Did a gay blackmail scandal bring down the pope? – Salon.com

Earlier today…

You know what the sudden, surprising, once-every-700-years story of the pope’s resignation needed? What every dramatic storyline does: a gay blackmail twist. And so the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica this week reports on a very tangled web that claims to have brought down a pope, under the irresistible headline “Sex and career, blackmail in the Vatican: Behind the resignation of Benedict XVI.” … Now, La Repubblica says that the trio of cardinals, who’ve been looking into the matter since last year, revealed to the pope a faction within the Vatican “united by sexual orientation” that had been subject to “external influence” of a “worldly nature.” (The paper helpfully explains this is Vaticanspeak for blackmail.) A source it says is close to the cardinals who prepared the report told La Repubblica, with equal poetic obscurity, “Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments.”

Did a gay blackmail scandal bring down the pope? – Salon.com

Religion and Sex Quiz


Nicholas Kristof has a great quiz for you students of Christianity and its Holy Book. You’ll be surprised by a lot of the answers, such as:

The Bible suggests “marriage” is:

a. The lifelong union of one man and one woman.

b. The union of one man and up to 700 wives.

c. Often undesirable, because it distracts from service to the Lord.

(click here to continue reading Religion and Sex Quiz – NYTimes.com.)

What did you guess?

The answer(s):

A, B and C. The Bible limits women to one husband, but other than that is all over the map. Mark 10 envisions a lifelong marriage of one man and one woman. But King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (I Kings 11:3). And Matthew (Matthew 19:10-12) and St. Paul (I Corinthians 7) both seem to suggest that the ideal approach is to remain celibate and avoid marriage if possible, while focusing on serving God. Jesus (Matthew 19:12) even seems to suggest that men make themselves eunuchs, leading the early church to ban enthusiasts from self-castration.

Don't Outlive Your Money

Or what about:

The people of Sodom were condemned principally for:

a. Homosexuality.

b. Blasphemy.

c. Lack of compassion for the poor and needy.

What did you guess? The answer was c.

C. “Sodomy” as a term for gay male sex began to be commonly used only in the 11th century and would have surprised early religious commentators. They attributed Sodom’s problems with God to many different causes, including idolatry, threats toward strangers and general lack of compassion for the downtrodden. Ezekiel 16:49 suggests that Sodomites “had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

Hmm. “Did not aid the poor and needy.” Who knew that that’s what the Bible condemns as sodomy? At a time of budget cuts that devastate the poor, isn’t that precisely the kind of disgusting immorality that we should all join together in the spirit of the Bible to repudiate?

Kinda rules out most of the holier-than-thou Republicans running or considering running for president in 2012, no?

There’s more here, about abortion (not mentioned), homosexuality (conflicting information), pornography (Umm, read much of Song of Songs lately?), and more.

Wordle: Rapture Ridicule Week

Prude News from 1935

Amused by this historic tidbit:

Because the same dances she gave nightly in Chicago without police restraint were “too shocking” for Parisian tea guests at the Bagdad Restaurant, Joan Warner, twenty-two-year-old Pennsylvanian and only American nude dancer in Paris, was forbidden by police Wednesday from further appearances in the nude. Miss Warner came to Paris to do a series of dances with a large feather fan, which, after seeing the Folies-Bergère and a few other shows, she considered superfluous. She has been dancing at various theaters and cabarets. “I never thought that, if the Chicago and Milwaukee police thought my act sufficiently modest to allow it on the boards when all the other fan dancers were prohibited, I should have any trouble in Paris,” she said yesterday [Jan. 10]. Officials at the Prefecture said yesterday that, while nudes are permitted in stage shows, they are not welcome in restaurants.

[Click to continue reading From the International Herald Tribune – 100, 75, 50 Years Ago – NYTimes.com]

All Hail

Her Wikipedia entry is sparse, and as far as I can tell in a brief Google search, there are no photos of Ms. Warner online. Pity.

