Posted by Madam Bubby


We’ve been seeing the word pandemic as we encounter at varying levels one throughout the world. A Greek root in the word, “pan,” means all.

It’s interesting how we have created many words with this root. The most famous example is pandemonium, a word the poet John Milton created in his epic Paradise Lost. It is the name of Lucifer’s city in Hell:

“Pandemonium, the palace of Satan rises, suddenly built of the deep: the infernal peers there sit in council.”


Pandemonium, Illustration by Gustav Dore for Paradise Lost
Pandemonium - Source: Gustav Dore, illustrations for Paradise Lost


Based on its characteristics, one of its definitions has evolved into meaning a noisy cacophony, or an overall chaotic situation or experience, even though, analyzing the Greek, it literally means something like “all or every little demon.” Whose idea was it to build the city? In Milton’s universe, the figure of Mammon, who represents the greedy pursuit of material gain.

Geologists named the original supercontinent on Earth before it split up Pangaea, and related to the above, specifically, Mammon, a notoriously corrupt real estate company in Chicago is called Pangea (go to Yelp to find out more).


Pangaea - Source: most-recent.html


The word pansexual has become popular in today’s nomenclature as cultural norms about sexuality become more flexible, and some have even defined it as being attracted to the personality of a partner rather than that person’s gender identiity.

But there’s another Pan, and his name doesn’t literally correspond to the root discussed above. He’s that Greek god everyone recognized as a goat man who plays pipes.

But there’s more to him than the clichéd figure of the satyr. I found out via Wikepedia that, according to some myths, his father Hermes (associated with large phalluses), taught him how to masturbate. Pan liked to “chase girls” (yes, he was definitely a predator), but women devotees of his cult were sometimes called “pan girls.”


The god Pan
Pan - Source:


I don’t know if he had sexual encounters with males, but adding to the sexual elements of his personality and cult, his half-brother was Hermaphroditus, the intersex son of his father Hermes and the goddess Aphrodite.

The word panic actually comes from the story that Pan, possessed of a deep, authoritative voice, could create fear among humans by shouting, and he even was able to control a horde of giants attacking the gods by shouting. I assume he made a sound like that during his frequent sexual encounters.

Going back to the first meaning of pan, I like to think of what we sell at Bijou Video as “pan-porn.” Yes, the content is primarily gay male, but our products reveal a variety of bodies, personalities, identities, sexualities.

I think we need to remember that the “all” of human experience isn’t monolithic; many parts interact within that all; thus every day, if we keep our minds and hearts open, we discover what we thought was the “all” is something new and, in these days of fear, a matter of preserving life.

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Glorious Glory Holes, Or Not? Part One

Vintage glory hole blowjob photo


A long time, ago, in 2004, I found out via the gay press that one of the men's bathroom in a building where I teach at was one of those "T-rooms," complete with a glory hole. Apparently the cops raided the bathroom, which by then had developed a reputation for clandestine sexual activity. The glory hole was sealed and a sign placed in the room announcing that the area was now under surveillance by campus police. The publicity garnered by the raid around campus later earned the bathroom this nickname: "Brokeback Bathroom."

Brokeback Mountain cover

I never knew this activity was going on. Honestly. But one question really prompted further inquiry: in an age of more tolerance, and even in some areas of the mainstream, acceptance and embracing of gay sexuality (ironically, the generally positive reception of the movie Brokeback Mountain that came out in 2005 revealed this development), why the secret sex in unsanitary bathrooms? Only an "outlet" for married guys or guys in the closet? And even if a guy wasn't in that situation, why the appeal of sticking your dick in a hole and letting someone unknown person suck it? I enjoy oral sex immensely, but I like to see the person who is going down on me and play with other parts of his body. Apparently many others aren't necessarily interested in seeing what the cock is attached to!


What is a glory hole? Why is the hole modified by the word glory, with all its complex connotations, including Biblical/religious ones (the word for glory in Hebrew is kavod, in Greek doxa)? It's interesting and perhaps significant, given the often blurry distinctions between the experience of sexual orgasm and religious mystical experience (think of the famous statue by Bernini, "The Ecstasy of St. Teresa"), that the word glory is an English translation of the Hebrew word which really means weight and could imply destruction related to powerful physical phenomena like thunder and lightning.

Kavod in Hebrew

Detail from Bernini's The Ecstasy of St. Teresa statue
Detail from Bernini's "The Ecstasy of St. Teresa"

And according to W.R.F. Browning's Dictionary of the Bible, in certain sections of the Torah or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), the "cloud" is a kind of covering through which the glory shines (Exod. 24:16-17). There appears to be strong associations with a supernatural power pulsing through the natural (thus both transcendent and immanent), which include sexual power, and also a kind of need to somehow "cover" or "conceal" that power (like the walls between the bathroom stalls) because of its physical (and spiritual) immensity.


This context could give some weight (pun intended) to the rather florid and fanciful "etymology" from the unknown author of an article published in the late 1960s or early 1970s, "The Other Side of the Story: Defending Glory Holes."

Why are they named glory-holes? Possibly because of the glorious sexual release of being blown, standing with your erect prick stuck through it and being sucked off by a warm, hot mouth on the other side. Possibly, on the other hand, the "glory" belongs to the person doing the "job" on the other side of the wall, sucking on a fat, throbbing piece of meat, and receiving the thrill of a convulsive stream of jetting cum into his mouth as reward for a job well done.

Regardless of the hammy, cliched language, the unknown author touches on some of the motivations for such activity, including the anonymity (only seeing a mouth, for example), and even, despite the anonymity, an objective sense of accomplishment or reward without the context of a potentially complicated interpersonal relationship. Also, the anonymity can encourage a fetish, not only for say, an uncut cock or a thick one, but also perhaps attaching whatever face or body shape to that appendage, as argued by that same unknown author:

There is also the fantasizing of sucking on an organ which you can mentally attach to anyone you wish - an unobtainable "straight" friend, a movie star hero, a famous athlete; indeed, anyone at all! It's simply PRICK! And prick alone, in its raw, unadulterated state!

A private fantasy becomes public in a way one can't express publicly.

Cover of the vintage magazine Glory Hole: A Study of Homosexual Activity in Public Places

More on glory holes, focusing on their history, next week in this multi-part series. In the meantime, find countless movies featuring glory holes - including the four Sex Toilets compilations - on DVD at and streaming instantly at


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