Archive for the ‘The History of Sex’ Category

The History of Sex – Part 229 – Tina

Posted on: November 24th, 2016 by Madison Lake No Comments

This Saturday marks the the 77th birthday of one of love’s greatest icons, the inimitable Tina Turner.  If you haven’t heard much about Tina lately it’s because she renounced her American citizenship after relocating to Switzerland over 20 years ago.  Today’s History of Sex article examines the life and loves of the trailblazing singer.    

Tina was born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939 in the tiny town of Nutbush, Tennessee, population 259.  Young Anna started singing in church as an escape from the drama in her home.  Her father abused her mother and she deserted the family as a result, leaving her two daughters to live with other family members.  As teenagers Tina and her sister started going to nightclubs in St.Louis and that is where the woman formally known as Anna met the notorious Ike Turner.  But before they became involved she was dating his band’s saxophonist, Raymond Hill, and even had a child with him at the young age of 18 (Ike later adopted the child and gave him his last name).  

Tina’s own musical career began in 1960 with the hit song “A Fool In Love” and anyone who knows the tumultuous story of Ike & Tina knows that she was a fool in love with a controlling asshole for almost 20 years.  Tina was one of Ike’s 14 wives and their relationship was filled with physical abuse and economic control.  When they finally split in 1978, Tina used her newfound independence to nurture her career and become the household name that she is now. 

Tina was the mature age of 45 when she released the album “Private Dancer” which launched her career into a new level.  The legs, the hair, the dresses, the moxy.  Tina’s comeback gave the world “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and in return in she won 4 Grammys in 1985 including Record of the Year.  She went on a world tour, starred in Mad Max and continued to work steadily throughout the next 15 years.  In 2000, after breaking the Guinness Book of World Records record for most concert tickets sold in music history she announced her semiretirement.     

Since then Tina has been laying low with her lover Erwin Bach, whom she started dating in 1985.  In 2005 she was one of the recipients of the Kennedy Centre Honors, in 2008 she was number 17 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers of all time, in 2009 she went on a 50th anniversary word tour and in 2013 she became the oldest person to grace the cover of Vogue, at age 73.  That same year Tina married Erwin, at their home in Switzerland, wearing a green and black Armani dress covered in Swarovski crystals (the guests wore white!).  Tina stated that,It’s that happiness that people talk about, when you wish for nothing, when you can finally take a deep breath and say, ‘Everything is good’. It’s a wonderful place to be.”

After starting from the bottom and overcoming the odds, it’s amazing to see a woman like Tina find happiness, peace and love.  Happy 77th Birthday Tina, you are simply the best.

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The History of Sex – Part 228 – Leonard’s Muses

Posted on: November 17th, 2016 by Madison Lake No Comments

Leonard Cohen was always known as a hopeless romantic.  Based on the way he lived and loved, the author, poet and songwriter was once called “the master of erotic despair.”

Never married but almost always deeply involved, his romance influenced his songs and surely his songs influenced his romance.  In today’s History of Sex article we will examine the muses of Leonard’s life.

When he first became a singer in 1967 at the age of 33, he was already past the youthful prime of many musicians in the 1960s but that did not stop the ladies from lining up outside his apartment or Chelsea Hotel room. 

At the beginning of his career Leonard was romantically linked to Nico the German singer/model/artist of The Velvet Underground.  He said he hung around Andy Warhol’s Factory just to get close to her until she dumped him because, “you’re just too old for me.”  He also briefly hooked up with Janis Joplin before her untimely death.  The lyrics of Chelsea Hotel #2 were about her, “I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel, You were talking so brave and so sweet.  Giving me head on the unmade bed, While the limousines wait in the street.” 

The other famous 1960s singer/songwriter that he was involved with was fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell, who was living in LA at the time.  Leonard stayed with her in Laurel Canyon while he was visiting Hollywood to potentially score a film that never came to be. 

Although Leonard dabbled in celebrity relationships, his major ones with with more unknown artists whom he met outside the music scene.  When he moved to Hydra Greece in 1960 he met the infamous Marianne Ihlen.  She had recently been left by her husband and was alone on the island with her 6 month old son.  Leonard stopped being the self proclaimed “gypsy boy” and the three of them lived together in Hydra, New York and Montreal on and off from 1960-1972.  About their break-up he famously sings, “Now so long, Marianne, It’s time that we began to laugh, And cry and cry and laugh about it all again…”  Marianne sadly passed away just a few months before her ex-lover did and he wrote her a goodbye message saying, “well Marianne it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.”

Another big name in Leonard Cohen love songs was “Suzanne” but many people may not know that there were two prominent Suzannes in his life.  The first Suzanne (Verdal, that he wrote the song “Suzanne” about) was a Montreal artist who lived down by the St.Laurence River and in fact did serve him tea with orange peels in it.  He claims that he “touched her perfect body with his mind” because she was married and he could not touch it with his hands!   

The second Suzanne (Elrod) was a much more meaningful relationship as she was the mother of his two children, Adam and Lorca.  They met in New York in 1968 when Suzanne was only 19 and Leonard was just becoming famous.  His relationship with the artist lasted until 1979 when it sadly deteriorated and the children spent their time primarily with their mother.  Cohen recalls that his reason for not marrying Suzanne was purely his own “cowardice and fear.” 

