If you’re going to confront sex and death – or at least the art world’s latest depictions of them – you might as well be naked.
Was Casanova more than just a pretty face? Smithsonian Magazine has just published my epic quest to separate fact from fiction in the life of history’s greatest lover. The man is so surrounded by mythology that many people assume him to be a fictional character (and maybe it’s hard to take seriously someone who has [...]
I just wrote an essay for the New York Times on the history of prostitute guidebooks through various “golden ages” of sin, from Renaissance Venice to Georgian London, belle époque Paris and pre-WW1 New Orleans.
I revisited a marvelous gallery of historical erotica I discovered while researching The Sinner’s Grand Tour. Some of the photos were a bit too lurid to include in the post (at least without artful cropping) — I thought readers of the MoSex blog might appreciate them, however…
In both my books about historical sex, Sinner’s Grand Tour and Napoleon’s Privates, the legend of the medieval chastity belt cropped up regularly. Examples of these sinister devices are displayed all over Europe, often in hokey “Torture Museums” for wide-eyed tourists. But what’s the truth behind the stories? I began to dig a little, and found [...]
I’ve just done a series on “penetrating the Vatican” for Slate. A lot of Slate readers (presumably the vocal Catholics) seem to have taken umbrage that I refer to sex a lot in the story — either with hidden erotica from the Renaissance, medieval erotic tomes, the Showtime series the Borgias or the so-called “Joust of the Whores”…
Italian nuns have left quite a subversive legacy. This is thanks largely to the literary labors of Pietro Aretino, a Venetian author who is today hailed as the “father of modern pornography.”
What’s a little dress-up? The new J. Edgar film gives nod to persistent but unproven rumors that Hoover was gay. After all, he spent nearly forty years in close company with his young assistant Clyde Tolson.
While I was researching Napoleon’s Privates: 2500 Years of History Unzipped and The Sinner’s Grand Tour: A Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe, the lore of medieval sex kept cropping up… and often in surprising ways. Somehow the human race survived the Middle Ages, no mean feat when you consider how much literature was [...]
When the ancient Roman town of Pompeii in southern Italy was first excavated in the 18th century, scholars were shocked by the sheer volume of erotic imagery they uncovered – putting the site squarely on the tourist trail for generations of connoisseurs of pornography to come (as I discuss in The Sinner’s Grand Tour). Today, [...]