Going strictly by popular culture, you’d be forgiven for thinking sex was invented sometime in the 1960s. Obviously our ancestors were getting it on long before that; Socrates invented Western thought while diddling little boys. But the ’60s were when sex became fun, right? Wrong. Turns out historical men (and women) were light-years ahead of us in the pleasure department, thanks to inventions like:
Lady substitutes are recorded as far back as the seventeenth century, when French sailors devised the Dame de Voyage: a collection of curvaceous rags that could only ever resemble a woman to a homesick Frenchman. But it wasn’t until vulcanised rubber was patented that the more familiar model came about: in 1904, alchemist Rene Schwaeble recorded meeting a ‘Dr P.’ in Paris, who built inflatable dolls for discerning gentlemen.
Less than four years later, German sexologist Iwan Bloch was marvelling over mass-manufactured versions that could ‘imitate ejaculation’ on sale in Parisian catalogues. Creepiest of all though has to be the firm offering a custom doll resembling “any actual person, living or dead” – which has to be the single most disturbing tagline in the history of advertising.