Notes on the Whoopeeeeee Rodd® (see issue No. 32-A)
A forerunner of contemporary battery-powered erotic pleasure devices for women, the Whoopeeeeee Rodd® was invented in 1811 in southern Maryland by J. Prickston Rodd. Allegedly, Rodd developed it with Robert Fulton. However, no supporting documentation of any such collaboration exists. It’s likely that this is a rumor that originated because wealthy 19th-century ladies often took the Whoopeeeeee Rodd® with them when traveling alone on boating excursions. (In a related note, it’s rumored that the experiences the women had with the Whoopeeeeee Rodd® at sea led to coining the term “pleasure cruise.”)
Rodd also was rumored to have developed the invention with James Watt. Although this is undocumented, the rumor seems plausible, given that a steam engine the size of a typical 19th-century parlor (similar in design to Watt’s steam engine) was required to power the clockwise-rotating Whoopeeeeee Rodd®. (In a related note, using the engine proved problematic. In an early experiment Rodd conducted with his wife, the engine ran so fast that Ms. Rodd “whirled on the tip like a whooshing windmill sail of carnality afore being throwne [sic] in yon Chesapeake Bay, some 20 miles from hence,” he recalled in an 1810 entry from his inventor’s log.)
What is confirmed is that, despite its cost (nearly $3,000 in early 19th-century U.S. currency) and its size (or maybe because of its size), the original Whoopeeeeee Rodd® proved popular among 19th-century rich women – and some men – particularly in what the Bronte diary calls “the corseted salons of Baltimore and select hookah lounges in Boston, London and Hoboken, N.J.” Smaller and with fewer operating parts than when it appeared nearly 200 years ago, the Whoopeeeeee Rodd® enjoys widespread use by billions of women worldwide, none of whom have been passionately flung into Chesapeake Bay.
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