Tips for dating Amazons—the sword-wielding kind!

These days we hear a lot about strong and aggressive modern women being “Amazons.” Believe me, a few hours of Horny Time Traveling amongst the ancient Amazons (the sword-wielding kind) have made me realize that today’s gals are strictly Amazon Lite.

Yet, if this lady was your date—

"Fighting Amazons" by Franz von Stuck

Hey, that's a centaur in the background. She fights CENTAURS, fer cryin' out!

—you’d be ready to tiptoe through the eggshells.

There is so much contradictory stuff written about the Amazons, and who they were, and if they really existed, and where they were from, that after awhile, the only thing that matters is that they do exist, fervently and vividly, in people’s imaginations.

So, maybe they were from Libya, or from what is now Turkey, and maybe they fought the Greeks in the Trojan War. Maybe they did lop off their right titty so that it wouldn’t get in the way of their javelin-throwing and archery (although artists of Amazons tend to leave in a full rack; aesthetics win out)…

Not exactly a civilized domestic dispute with the little woman...

Not exactly a civilized domestic dispute with the little woman...

Hercules tangled with the Amazons when he had to do penance to the gods for murdering his entire family (what? our Hercules?). He had to snatch the “Girdle of Hippolyte” from the Amazon queen it was named after, and it wasn’t just a walk in the Acropolis…he had to kill her to get it. (Boy, they really refurbished this guy’s image through those Steve Reeves flicks!)

Reeves' dignified acting style exemplified the noble Hercules—not the nasty one!

Reeves' dignified acting style exemplified the noble Hercules—not the psycho one!

Even when dead, these feisty femmes cast a spell. For example, Penthesilia was an Amazon warrior who was killed by the great Greek soldier Achilles before the gates of Troy. When he went to strip the armor from her fallen body (a custom of the winners), he fell in love with her! Kind of reminds me of the detective falling in love with the portrait of a dead girl in the 40s film noir Laura.

A feller named Tischbein did this painting.

A feller named Tischbein did this painting.

Do you notice that perky right tit? Well, maybe Penny specialized in swordplay over archery…

Anyway, before I take any trip into the past, I do research. I’d heard that Amazon society was what is known in academia as an “alien other,” meaning it was the opposite of the typical society of its time—in other words, the Amazon men (sounds like an oxymoron) did all the domestic things, and the Amazon women were the fighters, and politicians, and hunters. It was a kind of Bizarro, gender-role reversal version of what the world was really like. But, I figured, if I had to do a little cooking or cleaning to have the pleasure of a scrumptious Amazon riding me to climax, I was prepared for it…

Might be kind of interesting to have sex with a gal after she just got back from fighting Trojans...

Might be kind of interesting to have sex with a gal after she just got back from fighting Trojans...

Yeah, I thought, might be kind of sexy to watch my personal Amazon (since Penthesilia, alive or dead, was already Achilles’ date) dismount and stride into our tent for a nice foot massage after she slew a few ornery Hellenes…

Wait, is she already getting ready for the next battle? Fie on these multi-tasking minxes!

Wait, is she already getting ready for the next battle? Fie on these multi-tasking minxes!

Still, I’m glad I didn’t just rely on a few Web articles for my facts. I went to my storage space, full of various obscure “sexual history” texts that I’ve accumulated over my pseudo-scholarly life as a “man of erotic letters,” and I discovered some strange stuff in a tome entitled The Many Facets of Love (W.H. Allen, London, 1963), a well-written work of popular history by the prolific romance novelist Barbara Cartland. I quote from p. 69:

“The Amazons had a curious habit of breaking the leg or the arm of the captives they took in battle. This was not only to prevent their escape but because the Amazons believed that the genital member of the body would be strengthened by the deprivation of one of the extremities.”

Uh-oh…and it’s a thousand against one…poor…male…namely…ME!!

Do those thunderous hooves portend the snapping of my puny femur?

Do those thunderous hooves portend true love or a nasty limp?

