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

146bowery-mural-hacula
Pulqueria’s Chef to Install ‘Esther & Carol Bistro’ at Former Bacchanal on the Bowery

Proprietor Peter Poulakakos pulled the plug on his lighting district restaurant-bar, Bacchanal, last December. It barely lasted two years at 146 Bowery. In the intervening nine months, the only real visible activity here has been the installation of a plywood shed spanning the corner storefront, and a temporary paint job for Fashion Week. And now that […]

punch-trump-1
Punch Trump in the Face, then Register to Vote

Overthrow Boxing gym just off the Bowery wants to knock out Donald Trump in a big way. By ballot, not bout. The Bleecker Street gym is getting out the vote by going mobile. Several weeks ago, they christened a cheeky “Knockout Trump” truck with the dual purpose of registering voters (#knockoutthevote2016) while offering a chance […]

363lafayette-ad-1
Ten Years on, this Lafayette Street Advertecture is Dismantled for New 10-Story Commercial Building

The decade-old advertecture on the site of the former Jones Diner, 363 Lafayette Street, is coming down. Workers were spotted yesterday dismantling the skeleton framework, first erected in early 2007 to pimp the iPod. With good reason. The irregularly shaped sliver of land is to sprout a luxury office building. Olmstead Properties, which has owned […]

image
Report: Man Struck by Truck on Pike Street Last Month Dies

The local resident hit by a truck on Pike Street at the end of August died earlier this month from his injuries. On August 22, Seward Park Extension public housing tenant Miguel DeJesus, 67, was reportedly jaywalking on the south side of Division, crossing Pike Street from east to west. The truck allegedly had right […]

Photo: JDS Development
JDS Champions Affordability with its 1,000-Foot Luxury Tower on the LES Waterfront

It was standing room only last night in Two Bridges, and not for a screening of the Clinton-Trump debate. Rather a community meeting about the incoming 1,000-foot residential tower at 247 Cherry Street brought to the area by JDS Development and SHoP Architects. The assembly itself was civil, albeit tense. How could it not be? […]