Who comes to mind when you think of a “kinky” historical figure? JFK cheating on his wife with Marilyn Monroe? There’s no compelling evidence that they even hooked up. Bill Clinton and his cigar? No proof that it’s true.
This is a list of the kinkiest historical figures whose sexual preferences are well-documented. There are some affairs mentioned herein, some sick thoughts or two, and, uh, one instance of actual seppuku. Also, maybe some incest from history? It’s kind of unclear what was going on with Gandhi, but it definitely wasn’t good. Read on to learn about some of the kinkiest presidents and historical leaders with fetishes you won’t believe.
This one’s complicated, but we know this much for sure: Gandhi slept next to a lot of naked women over the years, including some of his relatives. Even in his later years, Gandhi would request that various women – including his grandniece – sleep next to him, naked. Even when the other women in the ashram were forbidden to sleep next to their own husbands, Gandhi would sleep next to his naked physician, his grandnephew’s wife, etc. It’s all out in the open, according to his biographer Jad Adams. He claimed, of course, that none of this was at all sexual, even claiming that he would shut his eyes when bathing with his secretary’s sister.
Irish author James Joyce loved farts. He especially loved his wife Nora’s farts. Thanks to Richard Ellman’s Selected Letters of James Joyce, the whole world knows exactly how much:
“You had an arse full of farts that night, darling, and I f*cked them out of you, big fat fellows, long windy ones, quick little merry cracks and a lot of tiny little naughty farties ending in a long gush from your hole. It is wonderful to f*ck a farting woman when every f*ck drives one out of her. I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. It is a rather girlish noise not like the wet windy fart which I imagine fat wives have. It is sudden and dry and dirty like what a bold girl would let off in fun in a school dormitory at night. I hope Nora will let off no end of her farts in my face so that I may know their smell also.”
Author Ernest Hemingway once wrote his girlfriend, actress Marlene Dietrich, a letter describing how he would improve her Las Vegas stage show. It’s kinky as hell. He says that the show would start with her being shot, naked and drunk, out of a tank. The tank would “roll over the customers” as Hemingway stripped off his “evening clothes” to cover her and reveal his “physique.” He would be holding a “Giant Rubber Whale called Captain Ahab” while “reversed vacuum cleaners” then blew his clothes off of her, etc. It’s a kinky nightmare, really.
Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima thought that seppuku – self-disemboweling with samurai sword – was “the ultimate form of masturbation.” Mishima was also a frequent and “frantic” actual masturbator, but what turned him on was a little… strange. His first orgasm at age 12 was to a picture of St. Sebastian “bound and pierced by arrows.” Mishima ended his own life, with a little help from a friend, by literally performing seppuku with a 17th-century samurai sword.
Plenty of authors have thought “Screw this bad review!” over the years, but sci-fi legend H. G. Wells actually decided to screw on top of a bad review… and then light it on fire. Michael Sherborne writes about the kinky act in H.G. Wells: Another Kind of Life. Wells was apparently quite the Lothario, accumulating plenty of mistresses over the years. One such mistress was an unnamed Australian novelist that helped Wells get his revenge (or something) on a bad review by critic Humphrey Ward. The two did the deed on top of the review, and then, according to Wells, “when we had dressed again we lit a match and burnt her.” Whatever works for you, H. G.!
Author Hans Christian Andersen would draw a small cross-like mark in his journal on the days that he masturbated. Sometimes he would even indicate that his penis was sore from masturbating by writing “penis sore” next to an entry. Historians say he was publicly “unnerved by anything having to do with sex and flustered by the sexuality of women” and only visited a brothel once at the age of 61, despite having always longed to do so. He paid the madame five francs, but only to look at one young girl that he “felt very sorry for.”
It’s good to be the king! King Edward VII had a large sexual appetite, for sure. You know you’re insatiable when you use your kingly powers to have special, super-fancy sex furniture made! Edward commissioned a “love seat” with golden stirrups and knee pads just for lovemaking. It was the 1880s, after all, so it’s not like the paparazzi were going to know about it, but still. Edward also liked to “bathe with a prostitute or two in champagne,” which honestly just sounds painful.
Nobel Prize-winning French writer Andre Gide was an intensely sexual person who reportedly had sexual partners of many different ages (some sickeningly young) and races. Gide also had two very specific sexual quirks. He was aroused by “a profusion of colors or unusually shrill sweet sounds” and the general “idea of destruction.” Gide allegedly experienced “noted arousal” when he heard about smashed crockery or when he “spoiled a favorite toy.” He also claimed, disgustingly, to be attracted to “crippled, deformed, or monstrous children, in whom he recognized some aspect of himself.”
Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in his posthumously published autobiography Confessionsthat he was a total sub: “To be at the knees of an imperious mistress, to obey her orders, to have to beg her pardon, have been for me the sweetest delights.” Leo Damrosch, writing in Humanities, claims that Rousseau was a masochist ahead of his time: “What he wanted from women, he realized, was the thrill of being reproved without actual physical contact, an erotic charge all the more intense for being taboo and withheld.” The future philosopher realized in “boyhood” that he enjoyed being spanked a lot; in fact, a “female guardian” just stopped spanking him altogether when she, too, realized it made him aroused.
French novelist and notoriously insatiable lover Guy de Maupassant had many, many sexual kinks and quirks, including a love of women who would sport “close-cropped hair and men’s clothes.” One story goes that Maupassant had an affair with one such woman, Gisele d’Estoc, after seeing her stab another woman in a fight! Gisele would also reportedly “share her broad-hipped lesbian” friends with Maupassant, as well as some hashish and ether. Journalist Frank Harris also reports that Maupassant could make his so-called “instrument” erect with his mind, on cue.
President Johnson enjoyed displaying his, uh, johnson to people. His biographer Robert A. Caro wrote several well-respected volumes on the man, recounting many of his “crass cruelties and rampant vulgarities.” If his colleagues came into the Capitol bathroom while he was at a urinal, for example, LBJ would “sometimes swing around still holding his member” and exclaim, “Have you ever seen anything as big as this?”
He would also force his aides to take dictation outside the bathroom door while he was taking a poop, “as if in some alpha-male ritual assertion of his primacy.” He also liked to adjust himself, even on the floors of the House and Senate: “… he would extravagantly rummage away at his groin, sometimes reaching his hand through a pocket and leaning with half-lifted leg for more thorough access.” He also called his penis “Jumbo.” Seriously.
Founding Father Benjamin Franklin’s “Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of a Mistress” was a secretly-circulated letter to a young man in 1745 (not published until 1961) that advised him, “in all your amours, you should prefer old women to young ones,” because they make better lovers and “the sin is less.” He also says “there is no hazard of children” and they will prevent him from “ruining his health and fortune among mercenary prostitutes.” Franklin summed it up thusly: “the pleasure of corporal enjoyment with an old woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every knack being by practice capable of improvement.” Franklin, unfortunately, ruins it all with a hacky joke: “Lastly, they are so grateful!”