So far, our newborn of a blog seems like it may or may not be written by white supremacists. And by that I mean it has focused largely on the sexploits of political, literary, or artistic men from Western culture. In the next week or so, we’re going to try to diversify this blog hard.
Until it looks like the cover of an Ivy League admissions brochure, if you know what I mean.
We’re going to begin by discussing a SCIENTIST! (Oooohh ahhhhh) And not just any scientist, a LADY scientist! But the fact that she was a woman is kind of irrelevant. Like, you know how people will say, “Oh, she was the first WOMAN to win an Oscar for Best Director.” Well, Marie Curie was the first HUMAN to do something really important and science-y.
Shall I elaborate? If you insist. She and her long-time french hubby, Pierre, scored a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, and in 1911 she won another Nobel Prize in Chemistry by herself. Bitch was the first person to win two Nobel prizes in separate sciences and IS THE ONLY PERSON who has ever done that in all of Nobel history. PERIOD. (I’m not saying she was ON her period, I’m just saying that’s the end of it, she’s the only one, good for her etc. etc. It’s not all about periods just because she’s a lady who does lady things.)
When Marie was in Paris in 1894, studying the magnetic properties of various kinds of steel, she found herself ATTRACTED to a certain instructor at the Ecole named Pierre Curie who, as it turned out, was also studying magnetism. The two made it offish in 1895 and apparently had a really great marriage/intellectual partnership. Which made it really sad when 1 wedding, 2 daughters, 1 Nobel prize, and 12 years later, Pierre was killed in a freak accident. He was caught under a horse and carriage (which is what we had before cars) and fractured his skull, which may or may not have been the result of bone weakening due to prolonged exposure to radiation. WOOPS!
Our heroine was devastated, but she managed to pull herself out of the drudgery of widowhood to become the first female professor at Sorbonne (more like sore BONE, am I right?!) and head of the University’s laboratory (un-fucking-heard-of.)
Oh yeah, and in 1910, right before she won that big ol’ Nobel Prize for Chemistry, she started getting it on with her husband’s former student, Paul Langevin, who was (you guessed it!) married with 4 children.
When Curie’s academic rivals (mostly male) found out about the CHEMISTRY between Langevin and Curie, they were like, “Omigod! We finally have a reason to shit on the smartest woman in the world who’s been making us look like chumps for the past few decades” and they told everyone they fucking knew. Us Weekly was, like, all over that shit. And People Magazine bought the rights to photograph their love den. The National Inquirer even interviewed Paul’s wife and kids.
No, not really. I’m contextualizing, motherfuckers. The point is, the whole debacle was a big freaking scandal in France and served as major fuel for Paris’ boy’s club of scientists who were super jeal of Marie’s brainy accomplishments. She was plastered all over the tabloids as a home-wrecking bitch and somehow all of these wild accusations against Curie triggered an episode of mass xenophobia in France. Curie was originally from Poland so people started to flip their shit about her being Polish and even started to speculate that she might be a Jew! Which she wasn’t — don’t get me wrong, we’d like to take credit for this badass shiksa, but she’s not a member. Newspapers spread rumors that her affair had started before Pierre’s shocking death (11 years before) and that his knowledge of it drove him to commit suicide (by throwing his head under a carriage wheel — seems unlikely to me, but what the hell.) She was painted as an evil, Jewish foreigner who had stolen the husband of a good, kind Frenchwoman.
Needless to say, BIG. FUCKING. DEAL. And I don’t think I’m really going out on a limb here saying that looking back, it seems pretty clear that her academic competitors were pretty eager to catch her doing something wrong because she was doing some majorly important science that they couldn’t understand so much due to the fact that they probably weren’t as smart as she was.
But it sort of speaks volumes, I think, that when we hear the name “Curie” today, we think about her contributions to science and not of the torrid love affair that ended in tabloid-induced scandal and the subsequent social abuse of her and her family.
And by “her contributions to science,” obviously what I mean is the fact that her lab notebook is still too radioactive to be approached and that before she was interred in the French Pantheon, no vegetation grew within a certain radius of her grave because of her body’s radioactivity. And, oh yeah, she has an element named after her! NBD.
Marie Curie is a GLOWING example of a woman with sass and smarts, who refused to let her delightfully scandalous love affair define who she was or the impact she made in the field of science.
Of which, of course, we understand nothing. But since she used to carry bright green, glowing test tubes inside her pockets, we’re fairly confident that she was a BFD, and a major badass.