Barbara Cartland concludes: “When reproached for the limping gait of one of her slaves, an Amazon queen replied, ‘the lame best perform the act of love.’ ”

Hmm, I thought, better check this out further. And I learned that the Amazons even prepared their male children for a good love life in the future by cutting off one of their hands or legs.

Hey, thanks Mom!

So what are my tips for dating an Amazon? Either bring your own splint…your own hook…or don’t do it!

A modern example of Amazon art.

A modern example of Amazon art.

Better yet, maybe just find a girl to date in Atlantis! It’s easier to reach now that it’s only buried under sand, instead of lost in the middle of some damn ocean!

As long as you don't maim me, Queen Antinea, you can crush me with your love!

As long as you don't maim me, Queen Antinea, you can crush me with ALL your love!

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In doing this post, I discovered a fantastic artist I had never heard of before: Franz von Stuck. Check out a gallery here. I found the sculpture of a golden Amazon on horseback here. And Queen Antinea of Atlantis was portrayed by the sadly underused Israeli actress Haya Harareet in Edgar G. Ulmer’s strange 60s epic Journey Beneath the Desert, available on home video. Her most famous role was as Esther in Ben-Hur.

And a shout out to my friend Phil Leibfried, an expert in that lost civilization specialist Sir Henry Rider Haggard, the author of She. A few months ago, when I first started this blog, Phil suggested I do something about the Amazons, so here it is at last. Check out Phil’s book about Haggard here.

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Onorata Rodiana, crossdressing female mercenary of the Italian Renaissance

As I’ve said here before, if you look at enough pictures of a distant time, you start to feel as if you’re actually there…

The year is approximately 1430 A.D., and I find myself in an encampment of mercenaries in Lombardy, in Northern Italy. In this era, the city-states of this nation hire paid soldiers to protect their powerful commercial interests, the riches brought back from trade in places like the Orient; it is cheaper (and safer to life and limb) to hire warriors than to have a standing army of citizens.

This is Paolo Uccello's 1456 "The Battle of San Romano."

This is Paolo Uccello's 1456 "The Battle of San Romano."

The men who hire and organize the bands of soldiers are known as condottieri, which means “contractors.” But one of the condottieri is a remarkable gal named Onorata Rodiana. If you think the 1950s kept women at home, multiply their plight by a hundred when it comes to the Renaissance years. It was hard enough to get out of the house and learn to read, much less become a sword-wielding Amazon on horseback. And I can think of only one actress could have played Onorata with the appropriate feistiness and femininity: the Cuban-Mexican star of 1960s Italian spectacles, Chelo Alonso:

This is Chelo as a gypsy in Terror of the Red Mask.

This is Chelo as a gypsy in Terror of the Red Mask.

Suddenly the night air is thundering with the hooves of horses, and through the brush comes Onorata and her men. She is dressed in the armor and uniform of a male. But those are the eyes of a magnificent female that flash in the torchlight as she dismounts and takes off her helmet, then goes into her tent for food and wine. She started as one of the soldiers, but rose in the ranks to have her own band of warriors.

If only I could give her a foot massage after her long day of plunder and pillage, as these mercenaries are wont to do! I would be satisfied with that…

Crouching in the dark behind a tree, I munch on some bread and drink a jug of wine I pilfered from a sleepy soldier, and think back to what I’ve heard about how Onorata found herself in this line of work…

Even more remarkable than her soldiering is that she was an accomplished artist first, a painter of murals, in these days when the rigors of artistic apprenticeship and training are so great that few males can ever achieve the skill and renown to get commissions. It’s not like 2009, where you can put a few blotches on a canvas and call yourself an artist.

Miss Rodiana is from the small Northern Italian town of Castelleone in the province of Cremona. The facts of her apprenticeship are not recorded, but in 1423 she was hired by the “Tyrant of Cremona,” Gabrino Fondulo (think Basil Rathbone if you like classic Hollywood, Christopher Walken if you like modern films), to do a fresco in his palace. But in the middle of the work, as she toiled on the wall painting, a sleazy courtier attempted to take liberties with the beauteous, vivacious Onorata, and she stabbed him to death when it became clear there was no other way to protect her virtue. Disguising herself in male attire, she fled to the mountains, where she found refuge with a band of mercenaries. “It is better to live honored outside my homeland, than dishonored within it!” she is recorded as having said (according to the 1590 book Storia di Castelleone, quoted in Germaine Greer’s The Obstacle Race, a book about female artists). The fellowship of the soldiers, and this new profession, appealed to her adventurous spirit.

