Monday, September 5, 2011

The Art of Predatory Femininity, for Fun and Profit - 1930

The following article, presented as a mock advertisement, is a satire on The Heat Balm Racket, the extremely wide-spread extortion scheme practiced from the late 19th century through 1930s by both casual and professional gold-diggers.



Girls Are You Balm-Minded?

HAVE YOU ever given serious thought to the art of balming? Are you in a financial rut?
Have you. a normal, girlish craving for a castle in Italy, 90 servants and pecan nougats? You can have all these and more by studying ONLY 15 MINUTES A DAY!

The art of balming is paying higher returns each year. Millions are in it FOR YOU! Last year alone graduates of our institute collected OVER TWO MILLION DOLLARS in heart-balm suits tried in courts from Maine to California, HERE IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY! Become balm-minded. Enroll with the

Institute of Applied Heart Balmry

In 10 brief SIMPLE lessons you will master the art of balming, and your future will BE ASSURED. We will guarantee to teach you those secrets: Picking your papa — or looking over the field. How to get a line on the financial status of the balmee. Are young men or grandpas easiest to hook?

The come-on, or making them flop. How to acquire the siren lurch and the secret of the
VIM OF VENUS. How to look soulful. How to appear intelligent. How to make an octogenarian propose. How to make men write passionate love letters. How to preserve them for use at the trial.

The bust-up, or making them quit. How to make the balmee miserable. How to get his
family down on you. The secret of the dirty dig, Sixteen methods of making men break off an
The cleanup, or making them pay. How to bring suit. How to cultivate a. broken heart. How to jet into the papers. What to wear and how to act in a court-room. The secret of the sigh, the flush, the maidenly murmur, the tear of anguish, the sob of desolation and the swoon of humility.

This, girls, is only a brief outline of our masterly course in the art of balming. All over the country ambitious girls are CLEANING UP FORTUNES in this easy and delightful new profession.


What Our Students Say

HERMIONE WURSTZIPFEL of Butternut Junction, Iowa, writes: "I was a poor but industrious girl working in a carpet tack factory. I was unhappy. I felt vaguely that there must be something wrong with me, like lack of ambition or adenoids. And then one day a friend showed me an ad about the INSTITUTE OF APPLIED HEARTBALMRY. I read it carefully, gentlemen, and became FIRED WITH AMBITION. I enrolled immediately, and after studying your MASTERLY lessons on the come-on, I selected Mr. Tulliver Snork, the retired president of our carpet tack factory, who was 79 years old and wealthy. I applied the VIM OF VENUS as you so beautifully outline it in Chapter Seven, and in


he had proposed marriage— in writing— and had written me 19 letters in which he called me his own little ducky-daddle.”

“Then I carefully studied your excellent chapter on the bust-up. I applied your suggestion on DISTRACTION— OR HOW TO ACT NOODLE-HEADED.

“I would forget things and drop things. I dropped a flat-iron on his foot. I dropped a chiffonier on his pet pug. This, gentlemen, TURNED THE TRICK. He immediately broke off the engagement and I brought suit. The papers liked the 'ducky-daddle' letters. The jury also liked the letters and my new crushed-virtue siiadc silk hose which you so thoughtfully advised in Chapter Nine. After my SOB OF DESOLATION the jury went out and returned with a verdict granting me ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!”

“Gentlemen, any ambitious girl can succeed as well as I in this pleasant and easy profession. Mr. Snork recently committed suicide, and I am at present engaged to Mr. Jasper Wheeps, a very rich importer of candied eels. I am now in the middle of the bust-up, and am applying the BEASTLY BORE METHOD which you so adequately describe in Chapter Three. I tell him long-winded stories about my Aunt Juniper's mastoid operation and I'm driving him half crazy. I think he'll crack in another week, gentlemen, but this time I am holding out for TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. I feel that it is only right that my expert knowledge of heart-balmry should be more highly rewarded than a mere amateur. Yours very gratefully, Hermione Wurstzipfel.”


The above inspiring letter should make every ambitious girl act IMMEDIATELY. Enroll at once before the field is crowded. The list of doddering millionaires is still enormous, but tomorrow your opportunity may be gone. Tear off the coupon and SEND IT TODAY.

Institute of Applied Heart Balmry
112 Columbus Building, Madison, Wis.

SPECIAL OFFER. If you enroll within ten days In the Institute of Applied Heart Balmry we shall send you as a SPECIAL, LIMITED PRIZE the above COME-ON GOWN NO. 42-M, which has been especially designed to work wonders with octogenarian millionaires who love old-fashioned modesty and grace. Seven graduates of our course, with the aid of this gown, have collected FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS IN HEART BALM from New England bishops and ex-presidents of the Watch and Ward society.

[E. L. Meyer, Making Light of the Times,” The Capital Times (Madison, Wi.), Jan. 28, 1930, p. editorial]


For more on the Heart Balm Racket, see:


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