“Art is a lie that makes us realize a truth.” Pablo Picasso said that once. Maybe twice, who knows. Anyway, sounds fucking insightful as shit.
James Abbott McNeill Whistler (what a deliciously pretentious set of middle names) was a mid-to-late nineteenth century expatriate artist who found out a legitimately inconvenient truth through his BFF Gustave Courbet’s painting. Why, you ask, is the story of a boring stupid painting being told on For Shame, the interweb’s most salacious and sexified historical blog? WELL I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED.
I’ll show you the painting in roughly five paragraphs, but for now let’s just say that it makes Dejeneur sur l’herbe look like La lecture, am I right? (LOLz nothing’s funnier than getting a useless degree in art history.)
James Abbott McNeill Whistler (should I call him by his full Christian name for the rest of the post?) had a relatively scandalous career. You probably know him from this painting of a bitchin’ girl’s night in:
But during his career, he was just as well known for his innovation in technique and style. See, he didn’t call his works “paintings” (soo pedestrian) but rather “nocturnes,” “arrangements,” or “harmonies” (much more challenging). And one of them, Nocturne in Black and Gold, or The Falling Rocket sparked a high-profile sassfest between Whistler and John Ruskin, a badass art and architecture critic (he was sort of a douche during the trial but I’ve got a little boner for his criticisms if I’m being honest). Also, not to steal LHB’s early-twentieth century thunder, but Whistler was sort of a huge hipster. He was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, but told people he was born in St. Petersburg because it was more exotic, saying “I shall be born where and when I want, and I do not choose to be born in Lowell.” He dyed white streaks in his hair. He had a huge circle of intellectual pals, including Oscar Wilde, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Manet, Monet, and Courbet, and they gave themselves a name – the Aestheticists. And then he was sort of an asshole to all of those friends. Wilde actually based Basil Hallward, the artist who is murdered in The Picture of Dorian Gray on Whistler, so…ouch. But then Whistler publicly called out Wilde for his homosexuality. You guys!
What I’m getting at in a very roundabout way is that Whistler was a popular and controversial man, and underneath/on top of every controversial man is an equally controversial woman.
In Whistler’s case, that woman was Joanna Hiffernan. She was an Irish model working in Paris, getting painted by all kinds of horny artists. But Joanna was a classy bitch. And she was hot. I mean A LOT of men saw her naked for hours and hours at a time, yet in that swirling cesspool of intellectual lust, she was only romantically linked to two artists. Her most lasting relationship was with our dear friend James. Mr. Hiffernan, Joanna’s father, even went so far as to refer to Whistler as “me dear son-in-law,” so you know shit was getting real.
They met in London, and shortly after she modeled for his painting Symphony in White No. 1: The White Girl (yeah, the painting titles don’t get any less ridiculous) which won Whistler a lot of critical acclaim. I’m not ignoring the fact that it’s called The White Girl. I could make a race joke here, but I won’t. I’m better than that. You deserve better than that. So instead I’ll talk about Joanna’s snatch.
Like I said, Jo was making bank as an artist’s model. Everyone wanted to paint her, and a lot of people did, including Gustave Courbet, one of Whistler’s best hipster friends and a great Realist painter in his own right. He was known for depicting gritty, quotidian scenes, and more relevant for us, realistic nudes. And boy, did shit get real when Hiffernan posed for Courbet in 1866.
Now would be the time to get any children or immature young men away from the screen. Because this is ART, dammit. It’s not a joke.
HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA just kidding that’s a vagina HAHAHAHAHHA.
Specifically, it’s Joanna Hiffernan’s vagina. A vagina that separated two friends forever.
Basically, a crazy Turkish collector of erotic paintings had just moved to gay Paris and wanted to flesh out his collection (GET IT?!), so he commissioned the work. Courbet wanted to take realism to its limits and paint something that was so real that illicited (GET IT?!) feelings of shame and disgust and shock and blah blah blah he did that by painting a huge vajayjay.
Problem was that this particular vajayjay was attached to his best friend Whistler’s main slampiece
and lover, Joanna. And young James was decidedly pissed that a) his girl’s box was on full display in some creepy Turkish man’s home and b) Courbet stared at said box for hours and hours while he was painting it.
Whenever I think about this story, I just imagine a conversation over dinner between Jo and James:
JAMW: Hey babigurl, how was your day? How’s my bro Gustave?
JH: Omigod Jim he’s so sweeeeet, he’s like almost finished with the painting which is awesome and he never says anything weird or creepy or whatever which is so great because he’s like super close to my vagina and he has to look at it a lot and like I don’t know some people might be weird about that but Gus is so sweet and so nice!
JAMW: Haha I thought you said vagina. Yeah no the guy’s a fucking great dude.
JH: Hahaha I did say vagina.
So given this short imagined dialogue and Whistler’s sassy, hipsterish tendencies, L’Origine du monde came out and fucked shit up big time between Whistler and Courbet. And hey, remember when I said that Jo was only romantically linked to two painters? Guess who the other one was. Yup, Ol’ Gus got his bone on too. So Whistler was sort of feeling a little duped, and shortly after the painting was finished, they had a nasty, public (or pubic) falling out and never spoke again. And Whistler’s relationship with Joanna also fizzled. Don’t feel too bad for him, though, because he banged a lot of other models over the course of his career.
My favorite thing about this story is that a lot of contemporary critics and collectors disputed who the model for the painting actually was because Joanna had red hair (like a true Irish bitch) and the pubic hair in the painting is dark. Really. I just picture a bunch of artsy French grandpas smoking pipes and eating macaroons, standing in front of a painting of a vagina and arguing about who it could be based on hair color. Hilarious.
And that vagina painting has really stuck around. It’s still provocative as shit. Get ready for some timeline fun:
1866 – Finished and displayed and caused uproar and whatnot.
1889 – It was found in an antique store by a French art critic after the Turkish guy’s death. It was hidden behind a lame painting of a castle and trees and shit, inside the same frame.
1966 – Marcel Duchamp based his last work, this little number on it. I’ve seen it in person. My mom didn’t get it. “Why is there a door? Why is the viewfinder so small? Stupid.” And she went to art school.
1994 – Some French author wrote a novel that reproduced the painting on the cover, and police all over Europe demanded that bookstores remove it from their windows.
1995 – L’Origine du monde made it to its current home, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. It’s the second most popular painting there, after this one by Renoir. I think we can all agree that while the Renoir is nice, it’s no vagina painting.
2009 – A Portuguese writer similarly put that vagina on her book’s cover, and because pornography is a felony in Portugal, things didn’t go so well for her.
2011 – An artist in Copenhagen made the painting his profile picture (establishing himself as an inspiration to bros everywhere) and Facebook censored it! In 2011! As in this year. As if we needed another reason to hate Mark Zuckerberg.
And now we come to the moral section of the post. If you’re a lady, you don’t let a sweaty Frenchman get too close to your vagina. If you’re that lady’s main squeeze, you don’t let your lady and your sweaty French friend talk to or look at each other, ever. If you’re a sweaty Frenchman, you fucking find a way to paint that snatch and not only do you get some, you’re famous forever.
Many people may call me crazy for thinking that Orson Welles is one of the most bangable people to ever grace God’s green earth. But it wasn’t only this youthful undergrad who found herself trapped by the seductive powers of his radio-ready dulcet tones, his truly revolutionary brilliance that he brought to stage, screen, and Spartan, or his sensuous lips.
No, I was not the first. In fact, even after ballooning to nearly 400 pounds in his late years of manic-depressive self-exile, Welles had a lotta lays, 3 wives, multiple “possible” children, and died in 1985, many years before I could have had the chance to entice him with my feminine wiles and nab the title “wife numba 4.” Shit ain’t fair.
But for the sake of brevity, I will generally focus on his better known bangs rather than all the rumors and (sadly) skip over the man’s insane ego/intelligence.
Orson Welles was born beautiful, I’m convinced.
By his mid-teens he was a 6-foot slab of man steak that the ladies clearly wanted to sink their teeth into. He started early at age 17, when he first met the Latina bombshell Dolores del Rio, even though she was mad older. They didn’t actually start a recorded affair until 1938, but I bet there was some hanky-panky, or at least a good deal of eye-fucking.
He got married first at 19 to Virginia Nicholson, who he had met working in radio, then promptly put a baby in her belly. This child, though a lady-baby, was named Christopher. Go figure. I haven’t gotten to the part in This is Orson Welles where he explains that one. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) while he was married to Virginia, Orson was slaying just about every “up and coming” (HA!) young actress in New York. He was making a name for himself by, you know, revolutionizing theater and radio and scaring the living poop out of America by saying aliens invaded New Jersey (Fortunately? Naw, just kidding NJ, God love ya. New York’s waste has gotta go somewhere.).
