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Have you ever looked at photographs from the 1970s and thought, "Was everybody a serial killer between 1970 and 1980?" Until the entire decade answers for its skeeviness, I'm just going to assume that all adults of the era were Charles Manson's former acolytes.

Is this the Manson cult or Portlandia extras? Or both?

Maybe you're thinking I shouldn't judge people by their looks, that we all went through an ugly phase and who am I to condemn an entire decade for looking like Spencer's Gifts threw up all over it? To you I say go to your grandpa's closet and get his porn magazine stash. Ignore the body hair, natural boobs, and healthy-size women for a minute and flip to the back. There you're going to find some mail-order ads for novelty products that will unequivocally tell you everything you need to know about our past: that everyone was a creep and it's a miracle we as a civilization didn't devolve into walking gold medallions.

For those of you who don't have a grandpa or his vintage porn collection, here are six novelty products that prove that, despite everything you've heard, the past was a perverted creep.

Bronzed Lips from a Narcissistic Psycho

South Mountain Passage

If you've ever been in love, you know that the thoughts that go through your head during the early stages of infatuation aren't necessarily the thoughts of a sane person. "This song reminds me of him." "I wonder what he's doing." "These bushes are scratchy, but it's worth it to watch his front door for a while."

WIN-Initiative/WIN-Initiative/Getty Images
"I've already bought my wedding dress and named our first five children."

It's OK, because love is supposed to be obsessive and weird at first. But there's a fine line between "excessively infatuated" and "John Hinckley Jr.-esque." Do you know what that fine line is made of? Bronze. Which is why making a bronze statue of your own lips as a gift for another human was never a good idea. In 1972, a company called South Mountain Passage disagreed, so they advertised a service for young women in love. For only $21.95 (that's about $120 in 2013 dollars), you could order a foolproof Take-My-Lips Kit, which was probably less horrifying than it sounded. The ad doesn't tell us how the kit worked, but I'm guessing it wasn't much more that a small vat of paste you were supposed to apply to your lips.

Elisabeth Schmitt/Flickr/Getty Images
You missed, dummy.

After the plaster dried, the girl was instructed to send the cast of her lips to South Mountain Passage in Garrison, New York, where they'd definitely make a bronze statue of her mouth right away and definitely not use it for masturbatory purposes. For $2 extra, the company would mount the lips on a walnut base before sending them back to her. And when I say "mount the lips on a walnut base," I mean they'd complete that task in two different ways before the girl got her lips back.

From there, the girl would presumably give her lips to the object of her affection, which was where the whole concept took a turn for the crazy. It doesn't matter what year it is, giving the gift of a bronzed version of your own body parts is the worst kind of message. You can't pull it off unless you're a pharaoh, and I'm guessing only three pharaohs responded to this ad, tops. If the whole thing wasn't creepy enough, South Mountain Passage had a whole mess of bad speculations as to what the guy would do with the metal lips: ideas like wear them on a chain, or on a belt buckle, or as a bicep band. As if anyone on the receiving end of a mounted mouth replica wouldn't shut down that relationship faster than a guy regrets wearing a bicep band.

Stalking Pillow for the Stalkiest Stalker


Between Snapfish, Photoshop, and everyone's Christmas cards since about 2001, most of us are familiar with the idea of plastering our own faces on crap and then giving said crap away as gifts. We've grown pretty conceited as a people in that respect.

George Shelley Productions/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
"Merry Christmas! We got you discomfort."

But it's one thing to stick your own family portrait on a jigsaw puzzle or mug or billboard and another to do the same thing with someone else's face. Especially if that someone doesn't know you from a hole in the ground and you're putting his face on a pillowcase so you can sleep with him at night. Worst scenario of all: You're 13 years old and your crush is old enough to be getting his first gray pubic hairs. The Portrait Pillow people had no problems with any of this.

Despite the creepy, sleepy-eyed look on the guy on this pillow case, make no mistake about this novelty product. Whoever the guy is, he's the victim here. It's the girl who's the real predator, what with her bubble-gum-machine engagement ring that she bought for herself, her lust-filled eyes, and her fingers on the facsimile of chest hair. Who could her fake boyfriend be? One of her dad's younger co-workers at the factory? The substitute teacher who insists that everyone call him by his first name? Her uncle? Maybe we'll never know who this mustachioed stalkee was, but we do know that the Portrait Pillow people encouraged girls to send in magazine pictures of their favorite TV and recording stars and they'd faithfully reproduce their likenesses on pillow cases.

Actually, this might be one instance when the '70s were grossly prescient.


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Sexual Harassment on a Light Switch

Barko Enterprises

Just like butts and sheepdogs, penises are funny looking until they're doing a specific job. Ask everyone who's ever participated in an Apatow movie. Or, for that matter, any human. It can't be helped. While many of us are fine with making the occasional morning wood joke or the even rarer erectile dysfunction reference, we get that you can only take dong humor so far before you become the weird guy who's obsessed with laughing at male genitals. And even if you're a gay porn star who messes with dudes eight times a day but also has a great sense of humor, you still don't want to be the guy who can't get enough ding-a-ling jokes.

iulianvalentin/iStock/Getty Images
"Why did the penis cross the road? Because it was penis! Ha ha ha ha!!!"

Even that guy would have been disturbed to find a mail order form for Tricky Dicky, the light switch plate that forces you to erect or unerect the genital member of a severely obese and visibly depressed man every time you want to not be in the dark. The idea, according to this ad, was to dress up your playroom, bathroom, or den with this hilarious and not at all sad conversation starter. In exchange for the ability to see, your party guests or your children pretend to raise the sad man's penis.

Amber Norris Photography/Flickr Open/Getty Images
"I'll just stick to natural light, thanks."

For the sake of this column and my own personal sanity, I have explored every possible scenario in which this cry for help could have been purchased, and none of them add up to a good idea.

Example 1: Tricky Dicky is a gag gift given at a raunchy bachelorette party. No one laughs. "My house is already decorated in shades of orange, brown, burned orange, and avocado green," says Farrah, the bride-to-be. Tricky Dicky falls limp.

Example 2: In a fit of Tab-fueled frivolity, a "funny guy" orders this light switch for a fun get-together at his home, not realizing that the only time that anyone actually turns on a light in someone else's house is when they're alone in the bathroom. There's no "Ha!" moment over the fat man's light switch penis. There's a quick questioning of how well you really know the host and a triple hand wash and a frantic excuse that you need to relieve the babysitter and no, you probably won't make it to the next party, thanks. You don't even have kids, and you don't care if he figures that out.

Example 3: You are an overweight middle-aged depressed man with actual erectile dysfunction and this novelty toy is a therapy-prescribed tool to get better. OK, that one makes sense.

The Love Rug for People Who Don't Get How Sex Works


This ad for a synthetic fur rug explicitly crafted for lovemaking was the point when the sexual liberation of the 1960s jumped the shark of good times and landed in a pool of day-old semen. You can actually trace its trajectory: first women got access to birth control, then white men started wearing Afros, disco was in the mix there somewhere, then this herpes boil of an ad showed up, which was probably published in the back of a magazine so suspect that you couldn't tell if the cover girl was to be lusted after or pitied.

Juggs Magazine

If you can't read the text under the Deep Throat font of the ad, the copy says "The Love Rug strokes your bodies as you make love." Let's take a little rest stop right there. If the ad is to be believed, the faux fur under your hot, writhing bodies is in on the sex action. Surely they don't mean it's like making love with an animal, that would be gross. "As you stroke, it strokes. It's almost like having another lover there with the two of you." Another lover with the two of you ... oh, and he's a beast. It's 1974, so we just assumed you were cool with making love on a fake animal carcass that is acting as your third lover.

Eyecandy Images/Eyecandy Images/Getty Images
"Hey, numb nuts, who said there were only two of us?"

For one brief moment in the decade that good taste forgot, someone had the brilliant idea to make a whole rug dedicated to capturing the body fluids usually reserved for your raggiest towels and oldest socks. And that's not all this carpet was going to capture. Along with the synthetic lynx, mink, or jaguar fur, you can bet the juice magnet would capture plenty of human fur as well. This was the '70s, after all. The trend was to have so much pubic hair going on downstairs that lovers would ask if you wore extensions. (A lady never tells.) The point is, things were hairy.

Image Source/Image Source/Getty Images
"This looks like a good place to stop."

So let's imagine how this love rug would hold up after ... oh, one night of vigorous lovemaking. Not only would the faux fur be caked with body leakings, but you could expect at least a fistful of pubes thrown into the mix. Next encounter, double it. By the time Mr. Brady up there had his third session, he and his lover would be having sex on a crusty, matted piece of polyester covered in the cooch hairs of who knows who. The smell alone would force you to suppress your gag reflex for completely unexpected reasons.

Eventually, by sexy time #10 or so, the rug would fuse itself to the floor, which was how shag carpets were invented, by the way.

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The Erotic Phone That Was Anything But

I.C.G. Inc.

Ring, ring.

"Hello? What's that? Let me adjust the splayed legs on my phone so you can hear me better."

Looking at the Erotica phone above, you have to conclude that there was this split second in history when ordinary men not only thought that the whole Hugh Hefner vibe was a good instinct, but that anyone could achieve it. Not necessarily by surrounding himself with busty women or owning a publishing empire; that would be hard. Take note, Corey Feldman: There was a time when putting an aggressively sexual spin on regular household objects was all it took to let people know you were a player. Which is only the fifth biggest reason why Corey Feldman put all his childhood earnings into time machine research.

Corey Feldman
"Orange you glad I didn't make a Michael Jackson joke here?"

If cradling a tiny naked woman to your ear while trying to have a conversation with a whole other person is your idea of sexy, then you might have been a fan of the Erotica phone 30 years ago. But be warned, this orgasmic woman sitting atop a pile of leaves and a gold brick (or tiny coffin?) looks a little heavy. Not in the sense that her body is anything less than fine, other than the fact that her nipples are missing (maybe they're in the tiny coffin?). What I mean is that the Erotica phone probably weighs somewhere between a dumbbell and a baby.

Something tells me the guy who engineered the sex phone was relying on the strength of his own hand grip to carry the weight of the thing during normal conversations. And something else tells me that he was right -- that anyone who would go through the trouble of mail ordering a phone that forced you to nestle your ear meat between two tiny nippleless boobs probably had a dominant hand that was plenty strong enough to carry its weight. Not only that, but by placing this eye assault in his home, he freed all his nights to work on his hand strength. The phone would only make him stronger. In the end, the Erotica phone contributes to his infinite loop of lonely.

franckreporter/Vetta/Getty Images
If only he'd gone with the novelty hamburger phone instead.

The Perfect Gift for the Person Who Has Nothing

Leasure Time Products

Now do you believe me? Yes, someday our generation will have to explain why the Kardashians had a show and how ironic facial hair worked and airplane food, re: the deal, but at least we won't have to justify why we turned phones and watches and light plate covers into sex reminders. THIS was why the '80s were all about condoms -- because the '70s took nice things and ruined them. Just like they ruined Elvis and heroin abuse.

To be fair, heroin ruined heroin abuse. But it sure did take care of a cough.

According to the ad, every 30 seconds the dial face flashed "TIME TO FUCK." Every. Thirty. Seconds. Which meant that for the wearer of this watch, 58 seconds of every minute are for relaxing, eating, feathering your hair, whatever. But for two seconds a minute, it was that time. Time to DO IT. Can you imagine how depressed its wearer must have been? There are layers of tragedy to this watch. Look at the woman in the ad. Her face is so condescending that she's already judging you just for reading the advertisement. It's almost like she was captured mid-disapproving head shake. The guy who bought this watch must be so self-loathing that he reminds himself that he's not having sex 120 times an hour, 2,880 times a day. What greater punishment could this person have than the one he was already inflicting on himself?

For more from Kristi, you can read her old-ass articles or follow her on Twitter.

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