not my music steamboing

Whore’s Union price list

The following MP3s a very dirty jokes from the 1890s on a wax cylinder recording, via the incredible Archeophone release Actionable Offenses: Indecent Phonograph Recordings from the 1890s:

Obscene Recordings from 110 Years Ago

The commercial recordings on this CD are the only known copies that Comstock’s men missed. They were preserved by long-time Edison Recording Manager Walter Miller and are now in the vault of the Edison National Historic Site. Scarcity and suppression have kept them silent for a century. They were stories told readily in the bar; yet they became legally actionable offenses when fixed in wax and played on a phonograph in that same bar. Brace yourself. Just because they are from the Victorian era does not mean they are tame by today’s standards—far from it.

Pioneer Recording Artist Goes to Jail

They are so indecent that Russell Hunting was imprisoned in 1896 for making and selling them. Up to that point Hunting had been doing a brisk trade selling his bawdy cylinders to the exhibitors on Coney Island who had certain “discriminating” customers. Although he recorded under pseudonyms such as “Charley Smith” and “Willy Fathand,” his voice was so well-known through his “Casey” routines that he was identified as the creator by aural evidence alone. Hunting’s recording career never fully recovered, and he left the U.S. in 1898 to make a fresh start in England.

These would not be safe for work in any way shape or form if your coworkers could figure out what they’re saying. You might have to listen 7-8 times to understand the details. “A Hard Head” is unbelievably funny and filthy, but it could take quite a while to figure it out. “Whore’s Union price list” is not far off and the recording is a lot more clear.

A Hard Head (MP3).

Whore’s Union price list (MP3)

To an enthusiast of historical American pop culture this stuff is mind boggling for the way it brings those times to life. Topics reserved for dirty jokes are important, and the lack of them in the historical record makes those times abstract and distant. You know intellectually that the texture of life was the same then as now, pretty much, but no amount of imagination can fill the gaps like verbatim potty talk and gross-outs.

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