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Vice Blog

A TO Z OF SEXUAL HISTORY: S - The Marquis de Sade, literally the man who invented sadism

April 13, 2010, 10:20am

The famous French pervert was jailed for 32-years in his endless pursuit of pleasure. That's dedication to the cause. Unfortunately for him, the ultimate pleasure was pain, and inflicting it on others. The namesake of sadism theorised that because women can fake pleasure but not pain, the latter must be the higher form of sexual activity. He was convinced that, deep down, women loved it when he, for example, guided electric eels into them while breaking them on the wheel. Sounds great.

In the 18th century, for a French nobleman - much like for Roman Emperors – being sexually depraved came with the title. It was your blood right, and the police would quietly tut and turn a blind eye for a small price. Donatien de Sade, however, took it too far. His first run-in with the law came at 23 – shortly after he was married – when he took prostitute Jeanne Testard to his country home. He locked the door and quietly asked if she believed in God to which she meekly replied that she was a good Catholic. Dissatisfied with her answer, he ripped her clothes off, shoved pieces of communion host inside her vagina, and screwed her shouting, "If thou art God, avenge yourself!" God did not respond. To further prove his point, he went on to masturbate with two crucifixes and attempt to give her an enema so she would shit in a holy chalice all the while referring to Jesus as a "motherfucker" and the Virgin Mary as a "buggress". His uncle, a priest who raised him, frequented orgies at monasteries and kept a mother-daughter duo in the house to answer their every sexual whim.

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Although he was arrested, his royal connections got him out of trouble and he was exiled to his castle. He had a run-in with police five years later for imprisoning a young girl, whipping her with a cat-o-nine-tails then masturbating into her wounds. Then again at 32 for poisoning four prostitutes with aphrodisiac Spanish fly so they would fart as he sodomised them (sodomy was a still a crime then).

He was forced to tell his wife Renée-Pélagie, fortunately she was up for a bit of rape and torture. The ever-forgiving Mrs. Sade agreed to procure six children – ostensibly as servants – for him to play with in his laboratory of sadism hidden deep within their castle. It took six-weeks before the parents became suspicious and he was eventually arrested and imprisoned. This was the end of his serious sexual misadventures, (those recorded at least), and he spent the rest of his life in-and-out of prison, where he wrote the majority of his fucked-up erotic books, ending his life at the ripe old age of 74 in an insane asylum.

Sade was a libertine and an atheist. He held the philosophical belief we are subordinate to our sex drive, and that rather than moralising and calling it a perversion we should embrace our instincts. A bit of consensual whipping is one thing, but his writings is very Fred West. In this extract from his drama Philosophy in the Bedroom, 15-year-old daughter Eugenie has had her virginity taken by libertine Dolmance, who along with Madame de Saint-Ange and her brother Le Chevalier have given her a two-day course in depravity. When Eugenie's righteous mother interferes, they decide to torture her. The stage instruction reads:

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"Eugenie takes the pliers and continues to tear chunks of flesh from her mother's legs. When Saint-Age is finished, Le Chevalier steps in embuggering the victim while simultaneously punching both her ears with his fists. He is followed by Augustin, who, while embuggering the woman sinks a finger into one of her eyes and a thumb in one of her nostrils. After accomplishing which he twists his hand until the eye is disgorgers and the nostril splits open. During these proceedings, Dolmance reams the anus of each of the torturers."

Finally, Dolmace has the mother screwed by his valet who has syphilis to put his "germ-infected snake" in both her holes before Eugenie sews them both up.

Some people say Sade was wrongly vilified, that his writing is just socio-political commentary and he was ahead of his time. Call me a prude, but even my most sadistic orgies have never ended with a needle and thread.

CAMERON KING