MRG here. WELCOME TO PART TWO OF SIBLINGS WEEK!!!!!!!!!1 Below you’ll find a post by my little sister AMG, who studies linguistics at a small East Coast liberal arts college and has been my parents’ favorite child for about the last 17 years or so but I Am Not Bitter About It. Ours is a relationship largely built on Harry Potter, Leslie Knope, and pizza, though, so naturally we’re ride or die bitches. We’ve got a lot in common, so I kind of can’t believe it took two and a half blogyears (that’s 18.5 in people years) for me to realize an AMG post would be a pretty great addition to the For Shame! canon. And thus, Sibling Week was born. And it was good. (Unless you don’t think she’s good in which case it wasn’t my idea it was LHB’s). Take it away, AMG! And don’t mess up my blog. Seriously. I’ll tell Mom.
“Sisters is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.”
I know that title pun was weak, and I’m not proud, but in my defense, as soon as I started explaining Margaret Mead’s scandalous life story to my equally smart and sometimes slightly cooler older sister MRG she said “You should call the post Margaret Meat. It would be funny”, and, when I continued talking, she quietly repeated “Margaret Meat” and laughed a little at her own joke. With the best-case scenario pun gone, I didn’t have much to work with.
Margaret Mead is best known for Coming of Age in Samoa, the book made from her PhD research. Coincidentally, and I may be derailing a little here, this is only one letter off from my sitcom idea about a troop of college girls who are still involved in Scout life (Coming of Age in Samoas) which I had to scrap when Samoas were renamed ‘Caramel deLites’.
Anyway, I get why Coming of Age in Samoa is so important. It’s about a culture that’s pretty much the opposite of old-timey (and present-timey) USA, and it really delved into sexuality and the sturm und drang of adolescence and all that other stuff the kids are into. Also, a teen who was disappointed with a punishment or even just a rule from his or her parents could just move into a cool uncle’s house or something and no one would care, rendering my favorite courtroom drama completely obsolete. I get why that’s worth the attention and all, but I just think that Margaret Mead’s scandalous-for-the-1900s-book shouldn’t take away from her scandalous-for-the-1900s self.
Now, give me a second to set the stage for the beginning of Margaret Mead’s scandalous life. In 1923, M&M got married to her high school/college boy-next-door sweetheart Luther Cressman. Very quickly, I want you to remember that 1923 is three years after 1920, the year when Congress finally decided that our womanly hands are capable of gripping pens long enough to check off a ballot for voting.
Memory refreshed? Good. Because that will make it a lot more significant that she kept her own last name. Then again, this is the woman whose parents nicknamed her ‘Punk’.
Anyway, our girl Punk didn’t so much care for wifely duties, so she went off to Samoa to become one of, if I’m using the internet correctly, less than 15 female holders of anthro PhDs. Meanwhile, Cressman awkwardly sat at home until he eventually decided ‘screw it, I’m going to Hogwarts to reevaluate my decision to become a preacher’. (Fun fact: he eventually became ‘the father of Oregon anthropology’. Follow-up fun fact: Oregon anthropology is a thing). Already separated by the Atlantic Ocean, the couple decided to make it official and divorced in 1928. The split could probably be attributed to how Samoa ‘changed her’ or her inability to refuse to respect his space like a normal wife, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it was maybe because of the prolonged affair she’d had with beautiful douchebag linguist Edward Sapir before she left to do her thesis?
I think it’s probably one of those, but my only real experience with ‘marriage’ and ‘relationships’ is reading Sister of the Bride in fifth grade. I mean, it could definitely be the affair thing, because I can see how your wife sleeping with her professor could be a bit damaging to one’s self-esteem. I can also see how it could be demeaning if that guy uses such eloquent language as “son-of-a-bitchiest” to describe the languages he studies for his job because he is a linguist who couldn’t think of a better descriptive word and also broke up with your wife by sending her a letter that pretty much just said ‘so now I’m married to a nice traditional woman who doesn’t make me think stuff UGH what a drag’. And it would also maybe be kind of bad if you heard that your wife, after reading the letter, calmly stood up, facing the scintillating, iridescent sunset bouncing off of Samoa’s beautiful waves, folded the letter over, and then calmly BURNED THE SHIT OUT OF THAT DEAR JOHN EPISTLE LIKE NOBODY’S BUSINESS, maybe you’d think to yourself, ‘Hm. Was she into that guy? Wait. Is that… bad for our marriage? Hmmmmmmmm.’