After years of marriage and about a bazillion affairs, Virginia and Orson divorced, leaving Orson legally free to immediately shack up with a bunch of slam pieces amongst the jetset of 1940’s Hollywood (Including going public with Dolores, and making her get her own divorce in 1941. Guess she thought that stallion could be tamed…). But the most sizzling by far was Rita Hayworth. Yeah, that one. Long considered the sexiest woman of her age (or any age), Orson was attracted to her for obvious reasons. But also she was a real sweetheart, and from reading the letters sent between them it was clear they loved each other. Orson once wrote to Rita, like a love-sick teenager:
“You are my life — my very life. Never imagine your hope approximates what you are to me. Beautiful, precious little baby — hurry up the sun! — make the days shorter till we meet. I love you, that’s all there is to it. -Your boy, Orson”
Balls. I mean, I’d be happy if anybody wrote that to me, let alone Orson Welles.
Even while they were going through the process of divorce, he still cast her in The Lady from Shanghai, and their chemistry is off the fucking charts. Rita once said she “couldn’t take his brilliance any more,” and Orson similarly said of their marriage that he could never make her as happy as she made him. That, and I mean, he kept doin’ it with a lot of girls, so I’m betting that was a factor.
But some of Orson’s best work came out of that holy union, including Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, both considered two of the greatest films of all time for their innovative storytelling and visual design, massive scope yet intimate character study, and the fact that they were pure American poetry (Yeah, I did just say that.). Unfortunately from here on, because Orson’s foray into Hollywood was neither economically successful nor critically well-received, his career began to take the downward turn that from which he would never recover (which is why the last thing Orson ever did was the 1985 animated Transformers movie, and it best known even to our parent’s generation as “that guy from the wine commercial”- quote, my mom.). This did not mean the man didn’t continue a brilliant output of work, such as his proto-surrealist adaptation of Kafka’s The Trial, excellent adaptations of The Merchant of Venice and Othello, and the just plain sick-nasty espionage classic, Mr. Arkadin, not to mention his acting turns in classics like The Third Man, Touch of Evil, and The Stranger. But who remembers that shit? We remember the fact that he ballooned to the size of a baby elephant and hid away in the Italian mountains for like, ever.
WHICH brings me to Orson’s third wife, Countess Paola Di Girifalco, or better known as the actress Paola Mori. They were married in 1955, but estranged by the 1960s and never actually divorced. After that, Orson had basically slowed down doin’ the nasty, but he still managed to make it in 1966 with the greatest piece of Eastern-European ass since Russia decided its newest export besides vodka, literature and sadness was gonna be models, Oja Kodar. She stuck with him for the last 24 years of his life, and I’m betting they were a pretty good match for each other, and bitch even built him a monument . What?? Anyway, he cast her topless in a lot of shit, so that’s what matters. Thanks bro, I’ll drink to those.
Orson died never having won true recognition for his work (and also having never met me, but we’ve established that already), but is finally now experiencing a great popularity—mostly among baby-boomer film snobs and hipsters, but hey, we’ll take what we can get. Hopefully now he can also be recognized as the Master of Bone that he was—far better than any Oscar. You know why? ‘Cause an Oscar’s not gonna seduce you like those lips would.
Yes. I admit it, okay!? I’m taking an Irish history course and a lot of my posts (ok, just two of them now) have been inspired by class lecture. So there. Deal with it. Irish history: potatoes (or lack thereof), alcohol, oppression, and apparently a lot of sex.
Let’s set the scene, shall we? It’s turn of the century Ireland and instead of being all into political independence (overrated — am I right, Canada?) a lot of artists, writers, and intellectuals are all about reviving Gaelic culture. People are learning to speak Irish, they’re writing Irish poetry, they’re learning traditional Irish dance and theatre and art. They even re-popularized a Gaelic form of football. They were so alternative, so hip. If these people were around in the US today, they’d be living in DUMBO or Williamsburg. Do you catch my clove cigarette-induced drift? These people were the hipsters of 20th century Ireland and they knew it.
But let’s get to the good stuff. The dirty stuff. And to do that, we’re going to have to filter out the weak and get to the hippest of the hip. Yes, I’m talking about magical-society attending, over-sized scarf-toting, dark-rimmed glasses wearing, poetry-writing, espresso-sipping Maud Gonne and William Butler Yeats.
