Morbid Anatomy Library in Gowanus hosts ‘Sicilian Sex Ghosts”

Who you gonna call: Expert on sexual specters tells all

The Brooklyn Paper
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Is there something strange in your neighborhood? You better hope it’s not Il Masturbatore!

A bizarre lecture at the Morbid Anatomy Library in Gowanus called “Sicilian Sex Ghosts” will cover the sexual appetites of supernatural beings who reside in Palermo, Italy, including the story of an 18th century monk whose mummified corpse has been known to haunt men in their moments of weakness.

“There’s one called Il Masturbatore, the Masturbator,” said speaker Dr. Paul Koudounaris, who is a morbid art expert and author of “Empire of Death.”

“He’s kind of the patron saint of why not to j--- off.”

The Palermitani monk was well known in his day for chastity and restraint.

Unfortunately for him, the devil fiendishly forced the monk upon himself in his last moments alive. Members of the order found him skirt up in his study with an expression of ecstasy upon his face, and stiff with rigor mortis — a countenance his mummified remains bear to this day.

“He was known for his life of piety, but as an old man they claimed the devil got a hold of him and forced him to masturbate,” said Dr. Koudounaris.

Whether the holy man thus earned his title of Il Masturbatore — or whether it was forced upon him — his story became a cautionary tale about playing with yourself.

But one randy lad of Palermo not only ignored this warning, but openly challenged the ghost of Il Masturbatore. According to Koudounaris, this poor soul had a marathon of autoerotic pleasure, all the while beckoning death and cursing the monk of masturbation, for two days straight.

On the third, a ghastly specter dropped in on the young man.

“He was about to j--- off, and he felt this cold bony hand grab his d--- from behind, whirl him around and it was Il Masturbato­re,” said Koudounaris.

As the legend goes, Il Masturbatore dragged the boy by his manhood to his niche in the monastery, where he squeezed the boy’s privates until the pain became so unbearable the boy passed out. He later found himself to be completely sterile.

“The kid himself later became a priest, and preached to others the evils of masturbati­on,” said Dr. Koudounaris.

That is merely one legend among more than a dozen that haunt the Sicilian city of Palermo — an apparent nexus of paranormal sexual tales, including the story of Pene Grande, who’s been known to possess poorly equipped men amidst the act of coitus, and endow them with supernatural abilities.

To explain the strange mix of morbid eroticism, Dr. Koudounaris turns not to the dead, but the living.

“The thing is, everything in that society is so permeated with sex and violence. When you get down to Sicily, on one hand it’s a stereotype, on the other hand it’s true,” said Koudounaris. “It’s just a reflection of that society and the values it held.”

“Sicilian Sex Ghosts” at Morbid Anatomy Library (543 Union St. between Bond and Nevins streets in Gowanus, (718) 243–1572, Dec. 11, 8 pm. $12.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 5:37 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike says:
I am A Sicilian American whose ancestors emigrated from Sicily in the 1880’s and have visited Sicily twice and found it to be a charming, beautiful, safe, wonderful land populated by kind, intelligent, educated, compassionate people with excellent food, scenery, other numerous charms. Like you, and most people across the world, people have been brainwashed by Hollywood and American media that Sicily is crime ridden and that the Sicilian people are a race of mobsters and criminals and that it is a “society is so permeated with sex and violence”. “The Sopranos”, “The Godfather” and other such negative portrayals have nurtured and promoted hatred against all Sicilians worldwide. The only crime that can be attributed to the Sicilian people is that they have allowed everyone, everywhere to say, write and depict them always in a negative way and say and no nothing. There is no people on this planet that have been so negatively stereotyped and degraded and no people who would have ever tolerated it for a second. In the U.S. this has been compounded by the racist hated that many Anglo and Northern European Americans still have toward Sicilian Americans going on three centuries now. The most important debate in the US Congress in 1910 was whether Sicilian Americans should be classified as “non-white”-and we all know what that meant for them; they could not do it for since Sicily was politically part of Italy they would have to make all Italians “non-white” including Northern Italians, Da Vinci , Michelangelo and the ancient Romans. So they had to use a different strategy to keep the “negro” Sicilians out of their neighborhoods, schools, work places, politics and government. This “lecture” is just another racist rant against Sicilian people.
Dec. 4, 2012, 2:11 pm
Ed says:
Mike, what you write may well be true but is immaterial to the folks at The Brooklyn Paper. All that matters to them is they were able to write another "article" about masturbation. As you may remember, this is the "newspaper" that ran a front-page "story" about an onanistic walrus. I think the editorial department is run by 12-year-old boys.
Dec. 4, 2012, 3:59 pm
Lucian from Park Slope says:
I haven't found Sicilians to be much different than most other demographic groups in respect to sex or violence, it's unfair to act as if they are worse than everyone else.

People around world says the same thing about Americans, is that generalization true as well?

Since he lectures on the topic, perhaps Dr. Koudounaris is also obsessed with such things, is that a reflection of the values he holds?

We'll see.
Dec. 6, 2012, 2:23 pm

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