Burlesque, SteamPunk, What Else From The Past?

Thought I’d take a break from the history our politics ignores and look at some fun stuff in history.

English: "The Castleton" (Model No. ...

English: “The Castleton” (Model No. 227) Sears Catalog Home appearing in the 1921 Sears Roebuck Catalog. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was rummaging through my books and came across my 1902 Sears Catalog. I love thumbing through the pages and getting a chuckle out of the things you could have purchased and had delivered to your house, or, if you didn’t have a house, you could have one of those delivered also.

A few weeks ago I went out for a bachelor party and we ended up at a Burlesque show.

Dita von Teese

Dita von Teese (Photo credit: insouciance)

I didn’t realize how much burlesque was back in vogue. Yes, I do live beneath a rock. I looked through the internet and there it was, or in the case of burlesque, wasn’t. Along the lines of burlesque, I was also directed to SteamPunk. This I am familiar with (I had a few students in the past that subscribed to this subculture). With the resurgence in both burlesque and Victorian Era fashion and lifestyle, albeit, in a modern form, I wondered what else we could resurrect from the past.

Here’s my unofficial list of weirdness that would fit right in today.


Molby Revolving Hammock

It’s almost spring. Time to shed those holiday pounds. “Bring back health and vitality. Have a full chest and a small waist!”

If Suzanne Somers can make a fortune on the thighmaster then someone can surely break the bank with this revolving hammock. Seriously, plastic surgery? Botox? Some girl in Russia that looks like a life-sized Barbie doll?

I definitely can see some places this hammock would work great… Presidential debates, Congressional hearings, Presidential confirmation hearings. Think of it as the modern-day rack; aids in giving our elected officials a spine.


Courting Candles

In the Puritan era father’s actually cared about the boys their daughters brought home. This simple, yet very effective device, made sure that the suitors calling did not over stay their welcome. Once the tip of the candle reached the top of the iron spiral, time was up. You had your chance Romeo; choose your words wisely, woo and whisper the essentials. In essence, this was the Puritan version of Twitter for dating. If the father like the boy’s prospects, he might wind up the wooden timer and find a longer candle. If not. Better luck with the next girl. Maybe we should, in our high-speed, data and technology driven world, find a moment to slow down and live life by the flicker of a candlestick. Maybe we should bring these into high level government meetings, remove all technology, and tell those present that they have until the candle flickers out to figure out the problems facing this country. If they haven’t, bring in a new candle. Jefferson, et al, were able to draft an entirely new government by the flicker of candles, so our current crop of politicians should be able to hash out all our problems in the warm flicker of a long taper. Or we could just kick them all out and find people who will.


Heidelberg Belt

Um. Ouch. Sometime between Benjamin Franklin’s kite and Thomas Edison’s lightbulb, people the world round (really, no… just in the “developed”–word used loosely–world) decided that the best remedy for all that avails us was electricity. Hemorrhoids? Electricity! PMS? Electricity! Bad in bed? Electricity! (I’ll give you that there might be something to that one.) Living? Well, electricity, of course!

At the turn of the Century there was a massive demand for electrotherapy in the United States and no less than seven companies who created various electric belts–one of which was founded by Thomas Edison’s son. The first of these electrotherapeutic belts was created by a German who was more interested in creating a telegraph in the 1840s. When that failed, he brought his invention to England and marketed the Pulvermacher Belt as a medical device. Eventually, the American’s demand for these therapies brought the Pulvermacher Company to Ohio and the rest is history. Men walked around with low voltage current coursing through their manhood in order to regain the vigor (semen) lost during “youthful experimentation.”

With the return of dark fetishes in American culture–see The Fifty Shades of Grey–there’s got to be a market for this thing in our society.

And while you are at it, you might want to consider a way of integrating the belt design with the Molby Revolving Hammock.


Beauty Micrometer

People, Max Factor saved us all! In the 1930s he created his beauty micrometer. The design looks like the prototype for the Hellraiser mask, but in reality, it’s simple function is to save humanity from the dreaded question: Dear, do I look good?

“You look flawless,” you can say with confidence.

The device, remotely resembling a baseball mask, fits over the head and face with flexible metal strips which conform closely to the various features. The strips are held in place by set screws, allowing for 325 possible adjustments. If, for instance, the subjects nose is slightly crooked–so slightly, in fact, that it escapes ordinary observation–the flaw is promptly detected by the instrument and corrective makeup is applied by an experienced operator.

It’s good that vanity hasn’t gone out of style.


Electrical Prostrate Warmer

Okay, no. This one just scares the crap out of me… no pun intended.


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