But really, who am I to speculate. Our girl Punk held that it was only natural that their union would fall apart, since they were married so young (She was married at 22. In 1923). She tended to refer to it as her ‘student marriage’ in a flippant, Daisy Buchanan-esque way. Cressman’s response to that moniker was to shout ‘You BITCH I LOVED YOU!’ while crying into the tub of ice cream he was eating in an attempt to make the pain go away, probably, maybe.
Margaret Mead waited the appropriate amount of time after divorce to get married again, which is to say she waited a Kardashian marriage‘s worth of time. The next lucky man who got to put a ring on it was the absurdly named ‘Reo Fortune’. He was an intelligent, brooding anthropologist from the Canada of Australia, so I’m about 95% certain that he was actually the love interest in a craptastic YA novel about some mysterious supernatural creature that young girls should not want to date.
They got along pretty well for a while; they even did field research together (anthropology dates! 2cute2deal). Of course, then Reo Fortune (seriously this is a name that could only be bestowed by a truly terrible writer I can’t get over it) decided to be the worst. They were studying the Mountain Arapesh in New Guinea – yeah, I don’t know who they are either, just go with it – and Mead observed and presented that these people were very peaceful- almost war-free. Then, without saying anything to his smart, powerful wife, Reo Fortune decided to wait a year and then tell everyone that actually, his research said that there was war all up in the Mountain Arapesh’s lives. Margaret Mead’s response was probably the classic ‘Yeah? Well my research says you’re a little bitch’ and then bam, divorce. This particular marriage lasted six years – one more than the last time! But there was so little Punk for such high demand – it was Maggie’s God-given duty to keep her marriage game strong. So, not wanting to keep anyone waiting, she married the one and only Gregory Batesman a bit more than a year after brushing Reo’s salty attitude off her shoulder.
Like most fantasy boyfriends, Gregory Batesman was a British man with a dark past – both of his brothers were dead by the mid-20s, one from World War I and the other from public suicide. This meant that proclaimed geneticist William Bateson, Gregory’s father, got to put all of his hopes and ambitions that he was unable to fulfill himself onto one person. Whatever those dreams were, Gregory probably fulfilled them – he got a degree in biology, lectured on linguistics, and practiced anthropology and cybernetics. I don’t even know what cybernetics is, and I paid attention in science class. So let’s just do a quick recap: tortured past, a doctor, British, highly interested in the ways of other cultures, hella genius, travelling with a woman who’s a bit out of place for her time, and really weird fashion sense…
I’m not saying he’s the Doctor, but I’m not not saying he’s the Doctor.
Anyway, he was Margaret Mead’s favorite husband, hands-down. She openly acknowledged that she loved him the most, which makes sense because Time Lords have double the amount of heart to love with. They had a beautiful genius baby together –Mary Catherine – and stayed together for fourteen years. However, Batesman made the decision to separate from her, which I will attribute to the TARDIS calling her Doctor home and if you give me any evidence to the contrary I will hum the Doctor Who theme as loud as is humanly possible. Mead was heartbroken, and stayed friends with him despite the fact that she was still in love with him, which is really sad and hurts me right in my heart bone.
I know what you’re thinking. ‘This can’t be right! When you catch a beautiful peacock like that, you don’t let her fly away!’ Well, my friend, sometimes you have to let your exotic pets free into the wild. One of those times is when that beautiful peacock has been having lesbian sex with another peacock.
Ruth Benedict was another anthropology professor Mead had studied under at Columbia (Oh hey, if I add ‘if you know what I mean’ to the end of that, it’s a pun! What a novel discovery). Clearly, our Punk had a type, and that type was ‘anthropology’, proving that really her only mistress was science.
