Do not apply Retardo to your member: Studies in Crap dishes Intimate Sex Information


Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Intimate Sex Information

Author: None listed
Date: 1943
Publisher: Health Publications, New York
Discovered at: Pioneer Valley Book & Ephemera Fair, Northampton, MA
The Cover Promises: “Questions and Answers. Charts and Illustrations.”

Representative Quote:
“I am 24 years old and in doubt as to getting married as I have masturbated since I was 16. I have finally overcome the habit, but wonder if it is too late. My organs are inflamed, and covered with pimples . . . I notice that after a nocturnal emission my face breaks out; is there any possible connection here?” (page 35)

Once upon a time, deep in the great war, Americans had nothing to fear except
a) fear itself
b) their own genitalia.

Some worried souls dared set down their fears in letters like this:

“My sex organs are large, and I am afraid of possible injury to my wife. In addition to this, I am very slow in reaching a climax. Can you give me any advice on this point?”


“My parents kept me innocent and ignorant. I was led into sexual intercourse and have contracted a disease. I have studied it, and think it is gonorrhea, but I do not feel other symptoms beside the discharge. I do not feel that I can show myself to a physician and tell him my story. I am going with a clean young man, and I want to look forward to marriage; how can I be cured?”

Fortunately, even in the abstinence-only America of the 1940s, one brave sexpert risked all by dedicating himself to such questions.

Throughout Intimate Sex Information, responding to question after question, that sexpert soothes the fearful. He assures distraught Americans:

  • that their nocturnal emissions are normal
  • that female orgasm is both attainable and worth the trouble
  • that, other than the guilt they may inspire, non-narcotic contraceptives are harmless
  • that there’s nothing wrong with bathing during menstruation
  • that a “soapy enema” each night might make gonorrhea bearable, but you should still go to the doctor
  • that bags under the eyes are not an announcement to the world of occasional masturbation.


Our open-hearted, forward-looking sexologist even encourages an “eonist” — a man who desires to wear women’s clothes — to move to a new town, undergo complete castration and attempt to live as a woman.

Many of the letters are heartbreakers.

“My physique is good, except for one thing; my sexual organ is very small. It is an embarrassing thing; though I am very passionate, it has made me ignore the friendship of a few very attractive women . . . I was deeply infatuated with a girl; but, after becoming engaged, I told her of my shortcoming, with the result that I was ridiculed, and the engagement was broke off.

Is there any hope in my case, or are there equally small women whom I could hope to satisfy; and is there any way to distinguish by outward appearance or features? Do you think the nudist idea would help to solve my problem; as I do not intend to go through the sad disappointment I have previously experienced?”

From the lengthy response:

“My personal opinion is that you were well rid of her. She did not love you; and her attitude showed that she was well acquainted with other men. Otherwise, how would she have known that you did not compare favorably with those men with large development?”


“It is safe to say that the virgin who marries accommodates herself to the anatomy of her husband and, if he knows anything at all about the art of love, she will be satisfied with her man as she finds him.”

Today, these letters remind us that a society that damns the frank discussion of sexuality is one in which fear and ignorance thrive. (See also “Lubbock, Texas.”)

To the man who complains that his wife enjoys sex-dreams, the sexologist proposes more attentive lovemaking and no longer sleeping in separate beds. One man complains that his wife is “sexually unemotional” unless she is reading “a sex book or looking at pictures.” The sexologist snips back, “As it stands now, you are not satisfying her, and she turns to other sources of emotional stimulation to get the reactions she fails to derive from your society.”

Just like in a Bush-era sex ed class, some questions can’t even be asked:

“I have a problem I have been wanting to write about for some time, but I am afraid to put it in writing for fear I might be arrested for misuse of the mails. Just what words or terms am I allowed to use that wouldn’t be considered obscene?”

The sexologist vows to answer any serious questions sent to him, but he avoids any discussion of the legality of passing such questions via mail, a serious concern under the infamous Comstock Laws that outlawed the posting of obscene materials, such as information about birth control or abortions. (Most historians today disdain Alfred Comstock, but courageous Conservepedia points out that he was, in fact, a force for all-American awesomeness.)

Such laws explain the deep unhelpfulness of the illustrations touted on the cover.

Here, we see the trail system of a state park.

These antique stock tickers only spew good news!


Fear of obscenity laws also account for our sexologist’s greatest omission. The sexologist believes men must master the art of marital love, but he offers little advice on how exactly to do this. He explains,

“There is no one book I know of that gives in full detail the technique of ‘the art of love,’ in fact, I think that if such a book were published in America it would be confiscated by the authorities…. So, the best advice I can give you is to buy six or eight books on married life and its problems and read them all. From each one you will get a little help.”

Shocking Detail:
This is the work of a scientist bringing light to darkness. Occasionally, though, even our progressive sexologist floods that darkness with pitch of his own.

He believes that a homosexual life is “a rather sorry failure” and that even the adult male lovesick for boys should either “lead a life devoid of all sexual factors” or “marry and make a determined effort to lead a heterosexual life.”

To a concerned husband, he writes:

“If your wife is a homosexualist, she would rather satisfy herself sexually with women than with men. The only treatment that I can suggest is for you to live with her, and give her so much sexual satisfaction that she will have no craving for the opposite sex.”


Q: “I have received advertisements of a preparation called ‘Retardo’ to delay the orgasm. The makers of this lemon-colored salve state that ‘it is absolutely harmless, nor doe it contain any harmful drugs. It merely soothes and quiets over-sensitive nerves locally.” The directions are to apply it to the male member, externally, two or three minutes before making contact. Do you think the use of this preparation will in time be injurious?”

The sexologist disapproves.

He doesn’t even take into account that this was new, improved Retardo, the first product of its kind to be administered externally.