Bawdy Gay Latvia!

posted by Madame Bubby

Surprises abound when sifting through the wealth of LGBTQ archival material at Bijou Video. I picked up an issue of a 1970s vintage gay porn monograph or serial (not sure) called Hard? A Pictorial and Literary Study, which is comprised mostly of explicit gay sex photos, with a running text by one Dr. Jack Muller. In other words, to pass the censors, even at that time when restrictions on such material were easing up, the publication is billed as “Educational Material for Adults Only.”

Muller gives in this issue an ambitious history and analysis of pornography. I found his discussion of censorship and homosexuality and its expression interesting, and it correlates to some extent with my previous blog on this subject.

It's painfully obvious the Church/Empire nexus that began under Constantine drove any type of sex other than heteronormative procreative sex into the shadows, while at the same time creating single-sex environments, such as monastic communities. that contained homoerotic “meta-structures.” In fact, bawdy, ribald literature, though mostly heterosexual, was preserved, but also originated in medieval European monasteries, whose inhabitants were copying manuscripts of sexually explicit materials by Roman poet Ovid and others. (And in many cases not just copying, but “enacting” the actions depicted in the texts with each other.)
 

Ovid Manuscript
Ovid Manuscript
Source: http://dcc.dickinson.edu/ovid-amores/manuscript-tradition-ovids-amores

Meanwhile, on what was then the edge of European civilization, Constantinople (the Eastern Orthodox Church) and Rome (the Roman Catholic Church) each fought for the conversion of the Slavs to Christianity, but as was the case in Europe, it was often difficult to discern a boundary between “pagan” or “heathen” cultures and the institutional dynamics of the Church. (In fact, the binary of pagan versus Christian is actually a later interpretation, a narrative built on the idea that the Church was one monolithic entity opposing an inaccurate lumping together of the pluralistic, syncretistic religious universe of the ancient world as paganism.)
 

Map of Latvia in the Middle Ages
Map of Latvia in the Middle Ages

The Slavic Lithuanians actually did not officially convert to Roman Catholicism until 1387, as a condition of union with Roman Catholic Poland. The motive was political, a top-down move by the rulers (as was the case previously with European countries).

Latvia, Lithuania's neighbor to the north, was also a late convert to Christianity, the process occurring in the 12th - 13th centuries; in fact, the local populace in the countryside maintained their pagan belief systems for several centuries, with pockets of paganism surviving in Latvia up until the 17th century.
 

Krisjanis Barons
Krisjanis Barons
Source: https://www.europeana.eu/portal/en/record/92085/lnb_zl_17879.html

One form of erotic expression that survived in Latvia was the daina, and thanks to the writer and editor Krisjanis Barons (1835-1923), part of the “folk-nationalist” movement the Young Latvians (at that time Latvia had been absorbed into the Russian Empire), these were written down and systematized in several volumes.

The dainas were short, rhymed verses in sing-song meters easy to remember orally, reflecting on the cycle of life and death; humans live as integral, organic participants in a natural landscape, and this landscape of course includes sexual activity. Love, the selection of a partner, and marriage with that partner are common themes, and mostly heterosexual, but Dr. Muller, using a book by by Bud Berzing, Sex Songs of the Ancient Letts, quotes several which are blatantly describe homosexual acts.
 

Cover of Sex Songs of the Ancient Letts

One wonders, though, if these elements might have been, given the overall patrilineal emphasis in Latvian culture (even before the dominance of the Church), sung to mock and even abuse, especially foreign oppressors like the Teutonic Knight and Order of Livonia Germans who colonized Latvia in the Middle Ages:

It's a German with an aching head,
While my dunghole's hurting bad;
Come on German, place your head
Close to my dunghole.”

And:

“This boy, a pal of mine,
Has a two-headed pecker;
When he works in the drying barn,
He don't need any fork.”

“Come, laddie, rake some hay,
I got a place for stacking it,
I need one handy guy
To drive a stick in it.”
 