Of course, Ruth Benedict’s sexual relationship with Mead was more implied than anything, but it was implied by Mead’s own daughter in a memoir, which is more or less conclusive. Furthermore, this wasn’t her only implied relationship with a beautiful, cultured anthropological mistress. Five years after her final divorce, Mead moved in with Rhoda Metraux while they had a ‘professional collaboration’.
hint: it was sex. Sex was the collaboration. Margaret had found something other than just anthropology to fill the hole Gregory left behind, and that little something’s name was Rhoda. Oh, by the way, MRG, remember when I was four and you told me Rhoda wasn’t a real name? Because I remember it, no matter how much you tell me that’s not how it went down. Oh, I remember it. Give me a minute while I cut you a fifteen-year-old slice of humble pie.
Anyway, in letters published with permission from Mead’s daughter, a romantic relationship between the two is very clearly expressed, and when Mead was confronted with the rumor that they had a sexual relationship, she never denied it. Furthermore, while Mead never identified as bisexual, in several instances Mead theorized that one’s sexual orientation evolved with experience, much like a Pokemon.
There’s not much else to say about Margaret – she and Rhoda stayed close until she died in her sleep in 1978 as an adorable old lady at Rhoda’s side, did a ton of really great things for anthropology as a whole, and just generally stayed a badass bitch her whole life. I mean, while she was a professor she held a walking stick and wore – this is not a joke – her “trademark cape” at all times. If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking of another certain M.M. right now.
Just some food for thought.
Bonjour, mes amis. Puetetre vous etes pissed off at moi parce-que mon terrible francais et le non posting a la blog pour un long time.
I get it. I’m sorry. Unemployment, depression, employment again, busy again, commuting, 7th grade French. The usual story. Let’s move on.
Disclaimer: I’m like 2.5 glasses in, and I FEEL GREAT.
Today, we’re going to talk about a lady named Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. But you might know her as the lady who wrote the novel on which the popular 1958 movie-musical starring Audrey Hepburn Gigi was based. Oh, no? You’re not a movie musical person? You didn’t grow up watching 1776 and The Music Man whenever you had a free minute after you finished all the homework you loved doing? No? Just us?
[And also LAUREN too, probably — she’s the Suggest a Scandal-er who’s getting a shout out today because of her Bad-A, spot on, and really, let’s be honest, inspiring suggestion.]
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was known, eventually, as “Colette.” Sort of like Madonna and Beyonce. She is an SBW* for many reasons, but (for me at least) the main one is this: She lived (as a functioning, conscious adult) in Paris during not just La Belle Epoch, not only the 20s, not merely the Vichy regime — but ALL THREE. She got to be one of an extremely limited number of people who died with memories of and significant cultural contributions to three at once uniquely beautiful, terrifying and distinct eras of French, NAY, European history. Pretty fricken cool if you ask me.
But not only did she live through and remember these time periods, she also had a boatload of sex during them. And isn’t that what’s important, after all?
We think so.
Let me just share with you the first four sections of her Wikipedia Index to give you a sense of the kind of charlatan (THAT WAS A HARD WORD FOR ME TO SPELL IN MY CURRENT STATE) we’re dealing with here.
- Early life and Marriage
- Music Hall** Career, and Affairs with Women
- Second Marriage, affair with Stepson
- Third Marriage
Not to copy Wikipedia’s format (which I so often do), but I think we should start with Marriage Numero Uno, which joined (legally speaking) the lady in question to a “literary…degenerate” who went by “Willy.” Colette wrote her first novel, Claudine, using “Willy” as a pen name. The novel was so shocking, so dirty, so scandalous that Willy started to earn his “degenerate” epithet. He was also sleeping with a lot of prostitutes, which helped, too.
Eventually, Colette started to tire of that, and left her husband for greener pastures. These pastures came in the form of the music halls** of le Belle Epoch Paris — you know, like, the Moulin Rouge, (that movie with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, and Nicole whatsherface). Colette and a woman who went by the name of “Missy” (which is sort of saucy and erotic, for whatever reason) became a duo. And by duo, I mean they wrote and performed in an act that ended in a smooch, which caused a pandemonium that only police intervention could quell. They were practically the Amy and Tina of their time.
Oh, and they also were lovers who did it a lot and lived together. But after their riot-inducing performance at Paris’s most notorious house of sin, they weren’t able to live together openly. Even though it was Paris, Gerty and Alice hadn’t quite settled there, so them Boston marriages weren’t cool yet. But the two did still get busy widdit (and each other) off and on for about five more years, which is like an eternity in early 20th century Parisian leztime.
