from “Harmony – The Parable of Music”
I am happy to announce that I’ve signed with Black Lotus Books to publish The Courtesan Parables, my collection of short stories. The tentative release date is “early 2021”, next year will be quite a bit better than this one was. I look forward to working with the Black Lotus crew and can’t wait to share the pre-order info as soon as I have it.
Men like to plant flags and then argue about who planted what flag first. Marking their territory, or as I like to call it, a tinkle tournament. The thing is, so many things we “discover” were always there, and not ours to pee on.
In 16th century Italy, there was one such squabble between two scientists, Mateo Colombo and Gabrielle Falloppio, both anatomists racing to map the human body and how each of its constituent parts work. They were both obsessed with the nether regions of women. Certainly you’ve heard of the Il Dottore Falloppio’s “tubes”. Several of their “discoveries” overlap, but for our purposes we’re going to hone in on just one. The clitoris.
Both men have marked this territory as theirs for the medical history books. Colombo’s De Re Anatomica was published in 1559. Falloppio’s Observationes Anatomicae in 1561. But there are Fallopian notes detailing the clitoris that date back to 1550.
The two doctors had very different techniques, however. Falloppio used the standard practice of anatomizing dead bodies, even though Pope Boniface VIII had issued a bull banning such things. I mean, why should The Church make scientific research any easier? The order was largely ignored by doctors, and rarely enforced with any consequence. Colombo, however, preferred practicing on the living.
This wasn’t without its problems.
First, the university expressly forbade the entrance of women. Second, men were lacking in the clitoral area. Fortunately for Falloppio, the university also housed the morgue and, once a week, a cart of fresh bodies was brought to campus. Fortunately for Colombo, he figured out a way to hide live prostitutes among the dead and sneak them into his laboratory.
Notes from his experiments recount the affection these women had for him, if he does say so himself. He had found a way to pleasure them that was uncommon among their usual clients.
In Federico Andahazi’s historical novel The Anatomist, he puts it this way: “The hands of Mateo Colombo had learned to touch a woman’s body, much as the hands of a musician learn to touch an instrument. He had crossed the vague boundary that separates science from art and had taught his hands to tough the most sublime, the most elevated and most difficult of instruments. His art was the ephemeral art of giving pleasure, a discipline that, like conversation, leaves neither trace nor record.” That’s something ol’ Falloppio could never have figured out from a cadaver.
Sometimes, the prostitutes returned the favor. One story, recounted by Andahazi, tells of the university priest happening upon Colombo being pleasured by one of the women who had just arrived on the cadaver cart. Seeing the priest’s terror-stricken look of bewilderment, he cried “Miracolo! Miracolo!” in an attempt to convince the man of cloth that he had brought the woman back from the dead.
So, while Colombo was probably not the first to discover what he named the Amor Veneris, vel Dulcedo Appelletur (The Love and Sweetness of Venus)—let’s be clear, women discovered it centuries before—he is one of the first to propose its role in female sexual pleasure.
So, maybe when we celebrate Columbus Day, we should go Team Mateo rather than the Team Christopher route.
ITALIAN CORPSE REVIVER
Raise your hand if you knew this was where I was headed. Corpse Reviver variations have been around since at least the 1860’s. The general idea is that they are some sort of hangover cure, meant to be drunk the day after a binge, in order to restore the dead to life. Recipes vary greatly from wine, Maraschino and bitters, to brandy, fernet and crème de menthe. One 1903 recipe is a fanciful, layered pousse-café. In a tiki version, the famous Trader Vic used Swedish Punsch, which I have never had.
There are even a dozen or more Italian Corpse Revivers, but for my money, and no small amount of delightful giggling, I’m going with Martha Stewart’s. Mainly because she uses Strega, a very witchy Italian herbal liqueur, but also because it’s freaking Martha Stewart. Strega (Italian for “witch”) packs a punch at 80 proof, so be sure not to have too many of these babies, or, as the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) says, you may “unrevive the corpse again”.