Latvian gay poetry in Hard?: A Pictorial and Literary Study
Latvian gay poetry featured in Hard?: A Pictorial and Literary Study

These types of verses (which were sung out loud at weddings and other events that celebrated life cycle moments) shocked a seventeenth-century German bishop named Paul Einhorn. He wrote, in his Historie lettice in 1649, “Afterwards such improper, brazen, and flippant songs were sung without interruption, day and night, that even the devil himself could not have devised and put forth anything more improper and lewd." The early modern European emphasis on enclosure and boundaries in a time when nation-states were trying to figure how religious institutions fit into their political and social goals spelt doom for many ancient customs that found profound value in the physical cycles of nature.

This was the time when the English Puritans banned the “heathenish” Christmas (albeit temporarily), Counter-Reformation popes covered up nudes, authorities everywhere burned witches and heretics and homosexuals at the stake, and Louis XIV proclaimed that he was the state, which meant vicious persecution and exile for the French Protestants (Huguenots). And a German bishop couldn't deal with euphemisms for genitalia!

It's interesting that it took a nationalist movement of resistance to rediscover and disseminate these songs, which have survived to this day even as new theocratic, nationalistic empires like Putin's Russia (and remember, Latvia had been part of the former Soviet Union) try to censor, subvert, control, and for LGBTQ persons, eliminate sexual expression.

SOURCES:

Wikipedia, entries on Krisjanis Barons, religion in Latvia, Christianization of Lithuania

Encyclopedia.com, entry on Dainas.

Muller, Jack, “How to Be Circumspect,” in Hard?: A Pictorial and Literary Study

Berzing, Bud, Songs of the Ancient Letts

Dryer, Richard. “Ovid in the Middle Ages,” at http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~aranar/genealogy/ovid.htm

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Ear

 

Shirtless guy with sexy ears


I enjoyed sex with this guy off and on for some time in the nineties (both “vanilla” and BDSM), and one time when we were making out in his van he began to blow in my ear. The action itself doesn't really get me a woody, but as part of the whole erotic foreplay it definitely added something to the experience as a whole. 

Now, the ear itself doesn't strike me as being particularly erotic, but what it is supposed to do, transmit sounds, can add so much excitement, especially in BDSM sensory play. I used to like (and still do, but I am the “binder,” not the “bindee”) being bound and hooded and hearing the dominant sound of boots walking around the dungeon, For me, the sound of power is the sound of hard-heeled boots, and I've noticed lately that men's boots and shoes usually possess rubber heels to mute the sound. Why? I wonder, when the same does not apply to women's footwear (that's another blog). 

And of course there's dirty talk, which can occur even in more conventional sex scenes. Or doing it with music in the background. It takes great mental concentration and keen listening to try and time your orgasm to the climax of Wagner's Liebestod (I know from experience.) 

Overall, some people experience reality through hearing, some are more visual, some are more tactile. Still, what about more directly physical interactions with the ear itself? 

Blowing in the ear combines both a tactile and a hearing sensation, but then there's also guys who like to nibble on the ear (something my cat does, in her case a sign of affection as well as impatience, play with me, feed me). 
 

Ear nibbling

Maybe it's getting down to something really primal, the nibbling, but the ear of course features significantly in so many other cultural contexts. 

As a child, I was fascinated by the pointed ears of Spock, and all those elves and fairies sported them as well. Perhaps just changing slightly a feature of the ear was enough to evoke images of otherworldly power and knowledge. (And to set the record straight, Tolkien's elves, regardless of the movie's visualization of them, did not have pointed ears. See Appendix F of The Return of the King.) 
 

Spock's ears

 

Legolas' ears


And let's not forget the legendary Carol Burnett who would tug on her ear at the end of each show (one time I remember she pulled an earring off while doing so!). It originated as a signal to her grandmother because Carol in her early days at the Gary Moore Show couldn't shout out, “Hey, Nanny, are you watching?” She always knew her beloved “Nanny” was watching her famous granddaughter, and even after Nanny passed, she kept that signal as a way of connecting with that memory. 
 