Meanwhile in 1912, Colette marries her second husband, Henri de Jouvenel, a newspaper editor. At this point (just to give you a little perspective) it’s the WW1 time frame and she is 39 years old. Henri has a really hot stepson named Bertrand, and they start to all live together (as a big, happy, effed up family) in 1920. It’s hard to imagine because it’s kind of a fat-kid name, but trust me, Bertrand was a looker, ‘specially when he was 16. (Yeah, I said it.) But it was at age 16 that he began a steamy, smoldering, super hot, hollywood movie-inspiring ro-MANCE (although I’m not sure one was every made) with none other than his 47 year old step mother. Many people believe that Colette’s famous novel Cherie (starring Michelle Pfeiffer and a hot guy whose name I don’t know) is based on her relationship with her stepson. BUT, it seems like they didn’t actually meet until about half of the novel was published already — so probably she was having a different affair with some other hot young thing when she was writing it. That’s the soundest logic there is.
Their affair was majorly on the DL due to the fact that Colette was married to the father of her lover. (Who vommed in their mouth a little just then? Whatever, get it, gurl.) But as soon as Henri found out that his son was boinking his wife (so the story goes) he packed his bags and left. It was a huge scandal in Paris — even the French, the inventors of fellatio were like, “Not cool, lady.” The scandal was over the 1920s equivalent of Page 6. But, I mean, think of the timeframe: this is when all the cool kids were there, so EVERYONE would have been talking about it in between the absinth binging and the trips to Gertrude Stein’s house. Colette was like, “Please don’t go. I ‘love’ you” to Henri. But despite that rock solid argument, he left anyway. A few hours later, Bertrand moved his fine ass into her house and they continued their affair.
Eventually that petered out, and Bertrand started shacking up with Martha Gellhourn (which marks the second time that Nicole Kidman has casually come up in this post so far. Coincidence? No. One. Will. Ever. Know.)
But I’ve focused too much on the scandalous things Colette has done. Well, I suppose that IS the point of the blog, so maybe I haven’t focused too much on it, but there are some aspects of Colette’s life that we need to honor and not just be entertained/turned on by. For starters, she left behind over 50 published works written over about a 50 year career as a writer and sex haver. Much of her work was autobiographical and dealt with much darker relationship/sexual issues than had ever been discussed in literature before — let alone by a woman. During the Vichy occupation of France, she was a baller at helping her Jewish friends, most notably husband number 3 who she hid in her attic Anne Frank-style throughout the war. And during the Great War, she converted her husband’s estate into a hospital and received the Legion of Honor in 1920 for her work there. OH, and did I mention that she discovered Audrey Hepburn? Like, literally, she just saw her walking through a hotel and was like, “She’s my Gigi.” So, I think it’s safe to say that we have her to thank for Breakfast at Tiffany’s (not to be confused with The Breakfast Club, which I ALWAYS do) and Sabrina. She was also the first woman in French history to receive a State funeral.
It’s women of the past like Colette who remind women of today to get out there and get what’s theirs. Even if it’s their hot, teenage stepson. AMIRIGHT, PEOPLE?
*Strong Black Woman, what have you never read this blog before?
Happy Christmas in July, you guys! I have something nice for you. Because you’ve been so good.
MRG got you a bisexual, cross-dressing, opera-singing, nun-banging, murderous-ten-times-over BADASS BITCH. I know, I know. It’s what you’ve always wanted.
If that sounds like I just made this person up at some type of bespoke historical figure shoppe (million dollar idea, you’re welcome), I get it. It seemed too good to be true when my little sister, AMG, who is way smarter and funnier than I am (but it’s okay because I am just as special in other ways) and who might grace us all with a guest post in the near future, casually told me about her. But it wasn’t too good to be true. Instead, IT’S JUST TOO GODDAMN GOOD.
Julie d’Aubigny was and continues to be a next-level goddess of womanhood the likes of which have never appeared on this blog. I know I throw that g-word around a lot when a strong historical lady gets hers, but this time it’s serious. She was a pistol for the ages. She is to not-giving-a-sweet-fuck what Isis, Frejya, and Bhuvaneshvari are to their respective mythologies. She is the human manifestation of that #YOLO thing the kids do. She is everything.
