Each Monday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets around Los Angeles.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Sex

Authors: Dr. A. Willy, L. Vander, and O. Fisher

Date: 1950

Publisher: Cadillac Publishing, New York

Discovered at: Pink Plum Antiques, 2580 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena

The Amazing Thing: Seriously, a sex-guide by “A. Willy” and “O. Fisher.”

Representative Quotes:

“Everyone possessing the least athletic training – ie, the majority of people – will easily comprehend the need for exhalation during orgasm.” (page 211)

“During the phase when man was half animal, copulation was carried out from behind, as animals still do today, and the clitoris then still played an important part.” (page 280).

Only in recent years has America become a pornocracy so self-pleasing that it will grant godking status to whoever finally develops the laptop with a built-in gloryhole.

Right up until the tail-end of the last centuries, lawmakers prevented the distribution of graphic sexual material, even of the sex-educational variety. That meant that even a grown-up guide to marital relations like The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Sex could never be explicit about the howtos and the whatholes.

Instead, even in the '50s, baffled newlyweds were confronted with this:

A little honeymoon advice, fellows . . . Make sure you get your cube up the baconslide at the precise instant her staircase is equidistant from the cue balls at the edges of her Pringles mustache.

And here's the weirdest Family Circus ever.

It's one thing to let Billy draw the strip, but quite another to illustrate it with potential Billys.

The cover promises the book will offer “a unique and unprecedented series of illustrations representing every aspect of sex,” but one aspect is omitted almost entirely: what these parts actually look like.

Despite the title's insistence that this is an encyclopedia, the volume differs little in content from other hapless marital guides of the period.

It devotes 60 of its 400 pages to female frigidity and reaches conclusions like this:

“We must, in conclusion, mention that there are women who have 'grown cold,' women who, as a result of the deadly monotony of their marriage, have gradually lost their sexual desire. In such cases the medical man can do nothing.” (page 241)


“Strange as it may sound, it is nevertheless a fact that the investigation of feminine impotence must always begin with an examination of the man.” (page 294)

And it is always quick to compare women to their closest analogue: livestock.

Surprisingly, this barnyard technique allowed the authors to sneak in some frank language.

Actual caption: “Six illustrations showing the amazing influence of endocrine secretions of the testes of a cock.”

The book's murky, inside-the-body illustrations are profoundly unhelpful. This one lets women know that the most effective birth control is to prevent their potatoes from puking olives onto their lilies.

Books like this always reduced the joy and mystery of sexual response to mechanical processes we are ground through.

You listened to Christopher Cross's “Sailing” after a night of “eciting” foods? Of course your nightclothes are ruined!

There's some daring immodesty in this “Picture story of various causes for sexual excitation and erection.”

All that memory (and ingestion of exciting drugs) naturally leads to this:

I can't choose just one joke! Does his penis . . .

  • Always point due north, because of magnets or something?

  • Serve as an awesome secret grappling hook?

  • Release the little ship from Asteroids?

Shocking Detail:
You know what looks exactly like the tubes of a woman fighting VD?

The Los Angeles River.


Our fleshy and spongey bits are exactly like your aunt's finest place settings: they must remain put away until just the proper time. Sometimes, they're even locked up in glass display cases.

At last — evidence that lady plumbing inspired McDonald's Playland.

Your Crap Archivist sends a big shout-out to Stan at Pasadena's Pink Plum, a fine guy at fine store with great prices!

LA Weekly