Great Moments In Historical Sluttery: Marchesa Luisa Casati, Living Work of Art

She astonished. She did not please. – Jean Cocteau on Luisa Casati Iconic and elusive, decadent and modern, introverted and extravagant—few figures so perfectly embody the contrasts of the early Twentieth Century as Marchesa Luisa Casati. She fascinated European high society with her elaborate galas and fanciful personal style while supporting some of the most […]

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Great Moments In Historical Sluttery: Semiramis, Historical Queen, Warrior Empress, Vengeful Lover, and Mother Goddess

Separating fact from legend in the history of the ancient world can be close to impossible. Between royal claims of divinity, propaganda from rival cultures, and the mundane reality of lost records, we’re left with a sometimes psychedelic vision of noteworthy figures. One such exaggerated, distorted, and mythical individual is Semiramis, an Assyrian queen alleged […]

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Great Moments In Historical Sluttery: Mae West’s Seven Decades as a Sex Symbol

Mae West could have been famous for any one of her remarkable qualities. A stunning, magnetic screen star, a scandalously witty writer, and an outspoken believer in free expression, Mae lived large in every sense of the phrase. More inspiring still, she retained complete control over her career and public image throughout her life. To […]

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Great Moments In Historical Sluttery: Vali Myers, Wandering Nature Spirit

The word “muse” is a loaded one. It often feels like rhetorical innuendo that elevates a woman while dismissing her, frequently obscuring the muse’s own accomplishments in the process. Artist, dancer, and environmentalist Vali Myers is one such muse whose remarkable life took her from a sleepy Australian upbringing to the Bohemian cafes of post-World […]

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Great Moments In Historical Sluttery: Aphra Behn, The Mysterious Exploits of Agent 160

Aphra Behn played many roles during her lifetime: novelist, poet, political activist, and spy. An ambitious, courageous woman, she seems to have cared little about occupying the roles traditionally assigned to her gender. Against the tumultuous political backdrop of late 17th century England, she became one of the first English women to support herself as […]

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Great Moments In Historical Sluttery: Messalina, Excess and Disgrace in Imperial Rome

Few women are as closely linked with sexual wickedness as Empress Messalina. Wife of Roman Emperor Claudius and member of a family tree that includes notorious Emperors Nero and Caligula, she has been the subject of bawdy plays, moral allegories, and even modern pornographic films. Was Messalina a sexually voracious hellcat who plotted a coup […]

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Great Moments In Historical Sluttery: Isadora Duncan, The Ritual of Dance and Freedom

From the age of six, Isadora Duncan had an uncanny knack for improvised dance. Unflinching faith in the way her body moved (along with the support of her art patron parents) allowed her to develop a free-flowing, naturalistic style of dance that was at odds both with the strictures of ballet and the commercialism of […]

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Great Moments In Historical Sluttery: Ching Shih, Pirate Queen of the Chinese Coast

The link between women and piracy goes back as far as people turning to the seas for plunder. Pirates needed places to regroup on shore and store their ill-gotten gains, and the women who ran the saloons and brothels in coastal towns provided welcoming venues in exchange—of course—for a portion of the take. Much in […]

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Great Moments In Historial Sluttery: Free Love and Frankenstein, The Remarkable Life of Mary Shelley

It would be enough to solidify Mary Shelley’s place in history if feminist scholarship added nothing to the story of the woman who wrote Frankenstein at the tender age of twenty and championed the writings of Percy Bysshe Shelley. The scholars who’ve dug deeper into her life reveal a second-generation proto-feminist free thinker whose works […]

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Great Moments In Historical Sluttery: Rose Edith Kelly, Scarlet Woman, Wife of the Beast, Oracle of Thelema

Many discussions of Rose Edith Kelly’s impact on the development of 20th Century occult traditions include some mention of how “unlikely” it is that such a person would have been a catalyst for Aleister Crowley’s pivotal work, The Book of the Law.  Born into a white-collar family (her grandfather’s claim to fame was the publication of […]

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