And luckily, she was born (in 1670 in France) to one of those dads who maybe wanted a son real bad but instead of ignoring his girlchild he, like, still loved her. And he bestowed upon her the required education for both genders. Daddy, Gaston d’Aubigny, was the secretary to the Grand Squire of France under Louis XIV and therefore was partly responsible for the all the king’s stables, pages, and most importantly, the royal partay fund. And this is the goddamn Sun King — it’s not like he’s throwing a low-key potluck just for the girls once every couple years. Thusly, Julie’s dad was pretty well connected and had a measure of power. As a hobby, he was also a master swordsman. Whereas my dad likes to do crossword puzzles and some light woodworking.
So by the time she blossoms into young womanhood, Julie can dance, she can sew, she can read multiple languages, and oh yeah, she can kill you real good with a rapier. And it’s not that she was good at swordplay for a lady — she was just fucking good. She also liked to dress up like a boy, accost and embarrass the shit out of another boy, and then reveal her ladyness. At a young age, Julie knew her way around a dagger. And around a dick.
In her teens, she seduced her dad’s boss, the Comte d’Armagnac (and because his name is hard and he was in charge of the king’s horses, he shall heretofore be known as The Mane Man). The Mane Man, though he was an adult fucking his employee’s 16-year-old daughter (think of the HR paperwork!), was also kind of a good dude in the beginning. He undoubtedly expanded her knowledge of military weapons and strategy and also her knowledge of how to do sex. Most importantly, he introduced her to the court of the Sun King.
If ever there was a diva in need of a venue, it was Julie d’Aubigny. Mane Man, soon sensing the potential error in bringing a gender-bending, sword-confident, underage hottie with a thing for embarrassing dudes at their own game to the most public and socially narrow place in the country, decided to marry Julie off and deflect attention. This was A Thing Men Could Do. Not long after her marriage to Monsieur Maupin (of whom little is known and few fucks are given), Julie and Mane Man called it quits. It’s probably likely that Mane Man was terrified of a) what Julie could to to his entrails and b) word getting out that he’d dated a woman with “talents” and “opinions,” so he invented a position in the French countryside for Maupin, assuming Julie would dutifully follow her new and uncharismatic husband. You know what they say about assuming. It’s a dumb fucking thing to do.
See, Mane Man’s plan really backfired on him. As a married woman, Julie really didn’t have to worry about the moral and social expectations that the court had for marriageable girls. And her husband, being a Toby Flenderson-type, was essentially powerless when it came to sexual politics. In the Maupin marriage, not only did Julie wear the pants, she had one of those giant MTV Cribs-style, apartment-sized closets full of pants. Pants on pants on pants. So naturally, when Mr. Maupin packed up the U-Haul and headed for the hills, Julie didn’t go with.
Instead, Julie. Went. WILD. Slapping shopkeepers? Check. Publicly taking the piss out of aristocrats? Check. Boning a fencing master wanted for murdering someone in an alley? CHECK.
Julie and her new slice, Serannes, Bonnie-and-Clyded their way through Paris, and when trouble found them, headed to Marseilles, where Serranes claimed he had the means to support them. He fucking lied. Rather than immediately impaling her lover, though, Julie, ever resourceful, essentially enslaved him as one half of a song-and-sword duo to pay the bills. Did I mention that our Jules was a fucking gifted contralto? She was. It was also around this time that Julie picked up that cross-dressing thing again, because the swordplay part of their act required ease of movement, and seven layers of petticoats are not so conducive to that sometimes/all the time. A cross dresser with the voice of an angel — maybe it’s a Julie thing.
Anyway, the pair were the talk of the town before long. The plebians ate that shit right up. And of course, because Julie was an Inigo Montoya-level swordist and wore pants, those same plebians thought she was a dude. Rumor has it that one night a crowd was so raucously convinced that she had a dick, Julie ripped open her shirt, showed them her tits, and said “Who’s the dick now?!” Or something like that.
