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.

This image has been archived or removed.

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.

This image has been archived or removed.

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.

This image has been archived or removed.

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.

This image has been archived or removed.

Recent Stories

Developer Begins Demolition of Rutgers Street Playground for Temporary Parking Lot

Demolition work began this week on a Lower East Side park that is a focal point in the tension between the community and developers on the waterfront. The backhoes are out and job now underway at Rutgers Park, the small public space beside the Lands End II residential development. Removal of the playground began yesterday, including […]

The 3 Lower East Side Walk-ups that Sold for $35M

Earlier this month, we reported that SMA Equities, the Long Island real estate firm with controversial history on the Lower East Side, sold a portfolio of its area properties. SMA unloaded three tenement walk-ups to Daniel Fishman of GAIA Real Estate – 102 Norfolk Street, 177 Ludlow Street, and 99 Allen Street – for an […]

H&M Debuts Pop-up Hotel on the Bowery this Weekend

Fashion retailer, H&M, is headed to the Lower East Side this week with a pop-up hotel concept. Starting tomorrow, prospective guests can access the so-called Hotel Hennes via the eponymous 3 Freeman Alley. The three-day publicity stunt will be open through Saturday, from 2 to 9pm. Guests will be able to check in for an […]

Sneakerhead Arrested for Knifing Customer at Hypebeast ‘HBX’ Opening on Division Street

A watershed moment for Hypebeast transformed into a melee on the Lower East Side last week. The Hong Kong-based fashion and lifestyle publication on Friday officially debuted in the seven-story commercial loft building at 41-43 Division Street. Its ground-level store – dubbed HBX – attracted a queue of sneaker heads waiting for a limited edition Nike […]

Arsonist Torches Eldridge Street Beauty Parlor

Two people were injured yesterday evening after an arsonist set ablaze a beauty parlor on Eldridge Street, according to several published reports. The incident transpired shortly before 5:00pm at the Sa Sa II Beauty Salon, located at 129 Eldridge Street. Cops said the suspect poured gasoline inside the store and set it on fire. (Initial […]