129 Records to Date

Oldest Aphrodisiac
The mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) has been popular since antiquity as an aphrodisiac. A member of the potato family, the plant is adorned with a large dark-brown root, small red fruit, and contains the alkaloids atropine and scopolomine, which, alas, do not possess any lovemaking attributes. In mild doses mandrake can induce drowsiness, but in larger doses it can be a deadly poison. The supposed connection to horniness is believe to stem from the similarity between its root and the human genitalia, though presumably the relation is more lucent after sampling the plant.

Still, there is startling biblical evidence that the stuff actually worked, to wit: "...And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night." (Genesis 30:16). In other words, the real value of this weed is not in its medicinal qualities, but as a bribe to your prospective bedmate!

Earliest Hormone Therapy
While their western brethren were fumbling around with "humors" and other folderol, the ancient Chinese were far ahead of their time when it came to the inner workings of the human body. By the second century BC the Chinese had not only worked out the circulation of blood in the body (unknown in the west until William Harvey noodled it out 1628) but also seem to have been extracting sex and pituitary-gland hormones from human urine for us in medical preparations. A text dating to AD 1025 clearly outlines the method. First the urine is collected and allowed to evaporate in pans. Further heating and chemical processing enabled the salts and urea to be removed, leaving a crystalline substance rich in steroid and protein hormones that the Chinese called the ch'iu shih ("autumn mineral"). The crystals were then made into medicines to treat a variety of maladies, from impotence to baldness.

Oldest Dildo
In Harappaa, Pakistan, archaeologists made a curious discovery: phallic objects, probably of pre-Hindu origin, dating back to the fourth millennium BC. They resemble the modern lingga, a Hindu symbol of the god Shiva, whom is said to have fallen in love with himself. You've probably met people like this. Anyway, in Sexual Practices: The Story of Human Sexuality, author Edgar Gregersen explains that they were "used in Hindu worship, and some function specifically as dildos used in religious sex rites." He continues, "The real penis itself is sometimes the object of veneration. In some contexts, the penis of a particular guru or saintly ascetic may be touched and even kissed by his followers, especially by women who want children." Are these guys a class act or what?

Largest Dildo
The Men-er-Hroech, an enormous stone phallus in Brittany once worshiped by pagans, stands 67 ft. high and weighs 347 tons. Maybe not exactly a dildo in the sense it could be put to amorous use, but still majestic nonetheless.

Earliest Vibrator
Physicians in the late 19th century witnessed a pandemic among women called "hysteria", a catchall term applying to just about any symptom that troubled a woman, from anxiety to "excessive" vaginal lubrication. With such a vague definition its no wonder physicians found 75% of all women showed signs of the affliction. The standard treatment was vulvular massage to orgasm, which meant, given the volume of female patients, hours of fatiguing manual manipulation. Clearly what was needed is a fast, efficient, and effective way to achieve the desired results.

Enter one Dr. George Taylor, who in the 1869 invented a coal-fired, steam powered device called the "Manipulator", which massaged the lower pelvis while the patient either stood or lay on a table. Unfortunately the machine was expensive to buy and costly to maintain, and as such found only limited use in several spas and clinics. The first practical model was the electromechanical vibrator, invented in 1883 by Mortimer Granville and manufactured by Weiss. Though Mort wasn't keen on the idea of using his machine for female stimulation—he considered it "morally indefensible"—judging from the apparatus you have to wonder: Well, what else would you use it for? Mashing potatoes? As is such the hysteria practitioners ignored his recommendations for use only on male skeletal muscles and immediately recognized its potential, for it was fairly compact, portable, and could last hours on a single charge.

Earliest Nipple Ring
Then known as "bosom rings", this form of bodily adornment originated in Victorian Europe, of all places. In the 1890s in became fashionable among hip Parisian (and later, English) women to pierce their nipples with an anneaux de seins (literally, "ring of the breast"), sometimes wearing one on either side, linked together with a delicate gold chain. The rings enlarged the breasts and heightened their sensitivity, providing continual enjoyment. Wrote one chic Londoner: "…With regard to the experience of wearing these rings, I can only say that they are not in the least uncomfortable or painful. On the contrary, the slight rubbing and slipping of the rings causes in me an extremely titillating feeling, and all my colleagues to whom I have spoken on this subject have confirmed my opinion."

Earliest Breast Implants
The origin of breasts implants dates to the 1940s, long before it became a, uh, growth industry. As the book I got the following information from couldn't help but accompany it with a spurious yarn, I feel obliged to reproduce it too in all its apocryphal finery.

