SEX IN HIGH PLACES
‘You men are unaccountable things: mad till you have your
mistresses, and then stark mad till you are rid of’em again.’
Sir John Vanbrugh, Tire Provok’d Wife, 1697
The Dirty Duchess
Margaret Whigham (1912-1993) had a taste for millionaires and playboys, but following a near fatal fall down an elevator shaft during her first marriage, the then Mrs Sweeny’s injuries induced raving nymphomania. Many relationships later, the vain socialite married the 11th Duke of Argyll earning her a title. Scandal arrived with a series of Polaroids showing the Duchess wearing only a pearl necklace and pleasuring an unidentified naked man; her good name was further tarnished when her husband introduced a list of 88 men, with whom he suspected she had had sexual encounters, to the divorce court. In the hunt to uncover the ‘headless man’ of the images, suspects included Douglas Fairbanks Jr and former Minister of Defence Duncan Sandys, adding a bit of star quality to an already sensational case.
The idea of courtly love developed in France at the time of the First Crusade in the late 11th century and it still informs our sense of what constitutes true love. This poetic notion was as idealistic as it was romantic and it came to embrace its own set of commandments.
From The Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus (c. 1186)