Guest Post: “Hysteria” and the History of Vibrators

Posted on: May 18th, 2012 at 6:18 am by

Hysteria, a new romantic comedy about the invention of the vibrator, will premiere at the Landmark Sunshine Theater tonight. In celebration of this device, Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah, who is actually introducing the event, was kind enough to write this post exclusively for Bowery Boogie.

Feeling hysterical? You might need a vibrator for that.

The first electrical vibrator was designed by a doctor as a labor-saving device and used to cure female hysteria. All of this is a hot topic currently with the release of the new film, Hysteria, a romantic-comedy about the invention of the vibrator, starring Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal. It begins with a true story and the title comes from a series of symptoms medical professionals lumped into a broad category of “hysteria.” The maladies could include everything from nervousness to a general “tendency to cause trouble” – don’t you love that? I personally can’t wait to see Hysteria and will be there for the 9:30 pm showing at the Sunshine Cinema tonight. Please join me! I’ll be introducing the film at 9:25, and the first 50 ticket holders get Babeland gift bags so you can treat your own hysteria after the movie.

Hysteria goes back to the ancient Greeks, who believed that the womb traveled throughout the body and was responsible for various lady-troubles. Treatment was release through orgasm brought on by clitoral stimulation in the doctor’s office. Of course, necessity is the mother of invention and the doctor who invented the vibrator wanted to save his weary hands from further muscle strain. And here we are more than a hundred years later blessed with the evolution of those first designs.

Mark Twain had one!

As folks who are generally curious about such things at Babeland, we collected vintage toys over the years, including some of the early 20th century models. You can visit our SoHo and Brooklyn locations to see displays of some of the vibrators, or view them online at our Vintage Vibrator Museum. There’s some fascinating history in these toys that speaks to our cultural heritage and more importantly, helps us understand how women’s sexuality has been feared, repressed and controlled through various means. Here are some of our favorites and their modern-day counterparts.

Recent Stories

Investor in Defunct Grand Street ‘Comfort Diner’ Says Former Owner Cheated Her out of $75K

While Saluggi’s East pizzeria struggles to make its own mark on Grand Street, its predecessor is again in the mud. An investor in the bygone Comfort Diner claims in a lawsuit filed last week that the former owner cheated her out of $75,000 when he neglected to mention his massive $700,000 debt of back taxes. […]

Under New Ownership, Moemen Becomes ‘NYC Falafel Co.’ on Allen Street

There’s been a change of the guard at Moemen, the Mediterranean snack shop at 201 Allen Street. Almost overnight, the signage was swapped and interior remodeled. In comes the blandly named NYC Falafel Co., offering up exactly what you’d imagine. Cheap eats geared toward the Hell Square hordes. They’re open past midnight every day except […]

Spanish Kicks Company Camper Christens New ‘Lab’ on the Bowery

It’s settled. You can finally purchase $285 sneakers on the Bowery. And right beside the Bowery Mission, no less. The Spanish footwear company, Camper, has you covered. The brand finally deposed the “coming soon” window skin from the facade of 221 Bowery last week to reveal its trendy CamperLab concept, a store we first told you […]

‘Parantha Alley’ Debuts at the Bowery Market on Monday

Parantha Alley, the four-year-old veteran of the Brooklyn food fair scene, is headed for the Bowery. Its new stall inside the open-air Bowery Market debuts on Monday. For the last week or so, artist Colleen Kong-Savage has been painting an Indian-themed mural on the corrugated siding of the structure. Parantha Alley joins a fledgeling Bowery […]

Watch this Guy Knock Over a Motorcycle on Pike Street for No Apparent Reason [VIDEO]

Here’s an interesting one… So, this guy was walking down Pike Street, between East Broadway and Henry Street, on Monday at 10:38pm and decided to upend a parked motorcycle. It’s clear that he was pissed off about something; he commits to pushing the vehicle onto the sidewalk when it refuses to budge after the first […]