Thursday, February 11, 2010
I know it's Valentine's Day (almost), and I ought to be putting up lots of pretty romantic loving ads, and in fact that was my intention. But as I was scouring personals columns on Valentine's Days throughout the 19th century, I ran across this ad and I knew - I knew - that it trumped everything else that I could possibly post. And technically, it is a Valentine's Day ad, because it was published on February 14:
I would give a regular old fashioned whipping; write me. Address Needful, box 9, 1,026 31 av.I swear, I didn't invent this. It was really, really, truly there. Now, a lot of these ads are very open to interpretation. I'll be the first to admit that at least half the time when I'm writing these blog posts and imagining what was going on I'm probably dead wrong. And I suppose that even this ad could mean something completely innocuous. But for the life of me I can't imagine what that would be.
And honestly, the Marquis de Sade died about 75 years before this ad was written, so it's not like S&M was new or unheard of (though I suspect there were many, many people who went through life blissfully unaware of any kind of bedroom kinkiness). We like to imagine that 100 years ago everybody was all boring and staid and repressed, because that's what everyone thinks about the generations before their own. But clearly, clearly that was not the case.
Still, I can't believe this actually made it into the personals! I mean, of course people are doing all sorts of things in the privacy of their own home. But another to see it advertised! In a very widely read and relatively respectable newspaper, no less. Wow. Wow. Just, wow.
I wonder what people thought when they saw this? I'm sure there were some people who got it, but I'm also sure there were a lot more people who had no earthly idea what was going on here (and granted, I could be wrong). Can you imagine? I'm sure there were some teenage girls who read the personals for fun who saw this and were totally bewildered.
Pretty, loving, romantic ads tomorrow. Promise.
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2010 Pam Epstein