Warner was raised in Washington, D.C., studying there and in New York. She was three years of age when she began dancing. She was slender, quite tall, very blonde, with blue eyes. She danced in Hollywood in 1933 before moving on to Chicago. where she entertained at the Royal Frolics. Warner made appearances in Miami, Florida, Palm Beach, and New Orleans. In the latter city she was persuaded to go abroad by an English producer.

She danced unimpeded in Paris music halls and cabarets beginning in the spring of 1934. She encountered legal difficulties when numerous imitators of her shows began to perform at different venues. Warner mostly appeared nude solely in dim lighted cabarets where she was not especially close to her audience.

She wore a fan and sometimes a pair of iron bracelets during her performances. She appeared at the Bagdad, a tea-dancing restaurant in the Champs Elysees. She was arrested there and the club was forced to close for a day before its license was restored. She soon obtained an engagement at the Alcazar and received top billing at Bal Tabarin

Warner appeared in a French court beginning in July 1935 on a charge of offending public modesty. The suit was brought by the Association for the Increase of the French Population. She was cited for a violation of Article 330 of the French code. It dealt with the extent to which a person could be legally undressed in public. It was also contended that during one dance she came came too close to the floor space designated for spectators.

Warner argued for the art in her dance routine. She said she was covered from head to foot with white makeup and an invisible lavender silk cloth covered me in my absolutely correct positions. Her defense was supported by noted aviators, novelists, a zoology professor, and a painter, Maurice Devlaminck. The latter read a text about artistic nudity and said that he was not shocked by nakedness.

On July 18 the Tenth Correctional Chamber fined Warner fifty francs. The judicial body ruled it is against the law of the French Republic to dance in the nude, however artistically one may dance. The small fine imposed implied that the court was lenient. It mostly took exception to the dances being advertised as nude when actually they gave an impression of complete nudity. Specifically, the court elaborated that it was hard to distinguish between what was art and what was lewdness.

[Click to continue reading Joan Warner – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

Wonder if there are any options on her biography? Sounds like a fun film treatment to write. I imagine Ms. Warner being played by whatever hipster tart is popular at the moment, an actress who wants to to spread her artistic wings a bit, but doesn’t mind exposing her body, in the name of art, of course. Someone with more talent than whats-her-face Megan Fox, in other words.

Reading Around on September 21st through September 23rd

A few interesting links collected September 21st through September 23rd:

  • ejshea.com » Blog Archive » Why You Should Protest That Tucker Max Movie – “Earlier today, I made a comment that we all should ignore Tucker Max and the movie adaption of his book, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell.

    The very spot-on Whet Moser corrected me over Twitter, as soon as I said it, and he backed his reasoning with this post:

    Tucker Max Hates Fun.

    You all should read it right now.

    And after I finished reading it, I realized what a horrible, stupid, unreasoned response I made, thinking that the right response to misogyny is to be quiet and hope it goes away. It doesn’t and it never has and it never will. I have known that since I was a teenager, and discovered feminism, and identified as such”

  • lust Monster 1965.jpg
    [Lust Monster, 1965]

  • Inside Google Books: LIFE magazine now available on Google Books – starting today, visitors to Google Books will be able to search and browse even more magazines on Google Books. We’ve partnered with Life Inc. to digitize LIFE Magazine’s entire run as a weekly: over 1,860 issues, covering the years from 1936 to 1972. Most of us are familiar with the term “American Century,” but chances are few of us have been able to read Henry Luce’s defining editorial in its original context, a 1941 issue of LIFE. You’ll be able to find and read Leonard McCombe’s iconic cover and photo essay on a Texas Cowboy and Richard Meryman’s famous last interview with Marilyn Monroe. You can find a 1968 cover story on Georgia O’Keeffe
  • First Draft: Party On, Boris – He [Clinton] also relayed how Boris Yeltsin’s late-night drinking during a visit to Washington in 1995 nearly created an international incident. The Russian president was staying at Blair House, the government guest quarters. Late at night, Clinton told Branch, Secret Service agents found Yeltsin clad only in his underwear, standing alone on Pennsylvania Avenue and trying to hail a cab. He wanted a pizza, he told them, his words slurring.
  • Pinup_WWII.jpg
    [WWII pinup]

Reading Around on May 12th through May 14th

A few interesting links collected May 12th through May 14th:

  • Ivory sculpture in Germany could be world's oldest – The Boston Globe – "BERLIN – A 35,000-year-old ivory carving of a woman found in a German cave was unveiled yesterday by archeologists who believe it is the oldest known sculpture of the human form.
    The carving found in six fragments in Germany's Hohle Fels cave depicts a woman with a swollen belly, wide-set thighs, and large, protruding breasts.