Maud Gonne was English, but she had lived in Ireland for a while and thought that the Irish were sort of being oppressed or whatever so she was like, “That sucks!” and then converted to Catholicism and became a hard-core Irish Nationalist. She moved to France and met a very sexy (married) politician named was Lucien Millevoye (sounds like LUCIUS MALFOY!!!) Even though he was married, separated at the time (but still!), Lucius Malfoy had to get what was his. So he left his wife for good (but not before he and Maud did it a bunch) and they were married. They had two children, but only one survived, the girl, Iseult who, just like mommy, became wrapped up in a couple of literary sex scandals herself. More on that later.
Yeats met Gonne in Paris (where else? so hip.) after her divorce from the mustached Lucien and he instantly fell in love with her. But the feeling wasn’t exactly mutual. He proposed to her at least 4 times in the first few years of their friendship and she coyly (I imagine) refused each time. To Yeats’ horror, Gonne married the Irish Nationalist (and world-class asshole) John MacBride who shortly after supposedly molested Gonne’s daughter, Iseult, then only 11 years old. They were already divorced in, like, 1905, a few years after their “I Do’s” so they weren’t really hanging out together much in 1916 when MacBride was hung for his role in the Easter Uprising of 1916 — and by hung, I mean executed, get your mind out of the gutter.
Yeats, with his ever perfect timing, swooped in right after MacBride’s execution and proposed to Gonne AGAIN! Smooth, Yeats. You don’t want to seem too desperate or anything. Especially since they had already had a brief affair in 1908 after which Gonne wrote him a really nice letter saying the early 20th century equivalent of “It’s not you, it’s me. Maybe we should just be friends.” So. Yeats. Apparently not such a good lay.
Well, maybe that was just what Maud thought. Because, guess what, here’s a little bonus factoid for everyone. Although, Yeats was pretty much in love with Maud for his entire life, for about a year, in the late 1890s, he had an affair with a woman named Olivia Shakespear (no, I didn’t spell it wrong, she only has the two e’s.) He knew this girl, Olivia, who was, you guessed it, married with children, who he thought was pretty hot and smart. So he was like, “Well, Maud’s not into me right now, I’ve already proposed to her 4 times, maybe I can get this Olivia chick to come out of town with me for a little bit and we can do it for a while until Maud comes around again.” But he was sort of pussy-footing around and was having sort of a rough time of it getting up the nerve to go make shit happen with her. (So sensitive. So hip.) But when he finally did get over to Olivia to ask her to go away with him, she was like, “Yeats! DUH! I’m totally in love with you, I’ll risk everything — my financial security, my children, my social standing, everything, just to do it with you, you LITERARY STALLION!” So she legally separated from her hubby, not a divorce, and they shacked up together for, like, a year.
But then Yeats went back to Ireland and Maud came back in town and he started to follow her around again with his beautiful, bespectacled, puppy-dog eyes. Olivia lived with her daughter, Dorothy, for most of the rest of her life. And then Dorothy married (drum roll please) Ezra Pound.
Which brings me to a final little tale that makes this story of sex and scandal inter-generational, motherfuckers!!
Gonne’s daughter, Iseult (remember her? I told you we’d come back to her) and had grown up in the Irish freedom fighting circle doing a bunch of badass shit, so it’s not really surprising that she PROPOSED to a 52 year old Yeats when she was just 15. Yeah! She proposed to him! What a badass! And then he turned around and proposed to her, because Yeats was a fucking gentleman, OK? But that whole thing didn’t end up working out because, you know it, it’s gross and he was, like, the only father figure she had throughout her life so it’d sort of be weird if she married him. And Maud wasn’t into it, understandably. But then Iseult had a steamy little affair with (drum roll please) Ezra Pound (!!) before settling down with a young Australian writer 6 years her junior. Her love letters to Yeats and Pound are published and now on my summer reading for fun list. (Holy crap balls! Just look at that link — the book costs $100! Bitch better be juicy.)
So, I don’t know if you noticed, but SHIT JUST WENT FULL CIRCLE.
Shall we review?
Maud Gonne (had an affair with/was proposed to multiple times by) WB Yeats (who had an affair with) Olivia Shakespear (whose daughter) Dorothy (married) Ezra Pound (who once had an affair with) Isuelt (Maud’s daughter, who proposed to) WB Yeats (who was in love with her mother) Maud Gonne.
That’s a lot of scandal for just 6 people. But that’s how bitches were rolllin’ in early 20th century Europe. They were sexy. They were smart. They were hip.