Of course, a bold and beautiful ingenue of the stage and sword was going to be bored by her murderous, less-talented boyfriend. In fact, Julie was pretty bored by men altogether. She was just better than them at pretty much everything. But she still wanted to get hers — an Earth-goddess still needs to get her rocks off. And as we’ve established, our sweet JuJuBee gave zero fucks about social strictures or propriety. Julie looked around, noticed that women were a large group of people she hadn’t tried to seduce, and went for it. Bless her.
And here’s one of my favorite stories I’ve come across during this 2.5-year blogsperiment. Julie, somewhere in the middle of her lady-fucking rampage, fell in love with a cute blonde. Blondie’s parents, of course, were terrified of the Amazon who kept sending their daughter home flushed and extremely satisfied, so they decided the best course of action was to ship her off to a convent. That’s how Jules came to bone a nun. A self-proclaimed wife of Jesus. Yes. Of course, it became hard for them to meet, let alone plan liasons, so Julie took these Six Easy Steps to get her lover back:
1. She took Holy Orders herself.
2. She made sure she was assigned to the same convent as Blondie.
3. She waited for an elderly nun to die, then disinterred her.
4. She placed the body of said nun in Blondie’s bed.
5. She set the convent ON FIRE.
6. She and Blondie stole away into the night and never fucking looked back.
Turns out even that John McClane-like endeavor bored our Julie, and she broke up with her nunpiece a couple months later but stayed on the lam. Since body snatching and arson and kidnapping are crimes, Jules was tried in a Marseilles court in absentia and condemned to death by fire (eye for an eye, I guess). So Marseilles was no longer a great place for her to be, and she hopped from Paris to Orleans to Poitiers and back to Paris again, renewing her vaudeville-vagabond-crossdressing-disco-spectacular. Life’s a fucking hustle, man.
Along the way, Jules was doing her best Victor/Victoria in Villeperdue when a young roustabout in the audience realized she was a woman despite her pantaloons. Supposedly he accosted her by shouting, “Pretty bird, I’ve heard your chirping. Now let me see your plumage!” which is nothing if not a tightly constructed metaphor. Julie responded in the only way she knew how: by challenging him and his two best friends to a goddamned duel in the middle of the show. In the scuffle, Jules ended up putting her sword straight through the dude’s shoulder and out the other side, at which point he was like “Okay, ouch, sorry, geez.” Julie then dropped the mic and took a nap.
She still had a conscience, though. Hurting that defenseless manchild weighed on her, so the next day she asked the hotelier who she’d stabbed. Louis-Joseph d’Albert de Luynes, the son of a duke and therefore some kind of viscount. This made Julie feel bad but also made her see the glistening mountain of francs that could be hers if she played her cards right. When one of Lou’s squires visited Julie later that night to convey his master’s apologies for saying all that nasty shit to her, Julie was like, “I’ll deliver my response in person. With my vagina.” She boned him that night and many more nights. Extortion turned to love. They continued to bang for decades in like a friends-who-fuck-and-also-sort-of-love-each-other-but-keep-it-casual kind of way. Think about how much game you need to have to get a guy you RAN THROUGH WITH A MOTHERFUCKING SABER and HUMILIATED PUBLICLY to fuck you forever. This is real history.
And did I mention all of the above shit happened within four years? Yeah, on our timeline, Julie is 20. Really makes college feel like a waste.
Naturally, Julie’s career as a vaudevillian segued into the chance to sing in the Paris Opera. La Maupin, as she was called (going by her noodle of a husband’s name is probably the most heteronormative thing about her) was soon a bonafide opera star, and brought real-life badassness to notably badass roles like Athena, Dido, and Medea. It was like the opposite of method acting.
By now you’ve deduced that our Jules was also a bit of a wild card when it came to her temper, so it should be no surprise that she once whacked the shit out of a fellow actor in a dark alley with a wooden cane because he was creeping on one of her actress friends. When he showed up at work with two black eyes and a limp, he said he was beaten and robbed by four street youths. Julie, hearing this, said “HAHAHAHAA,” and handed the guy his pocket watch and empty wallet in front of everyone.
