When mankind first figured out how this mysterious thing called electricity worked, everyone went a little crazy for a while there. Electricity was given diverse and often unbelievably ridiculous uses that ranged from the stupid to the cruel to the perverted ... you know, kind of like what we're doing with the Internet today.
Turns out people in the "Age of Enlightenment" weren't as smart or classy as their mustaches would seem to suggest. Let us introduce you to the most surprising trends stemming from early electricity, like ...
12 Hanging Electrified Orphans from the Ceiling
If you ever wondered how the morbidly curious entertained themselves 250 years before Honey Boo Boo was on TV, here's your answer: They paid to watch orphaned children being hung from ceilings and charged with electricity. Wait, what?
Stephen Gray's "Hanging Boy" experiment required a kid (preferably one with no parents), two planks, a silk rope, and an electrified glass tube. The tube would be rubbed against the child's feet and, according to one account, "sparks of fire evoked from his face and hands." Because of the electric charge, the kid could also attract feathers or small brass fillings.
"I don't know what a supervillain is, but I see no reason why we shouldn't try to create one."
This was originally an experiment to find out if electricity could be conducted through bodies (meaning that Gray probably wasn't sure if the orphan would just explode or something), but it soon became a popular parlor trick people paid good money to witness. Sometimes little girls would be added. Luckily for Gray, in those times defenseless orphans were in steady supply from any charity house, so playing bondage with electrified minors was a socially accepted brand of entertainment for a while.
11 Curing Every Complaint Ever ... With Vibrators
You wouldn't expect to see a full-page ad for vibrators in The New York Times today, but back in 1913, people were a lot more liberal with their use of these electric pleasure-bringing devices -- as in they would openly rub them on their pecs or faces (as seen above) as a solution for, well, pretty much every complaint you could think of. Yep, in an era when they couldn't admit that people were almost certainly using them for nothing but masturbation, vibrators were advertised as nearly magical healing instruments.
"Wow, I can feel how it's curing my indigestion! Wait, nope ... nope, that's a boner."
The ad claimed that by applying the vibrating massage to different body parts, it would grow your muscles, help you sleep better, restore your hearing, stop headaches, and even block a cold. But don't take our word for it -- check out some of the testimonials included on the same page:
Yeah, in the wrist.
Also included were the opinions of several "prominent physicians" about the benefits of owning a vibrator. One even admitted to sticking the thing in his ear, which "restored good hearing in myself and many others [in my sex dungeon]."