10 Shocking Yourself (for Shits and Giggles)
Back in the 18th and 19th century, everyone wanted to experience electricity -- literally. People in France, for example, would line up to voluntarily shock themselves with the newly invented generators, like a nation of babies who haven't learned not to stick their fingers in the wall sockets. The above image from 1844 is called "An Electrocuted Warrior," and it shows a French official finding out what being tased feels like.
Scientists, intrepid seekers of arcane knowledge that they are, were the first to willingly taste the volts. Researchers shocked themselves silly to gauge the strength of the voltage, reporting nosebleeds, headaches, convulsions, and hours and hours of shaking. British investigator Johann Winkler, even after reporting horrible side effects, still went ahead and shocked his wife twice, just to verify his findings.
"Attempt 371: She is now a smoking crater on the carpet. Fascinating."
Then there were the ordinary people jumping and bouncing on the electric bandwagon. People would ask showmen to dole out shocks -- one particularly gallant showman advertised "shocks given for amusement first to the ladies, then to the gentlemen." It's just common courtesy.
9 Hazing Club Members by Zapping Their Balls
Yeah, people didn't give up on the charms of excruciating electric pain even in the 20th century. For instance, the second creepiest human centipede produced by the human imagination was this bizarre novelty torture item created in 1928. This monstrosity was designed to dole out electric jolts right to the nuts of gentleman's club aspirants.
It's not like you'd ever sustain an erection again after seeing this thing anyway.
Then again, this was a pretty good bargain: For only $52, you could have the most shocking hazing rituals in town ("shocking" as in "electrifying" and as in "holy shit what is that thing"). The man sitting on the front of the giant woolen centipede had access to a dial that, when turned, would shoot voltage straight into the unmentionables of the men sitting behind. The lines coming out of their rears in the illustration seem to imply that the would-be gentlemen have also shat themselves in succession after having their balls fried. So, all in all, this isn't that different from present day college hazings after all.