6 Hilarious Old-Timey Versions of Modern Vices

#3. Roller Skating

Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The "Modern" Fad:

Roller skating as we know it is largely a product of the 1970s, a heady time when people didn't give the tiniest fuck that all that stood between them and having their spine turned into a jigsaw puzzle were two cheap shoes with wheels glued on. Skating is still a popular pastime today, at least among people who aren't cool enough to skateboard and keep falling off bicycles.

Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
She has to wear the helmet when she doesn't have skates on too.

But It's Been Going on Since ...

Roller skating is indeed a product of the '70s -- the 1770s, to be exact. John Joseph Merlin invented both roller skates and the attitude that safety equipment and the ability to brake are for pussies when his first demonstration ended with him crashing into a mirror and seriously injuring himself. He was also playing a violin at the time, which makes us wonder exactly what he was trying to accomplish. Maybe drive-by violinings were a thing back then.

Skates started to look more sensible after Merlin inadvertently held the world's first X-Games. The first in-line skates were patented in 1819, and skates from 1863 don't look much different from the ones we have today:

Smithsonian Institute
We bet the wooden wheels really brought those cobblestone streets to life.

And then, for some unexplained reason, roller skate designs started to look like something lifted out of a satirical cartoon:

Masons News Service, via Daily Mail
"Yakety Sax" inexplicably plays whenever you're wearing them.

These 1897 monstrosities are road rollers, which were used by Victorian businessmen to quickly get across London so they could maximize their time spent being dicks to the working class. Skaters could reach the breezy speed of 16 mph, hopefully while ramping over exploding horses. It's going to be hard to take A Christmas Carol seriously now that we'll picture Scrooge awkwardly sitting on the roadside and tying these to his feet so he could get to the office every morning.

Fast-forward to 1905, and the world was treated to these bad boys:

Via Library of Congress
Pictured: Edmund James Hamburglar Sr.

He looks like he's going to skate into a bank, grab a sack with a dollar sign on it, and skate out while shouting that they'll never catch the Four-Wheeled Bandit. However, first prize for sheer hilarity has to go to these pedal-powered skates from 1910, which resemble something that Tony Stark would have invented had he been a teenage ruffian.

Via Library of Congress
Go ahead and take care of that erection of yours, steampunk fans. We'll wait.

You actually had to pump air into the tires before each skate, which may explain why the Age of Lunatic Skate Design soon ended and the world went back to models sane people would be willing to wear. But not before old-timey skaters filmed their ridiculous exploits:

#2. Foxy Boxing

Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The "Modern" Fad:

Modern women fought for their right to fight each other, and thanks to stars like Gina Carano, we now take women's martial arts for granted. But women's boxing used to be a poorly sanctioned fringe sport, and in the 1970s and '80s it was largely restricted to scantily clad women ineffectually swatting at each other in grimy bars while lonely men watched and worked through some weird issues they had with their violent mothers.

But It's Been Going on Since ...

While we tend to think of foxy boxing as having a history no longer than that time our dad became a big fan after the divorce, women have been taking part in the sweet science since 1722, when the first recorded boxing match between "two of the feminine gender" took place in London. Boxing soon became a popular sport for lower class women, who often fought stripped to the waist, because hey, free tits.

Police Gazette, via FSCClub.com
But since fighters weren't required to wear corsets, street fighting was the safest pastime a 1700s woman could engage in.

If that sounds condescending, consider this -- boxing was still bare knuckle then, and female fighters could also kick, scratch, and throw. Women actually fought (and sometimes beat) male contestants, and it's hard to think of these fights as sexy considering that they kept fighting after suffering broken jaws and noses, smashed teeth, and swollen eyes. Oh, and sometimes they fought with swords and freaking quarterstaves. Can we bring that back? To, like, everything?

It seems like women's boxing has always been torn between being taken seriously and being a form of erotic entertainment for men who get turned on by head trauma. This video from 1931 presents women's boxing as a comedy routine:

Via YouTube
In heels. Meanwhile, you're going to trip trying to stand up after reading this.

While this video from the '40s features two women who, despite being scantily clad, are clearly taking the fight seriously:

Via YouTube
Although we suppose it's possible that they start making out moments after the film ends.

