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In need of some discipline

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I am on a strict deadline from hell right now, so hadn't any intention of blogging for another week, but while doing some research I ran across these ads which make me go, huh?  And since I knew you guys would appreciate them, I decided to take a break and share.

This is the first I found:

A young gentleman wishes to join a select disciplinary circle or correspond with reliable interested party.  Security, box 201 Herald.

Now, this struck me as a bit odd.  What's a "disciplinary circle"?  It's possible I might not have thought too much of it if it weren't for this ad, in which someone offered some discipline - with a whipping.  And I can't really think of what else this could be, especially because the ad was printed in a paper whose personals were famous for being pretty risqué.

But, who can say.  Maybe a "disciplinary circle" meant something totally different, though for the life of me I can't think what.

Then, randomly, I ran across the following two ads:


A. - Cultured German lady gives disciplinary and general electric massage (diploma); exclusive clientele; rheumatism,
nervousness 106 West 109th, ground floor (Brookman's bath).

Massage; strictest discipline; two new graduate operators.  Harlem Institute, 217 West 134th st.
And now I'm very, very intrigued.  What is a "disciplinary" massage???  Now I know for a fact that a lot of ads offering massages were just covers for prostitutes - a code that hasn't changed in over a hundred years, by the way.  If you don't believe me, go check out the "therapeutic services" section on Craigslist (as a total aside, I find it hilarious that the in the wake of Craigslist ending its "adult services" listings, sex workers immediate found a new place to advertise...on Craigslist). So, aside from the fact that I have actual proof anyway, I feel pretty confident in saying that ads offering massages a hundred years ago probably had the exact same meaning as they do now (I swear I feel another op-ed has to be in here somewhere).

Anyways, so back to the main question, which is: what the frak is a disciplinary massage?  Does this actually mean something totally innocent - like, these are real massages rather than codes for sex?  Ignore that the German lady has a diploma and that the other two operators are "graduates" - those are lines everyone used.  But maybe they meant that they're following strict discipline?  Like somehow discipline means legit?  But then wouldn't they just say, "legitimate," or "real," or something more obvious? 

I don't know - I hear disciplinary massage and I think S&M.  We all know my mind is a bit in the gutter at times, but if anyone has a better idea of what these might mean, I'd be glad to hear it!

Okay, back to the grind. Maybe I'll pop my head up again sometime in the next week...but maybe not.

©2010 Pam Epstein

7 comments:

Kathy September 11, 2010 at 9:21 PM  

I think the "general electric" massage for "nervousness" refers to the vibrator treatments used by doctors and other practitioners in the early 20th century for various "women's troubles". An ad from a female with a diploma may have been reassuring to some women who were reluctant to see a male doctor for their "treatment".

Pam September 11, 2010 at 9:36 PM  

Kathy - Yes, you see lots of ads for "vibratory" and "electric" massages (I actually talked about this briefly in a post a long, long time ago), but as it happens, these were published right during a time when personal ads just like this were being exposed as fronts for prostitution. In any event, that still doesn't solve the mystery to me of what a "disciplinary" massage was!

Cari Hislop September 12, 2010 at 2:06 PM  

The two words definitely conjure up something kinky...but that could be my mind wallowing in the gutter.

As someone with a sudden awful toothache out of nowhere, I can't help but wonder why anyone enjoys pain.

Anonymous September 13, 2010 at 10:15 AM  

Could it be that they meant discipline in the sense of a defined branch of learning? So that "disciplinary" would be the equivalent of what we might call "certified"?

Pam September 13, 2010 at 12:30 PM  

Cari - Seriously, I wonder the same thing myself.

Anonymous - I thought of that too (I kind of hinted at it when I said maybe disciplinary meant legit), but I feel like a truly legitimate massage therapist just wouldn't advertise in this location because it was common knowledge that most of these ads were from prostitutes. That being said, I don't know where else they'd put their ads. Plus, it still doesn't explain what that guy meant about a disciplinary circle!

Anna September 26, 2010 at 1:00 PM  

I'd suggest that a 'disciplinary massage' is spanking? It's disciplinary... and massaging.

Pam September 27, 2010 at 4:33 PM  

Anna - that's what I think too!

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