This medieval painting shows horsewomen on a serious rampage!

This medieval painting shows horsewomen on a serious rampage!

The tyrant tried Onorata in her absence and condemned her, vowing to flush her out no matter where she hid. This was rather difficult, since she apparently was quite a canny crossdresser, and her soldier pals were quite loyal in hiding her. And remember, your style of headwear can make identification difficult.

Imagine Onorata's—or Chelo Alonso's—eyes peering out at you from this helmet!

Imagine Onorata's—or Chelo Alonso's—eyes peering out at you from this helmet!

But then the tyrant realized Onorata was the only one he wanted to complete that fresco (unless that was his rationalization for giving up the hunt), so he eventually put out the word that she was pardoned and she could come back and finish the painting.

Which she did.

And thus began a career that now encompasses two disciplines: artistic and military. She paints a fresco for some patron, then goes back to the boys for some pillage and plunder. The condotierri, who were businessmen as much (if not more than) warriors, frequently switched allegiances since they fought for money rather than patriotism, so Onorata probably has the opportunity to wear a number of different male outfits. However, I couldn’t find it recorded for how long she kept up the crossdressing; once she became a commander herself, she may have dressed with more of a feminine flourish. At least, I’d like to think so…

Maybe this is what Onorata looked like in those rare, stolen moments between palette and pike.

Maybe this is what Onorata looked like in those rare, stolen moments between palette and pike.

I look over at Onorata’s tent. Against the torchlight, I see her shadow as she undresses. What is her love life like? I haven’t found anything about it. Would she be up for a foot massage? Although the wine has gone to my head, I have the feeling that, alas, I might end up on the wrong end of a sword if I dare to sneak over and say hello…

So I return, however reluctantly, to 2009…

Back at my computer, I learn that in 1452, after a thirty year career of art and soldiering, Onorata and her band helped defend her hometown, Castelleone, against the Venetians. The invaders were successfully repelled, but Onorata was mortally wounded. It is recorded that she died within sight of the house where she was born. “Honored I lived, and honored I shall die.”

I guess the only reason this was never made into a movie (as far as I know) is that it would be hard to make a mercenary sympathetic, no matter how dramatic her story. The condotierri and their troops messed with their minds of the people who hired them, played one group against the other, switched sides, prolonged regional wars, all for profit and pleasure. True, it was a rather tough time to be alive, and you had to protect yourself, but these guys were no saints, and Onorata Rodiana chose to become one of them. Also, no examples of her work, or pictures of her, seem to have survived from that era, and she has been largely forgotten.

Except by travelers like yours truly, propelled by horniness and curiosity about the Eternal Feminine!

The queen of the Amazons leading her ladies into battle...

The queen of the Amazons leading her ladies into battle...

And, of course, as a cigar-chomping international film producer (in my mind), I’m always looking for vehicles perfect for Miss Chelo Alonso, even though at 75 she’s been long retired from film!

Chelo smolders in Morgan the Pirate. You can find her on DVD in Goliath and the Barbarians, also with Reeves.

Chelo smolders in Morgan the Pirate. You can find her on DVD in Goliath and the Barbarians, also with Reeves.

Yes, this is a gal who never made enough movies! (And well worthy of a foot massage or two!!)

Punishment can be sweet when the punisher is perfection!

Punishment can be sweet when the punisher is perfection!

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I got the images and info for this entry from various sources, but one essential place for all lovers of tempestuous female cinema talent is WOmWAm. This vast and entertaining site has great pix of Chelo Alonso, but that’s only the beginning. I’m adding WOmWAm (which stands for Women Doing Things to Men) to my blogroll.