Category Archives: sex

Brooklyn Mephisto

Dalrymple notes that Jeffrey Epstein’s taste for orgies was

only partially sexual in origin. A man in his situation could have paid for any amount of sex, of any kind, in private. What he really enjoyed was corrupting others—and not just others, but prominent and powerful others. He enjoyed playing Mephistopheles, apart from any sexual gratification he may have had on the way.

Dalrymple explains that Epstein

was born into a modest family and pursued no glorious academic career. He was of high intelligence and very ambitious. One might have thought that his achievement of riches (by whatever means accumulated) would have assuaged feelings of inferiority that he felt vis-à-vis those who had succeeded via family connection or the conventional academic route. But great success from humble beginnings does not always, or perhaps even generally, extinguish the flames of resentment, but rather fans them.

It is a relief and joy

to prove that the great ones whose ranks the parvenu has joined are no better than he, that underneath their polished exterior and their inherited or academic distinction is still a person of crude and basic appetites. To implicate them in his depravity gives him a certain power over them: the power of equal standing. Never again will they be able to consider themselves his superior. His apparent generosity towards them is the establishment of the relationship of a blackmailer to his victim.

Dalrymple argues that Epstein’s wish to bring people down to his level, the better to have some hold over them and feel at least their equal, was

an extreme manifestation of a commonplace egalitarian impulse to bring everyone down to one’s own level, if not lower. The pleasure we take in a debunking biography, irrespective of the greatness of the subject’s achievements, is a relatively harmless satisfaction of this impulse, though debunking can become an addiction to the point that we cease to admire any achievement. There is much greater pleasure in pulling people down than in raising them up, besides being something much easier to do. This is why egalitarians hate the privileged much more than they love the unprivileged.

That Epstein seemed to have been able with such ease to befriend and probably corrupt so many of an élite

will have the effect of casting further suspicion on the very notion of an élite. But ye have the élite always with you. There is an élite among anti-élitists.

Even Stalin would have been revolted

Even Stalin, who had no great objections to falsifying history—to put it mildly—would not have thought of retrospectively changing the sex of a child on its birth certificate. But doing so is now standard practice in many Western jurisdictions, where truth and reality must yield to individual wishes or desires, the demand that one can be anything one likes.

Sex only at the end of an elaborate pas de deux, if even then

Dalrymple observes that the world depicted by Alan Thomas in The Surgeon (1964)

would be almost as remote to a young person today as that of, say, the court of Frederick the Great.

The surgeon

is called to the hospital because a minor Conservative politician, Sir Humphry Halland, Bart., has had a car crash and fractured his lumbar vertebrae, on which the surgeon operates. In those days, if the novel is to be believed, titles still inspired awe; when Halland’s young wife asks to be called Gloria instead of my lady it is a sign of her broadminded and democratising informality.

The surgeon and Lady Halland

fall in love while Halland is flat on his back in hospital. They do so very chastely, I must say, despite Lady Halland being 20 years younger than her husband. He is referred to throughout the book as if he were an old man, though he is only 53.

The novel, Dalrymple observes, is

Lady Chatterley in reverse.

The world that Thomas portrays is one in which

  • hospital consultants are gods
  • nurses are ministering angels
  • divorce is an utter scandal
  • porters and butlers are deferential
  • Daimlers are chauffeur-driven
  • sex occurs only at the end of an elaborate pas de deux, if even then
  • the rich smoke as a matter of course

Dalrymple wonders if such a world ever existed.

A pioneering work of classification of the varieties of sexual aberration

Dalrymple commends to his readers Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 magnum opus, though he concedes that it is somewhat

behind the times.

The number of orientations, Dalrymple notes,

has increased greatly, like the choice of restaurants.

The explicit is the enemy of the voluptuous

Orgies — you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all

Dalrymple notes that an orgy scene is now mandatory in opera productions,

just as doctoral theses in the Soviet Union used to need at least one quotation from Lenin.

Viewing the compulsory orgy scene in a production of Rigoletto (Giuseppe Verdi; first performed 1861), Dalrymple observes that orgies these days

are staged literally rather than suggestively.

It is as if, he says,

the ageing audience has to be reminded of what sex is.

Moreover, he points out, they are done up

like a tableau of Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis [1886].

Richard von Krafft-Ebing, author of the dirtiest book ever written

‘Der unerwartet große buchhändlerische Erfolg ist wohl der beste Beweis dafür, daß es auch Der unzählige Unglückliche gibt, die in dem sonst nur Männern der Wissenschaft gewidmeten Buche Aufklärung und Trost hinsichtlich rätselhafter Erscheinungen ihrer eigenen Vita sexualis suchen und finden.’

Notes on sex shops

These establishments must show more imagination if they are to stimulate our sated appetites

From time to time, writes Dalrymple,

in far-flung places, I catch a glimpse of pornographic films on cable TV in hotel rooms. These mostly German films are almost as widely exported as Mercedes cars; yet they are about as unerotic as it is possible for pornography to be.

The films appear to consist largely, he says,

of overweight men and women running naked into muddy ponds, where they thrash about naughtily, giggling.

Dalrymple reports that the queen of German pornography, Beate Uhse,

is preparing to open a chain of her sex shops in Britain. Not only are cities such as London and Manchester in her sights, but small country towns. She feels the need to bring leather to Leamington and dildos to Devon.

Will this be the end of civilisation? Dalrymple doubts it, if Uhse’s Berlin sex shop and erotic museum — billed as the largest such establishment — are anything to go by. Both the shop and museum, Dalrymple says,

are as sexually provocative as a C&A store.