And of course, given that she and Lou had a loving and VERY open relationship, Julie fucked a lot of her co-workers. Both tenors and sopranos, if you catch my drift. Just once, Jules fancied a lady who gave her the ol’ I-just-wanna-be-friends, which led Julie to attempt suicide. She really only had one speed, our girl.
I know you’re all getting tired here, but I have just one more Julie story, I promise! Also, what the fuck guys, she’s amazing, I want to talk about her forever, you should want to know everything there is to know about her, etc. etc.
Okay, so Julie’s operatic fame led to her reintroduction to court life, which of course led to her being invited to a ball. And Julie just wanted to dance. Really get down. And she couldn’t twerk in a heavy dress, so she of course wore a full-on cavalier’s uniform. Much pearl-clutching ensued, because not only did she not hide the fact that she was a woman in manpants, she also openly danced and MADE OUT WITH the belle of the ball. In the middle of the Sun King’s dance floor. Je SCANDAL!
Belle-of-ball’s suitors were shocked and immediately directed a collective “Not cool, bro” Julie’s way in the form of a duel invite. Apparently talking things out was not a viable resolution method in seventeenth-century France. Julie had been outnumbered by a bunch of dudes before and was probably bored, so she agreed. They got a-fighting right there in the middle of a waltz and Julie defeated all of them handily. Mr. Sun King himself, pissed that Julie diverted the groveling masses away from him, reminded her that he’d recently instituted a law against dueling. Julie was sent away thinking that this might be the end of the road for her. You don’t piss off the Sun King. He could actually have you killed for sitting without his express permission. True fact. One would imagine that killing three dudes in the middle of his nice party might not fly.
UNLESS YOU’RE FUCKING JULIE D’AUBIGNY MAUPIN, WARRIOR PRINCESS.
The next day, after preparing to hear that she was going to die, Julie got a message from the King that essentially said, “You’re pretty that thing you did was funny I like seeing people die I guess my no-dueling law can just apply to men.”
And Julie celebrated by moving to Brussels and becoming mistress to a goddamn Prince of the Holy Roman Empire and opera-ing on the side until she died in 1707.
Except I’m pretty sure she’s not dead because goddesses are immortal.
I want to start this much-anticipated post (HAHAHHAAA – that was a hilarious joke that I made on account of no one has been reading LHB DOES Germany which hasn’t hurt my feelings at all) by giving a special thank you to all of our new followers. To fill everyone in – we got a lil’ free publicity from an internet gal who writes a popular knitting-related blog, so now we have a bunch of new craft-enthusiasts/historical-sex-scandal-lovers reading For Shame! So a big WUDDUP BITCHES goes out to all our knitter-friends!! We’ll be looking for a scandalous crafter to honor you all very soon. And just so we don’t leave anyone out, thank you so much to those of you who are reading the blog because you know us/love us/have been coerced/threatened. Your support is invaluable. Really. My throat is a little tight. I love this blog. We promise not to forget about you when we finally get our coffee-table-book-deal and become super famous.
But enough of that bull shit, let’s make some dick jokes! AM I RIGHT?!?!
First of all, I know what you’re thinking because I’m omniscient. Just like Voldemort and Patrick Stewart from X Men. “LHB, the Romanovs weren’t German. What the heck does this have to do with you DOING Germany?” And to that I will respond, “I know. I get it. Shhhh. Be quiet.” Here’s what happened: I found Konstantin Konstantovitch on the Wiki page of the first subject of LHB DOES Germany and I really wanted to write about him even though he’s a Romanov. So here’s my thinking: As I’ve said many a time, during this period in European history, all them royals were marrying off their children to one another so everybody had a little Schnitzel in them, okay? Even the Russos. So for our purposes, that’s what happened okay? And by the end of the post, I’m sure I’ll find some sort of superficial connection to the Reichland and pretend like it’s way more real than it is in order to make this shit come full circle. So hold onto your lederhosen because it’s about to get historically scandalicious up in HERR.
