Going beyond the sanitized and idealized to the dirty reality of human history with Jessica Cale. There's more to history than what you learned in high school, and we're going to skip to the good stuff together.
Episode 3.14. Fairies, Entities, Ghosts, and Gods: Rebel Folklore with Icy Sedgwick
1:06:44What can folklore teach us about history? More than you’d think! This week, Jess talks to Icy Sedgwick about fairies, ghosts, gods, psychopomps, tricksters, banshees, and more. Who was the real Lady Godiva? How did colonialism influence the folklore of the Americas? And why are people so obsessed with Robin Hood? We cover all this and more this week on DSH. Icy is the author of Rebel Folklore: Empowering Tales of Spirits, Witches, and Other Misfits from Anansi to Baba Yaga. For more on Jess’s birthday fundraiser to benefit ARFP, check out our Instagram @dirtysexyhistory or donate directly at arfpnc.com.
Episode 3.13. Black Sam Bellamy and the Golden Age of Piracy
53:17He might not be the most famous pirate, but Black Sam Bellamy may have been the most successful: when his ship wrecked in 1717, it took Sam with it, along with an astonishing 4.1 tonnes of gold and treasure. Forbes estimated that at his death, the "Prince of Pirates" was worth more than $120 million. And he did it all for love. This week on the podcast, we talk to Dr Jamie Goodall about Bellamy's doomed romance with the "Witch of Wellfleet," Maria Hallett, his unusual battle tactics, and how the Whydah was found again in the 1980s. Jamie also offers tips for finding pirates in your own family tree--chances are, you may have one or two.
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Episode 3.12. Big Cult-Leader Energy. The Legacy of Madame Blavatsky
54:41Madame Blavatsky is no longer a household name, but her ideas changed the course of history. A central figure in Victorian Spiritualism, she is credited with starting the New Age movement. She influenced everyone from Aldous Huxley and H.P. Lovecraft to Aleister Crowley and David Bowie. Even Dungeons & Dragons borrows from Blavatsky. Although her “miracles” were debunked in her lifetime, her ideas were far from harmless—her theories about race heavily influenced the Nazis and may have led to the Holocaust. This week, Jess talks to author and horror expert Sian Ingham about the difficult legacy of Madame Blavatsky. Sian’s books include The Age of Miracles: Essays on the Collapse of History, and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated We Don’t Go Back: A Watcher’s Guide to Folk Horror.
Episode 3.11. Fight Like Hell: Women and the American Labor Movement
55:51Strikes have been in the news more and more lately, but what is a Labor Union and why should we care? Unions have gotten us many of the rights we take for granted today: the eight-hour workday, safer working conditions, better wages, and benefits. Women have played a huge part in this, from teenage girls in the first picket lines, to Mother Jones and Lucy Parsons, to the Uprising of the 20,000 and beyond. This week, we’re talking to journalist and organizer Kim Kelly about the American Labor Movement and what history can teach us about how to change the world today.
Episode 3.10. Snuff, Smelling Salts, and Sulfur: Scent in 18th Century Fiction
1:08:02What did the 18th Century smell like? You probably think of horses and chamber pots, but do you think of tobacco? How about sulfur? This week, we talk to Dr Emily Friedman about common scents in fiction from the Long 18th Century, mentioned by authors like Frances Burney and Jane Austen. We’re talking snuff, smelling salts, taking the waters at Bath, bathing before showers, Queen Charlotte’s bad habits, Marie Antoinette’s perfume, and more! Dr Friedman’s book is Reading Smell in Eighteenth-Century Fiction. Check out our Instagram for discount codes @dirtysexyhistory
Episode 3.9. Inside the Chicken Ranch, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
57:27“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” was a hit musical on Broadway, later made into a movie starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds. But what about the Chicken Ranch, the real brothel the story was based on? This week, we talk to Jayme Lynn Blaschke about the history of sex work in Texas, the first brothels in La Grange, poultry as payment, and Miss Edna, the last madam of the Chicken Ranch. Jayme is the author of “Inside the Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse.”
Episode 3.8. The American Plan
35:55While WWI was fought overseas, there was another war closer to home—a war on women known as “The American Plan.” Under the American Plan, tens of thousands of women were detained and injected with toxic chemicals based on their perceived ability to spread venereal disease, all in the name of protecting our soldiers. This week, our guest is comedian and sex-worker rights advocate Kaytlin Bailey, host of the Oldest Profession Podcast. We are talking about the history of sex work in America, the Mann Act, the Comstock Act, and the lasting legacy of the American Plan, which can still be felt today.
Episode 3.7. Psychotropic Drugs in Nineteenth Century France
50:01Nineteenth century France was a “nation on drugs”: psychotropic drugs were widely used and easily accessible for everything from everyday pain and mental issues to surgeries and brothel visits. This week, we talk to Dr Sara Black about the rise of Opium, Morphine, Cocaine, Ether, Chloroform, and Hashish—how they were researched and normalized until they were used by most of the country. We’re talking medical history, obstetrics, aphrodisiacs, psychiatric care, recreational use, philosophy and more. Dr Black’s new book is Drugging France: Mind-Altering Medicine in the Long Nineteenth Century.
Episode 3.6. Naming Gotham: The People Behind NYC’s Place Names
46:58The history of New York City isn’t only found in its museums—it’s in the names you find all over the city. This week, we talk to Rebecca Bratspies, author of Naming Gotham, about some of the remarkable people who leant their names to New York’s infrastructure: Anne Hutchinson, Adriaen van der Donck, Casimir Pulaski, Tadeusz Kościuszko, William Cullen Bryant, John Jacob Astor, and more. [minor correction: Rebecca mentions Mrs. Astor’s “top 200,” but meant to say “400”]
Episode 3.5. George Remus: The Bootleg King and the Women Who Brought Him Down
44:58George Remus was an infamous bootlegger in Jazz Age America, so wealthy and ostentatious that he is thought to be the real-life inspiration for Jay Gatsby. This week, we talk to Abbott Kahler about his bootlegging business, toxic marriage, legendary parties, and the bad-ass woman who wouldn’t rest until he was behind bars. Abbott’s book is The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz Age America