But perhaps most important for this blog, they were D. T. F.
Royal families are sort of known for producing unattractive (hideous) people, mostly due to inbreeding. But every once in a while, a king and his queen, a prince and his princess, a marquis and his marchioness get busy and nine months later a true hottie is born.
And Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria was a fine piece of historical ass.
Look at that fucking baby face. That sexy modern crew cut. That ruffly-ass high collar. Actually, he was sixteen when this photo was taken, sooo…that’s a little “problematic” to use a very pedological and meaningless word. But whatever, this hot sixteen-year-old grew into this fine specimen of Eastern European inbreeding:
YUM. But a historical figure, however ostensibly attractive, is only as sexy as his salacious life. Lucky for us, young Rudy was involved in a very fatal, very sexy scandal in 1889.
Rudolf was the son of Habsburg emperor Franz Josef I and the Elisabeth of Bavaria (who has her own fantastic and scandalous story, but unfortunately it was more sad than sexy). He grew up outside of Vienna, where he and his sister were raised by their granny, and where, like a true nerd, he cultivated an extensive collection of rocks and minerals. Next time you’re in Vienna, hit up the University for Agriculture and check those geologic wonders out. I know I will.
His sister, Gisela, was his best friend, and when she was married off to some Bavarian VIP shit got real emotional. To top things off, Rudy and Papa Franz had a strained relationship, because Rudy was a liberal go-getter and his dad was an old conservative stick-in-the-mud.
So you know, by the time Rudolf married Princess Stephanie (which is a name I didn’t think existed before the 1980s) of Belgium, whom he apparently really liked, trouble was a-brewing in the Hofburg palace. His mother didn’t make things any better when she called young Steph a “clumsy oaf.” Ouch.
Needless to say, Rudy had a lot on his plate. Apart from the family tension, he was being groomed to be an emperor. That’s a serious fucking job. So it might not be surprising that after a few years of marriage he did his duty and knocked Stephanie up with an heir (female…too bad), and then just sort of said, “Fuck it. I’m a royal hottie, I’m here, get used to it.” And by that I mean he drank a lot of booze and smoked a lot of opium and boned a lot of ladies.
One of those ladies was seventeen-year-old Mary Vetsera, who was a Baroness and a hottie in her own right. Her real name was Marie, but she Anglicized that shit right up to seem more fashionable. Her father’s status as a baron afforded her a great opportunity to work it at the Hofburg palace, and her mother pushed her to get her flirt on with Rudolf, who by this time was thirty years old, had contracted syphilis and was having seizures on the regular. What a catch!
Although the plan was for Mary to seduce Rudolf, she soon became infatuated by him, as most teenage girls would be. He was a tortured, sexy older man who was also going to rule the country. But whereas she loved and venerated him, he was just sort of looking for another girl to bone. And bone they did, sometime in January of 1889, and that’s when shit got real.
Rudy had recently bought a huge hunting lodge in Mayerling, Austria. He was getting a little cabin fever in the Hofburg, so he called my girl up and said, “Hey bitch, what’s good this weekend? Wanna hit up my tricked out lodge in Mayerling?” And she was like, “Omigod YAHH!” And they headed out into the countryside on a nice little getaway.
And then, on the morning of January 30, they were both found dead. Because there’s no better way to christen your brand new vacation house than with a double homicide!
There’s been a LOT of speculation as to what happened. The official report stated that Franz Josef had argued with his son earlier that week about his affair, and Rudolf killed Mary and himself at Mayerling in reaction. There wasn’t a gunshot wound on Mary’s body (but a gun was Rudolf’s weapon of choice) and a lot of people think that their deaths were the result of a suicide pact.
Rudolf was truly a tormented soul, and some historians think he had been looking for someone with whom he could form a suicide pact for a while, including a Viennese prostitute who politely declined. Reports have surfaced that suggest that Mary wrote several suicide notes in the weeks leading up to the Mayerling incident, and that the pact was long-standing. What really puzzles people is that the coroners easily determined that Mary died first, and Rudolf waited six to eight hours to kill himself after her death. Really. Just sat next to a dead person for six to eight hours. That’s a long-ass time.
However it happened, the Habsburgs had a serious PR situation on their hands. Mary’s body was smuggled out of the lodge and buried quietly at a nearby convent. Officials tried to spread the story that Rudolf died of a heart attack, but the Austrian people saw right through that shit and news of the suicide spread faster than you can say “Wiener schnitzel.” Ultimately, the family had to request a special dispensation citing Rudolf’s “mental imbalance” from the Pope so that they could bury him in the Imperial Crypt. Ahh, euphemisms.
