1928’s Success in Love Will Teach You the One Great Secret of You-Know-What


Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.

Success in Love: Sex Facts and Birth Control

Author: J.T. Bauman and others
Date: 1928
Publisher: The American Home Magazine
Discovered at: Pioneer Valley Book and Ephemera Fair

The Cover Promises: “Just published!” Also, hawt flapper smooching can be yours, you big-handed, cross-hatched lug!

Representative Quote:

“While it is true that the man takes the initiative and, if an understanding lover, holds the guiding hand in sexual congress, the sensible woman desirous of realizing the greatest happiness in married life will recognize her function as an active participant.” (page 12)

Back in 1928, when the good times were obviously going to go on forever, it was a good bet for publishers that American men would be so eager for Success in Love that they would drop two whole cash dollars, or the equivalent of twenty or so loaves of bread. Let’s hope that happiness with their lovemaking successes kept them from dwelling on such an expenditure when ’29 hit.

Of course, in those days “sex” was only allowed in public discourse as a verb referring to the process of determining the gender of just-hatched chicks, so Success in Love could directly address neither organ prep nor the ins and outs nuts and bolts whys and wherefores of that contact.

Remarkably, though, in some kind of cross-time swapping of acceptable mores, author J.T. Bauman was free to express something that would only get them in trouble today: That the woman’s job in the bedroom is to send nothing but mixed, sexy signals:

“She should remember her humanity and judiciously keep in control, but not persistently suppress her sexual prompting. Willingness may be shown by quiet acquiescence and active response, as excitement increases, is indicated.”

That’s why your grandpa, when he was young, was always insisting to the lads that “The stripper was totally quietly acquiescing to me!”

Anyway, the book offers much the same advice as every pro-sex marital guide ever — strip away some of the gendered nonsense straight ahead, and the main idea is the same from Tim LaHaye right up to Fifty Shades of Grey. Because “the woman possesses the innate impulse to be dominated,” it is up to the man to initiate lovemaking. But the “man is physically the stronger but morally and spiritually they are weaker,” so he must be learn the one vital lesson of marriage: DON’T JUST STICK IT IN HER.

Why not? Because “The girl, forced to submit to an act from which she gets no pleasure, an act which arouses but does not satisfy her, becomes nervous, irritable, and not too infrequently loses her mind.”

Bauman proposes mental health through foreplay:

“Preceding every act of coitus, there should be a period of courting in which haste should figure not at all — a preliminary in which the husband takes the initiative in caressing, wooing, and engaging in the gentle love-play that is the elixir of sexual happiness.”

As you might guess, though, something as potent as an elixir is not meant to be sipped often:

“Normally constituted persons at the height of their sexually powers, it is agreed, may engage in intercourse not oftener than twice a week. Many persons of average vitality may think they can safely exceed this limitation, but it is always best to avoid the possibility of excess.”

There are some new ideas:

“Whenever the wife has become restless or sleepless, the love ritual is the best and wholesomest method of producing a totally relaxed condition, after which sleep is the natural consequence.”

“As they grow older, the couple will find it expedient to lengthen the period between the acts of coitus.”

“There are some wives, quite exceptional, but not rare, who are so robust sexually that they make inordinate demands upon the husband. A policy of greater moderation should prevail here, as excessive intercourse is more debilitating to the man than to the woman.”

“Sexual congress should be refrained from during [menstruation]. In the first place it is unesthetic and unhygenic; and in the second place it is apt to lead to congestion of the uterus and other parts of the woman’s genital system. Also it may be the cause of catarrh in the urethra of the man.”

Shocking Detail:
Much of Success in Love reads like a vague and fusty version of still commonplace advice. But in one particular Bauman is surprisingly specific: what to do in cases of impotence in husbands or “deficient or entirely absent sexual sensitiveness or sterility” in wives. In the chapter “Regaining Sex Force” — which I believe was the working title for the first Daniel Craig James Bond film — Bauman assures us that all you have to do is to take products called “Testosan and Thelysan.” (Guess who gets which!)

Look, Success in Love is 160 pages long, and everything above comes within the first 26. It’s more a collection of bound pamphlets than a one-author study. Your Crap Archivist pledges to dig deeper into it soon, but today I leave you with this evidence that in some ways 1928 was a more enlightened age:

Remarkably, the address you ship to for a gun was the same as the one in this ad: