Let's face it: The percentage of our audience who will just sit down and read a bunch of Shakespeare without being forced to by a professor is pretty damned small. And that's too bad, because what most non-English majors don't realize is that under Shakespeare's flowery language and incomprehensible old-timey wordplay is a whole lot of sly references to boners, anal sex, masturbation, and much worse.
7 Romeo and Juliet -- Mercutio Tells Romeo to Find a Girl Who Leaves the Back Door Open
At the beginning of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo's sex life is as barren as Frank Herbert's Dune (though judging by how the play ends, it really doesn't get that much better once he meets Juliet). As he laments this fact, his motor-mouthed friend Mercutio shares this timeless bit of wisdom:
If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.
Now will he sit under a medlar tree
And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit
As maids call medlars when they laugh alone.
O Romeo, that she were! Oh, that she were
An open arse, and thou a poperin pear
Mercutio is talking about a medlar fruit, which was colloquially referred to as an "open arse," for reasons that can never be adequately explained. However, there is no such thing as a poperin pear -- it's another old-timey play on words. Separate "poperin" into its three syllables and you get an Elizabethan penis euphemism -- "pop 'er in."
Yep. Mercutio is saying, "What you need, my friend, is a chick who does anal."
Nicholas Joseph Crowley/Royal Shakespeare Company Collection
Mercutio, the original Dude-Bro.
6 The Taming of the Shrew -- Playful Banter About Cunnilingus
In The Taming of the Shrew (more commonly known by its Latin name, 10 Things I Hate About You), Petruchio is trying to woo the frigid ice queen Katherine so that her insane father will allow her younger sister to get married. Luckily, Petruchio's preferred method of wooing is to engage Katherine in playfully sexual banter while wagging his eyebrows like Groucho Marx:
Come, come, you wasp, i'faith you are too angry.
If I be waspish, best beware my sting.
My remedy is then to pluck it out.
Ay, if the fool could find where it lies.
Who knows not where a wasp does wear his sting? In his tail.
In his tongue.
Yours, if you talk of tales, and so farewell.
What, with my tongue in your tail?
George Henry Hall/Royal Shakespeare Company Collection
"STAGE NOTE: PETRUCHIO should immediately turn to the audience and start flicking his tongue whilst pelvic thrusting."
In his defense, she started it. Katherine takes his simple analogy about pulling out a wasp's stinger and twists it into that age-old indictment about men being thoroughly unable to locate key parts of a woman's anatomy. Petruchio smartly counters by offering to lick her asshole, and the game is afoot.
"Your feet, tail, ears, whatever. I'm down for anything."
Or at least that's what it looks like to us. But back in Shakespeare's day, "tail" was jack-jawing street talk for "vulva." So in actuality, Petruchio is merely building upon Katherine's barbed quip by offering to shove his face into her crotch. This is truly a battle of wits.