Merry Valentine’s Day! Here is a post you should visit filled with vintage, often unexplained pictures. They’re beautiful and eerie, have a peek.
If you skip on over to this post on The Year of Halloween you’ll see some beautiful spooky editorial photography by Denise Grunstein. What are you waiting for?
The Victorian era is a continuing source of fascination for writers and artists alike whether it be a steampunk science fiction angle, high class manners and repressed affections or the out and out seediness lurking underneath. Why don’t we have a look at the various elements that draw us to them?
1. Repression. Certain things could not be discussed, even going to the toilet (what did women do around town? I’ve read a few articles which suggest they ducked down an alley but I don’t know how reliable that is). Unlike today where you can call a friend to go down the clinic and collect the morning after pill, such things back then were treated with the utmost discretion.
However there is always a way round things as this genuine advert from the era on victorianlondon.org suggests (Pennyroyal has abortive qualities). Have a look at the others; hair removal was a concern back then too.
Women’s bodies were a thing to be feared as their own wombs could cause hysteria. This led to some … interesting inventions, advertised with the usual subtlety. Or if you prefer a more direct approach have a look at this!
The invention of the camera led to uses other than miserable family photos. If you knew where to go (ie. Holywell street in London) you could find images of those accodomating ladies of the night and maybe one or two of those well-known filthy types, actresses.
2. Bizarre cures. With marijuana, cocaine and opium (or Laudenum) all legal in the pharmacies it’s a wonder anyone got anything done. Laudanum was also known as ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ and certainly kept a few babies quiet.
As well as this there were a number of ‘quack medicine’ products ie. stuff that didn’t work, flooding the market, including the relatively new and exciting idea that ‘electricity was life’.
Another intriguing cure idea was mesmerism.
3. Science vs superstition. It’s interesting that, in a time of great scientific progress, much of the average public were turning to Spiritualism (and trickery). Gothic fiction became increasingly popular (as well as penny dreadfuls for the lower classes) and seances became the cool new thing to do, leading to some spooky photos if nothing else, as well as these posters.
4. Sideshows. Though these still occur in some parts of the world it’s difficult for us to comprehend that not only were people displayed in such a way, but they were exhalted as celebrities. After visiting perhaps a menagerie or pleasure garden, people would go along to a show. Joseph Merrick was possibly the One Direction of his day. OK, nobody deserves that, but you see what I’m saying. The posters are a colourful testament to a very peculiar point in history.
Well, there we have it, the weird and wonderful world of the Victorians. There’s so much more to say about them but it’s a start, and certainly their legacy will amuse and confuse us for decades to come. Visit blog ‘Diary of a Victorian Surgeon‘ for a glimpse into the daily life of a man who must have seen it all. Byee!
Whether you believe in ghosts or not (sorry, not me) these ‘spirit photographs’ from The Year of Halloween blog are rather fascinating and spooky. Put your eyes on them and you won’t be disappointed. Unless you were expecting a picture of a cheeseburger, then you will be disappointed. I’m hungry.
Bonjour, how are my little cocktail sausages? I decided to share a couple of things I’ve seen via t’internet over the last few days just to reassure myself that Halloween is never over:
Firstly is some stunning pumpkin carvery by artist Ray Villafane. Wander over to blog Halloween Culture for more (and you know you want to):
Secondly blog and home of loony literary kittens Bizarro Central will be alerting us to a new weird artist each day of December. Write it in your diaries! Not in blood, try this biro. Have a look at this blog post for more info and a list of last year’s December artists.
Next up is a facebook page (that’s it, I’m getting technical on you) dedicated to the gothic world of Old Hollywood: Decaying Hollywood Mansions. Enter a world of vintage stars, studio overlords and bootlegging gangsters.
Also included is this post on the Gashlycrumb Tinies, a children’s book for adults I remember reading many years ago. To read through the whole ghastly business (apparently Neville died of ennui, I know how he feels) visit this post on The Year of Halloween.
Lastly, it would be silly to miss out the Body Parts Bakery. Here is a picture and video stolen from Bizarro Central featuring the stash of bready body bits all made by artist Kittiwat Unarrom in Thailand (everything is edible and sold in the bakery):
I love this fog. I’m expecting a headless coachman to pull up and say, “Where to? No, it’s a bit far love.” I imagine he’ll be able to speak by paranormal forces or something.
I watched a documentary recently called Graphic Sexual Horror. It was fascinating and more than a little unnerving, and some of the images will stay with me. I liked it, it was good. It was about a website called insex that begin in the 90s which featured pictures and live feeds of consenting girls being tortured for the pleasure of the viewers. In the same way that I love Straw Dogs (though I think I’m the only one) for highlighting the complexity of human relationships and interaction, I found the grey area of consent and real fear intriguing. They may have agreed to appear in the films but at certain points they were definately not acting. As one woman said, “I felt raped, but I could have used my safe word at any point.”
Equally fascinating is the way the website ran into trouble. The credit card companies disapproved of the content so made it impossible for viewers to pay by card, thus deterring potential customers.
It’s worth watching, if you can handle that sort of thing.