Although Leonard’s most artistically influential relationships occurred in the first 2 decades of his career he continued to date throughout his life, sometimes celebrities.  He had a long term relationship with actress Rebecca De Mornay in the 1990s and his album “the Future” was co-produced and dedicated to her.     

After examining the romantic life of this hopeless romantic we can understand the erotic despair of his lyrics and poems even more.  Thank you, Leonard Cohen for always being there for us when we are falling in or out of love and need to put music to it. 

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The History of Sex – Part 227 – Gladys Bentley

Posted on: November 10th, 2016 by Madison Lake No Comments

Long before Annie Hall popularized menswear for women of the 1980s Gladys Bentley was bending genders in 1930s Harlem.  The singer, once dubbed “a hot ton of licorice,” kept her hair short and her fedoras jaunty- some might even call her the first African American drag king crossover artist. 

Born in Philadelphia in 1907, the oldest of four children, Gladys always knew she was different.  Her first crush was on her school teacher who would sometimes let her brush her hair at lunchtime while the other kids were goofing around on the monkey bars.

At 16 she left home and headed to the Big Apple, to pursue her dream of becoming a singer and join the burgeoning Harlem Renaissance.  Although prohibition was in full effect at the time liquor and marijuana were still plentiful at the underground dance clubs of the era.  Being a homosexual was also against the law and this led to apartments or “buffet flats” being rented out for secretive sexual activities.  Gladys immersed herself into the scene and worked various events around town but didn’t have anything steady until she auditioned to be the pianist at “The Mad House” and earned the gig even though they were looking for a man.  She quickly became a staple on the night club circuit of 1920s Harlem.

bentley-postcard2Everyone agrees that her big break resulted from her shows at the Clam House in a neighbourhood called “Jungle Alley” where many white New Yorkers came to experience African American arts and culture.  Her lyrics were naughty, risqué and sometimes downright obscene but the audience could not get enough.  Her backing group was a half dozen chorus boys who dressed as sailors or sometimes as women, depending on her mood.  Gladys was always immaculate dressed in a white tuxedo, topcoat and tails. 

Much to some people’s distaste, when she made it big she moved out of Harlem and into a swanky apartment on Park Avenue, employing servants, driving a big beautiful car and hobnobbing with the wealthy whites of NYC.  She was even rumoured to have married a white woman in a civil ceremony in New Jersey.  But this high life didn’t last long and in the early 1940s she moved West to take care of her aging mother.  After gigging up and down the California coast she settled down, married a (gasp!) man, started wearing dresses (what!?) and feminine wigs.  In 1952 she confessed to Ebony iamawomanagainmagazine that she had been taking hormones to overcome her “strange affliction.”  Those who knew her well were confused by her sudden transformation and thought maybe she was just protecting herself from the government funded witch hunts against homosexuals at the time.  Some say she was married to both men and women, sometimes at the same time. 

No matter what her sexual politics were in public or in private there is no denying her talent and her impact on the music scene.  Sadly, Gladys Bentley died of pneumonia in 1960 at the young age of 52. 

Here is the only known recorded performance we have to remember her from Groucho Marx’s game show in 1959:

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The History of Sex – Part 226 – An Apple a Day…

Posted on: November 3rd, 2016 by Madison Lake No Comments

Since that fateful day that Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, apples have long been a symbol of lust, love and naughtiness.  Although the Bible never specifically states that the enticing fruit was an apple, many artists painted or drew it as one and it has been symbolized as so ever since. 

Today’s column will examine how the simple apple became synonymous with sexuality and fertility. 

First of all, apples (and their ripeness) are often compared to a woman’s breasts and when cut in half many say that the apple core resembles a woman’s other private part.  In Greek mythology the Earth Goddess Gaia gave Hera the gift of an apple before she married Zeus.  Gifting apples, tossing apples and sharing apples have long been a part of courtship and wedding traditions.   

More recently, in New England, turn of the century women would peel an apple in one piece and throw it over their shoulder revealing the initial of their lover.

Bobbing for apples wasn’t always just a Halloween tradition, it was originally connected with romance.  In ancient times, the water and apples were rumoured to connect you with a magical kingdom and if you slept with the apple you bobbed under your pillow you would dream of your true love.  In another old American tradition girls would mark “their” apples and then see who the boys “chose” when they came up with one in their mouth. 

No matter what mythology and ancient history tells us to believe about the magical quality of apples we can’t deny the science behind their aphrodisiac powers.  Researchers say that apples contain polyphenols (the chemical structure found in wine) and antioxidants that increase the blood flow to the apple core, oops, I mean vagina.  The phloridzin in the apple skins is also said to increase a woman’s lubrication.   In 2014 an anonymous study was was completed examining the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and it concluded that an apple a day may not only keep the doctor away, it also has a very positive impact on a woman’s sex life. 

How about them apples?

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History of Sex – Day Off

Posted on: October 26th, 2016 by Madison Lake No Comments

Sorry folks. History of Sex is on vacation / sick leave. We will return for sure next Thursday, November 3rd, so come back and visit. There’s always something interesting here at

Enjoy your hump day.

ML and all

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