Gardens of Pleasure exhibition:

ASEAN China Centre: 10 photos
China Daily: 8 photos
AFP: 90-second video

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TMZ reveals a most unlikely national crisis.

Demand is going through the roof for gymnastics-strength shower rods — all thanks to “Love & Hip Hop” star Mimi Faust’s sex tape acrobatics — and Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, and Walmart are struggling to keep up.

We called employees at each of the major retailers (from Georgia to Cali [editor’s note: that’s short for California) and we’re getting the same story — ever since the trailer for Mimi’s sex tape came out, people have been racing to purchase their own super-strong shower rods to recreate the Mimi experience.

And supplies are running out.

Entertaining but unlikely.

For one thing, the Mimi Faust sex tape — officially titled Mimi & Nikko: Scandal in Atlanta — has not even been released yet. It will debut Monday, April 21.

mimi-nikko-sex-tape-shower-rod

TMZ does say that it’s the trailer that’s causing the shower rod buying frenzy. But how many people have seen the trailer? Vivid had its YouTube channel terminated, part of a general porn purge by YouTube. You can watch the (explicit) trailer at the Vivid.com previews page.

And one more thing: if you go buy a strong shower rod in hopes of swinging on it during sex, make sure you know what the fuck you’re doing when you install it. I wouldn’t trust anything I installed myself.

Maybe I’m overscrutinizing this story.

Lots more celebrity sex tape coverage at our BFF site Internet Celebrity Sex Tape Database.

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Lab-grown Vaginas Now Fully Functional For Women Born With Rare Condition

April 17, 2014

Here’s a heart-warming wonders of modern science story out of Mexico. Engineered vaginas grown in women for the first time. Doctors attempted the experimental surgery 4-8 years ago on four Mexican teenagers suffering from Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome. Women with MRKH have normal vulvas and ovaries, but their vaginas and uteruses are undeveloped or absent. According to […]

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Louisiana Legislature Affirms Unconstitutional Anti-Sodomy Law

April 16, 2014

The Louisiana House of Representatives voted 67-27 against a bill which would have overturned the state’s sodomy ban. So sodomy is still technically illegal in Louisiana, despite the fact that the Supreme Court made it illegal to make sodomy illegal more than a decade ago. A legislative committee approved the legislation last week and sent […]

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2014 China Adult Care (aka Sex) Expo in Shanghai

April 16, 2014

The 11th annual China Adult Care Expo — also known as the China International Adult Toys & Reproductive Health Exhibition, or more simply the Shanghai Sex Expo — took place last weekend in Shanghai. TimeOut Shanghai explained in its preview, “the Adult Care Expo is one of Asia’s largest sex toy and adult industry get […]

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Inserting Eels Up Your Butt: A Beginner’s Guide

April 15, 2014

There’s a famous urban legend about a male celebrity who once put a live gerbil in his rectum. Not a true story, of course. Probably not. But there’s no doubt that people have slipped all manner of strange things up their butts, penises and vaginas. Why? Because people are horny, people are weird, people have […]

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