Chicago’s morning fog was a gray smear of dankness and sticky soot. It didn’t roll in, like in Detroit. It just was. One minute you could count gaslights for blocks, the next you felt buried alive.fv everleigh, “Gilded Cages”
From my upcoming cocktail book:
THE INITIATION OF A NEOPHYTE INTO A SATANIC CULT TURNS INTO AN ORGY.
It leaps off the page like click bait. Or a 1960’s Satanic Panic headline. It’s actually the log line to an adult film released in 1928.
I know what you’re thinking and, yes, I had to watch porn for research. Evil porn. Silent, grainy, black and white, hilarious porn.
Messe Noire is a classic of the “brothel market” genre. These films would tour from whorehouse to whorehouse, being projected on walls or drapes for paying patrons. Can you imagine having to leave your house to watch porn? And pay for it!
In this particular morsel of perfection, a “culte Satanique” enters a temple for a Black Mass, or Messe Noire to make it sound sexier. The group of women wear masks, stockings, capes and nothing else, though their 1920’s bushes seem to be wearing them. After Lucifer mechanically plants a kiss on Astarte’s verdant pubic bloom, the whole thing devolves into an orgy, just like the log line promised.
There’s candles and a chalice filled with blood. There’s flagellation and mechanical fellatio. There’s cunnilingus that is even more mechanical. Lucifer’s back is pretty hairy. Is he a werewolf? Oh yeah, and a Satanic money shot. Woah.
It’s pretty ribald for 1928.
You can even watch it for yourself, if you so desire. A quick search for “messe noire 1928” will render the proper results.
The second best part is the closing intertitle. It features a “FIN” with hand-drawn pornographic figures that look like they were scribbled on a textbook cover by an adolescent. The best part, and I don’t say this lightly, is that Satan keeps his loafers on.
The whole time.
COCKTAIL: SATAN KEEPS HIS SHOES ON
An old fashioned porn needs an Old Fashioned cocktail. And this one needs to have an esoteric edge. The blood orange and sage smoke are a winning combination. I almost named it Verdant Pubic Bloom, but couldn’t resist the temptation of Satan Keeps His Shoes On. Extra points if you serve it in a chalice. If you really want to make a deal with the devil, try a classic Fallen Angel. The version below is from The Calvert Party Encyclopedia: Your Complete Guide to Home Entertaining (1965, a great year for your local culte Satanique).
Special thanks to T. Kleiner for the help.
The blood orange chip should be may at least a day or two ahead.
Heat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Thinly slice a blood orange into wheels and lay on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle lightly with salt, sugar and cinnamon. Dry in oven for about 2 1/2 hours. It make take a little longer if your slices are thicker.
After they cool, place them in a plastic bag. Using a lighter, char the edges of two whole sage leaves, letting the smoke disperse into the bag. Quickly put the leaves in with the orange wheels and close the bag, being careful not to let smoke escape. Store in a cool/dry place.
For the cocktail, first cut an orange wheel into a half moon chip. Combine Bourbon, Solerno and Bitters in a shaker with ice. Shake for 30 seconds and strain into glass over ice. Garnish with blood orange chip.
COCKTAIL: FALLEN ANGEL
2 oz GinGlassware: Coupe
Juice of 1 Lemon or Lime
2 dashes Creme de Menthe
1 dash Bitters
Stir well with ice. Strain into cocktail glass. Serve with cherry.
On November 11, I was fortunate enough to spend the evening with Brook MacBeth in a discussion about one of my favorite pieces ever, Audre Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” from 1978. This essay is basically scripture to me. Please enjoy the discussion and feel free to comment. Also, click HERE for my discussion notes.
Chefs, like clergymen, prefer to be right – to have discovered the only path to heaven. — The Courtesan Parables
I sleep deeply. I sleep most deeply after a spirited night of lusty tumbling punctuated by much kissing and more than a little biting. — The Courtesan Parables