Carol Burnett tugging her ear

Cutting off the ear was a punishment in the medieval and early modern periods, especially for offenses regarding religion. For example, in the seventeenth century the Puritan William Prynne was condemned to this punishment for heresy by the Anglican ArchbishopWilliam Laud, interesting, for one might think the other side would want him to hear their version of truth. But perhaps Laud thought it was appropriate because he led the faithful astray because they heard the Puritan's sermons. 
 

William Prynne

Are you still listening? One can hear, but not listen, so often in this frenetic culture where words disappear in cyberspace in a nanosecond. 

Take the time to really listen, and maybe try and remember and share your own unique, erotic ear experiences (but save the earwax stories, ew! I recently experienced an issue with that substance). 

And Bijou Video offers unique “dirty talk” audio CDs from those Old Reliablerough trade guys in the Sexcessories section of our website.

 

Check them out, along with other auditory delights at BijouWorld.com and BijouGayPorn.com
 

Old Reliable CDs

 

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Long Hair on Men: Dangerous and Powerful

Long hair … when I was growing up in a white Catholic suburb where moms stayed home, produced multitudes of children, and hung up sheets outside on clotheslines, in the late sixties and early seventies, long hair on men was considered almost evil, a symbol of danger and rebellion. You know, those dangerous hippies downtown with their sex and drugs and rock 'n roll. 

Now, according to one book written long ago in the nineteenth century, now incredibly relevant given the state of our nation, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, devotes a whole chapter to the influence of politics and religion on the hair and the beard. 
 

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds book cover

St. Paul's dictum, meant to be only for local consumption and not a universal maxim, “that long hair was a shame unto a man,” was interpreted literally, especially in the days when church and state were not separate. 

Even before the theocratic ideal of the Christendom, the powerful often dictated men's hair length. For example, Alexander the Great though that beards of his soldiers “afforded convenient handles” for an enemy to grab, as preparation for decapitation. Thus, he ordered everyone in his army to shave. 

Yet, especially in the early Middle Ages (or Dark Ages), long hair was symbolic of royalty or sovereignty in Europe. In France, only the royal family could enjoy long, curled hair. Yet the nobles did not want to be viewed as inferior, imitated this style, and also added long beards. The great Charlemagne sported long hair and a beard, but after the ravages of the Vikings and the political and social chaos that ensured after Charlemagne's death, the nobles then kept their hair short. In contrast, the serfs kept their locks and beards long as perhaps a way of less than subtle defiance. 
Charlemagne


This flip-flop continued for centuries. Of course many famous churchmen, such as the famed St. Anselm of Canterbury, were virulently against long hair on men. King Henry I of England defied him by wearing ringlets. Much later in England, during the Civil War between the Roundheads (Puritans and Independents) and Cavaliers (Monarchists), hair became a dividing factor, and not just physically. 
 

Roundhead and Cavalier

The Puritans though all manner of vice lurked in the long tresses of the monarchists (this long tresses later became wigs, and legal authorities in England still wear a variant of these wigs when hearing cases), while the monarchists accused the short-haired Puritans of intellectual and moral sterility. According to MacKay, “the more abundant the hair, the more scant the faith; and the balder the head, the more sincere the piety.” Well, I guess those short-haired macho muscular Christian Mormon missionary guys are closer to God, but then why is Jesus usually depicted with long hair

Given the tendency toward fascism unfortunately evident as we approach the second decade of the 21st century, I hope no dictator decides, like the King of Bavaria, to ban moustaches, or more recently, that dreadful North Korean beast who ordered that men in his domain could only have their cut in a limited number of ways. The reasons for both these directives are obscure. 
 

North Korean approved haircuts

The fascination with hair clearly never loses its intensity. Women's hair has always been hidden or even eliminated in some patriarchal systems because of its association with sexual power; it's interesting to see that men's hair has also suffered restrictions as well for reasons associated with power dynamics. Whatever or however hair fashions change, let's face it, the hair styling and shaving supplies businesses will always benefit! 

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