Remember, boxing used to be one of America's three big sports. It makes perfect sense that women would want to compete and male advertising executives would want to exploit their fellow man's love of boxing and boobs.

Via At Her Discretion
"And in this corner, a teenager furtively masturbating!"

But then boxing stopped being popular, and most of humanity collectively forgot about the time when women used gloves for something that didn't involve cooking or cleaning. Sure, there was definitely a sexualized aspect to a lot of old-timey women's boxing ...

E.F. Kropp, via Vintage Sleaze
"Remember, kids, always fight women for sex."

... but there were also female boxers who look tough enough to punch their way through time and deliver a knockout blow to patriarchy's chin.

Via FSCClub.com
"I see you. Don't make me come over there."

So with women's fighting getting popular again, let's go for more old-timey badassery and less borderline pornography. And seriously, let's bring back sword fighting.

#1. Parkour

YouraPechkin/iStock/Getty Images

The "Modern" Fad:

Parkour is all about getting from one place to another in the most dangerous and awesome-looking way possible. The art of running up walls, vaulting over obstacles, jumping to ledges, and confusing nearby old people was developed in France in the 1990s and has become increasingly popular in recent years. We've seen it in advertisements, movies, and hilarious YouTube videos. And it really does seem like a very modern mode of transportation, because it's hard to imagine stuffy old people vaulting over Model Ts in their three-piece suits.

Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
You must look at least this cool to participate.

But It's Been Going on Since ...

Unfortunately, Assassin's Creed wasn't a documentary, and our distant ancestors weren't back-flipping around the Holy Land. But parkour still goes back further than we realized, because the following video shows sweet stunts being pulled off in black and white, the official colors of old things.

The first half features Italian-American stuntman John Ciampa and begins with him being powered by his mom's spaghetti, because it was 1942 and so every Italian was either a jackbooted fascist or a predecessor to Mario. After Ciampa fuels up, he scales a tree like he's a coked-up cat, jumps between building ledges, and climbs up drainpipes while crowds of people look on.

Via YouTube
Not pictured: the giant gorilla throwing barrels at him.

In his most impressive feat, Ciampa "walks" up a narrow brick alleyway with his hands and feet, then does it again while carrying a kid on his back like he's a sack of flour he needs to get back to his apartment.

Via YouTube
Suddenly, giving your kid a mere piggyback ride was no longer acceptable.

Ciampa then climbs onto a moving tram, runs across its cars, and dives into the water, at which point he presumably drowns, because the video switches to German stuntman Arnim Dahl. Dahl starts by taking an even more ridiculous dive off of a harbor crane:

Via YouTube
We're gonna go ahead and reclassify this from "stunt" to "early attempt at human orbit."

Then he crashes out of a window ...

Via YouTube
"See you later, fuckers!"

... before rolling between a row of oncoming cars, climbing onto one while it's still moving and jumping between them.

Via YouTube
"Ugh, can't a guy just nap on the freeway in peace?"

This is just scratching the surface of their accomplishments -- Ciampa was once arrested for climbing up the exterior of the Hotel Astor, while Dahl did a handstand on a railing of the Empire State Building's roof. If all of this sounds super dangerous, well, it was -- Dahl supposedly suffered over 100 fractures in his life and also broke his freaking spine, which added up to four years spent in the hospital.

Ciampa and Dahl were the most famous of a generation of men who treated skyscrapers like staircases and reminded gravity that the only things keeping them rooted to the ground were their gigantic testicles. Vaulting over fences seems pretty lame in comparison, although to be fair, trying any of these stunts today would get you arrested faster than if you walked into a police station and started pissing on the nearest cop.


Raoni draws his power from beer and the tears of fanboys. You may follow him on Twitter. If you like reading about crazy old-timey inventions, Adam is writing a book about this very subject. Follow him on Twitter to find out more. Like many others, Dylan has a Twitter.

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Related Reading: For some more modern trends that are older than you'd think, check out this photoplasty contest. And hey, did you know the Persian Empire had air conditioning? Because they totally did. High heels also date back to ancient Persia. Go figure.

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