But it doesn’t stop there. The Mayerling incident was scandalous in itself, but it also fucked up all kinds of shit in the Habsburg line of succession as well as in the royal family’s relationship. Rudolf’s mother, Elisabeth, grew incredibly distant from Franz Josef, and was randomly murdered nine years after Mayerling. And a few days after the incident, Rudolf’s brother Karl Ludwig, the heir presumptive, renounced the throne like a bitch, putting his son next in line. His son Franz Ferdinand. WHOOPSIES. I’m sure that LHB, First World War enthusiast that she is, would be glad to explain the enormous pile of shit that Europe found itself in as a result of Rudolf’s depression.
The story has been immortalized on the stage and in film, most famously by Omar Sharif, Catherine Denevue, and Ava Gardner in the 1968 film “Mayerling.” All-star cast, no-star title.
As with so many scandalous historical happenings, we’ll never know what exactly happened that fateful January evening. I mean, six to eight hours? Really? I like to think that Rudolf used that time to have a couple snacks, read some books, watch some Real Housewives. But we’ll just never know.
What we’ll always know is that despite the adultery, substance abuse, possible murderous and definite suicidal tendencies, Crown Prince Rudolf was one criminally hot Rhinelander.
Today is a sad, sad day in the study of scandalous love. One of history’s most prolific, most fabulous, most attractive ladies and lovers, Elizabeth Taylor, has arrived at the pearly gates. (While she may have committed some pretty serious adultery, she also did a lot of stuff for people with HIV/AIDS. So I think St. Peter probably let her in.)
We couldn’t NOT respond to the death of one of history’s sexperts.
Oh, Liz. What a woman. Those electric eyes! That raven hair! My English major’s heart bleeds. She played some of the sassiest, sexiest women in literary history. Maggie! Cleopatra! Kate!
But this blog isn’t about books. It’s about sex, and scandalous sex at that. Dear Aunt Liz was the expert. A virtuoso. The Mozart of sex, if you will (will you?).
And she was so classy about it! So secretive. We’ll probably never know the extent to which she got some. But we do know about her husbands, so let’s start there, shall we?
for shame! presents:
THE MANY HUSBANDS OF ELIZABETH TAYLOR.
CONRAD “NICKY” HILTON.
LAWRENCE “LARRY” FORTENSKY.
And just think – this is only the church-approved sex!
We would go into the deets of each marriage, but you can just turn on any TV anytime over the next week and half and learn all you want about them. The point we want to get across here is the sheer quantity. The fabulosity, the badassness.
Eight marriages. Seven men.
Not to overuse my favorite phrase, but girl got what was hers and we’re proud.
But that wasn’t her real legacy.
We’d like to conclude this tribute with just a few words about the fact that Liz Taylor was one politically aware bitch. We know her political exploits weren’t exactly sexploits, but we hope you’ll bare (misuse INTENDED) with us while we ogle her brains for a moment and not just her bod.
Since its inception in 1991, her AIDS foundation has raised over $100 million for AIDS research. I’ll just repeat that figure: ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOOOOLLAS! For those of you who aren’t so into math (we get it, adding and stuff can be tricky, we’re humanities majors, too), one hundred million dollars is a SHIT TON of money. And she was the one doing the leg work, too. She wasn’t just sitting there looking pretty. Well, she was looking pretty because it’s hard not to with eyes like that, but she was doing really important philanthropic work at the same time. And get this! She refused to attend the Oscars in 2003 because she thought that the war in Iraq was first-class bull shit and she even publicly condemned President Bush and his equally bull-shitty decisions regarding the “War on Terror.” To top it all off, in 2007, she was slotted to perform with her good friend Mufasa in an AIDS benefit in NYC. BUT! It was during the Writers Strike! Remember that? When The Daily Show wasn’t on for, like, ever? Anyway, rather than cross a picket line and enter the theatre, she asked the writers union for a one day dispensation and all the writers were like, “Yeah Liz! You’re so pretty and nice, of course we’ll stop picketing outside of this specific theatre for one night so that you can cure AIDS without disrespecting our cause. You betcha!” It’s also important to note that she did all of this while surviving, over the period of like 20 years or something, 5 broken backs, an operation on a benign brain tumor, debilitating osteoporosis and scoliosis, two really nasty bouts of pneumonia, and, oh yeah, skin cancer!