The displays

are dusty and unenticing. A plastic mermaid with a blue tail sits in one window, apple-green scallop shells demurely covering her nipples; while in another, a plastic woman in red underwear and white suspenders lies curled up in a Champagne glass, a toucan sitting on its rim. It isn’t so much sex that Miss Uhse peddles as barely titillating kitsch.

In a sex-saturated age, Dalrymple argues, the stores are tame.

We have become so used to the most explicit sexual images that stores dealing in pornography are bound to seem not merely uninteresting, but old-fashioned.

The hypomanic Dr Pascal

She had an abnormality on her chest x-ray, but it was something more closely resembling a sexual assault than a medical examination

The behaviour of this locum was, writes Dalrymple, so objectionable that he was barred from all pubs within a mile radius of the hospital. Entering the hospital canteen, Dr Pascal would shout across it in a booming voice and with a salacious leer:

How many times did you have sex last night? You look as though you need it more often.

Dr Pascal would

clap people on the back — hard enough almost to propel them through the adjacent wall — and cross-question them on the details of their private lives.

Once, before he knew Dr Pascal’s character, Dalrymple referred a young female patient to the locum because

she had an abnormality on her chest x-ray. When her notes returned with her from Dr Pascal, they bore a detailed account, scrawled across several pages in writing that clearly betrayed loss of control, of something more closely resembling a sexual assault than a medical examination.

Enough to make you wish for the rapid spread of AIDS

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Never a rose without a prick

Dalrymple recalls his days living in a large English city. In the quarter where he resided, every night a sex-work human resources manager, or pimp, would bus in a bevy of sex workers, or prostitutes, who would stand on the corner and wait for clients.

The sex workers,

much the worse for drugs, seemed mainly in their 30s and 40s. They were desperate, and it seemed to me that their clients — mainly travelling-salesmen types — must have been pretty desperate too.

Residents of the respectable bourgeois street were, needless to say, not especially happy with the situation.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 07.49.15It was not very pleasant to pick the used condoms from the rosebushes in the morning. In fact, it was enough to make you wish for the rapid spread of AIDS.

Brief-carnal-liaison co-ordinator’s fury over threat to sex industry

One of Dalrymple’s neighbours

formed a group that went out every night photographing and taking down the registration numbers of the kerb-crawling cars. This had so severely an inhibitory effect upon business that the sex-work human resources manager came in his car to threaten the vigilante group (aged, on average, 70). He flashed a gun at them, but my neighbour told him not to be silly.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 08.33.29Pressure was put on the police, and the sex workers were moved

to one of the many parts of the city where skeletal, edentulous women having sex in the street would not be noticed.

Sex-work human resources managers

Sex-work human resources managers

Handmaiden to a teetotaller

Handmaiden to a teetotaller: Temperance Street, Manchester

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Temperance Street. Photo courtesy of Google Street View

Midland Arms, Temperance Street

Midland Arms and Imperial Inn, Temperance Street

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Another view of the Temperance Street public houses

Most ideological of all fields

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 18.07.50Pleasure is to be derived, Dalrymple writes, from

reading ingenious commentary that serves no useful purpose. In its uselessness is its joy; for in an ideological age, the exercise of intelligence to no purpose comes as a relief.

Alas, he says, literary criticism,

certainly in its academic form, is now the most ideological of all fields. Most criticism seems to be seen through the lens of class, race or sex: one would hardly be surprised to read a Marxist, racial or feminist critique (dreadful word!) of Daisy Ashford’s The Young Visiters.

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A rapists’ charter

Ann M. Starrs

Ann M. Starrs: flatulent and at the same time chilling

Starry night

Dalrymple points out that some of the quotations (from articles inside the journal) found on the cover of the Lancet are

of such an unctuous sententiousness that they make Mr Podsnap seem like a neurotic self-doubter. They are usually inexact, flatulent, self-important, and frequently stupid.

He cites a passage taken from the article A Lancet Commission on sexual and reproductive health and rights: going beyond the Sustainable Development Goals. It is the work of Ann M. Starrs, described as president and chief executive officer of something called the Guttmacher Institute, which appears to be devoted to advancing the cause of abortion. Starrs’ words are considered so luminous that the Lancet’s editor reproduces them in large type on the front page:

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The Lancet: self-important and frequently stupid

Ann M. Starrs’ Declaration of Sexual Rights

Sexuality and reproduction are universal concerns that affect every human being. Although there has been great progress in recent decades, the global community must now expedite and expand that progress to be more inclusive and comprehensive. A new agenda for sexual and reproductive health and rights is needed that recognises the full scope of people’s sexual and reproductive health needs, and enables all people to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the means to do so in good health.

The emotion in the reader of this, writes Dalrymple,

is similar to that aroused by a badly scratched record or a whining child.

The purpose of Starrs’ words, he points out,

is to create in the reader the impression of the writer as generous and broad-minded, denial of whose principles establishes him who would deny them as a bigot.

Yet Starrs’ words are

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No perversion is too perverse for Ann M. Starrs

a rapists’ charter; no perversion is too perverse to fall under their permissive rubric.

Dalrymple notes that there have been men who have been able to achieve orgasm only by

  • derailing trains, or
  • paddling their hands in the entrails of the people they have killed

He asks:

Ought the full scope of their sexual needs have been met?

Dalrymple says:

That people ought to be able to have sex when they choose, with whom they choose, entails that they should be able to force themselves on others even in public. There can be no when without a corresponding where, for sexual desire (impossible to distinguish from need) does not always arise at moments hitherto considered appropriate.

He concludes:

From the fate of children under this regime of inalienable rights to be included in the proposed Declaration of Sexual Rights, it is best to avert one’s mind.