As the Gods of Wiki tell us, Konstantin Konstantinovitch was the grandson of the Emperor of Russia. As a poet and playwright of some prominence later on in life, he became known by his pen name, KR, which was an abrev. of his transliterated name Konstantin Romanov. As a young boy, he enjoyed frolicking in fields, pressing flowers, writing poetry, watching musical theatre, listening to the music of Cher, dressing up in his mommy’s pearls and wearing her lipstick. So it’s not so surprising when he was sent away to military school he was kinda like, “Well, I’m not really into the whole fighting/violence thing but I don’t think I would HATE living with a bunch of other men in really close quarters for several years of my young adult life.” In the end, military life suited him. Since he got to be around dudes a lot.
Konstantin didn’t get around to marrying until he was 26, which was really old for Russian royalty. The Wiki article says that this is because he was “shy,” but I’m pretty sure in this case “shy” is another word for “gay.” He did finally marry his second cousin, Princess Elizabeth of Saxe-Altenberg (WHO IS GERMAN-ISH, thank you very much), and they ended up having 9 kids together. So he must have either loved her or have had a portrait of Brad Pitt on his headboard throughout their marriage or something because the two of them were great at procreating. The Wiki article on Princess Elizabeth has this to say about the royal couple: “The marriage was a success, although Grand Duke Konstantin secretly kept male lovers.”
Now, I’m no expert on being married since I’m 21 and, you know, in college, but I don’t know that I would call my marriage “a success” if my husband was in the habit of keeping male lovers. Call me crazy!
I’ll get to all of the Duke’s accomplishments later because he was a pretty awesome guy, but for now, let’s talk about how gay he was. Literally. This scandal is a sort of non-scandal scandal because nobody other than probably his wife and small circle of his close friends and lovers knew about his bisexuality during his lifetime. It was many many years after his death when his extensive diaries were published that people found out that this staunchly politically conservative Russian duke, devoted husband and father to nine children, swung both ways. (And one of his kids didn’t die until, like, 2001 so that must have been really awkward for her when daddy’s diaries were for sale at Barnes and Noble. “NEW in Paperback! Your dad liked guys, too!” It’d be weird, right?)
KR called his sexual interest in men his “main sin” and referred to entering male brothels as a succumbing to his “depraved inclinations.” Which, like, come on. So sad, right? Did your heart just break a little? Mine sure did and it’s really small. I mean, it’s the early 1900s and he’s Russian royalty. Europe is going to shit. I think you know where this story is ending for him and a few members of his ROMANOV family. And on top of all that political stress and responsibility, having a family, being a dad, ranking super high in the military, writing poems and plays and being arty, he’s gotta get his club on every night to figure out who he really is inside (his pants). It’s tough shit is all I’m saying. So it’s not surprising that by 1903 he had become a regular at Chez Hott Boyz, the most popular bath-house in St. Petersburg. FACT. You’re welcome.
In 1904 he wrote in his diaries about his encounter with a young man named Yatsko during which he discussed feelings of shame that came with being in la closet in the early 20th century. A long-term relationship developed between the two that he apparently wrote about for a number of years. Being a muckity muck in Russian society, he “befriended” a lot of interesting, arty people. Like the composer, Pyotr Tchaikovsky. They enjoyed “playing piano” together.
In September of 1914, KR and his wife were in GERMANY (BOOM) on some sort of spa holiday weekend when a little thing called the World War I started (except they didn’t call it that then). They were taken as political prisoners and then allowed to meet up with the German royal family and then continue on back home to Russia where things were even better! NOT. Five of his six sons fought in the war and his two favorites died in 1914 and 1915 fighting on the Western Front and in the Caucasus theater. This was sort of a blow to their pop and he died of general bad health/a broken heart in 1915. Which turned out to be kind of a blessing, am I right?! His four surviving sons were kidnapped by the Bolsheviks in October of 1917 and later slaughtered with other members of the Russian Royal family. His wife and the rest of his kids managed to flee to Germany and then England and the United States.
A few glowing remarks about the late, cabaret-loving, figure-skating KR. He was a really smart, really nice guy. A good father. A valued member of the Russian artistic, literary, and scientific communities and a leader in early Russian Modernism. He was a patron of the arts and an artist and writer himself. He translated Goethe and Shakespeare into Russian, and he also acted in some of his own plays!
So, what have we learned here today? I think it’s pretty simple: being bisexual/gay when you’re Russian Royalty in the early 1900s has got to be a hard knock life and little Orphan Annie/Jay Z didn’t know shit.