She was a strong and amazing lady (or as MRG and/or Kathy Griffin would say, “a strong black woman”) who used used her sexy and scandalous powers for good and not for evil. She may or may not have been a superhero who took the advice of the dying uncle at the beginning of the Spider Man movie to heart. With great power (gained through siberian-husky eyes, snow-white skin, jet black hair, a 20 inch waist and a really, really big heart) comes great responsibility.
MRG & LHB
The phrase “power couple” seems to be bandied about very loosely these days, much like “the next big thing” or “sexual harassment.” I mean, who gets to decide what truly constitutes greatness between two people who are banging but also bangin’. Rew couples in the history of hotties and/or high achievers have actually come close to power couple status. Par example:
Brangelina– Between them they’ve got an Oscar, 2 SAG awards, 3 Golden Globes and multiple nominations, as well as a huge body of philanthropic work, and are considered some of the most versatile actors of our generation. Plus they’re really fucking hot and worth like a bazillion dollars.
FDR & Eleanor– They single-handedly pulled the country out of the depths of economic and emotional depression, helped defeat the Third Reich, created multiple social programs, and let’s face it, cousins that are doin’ it is pretty sexy. You can’t say you haven’t thought about some covert affairs with those hotties from your dad’s side you only see at weddings and funerals.
Pete Wentz & Ashlee Simpson- Nuff Said.
But I digress. The simple fact of the matter is, no one has yet to measure up to the massive influence, individual brilliance, and raw fucking sexual magnetism of the medieval power couple, Peter Abelard and Heloise d’Argentueil. They were the the first great (and REAL, thank you, Tristan and Isolde, Romeo and Juliet, get your fictional asses out of here) star-crossed lovers. He, a Renaissance Man before it was cool or actually invented, and She, 22 years his junior (get over it) and considered one of the greatest minds of her time. When their intellects combined, the results reverberated across generations; when their bodies combined, it resulted in a scandal bigger than Goldman-Sachs’ profit margins. Because as I always say (which at least four people can attest to), the Middle Ages are just sex and God.
Some backstory: Peter Abelard grew up being one of those shit-poor noblemen who really didn’t have any prospects unless he learned his ass some letters and clawed his way up the nonexistent social ladder. Bro was born poor and died poor (spoiler). Since he was the oldest son in his family, and it was expected that he enter a life of military pursuits, as was common for the eldest boy in the medieval gentry. Instead he chose to become an academic, probably because he was “sensitive,” or “intellectual” or some crap like that. Thus Pete began a life of itinerant wandering where he would debate and study with various French academics for however long he thought their knowledge suited him, all the while creating a following of the medieval quivalent of undergrad English majors. He did genuinely think he was smarter than everyone else, but then again, he also knocked up a 16 year old, so you be the judge.
Eventually he became the most respected philosopher in continental Europe through a wildly popular public debate tour, in which Peter would show up at a university and publicly challenge the equivalent of the dean to an academic throw down. I’m guessing it was a lot like being at a hyper-literate Thunderdome. Around 1115 he settled in Paris around 1115 and accepted the chair of a school at Notre-Dame.
This was a time of great intellectual flourishing in the Middle Ages (yeah, it’s a fucking fact), particularly in France, and Peter owned that shit, calling himself “The only undefeated philosopher in the world.” Around that time he would finally meet his match in the pre-teen prodigy, who’s talents with the classical tongues would only be matched by those of her mouth-tongue…. eyhhhh…..
Heloise was probably 12 or 13 when her uncle, and ward, first contacted Peter to be her tutor, but she was already renowned for being a real goddamn smarty-pants with ancient texts, as well as her insightful and intellectual writings. The two apparently really hit it off, even though he was almost 40 and she was still in a training bra, BUT, intellectual love and inappropriate sexual desire know no bounds. Under Peter’s tutelage, Heloise became a formidable philosopher and dynamite in the sack, and even once their affair was discovered, they continued to meet in secret for sexy, sexy readings on the stimulating topics of ‘Atonement,’ ‘Conceptualism,’ and that perennial favorite, ‘Nominalism.’ Unfortunately, they were discovered once again when Heloise got pregnant (oops.), so her uncle came and chopped off Peter’s Little Peter in the night, then shipped her MTV-ready ass off to a convent.
As well as the sex. So, so much sex.