    "It's very sexually charged," said University of Tuebingen archeologist Nicholas Conard, whose team discovered the figure in September."

  • High-end Bicycles | Dailyxy.com – (Photo courtesy of swanksalot on Flickr)
  • Chicago Reader Blogs: Chicagoland – Local News – "This has historically been one of the advantages of the newspaper model – you can use profitable bottom-feeding to float much less popular beat reporting that's only of interest to a small audience. But as newspapers move to the Web, courting the social networking audience and zeroing in on the traffic generated by specific stories, I'm terrified that reporters on such beats will feel pressure to abandon them.

    I am impressed that the Trib, which is upending its business model as quickly as any major media organization and has been pilloried for some elements of that, is doubling down on local watchdog info, going so far as to court the FOIA-filing crowd."


Some ass news from the UK

African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus
“African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus” (Rachel Holmes)

The more things change….

Flesh made fantasy
Rachel Holmes on the Hottentot Venus – a South African showgirl with an irresistible ass.

The body of Saartjie Baartman, better known as the Hottentot Venus, has had greater influence on the iconography of the female body in European art and visual culture than any other African woman of the colonial era. Saartjie, a South African showgirl in the early 19th century, was a small, beautiful woman, with an irresistible bottom. Of a build unremarkable in an African context, to some western European eyes she was extraordinary. Today, she is celebrated as bootylicious.

Billed as the Hottentot Venus, Saartjie first performed in Piccadilly on September 24 1810. Dressed in a figure-hugging body stocking, beadwork, feathers and face-paint, she danced, sang and played African and European folk songs on her ramkie, forerunner to the tin-can guitar. Slung over her costume was a voluminous fur cloak (kaross). Enveloping her from neck to feet, it was an African version of the corn-gold tresses of Botticelli’s Venus – and every inch of its luxuriant, curled hair was equally suggestive.

To London audiences, she was a fantasy made flesh, uniting the imaginary force of two powerful myths: Hottentot and Venus. The latter invoked a cultural tradition of lust and love; the former signified all that was strange, disturbing and – possibly – sexually deviant. Almost overnight, London was overtaken by Saartjie mania. Within a week, she went from being an anonymous immigrant to one of the city’s most talked-about celebrities. Her image became ubiquitous: it was reproduced on bright posters and penny prints, and she became the favoured subject of caricaturists and cartoonists.

and here is a factoid not discussed much in history books of Georgian England:

Bottoms were big in late-Georgian England. From low to high culture, Britain was a nation obsessed by buttocks, bums, arses, posteriors, rumps – and with every metaphor, joke or pun that could be squeezed from this fundamental distraction. Georgian England both celebrated and deplored excess, grossness, bawdiness and the uncontainable. In Rowlandson’s cartoon, amply proportioned white Englishwomen are depicted trying to plump up their already big bottoms in imitation of Saartjie, who loftily presides over them all.

Saartjie’s instant celebrity owed much to a coincidence between the Georgian fascination with bottoms, the size of the derrière of Lord Grenville, and the British tradition of visual satire. The aristocratic Grenville family were famed for their huge bums. The nation was rife with speculation that Grenville would become prime minister and his Whig coalition – known as the broad-bottoms or the bottomites – take over parliament. An engraving by William Heath depicts Grenville dressed as the Hottentot Venus. In another, by George Cruikshank from 1816, Saartjie’s profile is compared with that of the Prince Regent.

I wonder if Ms. Baartman makes an appearance in Pynchon’s Gravities Rainbow?