Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ye olde sexy times

So, is sex sexier today than it was four hundred years ago?

I don't know. I mean, maybe? Because we have things like floss and toothbrushes and anti-aging cream and spandex, so possibly? But at the same time, I feel like we also have these culturally-created expectations that are kind of ridiculous - okay, bear with me, we're going into Tangent Land - but I watched Year One (shuuuuttt upppp I never claimed to have good taste in anything) and there's a scene where Maya, a sexy cavegirl, lifts one arm and reveals - WAIT FOR IT - armpit hair.

Seriously. That's the punchline. And everyone in the audience let out a collective "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwuuuuuuuurgh!"

I know. According to some Republican lawmakers, ladies aren't actually human or due equal protection under the law, but we are still mammals.

Which is a roundabout way of saying, in the 1600s, probably it was not that big of a deal, but then also you may have gotten a pass for missing some teeth, too.

Anyway, Eleanor Herman's (local author! Went to Towson and lives in Maclean!) Sex With Kings is a snappy romp through the royal bedrooms of European nobility. All of the usual suspects are here, from Madame du Pompadour to the greedy and raging Lady Castlemaine to the equally greedy charlatan Lola Montez, and even wraps it up with the (former) Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Sex With Kings has sparkling prose and is sprinkled liberally with excerpts from diaries, love (and hate) letters, and snippets from diplomatic missives, such as the one that delightfully described Madame Conyngham's flashing the royal goods at a nonplussed diplomat. There are moments of pathos, particularly in Herman's description of the longsuffering Madame du Pompadour's relationship with Louis XV. Of course, royal mistresses are disposable, but du Pompadour held her position for a remarkably long time, although at great personal cost.

Sex with Kings is sometimes repetitive and is very Euro-centric - the kings of England, France, and Germany have center stage here - but it's a very intimate look into the bedrooms of Europe's kings.

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