Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Autoerotic Fatalities by Hazelwood, Dietz, & Burgess (Lexington Books, 1983)

Recent events in Thailand inspired me to dust off my copy of this transgressive classic from the '80s and skim the good parts. Aimed at a professional audience of the hardworking souls who have to clean-up the medical and legal aftermath of these mishaps, the writing is dry and matter-of-factual, but never dense or dull. After reading this, you could one-up the Bangkok police.

The book is based on a a study of more than 100 cases, with a generous number described in detail in the text. There are common elements. The victims are almost invariably male. They are generally found nude save for a few articles of women's clothing and/or bondage gear. Typically, "the victim hid this sexual activity from family and friends." But it's not just classic autoerotic asphyxiation; the authors delve into cases involving a floor buffer, home-made electrodes, and household refrigerants. While the famous "Love Bug" case is only alluded to, not discussed in detail, there is no shortage of cases illustrating other novel expressions of the human sexual instinct.

The bulk are, of course, autoerotic asphxiations. My personal favorite was about a 19-year old man who was visiting his fiance's family. After dinner, he begged out of a shopping trip. After they all left, he stripped down, shoved a corncob into his rectum, and filled a shallow hole in the backyard with water. He wallowed in his improvised bog until he was thoroughly covered with mud and then proceeded to hang himself from a fence. But as happens so often, he got carried away and wound up asphyxiating himself. When his fiancee and family return home to make the horrifying discovery, one can only imagine that their shock was tinged with a slight sense of relief that the marriage was off.

There are dozens of others in here that are almost equally novel. After reading this book, Mr. Carradine's apparent misadventure starts to look not only far from unusual, but decidedly unoriginal.


Jamaal said...

I read this book when I was a kid, having learned that the Jesus Lizard song "Rope" was based on one of the cases in it from some local free paper. I got it from the library, and it blew my mind. I didn't manage to justify the cost of getting my own copy until last year, but I missed it.

I think your favorite story is probably everybody's favorite - I told it for years. This is a book that I'm seriously surprised hasn't been reprinted as a paperback. It's aimed at professionals but is really easy to read for laymen.

Mr. Breeze said...

Ah yes, a golden goodie.

It's too bad you couldn't post photos. There was one of the love bug fellow's body still chained to the VW. Fun!