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TONY'S SECRET CABINET
A guided tour through the boudoirs of history. Anecdotes from the author of Napoleon's Privates: 2,500 Years of History Unzipped (HarperCollins, napoleonsprivates.com) and Pagan Holiday: On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists.
The Man Who Would Bed King? James Buchanan was the only bachelor president, William Rufus King the only single vice president. Were they Victorian chums or something more?
Love on a Battlefield The Greeks didn't care that Alexander the Great had male lovers, but they were shocked that these men were adults.
The Versailles Boudoir The sexual behavior of powerful women has long been attacked. Marie Antoinette probably suffered the worse.
A Romp Through Time A brief history of modern love's seminal moments.
Body Issues Custer's tomb is in West Point, New York. That doesn't mean his remains are.
What Happens in the Colonies... To men traveling through the British colonies, everything was new. Especially in the bedroom.
Limp Laws Think the divorce process is a nightmare today? Try having the Catholic Church decide whether your impotence is natural or a witch's spell.
Location, Location, Location! People troubled by real estate today have plenty of company in history, from Akhibe in 2000 B.C. to Orwell in the '40s.
The Vatican Hall of Shame Did you hear about the scandal in the Catholic Church? The one from 904? And 955? And 1032?...
Is That a Stovepipe Hat or Are You Just Happy to See Me? Was Lincoln gay? Well, he was a theatergoer...
Miss Cleo Cleopatra: The world's first woman to be to be considered beautiful on the inside?
Dress Code Seeking revenge on the head of, say, the FBI? Accuse him of cross-dressing.
How Do You Say 'Quickie' in French? We knew Napoleon was short in stature, but three minutes in the sack? Jeez!
Ball to the Wall We all love thinking Hitler had just one testicle. Now I don't want to rain on your parade, but...
Proud Mary Nobody can ask Mary if she was indeed a virgin, but you do the math.
Chefs' Secrets Don't hate on tofurkey — chefs have been making fake food for 1,600 years.
The Dinner Party from Hell Your boss didn't invent the awkward dinner party. That honor belongs to Emperor Domitian.
Fast Food Nation A quick history of fast food. From the Romans to Delmonico's legendary 8-courses-in-an-hour lunch.
Dated Reference Don't blame your wife for that lame 'over the hill' birthday card: Blame the Romans.
Dinner and a Show When it comes to over-the-top theme restaurants, Vegas has nothing on Germany.
Dracula's Charity Ball Think any charity is good charity? Consider Vlad the Impaler's community outreach.
Faith-Based Initiative The French Revolution spawned some bizarre reforms: the 100-minute hour; the 10-day week; the Supreme Being.
The Cooking Class Celebrity chefs are common today, but only because of a 19th-century quirk in how food was served.
The Sky's the Limit Rich Americans never let a little economic collapse spoil their fun. Consider 1931's Fête Moderne...
Weimar Club-Hopping Sex, drugs, and cabarets: 1920s Berlin was the party capital of the world.
Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 248 A.D. Who were the first to line up outside a stadium all night long? Not football fans, but third-century Romans.
Black Tie and Stetson For a young Buffalo Bill, leading rich New Yorkers through the West was a great way to test his act.
A Heady Affair How did the French mark the end of the Terror? With parties, fashion, and 'dos, of course!
Fire Hazard Our new leaders are celebrating, but hopefully not setting themselves on fire (right, King Charles VI?).
The Class of 1250 Think the Kappa boys know how to party? You should have seen Oxford in the 1200s.
Political Party One Washington night in 1828, mobs smashed china, destroyed furniture, and passed out drunk. A bar fight? Nope: Andrew Jackson's inauguration.
The Renaissance Art Reception Need a dinner party menu? Try a scene from Ovid, with two roosters posed as Ulysses and his father.
Great Minds Drink Alike Symposia today are filled with professors, panels, and papers. In Plato's time, it was brains, booze, and boys.
Olympic Fever Beijing is worried about pollution at its Olympic Games; ancient Greeks had to worry about spontaneous orgies at theirs.
Divine Drunks The ideal Roman night? Drunk and naked in the woods.
Partying With Pablo Anyone could give the caterer the wrong date. But when you have Gertrude Stein and Henri Rousseau coming over...?
R.S.V.P. At Truman Capote's Black and White Ball, Frank Sinatra wouldn't stay and his Kansas friends wouldn't leave. The first in a series on history's famous fetes.
Health Nuts Forget Atkins. Forget Weight Watchers. Try the Renaissance Diet.
The Holy Guide to Coital Positions The Church was OK with sex in the Middle Ages, so long as it was done in a very particular way.
Orgy Etiquette Caligula was bald, pale, and hairy. But at his orgies, he could have any woman he wanted.
Make-Your-Own Condoms Gold-beater skin. English raincoat. French letter. There were many historic names for the condom, and just as many origin myths.
Columbus Discovers the Clitoris Not long after the discovery of America, another Columbus was exploring more uncharted territory.
The Curse of Self-Abuse Why does masturbation have a bad rap? Blame a 1712 pamphlet.
Horsing Around With Catherine the Great Catherine the Great loved horses. But did one really crush her in the throes of passion?
Pornography of the Kitchen In The Futurist Cookbook, F.T. Marinetti argued that food is Art: Less pasta and more sandpaper.
When George Met Sally Martha was George Washington's first wife, but she may not have been his first lady.
Aphrodisiac Attack Love today is candy and flowers. In the Enlightenment it was rams' testicles and Spanish fly.
The Fig Leaf of Florence Critics complained the 'nose' on David was too large. (They weren't referring to his face.)
Quick, Jeeves, Cover the Piano Legs! For a time, both America and Britain thought the other was aroused by cabinetry.
For a Good Time, Try Revolutionary Paris No need for Fodor's — visitors to 18th century Paris had their own guide to the city's carnal delights.
Ancient Greek Temples of Sex Nothing gets a classical scholar’s heart pumping like the sacred prostitutes of Corinth.
Hints of Oak and Witch's Urine? In 16th century Italy, wine tainted by witches' urine called for desperate measures.
Scent of a Führer How Hitler's farting problem may have been his undoing.
When Syphilis Was Trés Chic In Belle Epoque Paris, syphilis was all the rage.
First Night Jitters For medieval brides, marriage meant a night with their feudal masters. Or so Braveheart would have us think.
Sex and the Renaissance Nun In 15th century Venice, nuns knew how to let loose.
The Champagne Glass and the Breast Were Marie-Antoinette's breasts the inspiration for the champagne glass?
Good Old-Fashioned Porn Porn as nostalgia. Who was the anonymous genius who invented the stag movie?
Standing up in Court In 16th- and 17th-century France, manhood went on trial.
Welcome to the Gabinetto Segreto In centuries past, visitors to the grand museums of Europe often had their own private agenda.
Why Castrati Made Better Lovers Sex, drugs, and opera. In the 18th century, castration was the fast track to stardom.