The story begins in the early 1940s, when Japanese prostitutes servicing American GIs cast about for ways to increase their profits. Seeking a way to emulate the plump bosoms enlisted men so adore in their native beauties, these prostitutes began injecting their breasts with various solutions. Liquid silicone proved to be ideal. The stuff was everywhere, being used by the U.S. military as an insulator, lubricant, and sealant; it didn’t leak away from breast tissue (or so it was thought); and best of all, it worked: The girl’s breasts were noticeably larger, but retained their soft and pliant feel.

A marginal improvement came in 1960 when plastic surgeons Thomas D. Cronin and Frank J. Gerow successfully implanted the first silicone gel bags into a woman from Houston, Texas. More and more women had the surgery done, and by 1973 more than 50,000 women had gel-bag breast implants. Just one problem: they leaked, and women were beginning to claim they were developing medical problems from the silicone. Lawsuits ensued, and the rest, as they say, is legal history.

Earliest Panties
"I am delighted to see, madame, that your ladies do not wear drawers, and that the gates of paradise are always open."—KING VICTOR EMMANUEL I OF SARDINIA (1759-1824) TO FRENCH EMPRESS JOSÉPHINE DE BEAUHARNAIS (1763-1814), UPON SEEING A LADY-IN-WAITING TUMBLE OVER DURING HIS STATE VISIT

The above quote pretty much sums up the state of affairs in women's underclothing for the first 5,000 years of Western civilization. Sure, they had corsets and petticoats, but nothing between the legs to, how shall I say, guard the shrine.

Why? Credit the sad state of personal hygiene. "Pre-20th century women had to do without knickers and the like because of the perpetual threat of thrush [i.e., yeast infection]," writes authors Janet and Peter Phillips in History From Below: Women's Underwear and the Rise of Women's Sports. "Since the vagina is naturally warm and moist, any covering increasing the temperature will put out a welcome mat to thrush."

And of course the current modus vivendi had certain practical advantages. Waste elimination was no more taxing than finding a suitably private area to squat, and there's no discounting the appealing rush one gets from those pleasurable updrafts.

By the mid-1800's fashion began to change. Women's libber Amelia Bloomer began to wear loose ankle-length trousers under a knee-length skirt during her lecture circuit in 1850, a move that promptly netted her oodles of ridicule and abuse. But it popularized the idea, and other free-thinking women followed suit and began wearing the outfit. Bloomers, as they were called, became the first undergarments that covered the lower regions. With the invention of cheap elastic waistbands in 1900, eliminating the need for bulky drawstrings, the trend kept gathering momentum, leading to silky briefs we have today.

Earliest Brassiere
The traditional recount of the origin of the bra, listed by many reference books, goes like this: Mary Phelps Jacobs, a wealthy New York socialite, was in a bit of a jam. The expensive diaphanous gown she planned to wear for the evening's ball looked ungainly over her bulky corset, which protruded against the silk. What was she to do? In a flash of inspiration, she dispensed with the corset and with her French maid devised a homemade device out of two handkerchiefs, some ribbon, and pins, which she wrapped around her torso (her design). The evening was a pronounced success, and later many of her friends requested samples. Hearing destiny call, she filed for a patent (granted on November 3, 1914), and set up shop to manufacture her invention. When commerce probed too tedious, she sold the patent for $1,500 to Warner Brothers Corset Company, which later became a major player in the field.

Cute, and like so much we cherish about American history, total bullshit. Romans have been toying around with the idea since the 3rd century, as witness by a mosaic in Sicily depicting women exercising with a thin band covering their breasts. Mind you, these weren't supposed to support the breasts, but rather suppress them; through much of history, connoisseurs of female architecture held the ideal breast as not overflowing one hand (The infatuation with Grand Tetons is a modern invention).

At best these have a vague, half-brotheresque resemblance to what's in use today, so where did the modern bra originate? Hoag Levins, author of American Sex Machines, believes it all began in 1859, when Henry S. Lesher patented a device made out of rubber fabric and shaped into two cup-like pocket connected by a thin bridge (his design). Minus a few extraneous gizmos, notably the two wing-like attachments the protected the wearer's dress from underarm moisture, the invention is mechanically equivalent to the modern bra; in fact, Lesher wrote on patent its use "in giving support to the breasts." Mary's claim of originality now clearly lies in the dust, meaning the symbol of patriarchal oppression so righteously burned in the 60's was, in fact, invented by a man. Thank God—the whole hypocrisy of incinerating what may have been a step forward for female liberation was just too unsettling to bear.

Largest Brassiere
Parisa by Amir of Van Nuys constructed what appears to be the largest bra in the world, displayed in a lingerie show at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas 1996. The bra measures "approximately eight feet across in a closed position," the company said, "approximately 16.5 feet in an open position and measure approximately four feet high from the bottom to the top of the cup, no including the strap."






















































































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